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The Serpent Symbol in Tradition

Author(s): Charles William Dailey

A study of traditional serpent and dragon symbolism, based in part upon the concepts and observations of René Guénon, Mircea Eliade, and various other relevant researchers.

Serpent and dragon symbolism is ubiquitous in the art and mythology of premodern cultures around the world. Over the centuries, conflicting hypotheses have been proposed to interpret this symbolism which, while illuminating, have proved insufficient to the task of revealing a singular meaning for the vast majority of examples. In The Serpent Symbol in Tradition, Dr. Dailey argues that, in what the symbolist René Guénon and the historian of religions Mircea Eliade have called ‘traditional’ or ‘archaic’ societies, the serpent/dragon transculturally symbolizes matter, a state of being that is constituted by the perception of the physical world as chaotic in comparison to what traditional peoples believed to be the ‘higher’ meta-physical source of ‘nature.’

Beyond purporting to resolve some of the mystery of the ancient and varied symbolism of the serpent/dragon, The Serpent Symbol in Tradition strives to interpret the symbolic meanings of premodern artifacts and narratives as well as provide a study of the origination, and ancient human awareness, of the mentioned state of matter.

  • In this 600+ page work, Charles Dailey explores the symbol of the serpent or dragon in traditional cultures. ... Because he refers to several of Guenon’s works, including the three core books on metaphysics, it is a good introduction to the metaphysical doctrines of Tradition.
    Cologero, GornahoorGornahoor
  • The Serpent Symbol in Tradition contains a wealth of insights and is well worth the time investment. On a personal note, reading it now fitted perfectly in relation to the other books I have read (and written book reviews on) as of late. For anyone interested in metaphysics and myth, I can highly recommend the book!
    The Golden One, thegoldenone.sethegoldenone.se
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Contents

Introduction

Tradition, Symbols, and the Metaphysical

The Concepts of “the Indefinite Series of Cycles of Manifestation” and Samsara

‘Enlightenment’ and the Equivalency of ‘Chaos’ and “the Indefinite Series of Cycles”

‘Transcendence,’ Matter, and the New Man

‘Symbolic Modifications,’ ‘Spiritualization,’ and Outline of the Project

Prolegomena

1. René Guénon

  • The Man and His Thought
  • The Question of Mastery and Other Criticisms

2. Mircea Eliade

  • The Man and His Thought
  • The Function of Symbols
  • Symbols and Reductionism
  • Some Criticisms of Eliade, and Responses
  • The Continuing Importance of Eliade’s Approach

3. Symbolism, ‘Tradition,’ and Universalism

  • Symbols and Symbolism in Guénon and Eliade
  • The Idea of ‘Tradition’ in Guénon and Eliade
  • Universalism

4. The Symbolism of the Serpent/Dragon in the Context of Guénon’s ‘Hindu Doctrines’ and Eliade’s Interpretation of the Traditional Idea of Chaos

  • Traditional Metaphysics and Epistemology in the Hindu Vedanta
  • The Samkhya Concept of Tamas
  • ‘Slaying’ the Serpent/Dragon: ‘Realization’ in the Chaos of Matter
  • Eliade’s ‘Extraterrestrial Archetypes’ and ‘Creation’

The Serpent/Dragon Symbol

5. ‘Modifications’ of the Serpent/Dragon Symbol: ‘Spiritualization’ and ‘Materialization’

  • Heroic ‘Transcendence’ and ‘Symbolic Modifications’ of the Serpent/Dragon
  • Manifestation and Creation as ‘Realization’ of the New Man
  • ‘Chaos,’ the Serpent/Dragon Symbol, and the Combat Myth
  • The ‘Thunderweapon’ and the World Axis/Axis Mundi
  • ‘Duality,’ ‘Spiritualization,’ and ‘Materialization’

6. The Serpent Symbol, the World Axis, and ‘Duality’ and Its Variations in Ancient Egypt and Genesis 3

  • The World Axis or Axis Mundi in Guénon and Eliade
  • The Serpent, ‘Duality,’ and Dichotomy in Genesis 3 and Ancient Egyptian Myth
  • ‘Duality’ and Dichotomy Imply the Ideas of Formlessness, Indefinitude, and Potentiality
  • The ‘Traditional’ Interpretation of Genesis 3 from the Perspective of Advaita Vedanta
  • Samsara and the Serpent Symbol in Genesis 3
  • Samsara and Maya in Genesis 3
  • The ‘Fascination’ of the Serpent

7. Migration of the ‘Self’ in the Bible

  • ‘Migration’ and Axial Symbols in Jewish and Christian Tradition
  • ‘Involution,’ ‘Evolution,’ ‘Redemption,’ and Dichotomies
  • Maya and the Manipulative Nachash in Genesis 3
  • Migration of the ‘Self’ in Genesis 3 and Advaita Vedanta
  • Dichotomies and ‘Migration’ in Numbers 21 and John 3
  • The Use of Snake Imagery to Represent ‘Migration’

8. The Guardian of Immortality/Moksha

  • Ancient Greek Guardians
  • The Serpent as ‘Guardian’ in Genesis 3
  • The Metaphysical Symbolism of the Cross, the ‘Ways’ of Islam, and the Gunas of Samkhya in Relation to Genesis 3
  • The Guardian of Immortality/Moksha in The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Guardian of Moksha, Not of Physical Life: A Critique of James Frazer’s Interpretation of Genesis 3

9. The Ouroboros and the Anima Mundi

  • The Ouroboros
  • Anima Mundi, the ‘Soul of the World’

10. Symbols of ‘Duality’ in Unity

  • The Double Spiral and the Androgyne
  • Yin-Yang, ‘World Egg,’ ‘Word’ and Tao in Connection with Serpent/Dragon Symbolism

11. The Serpent as ‘Mediator’ and ‘Messenger’

  • The Caduceus and Hermes/Mercury: ‘Messenger’ and ‘Mediator’ of the Divine
  • Hermes/Mercury and Other Traditional ‘Mediators’/‘Messengers’ of the Divine
  • ‘Creation’/‘Manifestation’ and ‘Reactualization’
  • Healing as Re-‘Creation,’ ‘Mediation,’ Resurrection, and Reincarnation/Rebirth
  • The ‘Mediation’ of ‘Contrariety’
  • The Amphisbaena and the ‘Plumed Serpent’ Quetzalcoatl

12. The ‘Risen’ Serpent: The Conjunction of Wisdom and ‘Healing’ in Kundalini, the Uraeus, the Bible, and Buddhism

  • Kundalini as ‘Mediator’ and ‘Messenger’
  • The Serpent, ‘Healing,’ and Knowledge/Wisdom
  • Kundalini, Uraeus, Circle and Sun
  • ‘Copper Serpent’ and Crucified Christ in Connection with the Uraeus and Kundalini
  • The Buddhist Variation of Wisdom and ‘Healing’ as ‘Enlightenment’: The ‘Risen’ Serpent in Buddhist Art and Myth
  • The Symbolism of the Buddha with Naga

13. The Serpent and Sacred Stones

  • Shesha/Ananta and the Devas and Asuras: The ‘Churning of the Sea’ in the Ramayana
  • The Serpent, the Mountain, the Omphalos, and Sacred Stones
  • The Beith-El, the Omphalos, and the Oracle of Delphi
  • Serpents, ‘Angels,’ and ‘Polarized Currents’
  • Sacred Stones Considered Transculturally

14. The Symbolism of the Serpent in Menhirs and Mounds

  • Megaliths as ‘Sacred Stones’ and the Element of Time
  • Serpent Symbolism in the Megaliths: The Avebury Cycle of Wiltshire, England
  • The Ohio Serpent Mound

15. The Dragon and the Orb

  • The East Asian, or ‘Far-Eastern,’ Dragon
  • General Relationship between the Serpent/Dragon and the Circle/Sphere
  • ‘Polarization’ of the Principle and Symbolic Differentiation of Circle/Sphere Symbolism
  • The Serpent/Dragon and the Moon
  • The Serpent’s/Dragon’s Traditional Association with the Control of ‘Water’
  • East Asian Dragon, South Asian Naga, and Moon/Ball/Pearl/Spiral
  • To Control ‘Water’ Is to Control ‘Possibilities’
  • The Dragon: ‘Water,’ ‘Possibility,’ ‘Chaos,’ Matter
  • The Symbolism of the Spiral, and the Chinese Wang as Mediator of ‘Possibilities’

16. The Spiral, the ‘Thunderweapon,’ and the Swastika

  • ‘Spiraled Orb,’ Wang, and ‘Thunder’
  • The Meaning of the ‘Thunderweapon’ and the Gods Who Wield It
  • ‘Sky Gods’ and the ‘Thunderweapon’
  • The ‘Spiraled Orb’ and the Swastika

Conclusion

  • The Serpent Symbol’s Identification with ‘Life’
  • The ‘Overcoming’ of Cyclicity: The Redefining of ‘Life’
  • The Management and Control of ‘Life’
  • The Serpent Symbol, Shamanism, DNA, and ‘Duality’
  • ‘Life’ Is Something to Be Transcended… and ‘Controlled and Managed’

Bibliography

Index

Binding

Paperback

Languages

English

Author

Charles William Dailey

Number Of Pages

642

Publication Date

2022-01-21

Publisher

Arktos Media Ltd

ISBN-13

978-1-914208-68-3

ISBN-10

1914208684

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