Great Serpent Symbol

Great Serpent Symbol

Great Serpent Symbol - Winged or Feathered snake-like creature
Attribution: Herb Roe

Native American Symbols, like the Great Serpent symbol, can vary in meaning from one tribe to another and across the culture groups of North America. The Great Serpent symbol was used by the ancient Native Americans of the Mississippian culture.

Discover facts and information about the meanings of secret and mysterious symbols used by Native American Indians in our List of Symbols including the Great Serpent symbol.

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The Great Serpent Symbol
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Great Serpent symbol. The origin of the Great Serpent symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of North America, the culture of the Mound Builders. The Mound Builders associated great mystical value to the serpent. Some Indian tribes including the Creek, Choctaw, Cherokee, Seminole and Chickasaw still retain some elements of the Mississippi culture. Their sacred rites, myths and symbols and are presumed to descend from the Mississippians. The Great Serpent symbol represented a malevolent creature but a similar symbol, the Horned Serpent, was usually viewed as a benign or benevolent although fearful creature such as the Avanyu. For additional information also refer to the Snake Symbol and Mythical Creatures.

Horned Serpent Rock Picture

Horned Serpent Rock Picture

The Mythology and Meaning of the Great Serpent Symbol
The Great Serpent symbol is one of the many Winged or Feathered snake-like deities that figure in the mythology of most Native American tribes. The mythology of the Abenaki tribe told of a great serpent called the Kita-skog meaning "Big Snake" or Pita-skog meaning "Grand Snake". The meaning of the Great Serpent symbol are chaos, corruption and darkness. The Great Serpent is seen as a malevolent being or monster who devours his enemies. The names of the malevolent serpents included Utkena and Mishipizheu.

The Legend of the Winged Serpent
There is a legend that in the beginning of the world winged serpents reigned upon the earth and great serpent symbols depict this events. There is a symbolic relationship between the sun and the serpent because life remains in the serpent. or snake, until sunset even though it might be cut into a dozen parts. The Hopi Indians consider the serpent to be in close communication with the Earth Spirit. Therefore, at the time of their annual snake dance they send their prayers to the Earth Spirit by first specially sanctifying large numbers of snakes and then liberating them to return to the earth with the prayers of the tribe.

Snake Symbol

The Mythology and Meaning of the Great Serpent Symbol
The Great Serpent, resided in the Underworld and was described as a powerful being who was in constant conflict with the forces of the Upper World who were represented by the Thunderers who were Birdmen or Falcon beings. Spiral symbols mimic the coiled serpent representing the underlying mystery that people have felt towards the snake and the Great serpent and their place in the mythology of the Underworld and death and as their role as a messenger to and from the world of the dead.

Great Serpent Symbol - Coiled Serpent

Great Serpent Symbol

The Great Serpent Symbol - Mississippian culture
The most ancient Native American Indian symbols, like the Great Serpent symbol, came from the Mississippian culture which was established in 1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The Mississippian Native Americans were the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. The Mississippian culture was based on warfare, which was represented by an array of emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian culture warrior icons like the Great Serpent symbol provides interesting history and ideas for tattoos that include cosmic imagery depicting animals, humans and mythical beasts. The Mississippian Native Americans practiced body painting, tattooing and piercing.

Shaman ritually vomiting Black drink

Shaman ritually vomiting Black drink
Attribution: Herb Roe

Native American Indians - Great Serpent Symbol
Native American Indians of the Mississippian culture were sun worshipers and had a highly complex warfare culture. Their symbols, such as the Great Serpent symbol, reflect the warfare culture and the religious beliefs and cosmologies of the different historic tribes who existed at the time of the first European contact.

The Mississippians believed that the universe consisted of three parts with good and bad spiritual forces. These three worlds were linked together and their connection was usually portrayed as a cedar tree or a striped pole. The Underworld was inhabited by spirit snakes, the Upper world was inhabited by spirit birds and the people of the earth who were ruled by these powerful spirits like the Great Serpent.

Items displaying symbols, like the Great Serpent symbol, from the Mississippian culture have been found in burial sites that contained war axes, knives and other weapons. This type of symbol was embossed in valuable materials such as rare shells, copper and lead and depicted on pottery and stone tools and weapons.

Great Serpent Symbol


Great Serpent

  • The Great Serpent symbol of Native Americans
  • Meaning, symbolism and interpretation of the Great Serpent symbol
  • Interesting facts and info for kids and schools
  • Pictures, meanings, patterns and designs of symbols
  • Native American Great Serpent symbol meaning

Pictures and Videos of Native Americans
Great Serpent. Discover the vast selection of pictures which relate to the History of Native Americans and illustrate many symbols used by American Indians. The pictures show the clothing, war paint, weapons and decorations of various Native Indian tribes that can be used as a really useful educational history resource for kids and children of all ages. We have included pictures and videos to accompany the main topic of this section - Great Serpent. The videos enable fast access to the images, paintings and pictures together with information and many historical facts. All of the articles and pages can be accessed via the Native Indian Tribes Index - a great educational resource for kids.


Great Serpent Symbol - Teaching resource - Teachers - Kids - Great Serpent Symbol - Native American Symbols - Great Serpent - Indian Symbols - American Symbols and Designs - Indian - Great Serpent Symbol - Meaning - Meanings - Great Serpent Symbol - Tattoos - Tattoo -  Info - Information - Kids - Pictures - Great Serpent Symbol - Signs - Great Serpent Symbol - Emblem - Icon - Children - Spirit - Patterns - Designs - Great Serpent Symbol - Homework - Traditions - American Symbols - Reference - Tribes - Tribe - Guide - Tattoos - History - Writing - Signs - Indigenous - Ancient - Great Serpent - Pictures - Pictures of American Symbols - Images - Great Serpent Symbol - Written By Linda Alchin

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