The Chaos Serpent

Throughout different cultures, the Chaos Serpent (i.e. Leviathan) is present in nearly the same form representing the cleansing of the earth and rebirth in its image.  Whether it's a multi-headed hydra, deep sea serpent, or tentacled creature, the Chaos Serpent is an unfathomable being of cosmic significance. 

Hebrew and Christian: Leviathan

Leviathan versus Yahweh

If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again!

Any hope of subduing it is false, the mere sight of it is over-powering. 

 

No one is fierce enough to rouse it.

Who then is able to stand against me?

Who has a claim against me that I must pay?

Everything under heaven belongs to me.

- Book of Job

Leviathan the Creator

 

[God] crushed Leviathan's heads, gave him as food to the wild animals. 

 

You released the springs and brooks, and tuned primordial rivers into dry land.

- Book of Psalms

William Blake. Behemoth and Leviathan. 1825, reprinted 1874

Canaan: Lotan

Ancient carving Ba'al Hadad Battling Lotan

Lotan versus Ba'al

 

When you smite Lôtan, the fleeing serpent,

finish off the twisting serpent,

the close–coiling one with seven heads,

The heavens wither and go slack

like the folds  of your tunic.

(Then) I, with groans, am devoured,

(like) a piece of dung I die.

(So) you must (for your part) descend into the throat of Môtu, son of ʾIlu, 

into the watery depths of the beloved warrior of ʾIlu.

- The Ba’lu Myth

Mighty One with Seven Heads

 

Lotan, meaning “coiled serpent” and referred to as  “the mighty one with seven heads” is an agent of chaos in the ancient religion known as Canaan.  Symbolizing renewal and forced creation, Lotan was defeated by Ba’al in the Ugartic Ba’al Cycle and its body was used to re-create heaven and earth after a period of destruction. 

 

Canaan predates Christianity and is known to worship such beings through human sacrifice, often masked before being burned as an offering to their deities.

Egyptian: Apep

Eighth Dynasty hieroglyph of Apep, the Egyptian Deity of Chaos.

Egyptian carving depicting the ancient ritual required to keep Apep imprisoned.

Apep versus Ma'at 

 

Your head is crushed, O Groundling!  Your bones are broken up and your flesh cut in pieces.  [Ra] has consigned you to the Earth Dragon, O Apep! Enemy of Ra!

- Book of Apophis

Eater of Souls

 

Residing in the Underworld, Apep has many names including the Serpent of Rebirth, Encircler of the Earth, Demonic Water Snake of Chaos, and Eater of Souls.  Apep was considered a catalyst to naturally occurring transformative disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and volcanos.  Often, an eclipse was an omen of the coming of the Eater of Souls.  

 

Apep was known for hypnotizing its victims before swallowing them whole in an effort to cover the world in darkness.  Dismemberment was the only way thought to defeat the Egyptian deity.  Priests renewed the spell binding Apep through by spitting, defiling, spearing, and burning wax mannequins of Apep while chanting prayers.  This ritual was conducted annually for Apep cannot be destroyed, only contained.