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Original artwork for sale. Please contact redeye@designbyredeye.com for inquiries.

Mixed media (liquid gold leaf, oil pastels, colored pencils, silver ink, liquid silver leaf, black marker) on light blue Canson paper, 19 × 25 inches.

This photo does not do the original artwork justice as you can’t see the different metallic bits so well in the photograph. (There are two different types of silver used, for example, which you can differentiate in person, but not so well in the photo). But you get the idea at any rate….

Artwork is inspired by the Tree of Life / World Tree / Serpent Tree mythologies found across various cultures and religions. View more of my artwork online at lynnetteshelley.com

I uploaded this artwork on 12/28/09 and it’s rapidly becoming one of my most popular works with 39favoritings as of 1/08/2010

View photos of this artwork as a work in progress here

Thus sayeth Wikipedia

“Chthonic serpents and sacred trees

In many myths the chthonic serpent (sometimes a pair) lives in or is coiled around a Tree of Life situated in a divine garden. In the Genesis story of the Torah and Biblical Old Testament the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is situated in the Garden of Eden together with the tree of immortality. In Greek mythology Ladon coiled around the tree in the garden of the Hesperides protecting the entheogenic golden apples.
Níðhöggr gnaws the roots of Yggdrasil in this illustration from a 17th century Icelandic manuscript.

Similarly Níðhöggr (Nidhogg Nagar) the dragon of Norse mythology eats from the roots of the Yggdrasil the World Tree.

Under yet another Tree (the Bodhi tree of Enlightenment), the Buddha sat in ecstatic meditation. When a storm arose, the mighty serpent king Mucalinda rose up from his place beneath the earth and enveloped the Buddha in seven coils for seven days, not to break his ecstatic state.

The Vision Serpent was also a symbol of rebirth in Mayan mythology, fuelling some cross-Atlantic cultural contexts favored in pseudoarchaeology. The Vision Serpent goes back to earlier Maya conceptions, and lies at the center of the world as the Mayans conceived it. “It is in the center axis atop the World Tree. Essentially the World Tree and the Vision Serpent, representing the king, created the center axis which communicates between the spiritual and the earthly worlds or planes. It is through ritual that the king could bring the center axis into existence in the temples and create a doorway to the spiritual world, and with it power”. (Schele and Friedel, 1990: 68)
The Sumerian deity, Ningizzida, is accompanied by two gryphons; it is the oldest known image of two snakes coiling around an axial rod, dating from before 2000 BCE.

Sometimes the Tree of Life is represented (in a combination with similar concepts such as the World Tree and Axis mundi or “World Axis”) by a staff such as those used by shamans. Examples of such staffs featuring coiled snakes in mythology are the caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius, the staff of Moses, and the papyrus reeds and deity poles entwined by a single serpent Wadjet, dating to earlier than 3000 BCE. The oldest known representation of two snakes entwined around a rod is that of the Sumerian fertility god Ningizzida. Ningizzida was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head, eventually becoming a god of healing and magic. It is the companion of Dumuzi (Tammuz) with whom it stood at the gate of heaven. In the Louvre, there is a famous green steatite vase carved for king Gudea of Lagash (dated variously 2200–2025 BCE) with an inscription dedicated to Ningizzida. Ningizzida was the ancestor of Gilgamesh, who according to the epic dived to the bottom of the waters to retrieve the plant of life. But while he rested from his labor, a serpent came and ate the plant. The snake became immortal, and Gilgamesh was destined to die.
Ancient North American serpent imagery often featured rattlesnakes.

Ningizzida has been popularised in the 20th C. by Raku Kei Reiki (a.k.a. “The Way of the Fire Dragon”) where “Nin Giz Zida” is believed to be a fire serpent of Tibetan rather than Sumerian origin. Nin Giz Zida is another name for the ancient Hindu concept of Kundalini, a Sanskrit word meaning either “coiled up” or “coiling like a snake”. Kundalini refers to the mothering intelligence behind yogic awakening and spiritual maturation leading to altered states of consciousness. There are a number of other translations of the term usually emphasizing a more serpentine nature to the word— e.g. ‘serpent power’. It has been suggested by Joseph Campbell that the symbol of snakes coiled around a staff is an ancient representation of Kundalini physiology. The staff represents the spinal column with the snake(s) being energy channels. In the case of two coiled snakes they usually cross each other seven times, a possible reference to the seven energy centers called chakras.

In Ancient Egypt, where the earliest written cultural records exist, the serpent appears from the beginning to the end of their mythology. Ra and Atum (“he who completes or perfects”) became the same god, Atum, the “counter-Ra,” was associated with earth animals, including the serpent: Nehebkau (“he who harnesses the souls”) was the two headed serpent deity who guarded the entrance to the underworld. He is often seen as the son of the snake goddess Renenutet. She often was confused with (and later was absorbed by) their primal snake goddess Wadjet, the Egyptian cobra, who from the earliest of records was the patron and protector of the country, all other deities, and the pharaohs. Hers is the first known oracle. She was depicted as the crown of Egypt, entwined around the staff of papyrus and the pole that indicated the status of all other deities, as well as having the all-seeing eye of wisdom and vengeance. She never lost her position in the Egyptian pantheon.

The image of the serpent as the embodiment of the wisdom transmitted by Sophia was an emblem used by gnosticism, especially those sects that the more orthodox characterized as “Ophites” (“Serpent People”). The chthonic serpent was one of the earth-animals associated with the cult of Mithras. The Basilisk, the venomous “king of serpents” with the glance that kills, was hatched by a serpent, Pliny the Elder and others thought, from the egg of a cock.

Outside Eurasia, in Yoruba mythology, Oshunmare was another mythic regenerating serpent.

The Rainbow Serpent (also known as the Rainbow Snake) is a major mythological being for Aboriginal people across Australia, although the creation myth associated with it are best known from northern Australia. In Fiji Ratumaibulu was a serpent god who ruled the underworld and made fruit trees bloom."

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Having a great love animals, fairytales, and world mythology, Pennsylvania artist Lynnette Shelley fuses these influences into her strikingly unique illustrations. Her artwork strikes a primal chord in many viewers, with almost Jungian associations to the colors and shapes. Her artworks have been likened to images from an undiscovered ancient civilization or culture.

www.lynnetteshelley.com

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Comments

  • Trystan  Mitchell
    Trystan Mitchellalmost 5 years ago

    Fabulous and beautiful and awesome….stunning piece of work! And what a coincidence! Guess what I posted an hour ago??

  • I know Trystan. I saw your work and was going to say something then thought I’d surprise you :D Yours if FABulous btw.

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • Trystan  Mitchell
    Trystan Mitchellalmost 5 years ago

    There should be palaces of moghuls with your work on the walls….been looking at the larger view….it’s so incredibly alive! Love it :-DD

  • Thanks. I really wish there was some way to better photograph it though so that the metallics showed better. It really looks ten times better in person. Anyway, I’m going to post some inprogress photos of it sometime soon (later today or sometime tomorrow). I’m seeing if this work can go into the new gallery that I have some work at as well. I have to show to the owners and see….

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityalmost 5 years ago

    Beautiful Lynnette- I love the colours in this and the design is so 3 dimension looking, it really pops out- Definate FAV xoxox

  • Thanks Anita

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • Elisabeta Hermann
    Elisabeta Hermannalmost 5 years ago

    Beautiful piece! Outstanding execution!

  • Thanks Elisabeta. I appreciate your words!

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • eoconnor
    eoconnoralmost 5 years ago

    wonderful mtstical art piece great research love this !! LIZ

  • Thanks Liz!

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • linaji
    linajialmost 5 years ago

    Your work is so rich and alive. thank you for the info too really interesting write!

  • Thank you :)

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • Quinn Blackburn
    Quinn Blackburnalmost 5 years ago

    Love love love this beautiful and timely piece… enchanting work!

    :) wishing you laughter

  • Wishing you laughter as well Quinn

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • Cornelia Mladenova
    Cornelia Mlade...almost 5 years ago

    Amazing image! :)

  • Thanks Cornelia!

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • BGlatzeder
    BGlatzederalmost 5 years ago

    absolutely lovely :-) that orange/red with the silver/gray is amazing and so is the snake. Hahaha, I actually thought there were two of them at first … the curls of the tail echoing the curls of the tree with the sleek roots work so so well :-)) Wow!

  • Thanks Barbara. I had fun on this one

    – Lynnette Shelley

  • margotmythmaker
    margotmythmakeralmost 5 years ago

    Lynnette-this is beautiful-it feels different from your other works- can’t figure out why just yet…will let you know when I do! I just love how you so successfully blend different mythologies into one work. “as above-so below” with the two golden suns.

  • Thanks Margot. I was even thinking about the “as above, so below” concept but that works :)

    – Lynnette Shelley

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