Rainbow Serpent

(Image: Fairchild, CC BY-SA 3.0/Cropped)

The rainbow serpent is a great snake in the legends of Central and West Africa, Australia, and Haiti, but it is most prevalent in the Dreamtime legends of Australia. It is sometimes represented as a gigantic python with rainbow-colored scales, red and yellow stripes down its body, or a celestial blue hue, and is associated with water. In Australia, the rainbow serpent created deep rivers as it moved along the earth, and then called upon frogs with bellies full of water to fill these riverbeds with water. The rainbow serpent stays dormant during the dry season, but during the wet season, it flies into the sky and glimmers (Rose 305-306).

Because of its connection with water and the legend’s roots in a creation story, the rainbow serpent seems to be respected for making life possible. The glimmering of the serpent during the wet season may be an explanation for rainbows and why they only appear in wet air.


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