Madonna Serpentum

by John Meluch
Madonna Serpentum
The setting for the Madonna is the Chapel at Crac des Chevaliers which was given by the King of Jerusalem to the Knights Hospitallers - it dates back to the 12th century.

In creating the image of the Madonna Serpentum I am attempting to combine a number of different traditions surrounding the symbol of the serpent which has had almost nothing but evil attributed to it by Christianity. To begin, the snake or serpent is probably the most widely revered creature in world mythology. It is associated not only with the primal waters from which all life was created, but also with the Earth - which makes it the chthonic symbol par excellence. In fact, for many ancient civilizations, the serpent symbolized the underworld and the realm of the dead - hence, its "infernal" aspect.

The biblical serpent, the embodiment of Satan in the Garden of Eden, later becomes the "serpent of brass" in the Book of Moses. This is eventually interpreted in the Book of John as an archetype of the crucified Christ. Jungian psychology views the snake as a symbolic creature going back to the earliest stages of the Earth and the human race. It is an "image of exceptional primordial forces...it is a major symbol of psychic energy."

Moreover, in Asian philosophic systems the "Kundalini Serpent", coiled at the base of the spine (like the caduceus of Hermes and the wand of Asklepios), symbolizes the vital energy to be awakened through meditation.

The Minoan Goddess in the background seen clutching two snakes dates back to 1800 BC.

The serpent appears in many ancient icons, either as a companion of the goddess, or as an accoutrement - a wand, a belt or head-dress. The icon in the upper right corner is the Greek gorgon Medusa whose visage would turn men into stone....clearly a very negative attribute of this ambivalent symbol. Conversely, the "anguipede" - an early Ophite symbol exhibits goddess-like traits such as feet made of serpents (see icon in upper left corner). It appears on a great number of engraved stones called Gnostic or Basilidean Gems. They are the "Christos-Sophia" of the mystic gnostics....which symbolizes divine wisdom and intelligence.

- Submitted by John Meluch.


Hard copy prints are available for parties interested.....16 x 20 inch gicleť prints, signed by the artist....$36 bucks and $3 shipping and handling. Send e-mail to John Meluch or visit the Rhino Graphics Web Site. Rhino Graphics Web Site
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