Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Serpent Queens and Snake Goddesses

Who was SHAHMARAN? How is she linked to other Serpentine Myths?

#serpentqueens and #snakegodesses and an #indoeuropean #myth found across Eurasia from Greece to India and beyond.

In the Middle East there are tales in Syria Turkey Iran and elsewhere of a shape shifting serpent queen who marries a human and shares treasure called #ShahMaran.

She is depicted in folk art and on jewellery and amulets as a woman wearing jewels and a crown with a snake or dragon body.

France has the legend of Melusine who is said to have an half serpent form and have come to her spring from something in Albania or the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Greece has Lamia and the Echidna who are part serpent.

India and SE Asia has stories of nagas  such as this couple!

Given the spread of the myth it appears to be IndoEuropean or even Pre Indo European as the nagas are described as living in caves and rivers.

Another clue is the description of Echidna being pre Olympian and also in one story the ancestress of the Scythians of Central Asia and the Steppes who probably spoke an Indo European Language.

In Greece Echidna like Tiamat in Mesopotamia is a mother of monsters but those monsters were more hostile to the Olympians than humans though there is the story of the Lamia  who kills children and preys on adults too.

My personal suspicion is that this sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile entity may even predate the IndoEuropean expansion? 

Perhaps she was originally a goddess of water carving out rivers and channels through primodrial wetlands into seas and lakes . The twisting body of a snake  may have seemed like the meanders of a river to the ancients.

So why compare Shahmaran to Echidna or the nagas?

It shows us both convergence and divergence play a role to cultural development with preIndoEuropean beliefs across Eurasia fusing with IndoEuropean ideas about dragons and serpents yet changing over the centuries so we have Melusine the Fay with children with monstrous features and yet Nu Wa the half serpent mother creatrix in ancient Chinese myth and Tiamat and Nagas.

Both the vampiric Lamia of Greece and Shahmaran the majestic are echoes or shadows or something else of a power ancient and primal.