Steve and I found a snake today in our backyard. He was rather predicatably hiding under my sandbox (meant for castings but not used much since I found out how hard it was to make anything that looked half way decent). We had to move his happy place over a few feet in order to mow the lawn. Steve went to find a stick and when he came back, neither of us could locate our new-found friend. We can only hope he slithered to a better (read: underground) space before Steve got after the yard with the lawnmower. He didn’t look much like this one, but I couldnt’ resist:
Seeing the small brown grass-snake reminded me of a post I had wanted to write a few weeks ago. About snakes. I tend to obsess a little bit about trends (although you could never tell that by looking at me), and I think I am seeing one toward snakes… which makes me happy. Why? Well maybe I’m strange (or worked too many years at the zoo), but I think they are beautiful. Plus, it *is* the Chinese year of the Snake. And I was born in the year of the snake… maybe that has something to do with my fascination.
At any rate, it’s very fitting that they should be featured in jewelry and decorative goods. Back in the turn of the century, the Art Nouveau movement captured them to great effect in staircase railings, necklaces, rings, tiaras, chandeliers, light fixtures, etc. But what I find so interesting is just how far back our fascination with snakes has gone. Of course there were the regal cobras featured in the headdresses of the pharoahs of Egypt, but the trend for snakes of all backgrounds and species existed even throughout the early and middle ages, from the heydays of the Greeks and Romans on through the dark ages. Found in tombs and sacred sites all over Britain and the north countries were fairly large numbers of arm circlets, neck torques, and finger rings making reference to that particular reptile.
In fact, much like my friend in the yard, snakes really never went away. They just slithered somewhere and hid out for a bit, until another civilization picked up on their simple, graphic beauty.
These simple snake rings from Etsy are lovely.
The Celts were known well for the cladaugh design of the heart and hands, but did you know about the much more ancient symbol of the orobouros? This ring design was found in many tombs across the pictish areas of what is now Norway, Finland, Scotland and Ireland. The rings are being reinterpreted by modern jewelry artists in the same spirit. Just look at this design; graphic and simple and kind of creepy. But beautiful.