The Worship of the Serpent – The Rev. John Bathurst Deane

worship serpent
Health Research Books – ?

I’m not entirely sure how this book ended up on my wanted list (I think I came across the title when researching the Ophite gnostics), but I spent a few months last year trying to find an affordable copy.  The book was originally published in 1833 and text is available online, but I don’t like print-on-demand books and I ended up ordering a copy that was supposedly published in 1970. The publishing company is called Health Research Books, and there is a website url given on the back cover of the book. Strange for a book from 1970 right? The cover looks like shit; I don’t know what that fucking picture is supposed to be, but inside is a decent facsimile copy of the original book.

The idea behind the book is rather interesting. The author claims that the events in the Book of Genesis are literally true, and that all of humanity can trace its origins back to Noah’s family on the ark. He notes that all mythologies feature serpents or serpent-like creatures in some form or another, and he argues that all mythological serpents have their origins in the serpent of Eden. The fact that so many myths and stories contain serpents is intriguing, but the argument here is pretty weak. Deane spends most of the book discussing the etymologies of the names of different mythological serpents and gods and showing how these names could have originated in different words for snake. It was enjoyable enough, but at no point did I feel remotely convinced in what Deane was saying. Some mythological serpents are representatives of evil, but others are benevolent creators. Deane’s thoroughly protestant response to this is to claim that any culture in which the serpent has become a positive force must have been made up of savages.

Mankind’s obsession with serpents is fascinating; we just can’t get enough of those slithery fucks. Why do so many cultures incorporate snakes into their mythologies? This is a legitimately interesting question, but I don’t believe that the answer lies in-a-gadda-da-vida. This book’s responses to this question come from within a Christian paradigm, and the book ultimately serves as an example of the phenomenon it discusses rather than as an answer to the question it poses. The worship of the serpent  is a damn cool topic, but this book is only going to be useful to a psychology student interested in studying the egocentrism of 19th century Christian clergymen.

This picture of Medusa’s minging face was one of my favourite parts of the book.mingin

The Worship of the Serpent – The Rev. John Bathurst Deane

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