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In Africa the chief centre of serpent worship was Dahomey, but the cult of the python seems to have been of exotic origin, dating back to the first quarter of the 17th century.

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The serpent, or snake, is one of the oldest and most widespread mythological symbols.

The word is derived from Latin serpens, a crawling animal or snake.

Serpents are connected with vengefulness and vindictiveness.

This connection depends in part on the experience that venomous snakes often deliver deadly defensive bites without giving prior notice or warning to their unwitting victims.

His messenger was said to be a small variety of boa, but only certain individuals, not the whole species, were sacred.

In many parts of Africa the serpent is looked upon as the incarnation of deceased relatives.Below the image of the snake is the legend, "Don't tread on me." The snake symbolized the dangerousness of colonists willing to fight for their rights and homeland.The motif is repeated in the First Navy Jack of the US Navy. The snake's venom is associated with the chemicals of plants and fungi that have the power to either heal, poison or provide expanded consciousness (and even the elixir of life and immortality) through divine intoxication.This connection may be grounded in the observation that when threatened, some snakes (such as rattlesnakes or cobras) frequently hold and defend their ground, first resorting to threatening display and then fighting, rather than retreat.Thus, they are natural guardians of treasures or sacred sites which cannot easily be moved out of harm's way.During the dance, live snakes were handled and at the end of the dance the snakes were released into the fields to guarantee good crops.

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