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Mythical Serpents - Nāgas and Jörmungandr



 

The Serpent is a fascinating symbolic and spiritual entity which has appeared in cultures throughout the many ages, reminding humanity of the rising flow of the magical force of the Kundalini inherent within each individual, including our Earth Mother Gaia and her Celestial sisters and brothers.

The Nāgas in the rich Hindu mythos are the Serpent people, those of the snake who recognized the symbolic nature of the coiling beast as one to be embraced and felt within the eternal Spirit. To understand the nature of a manifestation within the world both inside and outside is to become that manifestation in heart and Soul.

In the heroic Norse sagas, Jörmungandr the sea Serpent wraps himself around the world, rising out from the sea of consciousness. The sea has always symbolized the realm of the subconscious, stretching as far as the eye projects its glorious Nature around the very fabric of existence.
 

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The saga of the Nāgas


The Vedic god of Storms, Varuna is the Protector of the Nāgas. This sacred family live together on Mount Sumeru in the realm of Pātāla which is the seventh dimension of Spirit. Among the prominent Nāgas in Hinduism are Manasa, Shesha and Vasuki.

The Nāgas are the servants of Virūpāksa, the celestial western Wind. They stand guard and protect the devas of Trāyastrimśa from attack by the Asuras.

In the epic Mahabharata, the Nāgas chief nemesis was the gigantic eagle-king Garuda who is also a cousin to the Nāgas.

 


The sage Kasyapa had two wives; Kadru who desired many offspring and Vinata who desired a few powerful children. Kadru laid one thousand eggs which all hatched into snakes and thus became the wise Nāgas. Vinata had two children; Surya the Sun god and Garuda.

Through the loss of a bet, Vinata became enslaved to her sister Kadru, together with her son Garuda, who was also required to do the bidding of the serpentine Nāgas. He built up a huge grudge against his cousins. A day came when he conferred with the Nāgas about how he could be released from his servitude. The Nāgas informed him to bring them amrita, the elixir of immortality.

 


Garuda stole the elixir from the gods and brought it to the Nāgas and through a ruse, prevented the Nāgas from drinking of it and thus achieving immortality. The elixir was taken away by Indra, however a few drops remained on the ground. The Nāgas licked up the drops and in doing so, cut their tongues. Since then their tongues have been forked. On that fateful day Garuda named his cousins as enemies and as food.

In India, Nāgas are perceived as nature spirits and the protectors of springs, wells and rivers who bring rain and fertility to the land. They are considered good omens and bring fortunes to their benefactors.

 


 

The epic of Jörmungandr


Jörmungandr is also known as the Midgard Serpent who was the middle child of the giantess Angrboša and the trickster God, Loki.

Odin took Loki's three children; Fenrisślfr, Hel and Jörmungandr and tossed Jörmungandr into the great sea which encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so large that he surrounded the Earth and grasped his own tail (Ouroboros). It is said that when he lets go of his tail, the world will come to an end.

 


Thor the Thunder god and Jörmungandr share an interesting relationship with each other as both are entwined magnificently in a sweet tapestry.

In the beautifully poetic Norse Eddas, it is said that Thor went fishing with the giant Hymir. When they were out on the waters, Hymir refused to give Thor bait, which resulted in Thor using the head of Hymir’s largest ox as such. Thor prepared a strong line with a large hook which he cast out into the deep waters. Jörmungandr found the bait and bit. Thor pulled the serpent from the water, whereupon the two faced one another, Jörmungandr dripping poison and blood. Hymir went pale with fear as he knew what would happen if Jörmungandr was slain.

 


Before Thor could deliver the killing blow, Hymir cut the line, allowing the glorious serpent to sink beneath the waves, thus saving the world from doom.

It is predicted that in the final meeting between Jörmungandr and Thor which is to occur at Ragnarök, both will slay each other. After Jörmungandr poisons the sky, Thor will kill the creature and then walk nine paces and fall dead.

 

 

The troubles with the Nāgas and Garuda, and the battle between Thor and Jörmungandr symbolizes the test of mettle and strength within the psyche; the quest in overcoming personal fear, the journey to the eternal Self, will and determination coming to balance, having passed through one of the most important rites of passage, overcoming one's own conflicting Nature.


 

 

 

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