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While neither the snake nor serpent appears in current masonic symbolism or ritual, many regalia-makers have used it to fashion the belt hook on masonic aprons. Intended as a symbol of wisdom, the eternal, the universe, the world or regeneration and rebirth, this usage has been singled out by some anti-masons as "proof" that the "Brotherhood of the Snake" worships Satan. All they have proved is their ignorance of its historical usage. Regalia makers quite probably simply adopted a common belt-hook used by manufacturers of clothing for British schoolboys.
The serpent

It cannot be overemphasized that the serpent or snake plays no role in the teachings or ritual of regular Freemasonry. Its introduction as a fastener for masonic aprons is easily seen as the work of regalia manufacturers. That said, the symbolic usages of the snake are of interest to students of religion, esoterica, and of history.
On the other hand, George Oliver writes that the serpent is a "significant symbol in Freemasonry : Moses' rod changed into a serpent,1 "The serpentine emblem of Masonry... is a bright symbol of Hope; for the promised Deliverer will open the gates of Heaven to his faithful followers by bruising its head, and they shall enter triumphantly, trampling on its prostrate body." "A striking emblem of Christianity triumphant; and bearing an undoubted reference to the promise made to Adam after his unhappy fall."2 In mainstream Christian beliefs, the snake represents temptation and evil: the snake is the servant of Satan. But it has also had its more positive significance.
In ancient Egyptian mythology the world was created by four powers, one of which was the sun god Amun-Ra who took the form of a snake and emerged from the water to inseminated the cosmic egg, the kneph, which was created by the other gods. In another story, a god named Hathor transformed himself into a poisonous snake called Agep and killed Seth. He also guarded the wheat fields where the spirit of Horus was said to live, bringing the sheaf of wheat to be regarded as the symbol of rebirth. W. Bro. H. Meij suggests that this is the root of the masonic usage of an ear of corn in the Fellowcraft degree.
In Greek mythology Zeus freed two eagles which met at the centre of the world, sometimes called the navel of the earth, which is guarded by a snake called Pytho. The symbol Serpens Candivorens, a snake biting its tail, represents the unending cycle of nature between destruction, and new creation, life and death. The Greeks called this figure Ouroboros. Chinese mythology maintained that the world was surrounded by two entwined snakes, which symbolized the power and wisdom of the creator. In another legend the Buddha was attacked by a snake which bound itself seven times around his waist. Due to the inner strength of the Buddha, the snake could not kill him but instead became his follower.
Astrologers, or those interested in the historical development of astrology, will point out that some systems include a thirteenth sign of the zodiac known as Ophiuchus Serpentarius, the Serpent Holder. This constellation lies between Sagittarius and Libra, somewhat over Scorpio. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries this constellation was called Alpheichius. Known as the "God of Invocation", this house was named after the legendary healer, Ophiuchus (Asclepius). The two serpents in his hands later replaced the twin ribbons around the caduceus which became a symbol for physicians. Plato called this thirteenth sign "the god of the underworld", Pluto, although Christians during the mediaeval ages, changed it into the figure of St. Paul holding a viper, before dropping it altogether.
The 28th degree of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, the Knight of the Sun (Prince Adept), incorporates the Worm Ouroboros (the dragon, or serpent, holding his own tail in his mouth), into its iconography, representing the immortal and eternal principle as well as both love and wisdom. The 25th degree, The Knight of The Brazen Serpent, also incorporates this symbol.
Some writers have seen in the snake the duality of the male, phallic principle examplified by its physical shape, combined with the regenerative female principle demonstrated by its shedding skin. The caption under Bryant’s picture of the Orphic Egg reproduced in Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teachings of All Ages reads: "The ancient symbol of the Orphic Mysteries was the serpent-entwined egg, which signified Cosmos as encircled by the Fiery Creative Spirit." "The egg also represents the soul of the philosopher; the serpent, the Mysteries. At the time of initiation the shell is broken and man emerges from the embryonic state of physical existence wherein he had remained through the fetal period of philosophic regeneration." Some masonic writers will identify this initiatory aspect of the serpent with masonic initiation.
Freemasonry teaches the hope in eternal life and promotes the principles of brotherly love and wisdom. In these attributes the serpent can be seen to have masonic significance. It is simplistic though—and false—to assume that if the serpent represents specific masonic attributes, that other attributes of the serpent are therefore also masonic.

1.George Oliver, Historical Landmarks of Freemasonry and other evidences of Freemasonry, explained; in a series of practical lectures, with copious notes... in two volumes. vol. ii, The. Richard Spencer, 592 pp. 5 3/4" x 8 3/4". 750 pp. index. 5 3/4" x 8 3/4". London 1845 vol ii p.599
2.Oliver. vol i p. 62.
3.George Wither (1588-1667), A collection of emblems, ancient and moderne : quickened with metricall illvstrations, both morall and divine London : printed by A[ugustine] M[athewes] for Richard Royston ..., 1634-1635. 4parts in 1, [19],62,[6],63-124,[6],135-196,[6],209-270,[9] p (fol.) 200 plates engraved by Crispin de Passe and appeared originally in Rollenhagius' Emblemata sacra, 1611-13 . The last two pages consist of an emblematic wood-cut with its explanation. With additional title-page engraved (Johnson: Marshall, no. 29)


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