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Serpent Code
Serpent worship was once common in Ireland until Christianity’s dominance systematic
wiped it out. Yet according to Philip Gardiner the signs of this ancient wisdom lore can
still be found today throughout the world.

Ireland, St Patrick and the Pests

Ireland was once infested with snakes. So say the Christian stories of St. Patrick, who
supposedly expelled them with his Baculum Jesu or Staff of Jesus [1]. Of course Ireland
has no indigenous snakes at all and so he must have been speaking of a symbolically. But
to what was he referring?

For years, scholars, Christians and even alternative historians have been arguing over what
exactly St Patrick was eradicating. There is precious little evidence of St Patrick even
coming to Ireland, just as there is no evidence that St Paul went to Malta and kicked out
the snakes there too! So what's the truth? And is there any spiritual relevance for us today?

Across Ireland there are hundreds of crosses, many of which can be proven to have pre-
Christian origins, and many are entwined with images of serpents. The same is true of
other locations, such as Malta as I’ve just mentioned, , Rhodes, India, Greece and many
more. In all these places snakes are found on ancient megalithic monuments and Christian
buildings. These are remnants of a pre-existent serpent-worshipping cult. The serpent cult,
is so often misread as consisting of solar worshippers. They worshipped the esoteric or
inner sun. For us today this inner light is the realisation of our own connection to the
greater universe, of our own inner balance and our own growth towards a more ‘in-tune’
attitude to the world around us. It is also the part of ourselves and our outer world, which
gives life, sustains and gives growth.

The sun, found in the sky and as an inner light found within via methods pertaining to the
inner serpent energies, [2] as they were perceived. These inner serpentine and solar linked
visions were physically represented in megalithic monuments, oral folktales and art.

The existence of this universal cult can also be discovered in other elements of the Irish
and Celtic tradition. There is scarcely a design or ornament in Ireland from ancient times
that do not show the serpent or dragon image. There is scarcely a myth, a folk tale or a
legend, which does not include the serpent. These are not just pagan ornaments or myths -
they also bled into the Christian world, or more accurately, the Christians could not keep
them out it was so deep in the Irish culture.

The Church had spent many years trying desperately to demonise the serpent, making it
the evil snake in the Garden of Eden or even picturing Lucifer, the angel of light, as the
serpent. The reason is simple. Knowledge is powerful, but knowledge of yourself is much
more powerful - the Church, as the intermediaries between us and knowledge of the
Divine could not allow this. But the snake maintained its position steadfastly within the
Church, clinging on like limpet. It was in fact the only animal in the Bible to speak using
it's own voice; it was used by Moses in the wilderness to heal the Israelites and it was used
by the first Christians as the symbol for the Christ himself.

Serpents can be found on Irish Christian crosses such as those of Killamery in Kilkenny
County and the font of Cashel, amongst others. Indeed, even the Crozier (priests staff) of
Cashel has a serpent emerging from a vagina – which itself is covered in serpents –
therefore symbolising ‘new life’ via the born-again serpent.

The crozier itself basically resembles the staff of Moses or Aaron, or even that of an
Etruscan or Babylonian priest – all cultures linked to serpent worship. Unfortunately
fundamentalists and strict Protestants removed many of these serpents found adorning
such crosses, in an attempt to hide the true history.

Also seen on Irish crosses are strange figures, which have extra large heads in relation to
their body. Some have said that this is due to the predominance of a “Celtic Head Cult”,
but the evidence we uncovered in The Serpent Grail [3] pointed to the fact that both the
serpent cult and the head cult are one and the same. We found that this was due to the
internal psychological and spiritual process brought on by the serpent energies.

In Irish tales these great serpents or "piests" (pests), were said to be “as big as a horse,
and have a great mane upon it, so it has.” (Legend of the Lakes, Croker, relating to Lough
Kittane of Killarney). This has baffled many and has given rise to the link between the
snake-serpent and the fabled dragon in many cultures. The tales of the great serpents of
huge size and even compared to mountains reveals much. Many of these serpent tales refer
to actual locations whereby ancient man created great centres of healing, initiation and
ritual – all linked to the universal worship of the serpent.
The Fenian heroes of ancient Ireland are recorded orally in song and one of them, Fionn,
was their ‘dragon slayer.’ One of the legends tells us that:
“It resembles a great mound, its jaws were yawning wide;
There might lie concealed, though great its fury,
A hundred champions in its eye-pits.
Taller in height than eight men,
Was its tail, which was erect above its back;
Thicker was the most slender part of its tail,
Than the forest oak which was sunk by the flood.”
Fionn asked where this great monster had come from and was told, “From Greece, to
demand battle from the Fenians.” Perhaps serpent worshippers had come to Ireland from
Greece, and had fought the ancient inhabitants, leaving behind such terror that they
became symbolised by this great ‘dragon mound.’ Fionn, it is said, opened the side of the
dragon and released the men, going on to kill it. It may be that there is a mixture of
wartime fact entwined with the symbolism of this legend. Emerging from the side of the
dragon, according to all the myths, gives new life, leaving us no doubt that these
serpentine monuments were places of initiation and rebirth.

Evidence of ancient serpent worship in the Americas can be verified from the many
serpent mounds that appear across the continent. In Ohio, there is a large serpentine
mound with a large head of the snake swallowing (or throwing up) a large egg. Similar
snake mounds can be found across the world. Some are man-made, others natural and
adapted - such as Hackpens Hill near Avebury in England, where Hack means snake and
pen means head - thereby giving us "snakes head hill". These large serpents, still seen in
the land today were ancient burial mounds, earthworks and places of ritual for the serpent
worshipping cults of our ancestors. The great mane upon the mound, being grass or trees.

In 1871 at the meeting of the British Association in Edinburgh, a certain Mr. Phene gave
an account of his discovery in Argyllshire, Scotland, of a mound, “several hundred feet
long, fifteen feet high and thirty feet broad.” The tail tapers away from a circular cairn,
which he presumed to be a solar disk above the head of the “Egyptian uraeus”. [4] This
fiery Uraeus serpent, or more properly Wadjet, anoints the head with flames, as referred to
in the Bible in Apostles, Acts 2, where the Apostles are filled with the holy spirit, and
flames lick above their heads. Here we have a clue to the serpents connection to
In the Pyramid Texts the Wadjet is linked strongly with nature. The papyrus plant is said to
emerge from her and she is connected to the forces of growth, fertility and creative power.
The Uraeus is an indication of the divine wisdom and solar-force, emerging from the brow
of the head, symbolically represented in the serpent mounds appearing on the brow of a
hill. The brow is known as the ‘temple’. Within the Temple is the Holy of Holies, the most
sacred place in a human’s body. In Native American traditions many underground caverns
within landscaped mounds are where known to be places where initiation rites occurred.
From our research, it appears these places were ritualistic re-birthing portals as if from the
womb of the creative serpentine mother. In Egyptian history Osiris entered the serpent and
emerged reborn and invigorated, and our European and American ancestors mimicked this
belief. In all cases it was the wisdom of the serpent, which gave the strength to empower
the individual to move on in life, as if born again.

Serpent mounds – a worldwide phenomenon

Further references to serpent mounds can be found across the world. In the Persian holy
book Zend Avesta one of the story’s heroes takes a rest on what he thinks is a bank – only
to find out that it was a green snake. In Mauritania, Iphicrates says that “there were
dragons of such extent that grass grew up on their backs.” In Strabo (Lib xv. P.1022) two
dragons are said to have resided in the mountains of India, one eighty cubits long and the
other one hundred and forty. From Syria Posidonius tells of a dragon which was so large
that horse riders on either side could not see each other. Each ‘scale’ was as big as a shield,
so that a man “might ride into his mouth.” It is thought that these must be ruins of Ophite
(serpent worshiping) temples. In some parts of Syria serpent worshippers were known as
Hivites (linked with the root word hivvah which from which came the biblical name of
Eve which could then be equated with "female serpent"). In India serpent deities are
known as the Naga.

From South America text said to have been written by Votan (Quetzalcoatl), in the
language of the Quiches says he left Valum Chivim [5] and came to the New World to
apportion land among seven families who came with him and were said to be of serpent
origin or culebra. Passing the “land of thirteen snakes” he arrived in Valum Votan,
founding the city of Nachan (City of Snakes), thought to be Palenque, possibly around 15
BC or even earlier. In reference to Serpent Mounds there is the description of a
subterranean passage, that terminated at the ‘root of heaven’ – referred to as a ‘snake’s
hole’ while snake heaven was Patala. Votan was only allowed entry because he was ‘the
son of a snake’ from which we can infer he was an initiate in the serpent cult.

Serpent Wisdom
There are two distinct elements of practical wisdom originating in the serpent tales, fables
and folklore. Firstly that the physical snake itself not only sloughs off its skin and appears
to be re-born from within a cave or under a rock, but that the very elements of the physical
snake could actually prevent disease and cures ill health. The knowledge of amazing
regenerative properties of the various parts of the snake have been discovered in hundreds
of ancient medica materia, alchemical texts and hidden within folklore. The venom of the
snake was used as an Elixir to help prevent disease through boosting the immune system
with high levels of protein. And secondly mixing the neurotoxic venom with the blood of
the snake or mammalian host such as a horse brings on altered states of consciousness
much akin to certain drugs used by shaman across the world from ancient times. Visions of
‘otherworlds’ seen in such trances are often depicted as tombs, wombs or caves, within
which sometimes benevolent, sometimes terrible, serpents are encountered.

In any discussion of serpent wisdom we cannot fail to also mention the ancient Hindu
Kundalini practice. Kundalini means simply "coiled serpent" and in the Indian system the
ida and pingala energy (through serpent channels) are raised up and down the spine to
raise the consciousness of the adept. There are six chakra energy vortices aligning the
spine, with a seventh emerging from the top of the head, which is called the bindu. Each
chakra location must be traversed upwardly, and in balance, before one can achieve the
bindu enlightenment reminiscent of the reference in Apostles, Acts 2 where enlightenment
is reached and described as fire licking at the head in the bindu position.

I recently met up with the dowser Hamish Miller who has followed the Michael and Mary
lines of telluric energy across Europe finding many examples of Kundalini images and the
dual serpentine caduceus known to all health practitioners the world over. We shared our
amazement at the widespread frequency of the serpent in myth and folklore

Mankind has from time immemorial searched for longer life and divine wisdom. The
result is a sacred and often, secret code, hidden in the landscape, locked away in ancient
texts and deep within our own inner energy system. It is a secret code of the divine and
wise serpent that has survived the attempts of the Christian Church to eradicate it. If you
hear its call, there is a wellspring of knowledge out there for you to discover.

1 According to Giraldus Cambrensis or Gerald of Wales.
2 Today, the inner traditions of the serpent energy are most prominent in the Kundalini and
Chakra based systems practised by Eastern adepts and many New Age societies in
the West.
3 The Serpent Grail by Philip Gardiner with Gary Osborn, Watkins, 2005.
4 The Ureaus, also known as Wadjyt, Wadjit, Uto, Uatchet and Edjo was a pre-
dynastic ‘cobra goddess’ of Lower Egypt (approximately 4,000 BC) who took the
title ‘The Eye of Ra.’
5 Chivim is a Hebrew word, meaning “sons of the female serpent” (or Eve) and may
imply a greater knowledge of this journey from a Judaic perspective.

More Information
• ,The Serpent Grail: The Truth Behind the Holy Grail by Philip Gardiner with Gary
Osborn, published by Watkins at £16.99 Is available from Kindred Spirit’s mail order
• Philip Gardiner is the best selling author of The Shining Ones: The world's most
powerful secret society revealed, and with Gary Osborn also The Serpent Grail: The Truth
Behind the Holy Grail, Elixir of Life and Philosopher's Stone and Gnosis: The Secret of
Solomon's Temple Revealed. Gardiner is a radio presenter, speaker and does tours through The authors websites are,, and