… Because it sheds its skin, the snake has long been a symbol of death and rebirth. It sheds its skin as it outgrows the old. This death and rebirth cycle is part of what snake represents. It has ties and significance to the ancient alchemists and their symbolic transmutation of lead into gold. This is associated with higher wisdom that comes with the passing of time. This cycle of death and rebirth is often symbolized by the ouroborus, the ancient image of a snake swallowing its own tail. It is the symbol of eternity.
Before the snake begins to shed its skin, its eyes will begin to cloud over. It gives the snake a trancelike appearance. To many mystics and shamans this indicated the ability of the snake to move between the realms of the living and the dead, of crossing over from life to death and then back to life again. As the skin begins to shed, the eyes begin to clear as if they will see the world anew. For this reason, alchemists often believed that wisdom and new knowledge would lead to death and rebirth, enabling the individual to see the world from an entirely new perspective.
… Anytime a snake shows up as a totem, you can expect death and rebirth to occur in some area of your life. This rarely reflects an actual death, but rather a transition. Look for a change in conditions and a movement to new life. Examine what is going on around you. Are you needing to make changes but aren’t for some reason? Are you trying to force change too quickly? Are you striking out at people and shouldn’t? Are you not striking and should? Remember that a snake not only uses its venom and bite to overcome prey, but also for defense. What is needing to be healed? What new opportunities are surfacing that you need to strike out for and take advantage of?
… Snakes are symbols of change and healing. They have speed and agility, so those who have snakes come into their life will usually find the changes and shifts occur quickly and are soon recognized and defined. When snake comes into your life you can look for a rebirth into new powers of creativity and wisdom.
~ Ted Andrews, Animal Speak