History and Symbolism of the Gold Snake Ring

History and Symbolism of the Gold Snake Ring

Snake rings of various materials including gold, silver and platinum have become highly fashionable over the last few years. Though some women refuse to wear them because they associate the snake with fear, others find them irresistible: love or hate the emotion invoked always seems to be intense. Perhaps for this reason the archeological evidence shows people have cherished snake rings since well before history was first recorded.

Generally rings – particularly those made of precious metals – have great symbolic significance in most cultures. The snake in itself, however, is one of the most potent symbols of all; perhaps the most important symbol recorded in the records of prehistoric man. The first recorded evidence of ritual behavior and religion is in a 70-80,000-year-old snake shaped rock of massive size found in the Tsodilo Hills of Botswana.

The local people call the place “The Mountain of the Gods.” The snake rock gives the appearance of wriggling motion from thousands of notches carved on it that flicker as the light changes. Broken spear heads strewn around suggest that people came from hundreds of miles around to take part in some kind of deeply significant sacrificial ritual; that mankind’s first religious activity involves a snake as its central object of worship should perhaps come as no surprise.

Freud’s work on psychoanalysis showed how, even for modern men and women, the snake is a powerful symbol of sexual desire: dream analysis often reveals the presence of snakes which generally have a sexual or sensual connotation and often reveal repressed feelings. How could this have come about as such an inbuilt part of the human psyche? Jung would have said that it was simply “part of the collective unconscious.” However, the real reason probably arises from the physical form of the snake itself, the sensation of touching its skin or at least imagining doing so, and its potential to cause death. Though long and soft it has the constant potential to rear up and bite; it may curl around the body and cause death this way too.

The fact is the snake ring combines two of the most potent symbols of mankind into an object of extraordinary psychological power: the ring, which is a symbol of enduring union, and the snake which symbolizes sexuality. For this reason many cultures over the ages have embraced the snake ring including Christianity, Chinese, Aztec, as well as Indian and Scandinavian culture.

When you buy a snake ring therefore you are not simply acquiring an object of fashion. Instead you become part of a long tradition of people who have sensed in the snake ring something more than simply its physical presence. There are those who say that you should never accept a gift of a snake ring, particularly one made of gold, from a partner to whom you are not married or do not intend to marry. This is of course an old wives tale – actually based on a Scandinavian story I remember when I was a girl – and not something you should consider if you really want a ring, even though I must add, an interesting story to reflect upon. Anyway if you really wanted you could always chose silver or platinum.