Craving, single-mindedness, self-will, shrewdness

About the meaning: The Snake is very often interpreted almost exclusively as seduction, or as a person (usually a woman - surprise, surprise!) who is malicious in one way or another, or "older". My own approach to the Snake, while it doesn't preclude seduction or malice, has a very different slant. It focuses on desire, ambition, and self-will.

Craving / demand / desire: The Snake for me primarily represents craving, demand, and desire. It can mean that we desire something or someone very much; that we want to obtain something, or want to get somewhere, very strongly. While the object of this desire can be anything, it is knowledge, power, or sex, which many people very strongly crave. This is the reason why thirst for knowledge, lust for power, and sexual desire, are an explicit part of the Snake's meaning.
Now, striving for something could be viewed as a positive or a negative thing. Many desires are fun (some even very healthy) to follow. Other desires are better held in check because acting them out would cause harm to ourselves or others, as is the case with addictions. For example, while the Snake can stand for passionate seduction, a consensual affair, or a pleasantly high sex drive, it can also represent sexual coercion, or sex addiction. The Snake can stand for the willingness to lead, the ability to use one's power when appropriate. But it can also suggest an abuse of power, especially in the sense of manipulation. The Snake often represents a person who is striving for knowledge in order to do good in the world - but sometimes it hints at someone who is trying to acquire knowledge they have no right to obtain, e.g. in the form of espionage. So when the Snake turns up in a reading I look very closely at the querent and the context to determine whether it is a good or bad idea for them to try to obtain what they desire.

Ambition / motivation / single-mindedness: Closely related to craving and demand is ambition. The Snake represents that; as well as motivation, and in a person's work life, their career. Sometimes the Snake can be interpreted as a suggestion that we should strive for something, reach or aim for something. It can represent a strong sense of direction, the attraction to something, or a person who knows exactly what they want. The Snake can stand for goal-oriented acting or thinking, for single-mindedness, and determination. It may also indicate situations or processes in which we need a lot of drive if we want to reach our goal - in which we mustn't let anything distract us. The Snake may be suggesting that we mustn't give up on something or somebody; that we should persevere - even if we are forced to make some detours in order to get there in the end.
Looked at from a more negative angle, the Snake may also indicate that we have become so ambitious or single-minded that we are relating to other people only through the lense of calculation. In that sense the card represents ruthlessness. It can indicate a type of person who, in order to reach their goal, would sell their own grandmother.

Self-will / empowerment / selfishness: Directly deducing from the meanings described in the paragraph above, I also interpret the Snake as self-will. It can represent a person who tenaciously strives for what they want, even (or especially) when their environment tries to hinder them. The Snake to me represents an indomitable, headstrong, person. I see the Snake very much as a card about empowerment - especially, but not limited to, the empowerment to follow one's desires, or one's true calling. From this angle, it is a very, very positive card. But if it is not accompanied by a good dose of empathy and regard for other people's well-being, strong self-will can get out of hand and turn into selfishness, into egotistical, inconsiderate behaviour. You then end up with the traditionally evil snake in the grass, with a person who will think nothing of harming you if that furthers their own concerns.

Cunning / diplomacy / manipulation: Common interpretations of the Snake include cunning. Now, cunning can be described as a type of intelligence in which practical skill, shrewdness, and deception, are blended together in varying proportions. Traditional interpretations tend to emphasise the deception. Here, the Snake represents self-serving manipulation of others and malicious trickery. I personally tend to emphasise skill and shrewdness. Often, the Snake to me doesn't suggest clever, self-serving deception but diplomacy. Along this line the Snake can represent the ability to steer - not manipulate! - people in a productive direction. It can stand, neutrally, for situations in which a lot of tact is needed, an intimate knowledge of the intricacies of communication and conduct, in order to reach a goal. It can stand for a person who is shrewd: someone who has the intelligence and creative quickness of mind to adapt their actions quickly and appropriately to the demands of their environment so that they can still reach their goal.

See also the annakblogs article >> So, is the Snake a positive or negative card?

About the Image: In many cultures snakes represent mystical power, healing, and wisdom; they are even revered as holy creatures. But in our Western culture we most usually view snakes as creepy or yucky at best, evil at worst. In my painting of the Snake I tried to get more of the positive view of the Snake across. My snake is not venomous although it is a great hunter - it closely resembles an Aesculapian snake. The Aesculapian snake is the symbol of doctors and pharmacies. And my snake is making its way towards pomegranates. Pomegranates have served as a symbol for a whole lot of things which all fit in well with my interpretation of the Snake. They stand for sexuality, sensuality, but also for power, and spiritual strength. So: in my card the Snake moves towards power, sensuality and knowledge - it wants them! And it is making its way there slowly and quietly but steadily.

Something else worth mentioning is that in my book there is a connection between the Snake and the Crossroads - they are, in some respects, opposites. And so I decided to connect the two cards visually, too. As you can see the Snake's pomegranate tree seems to grow in the same landscape the Crossroads is set in.

While the the Snake is about single-mindedness the Crossroads can stand for hesitation, or suggest that we are in two minds, ambivalent, about something. While the Snake represents the tenacious striving for a specific goal, the Crossroads stands for a situation in which a goal has not yet been chosen. This is why I chose blue cornflowers for the Crossroads - someone is still tarrying, thinking - and red poppy for the Snake - someone is passionately motivated to act.  
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