This is a heavily pondered topic with many ideas on what the Druid Snake egg is and its meaning. Some modern folks suggest all kinds of things, and they are of value. Well, some are. We will explore a little of this. We will start with the attested documentation from Pliny.
There is also a sort of egg, famous in the provinces of Gaul, but ignored by the Greeks. Innumerable snakes coil themselves into a ball in the summertime. Thus they make it so that it is held together by a bodily secretion and by their saliva. It is called an anguinum. The Druids say that [the snakes] hiss and cast it upwards and that it is to be caught in a cloak so that it not touch the ground. One must immediately ride off on a horse with it, for the snakes will continue to pursue until the course of a stream blocks their way. If one tests it, the anguinum will float against the current of a river even when covered in gold. And, as the magi will throw a cloak of deception over their trickery, they make out as though the eggs are to be taken only on a particular point in the lunar cycle, as though it was up to human beings to determine the snakes’ role in this procedure. Nonetheless, I have seen one of these eggs myself. It was round, the size of a small apple. The shell was cartilaginous, and mottled with cups like the tentacles of a squid. The Druids value it highly: it is praised as insuring success in litigation and in going to audiences with kings. However, this is nonsense; for once a man (a Roman knight and a tribesman of the Vocontii) held one of these eggs against his body during a trial, and was condemned to death by the Emperor Claudius, for that reason alone so far as I can tell.
Pliny’s Natural History, XXIX.52
With the above, what are we left with? What exactly was the stone? Was it truly a Snake Egg? Was it a handmade object? Here are a few things folks suggest.
Whelk egg – These are many different kinds of sea snail castings.
Adder Stones – They are Stones or Glass found with holes in them. These holes are created from water and are usually found on the coast or in rivers.
Hemicidaris crenularis Lamk – This is a fossilized sea Urchin.
Hand Crafted – It is also suggested that they where hand made from many different materials.
There are many more theories on what they were, some logical sounding and others way out there. There have been several items found to be Druid Eggs in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Also, stories to what is thought to be the Druid egg. We will not be talking about these.
So what is it?
It truly does not matter what it was, as in what it was made of or its form, instead of focusing and bringing to the front what it symbolizes and the philosophical thought.
Now, it seems it could be lots of things, but either way, the symbol of the snake egg is what matters the most. With the above quote from Pliny, I hear traces of a myth and some ritual. We do know that the Druids spoke in riddles and sayings from other accounts that have been documented. I think it is a form of metaphorical philosophical speech describing how the eggs came to be. Exactly what the myth is? Well, it could be many things. I favor the Snake Egg representing the Cosmos, the serpent, the creative spirit – the egg is the source of the universe. This is somewhat of a common theme in Indo European creation myths as it symbolizes the primordial state from which the universe comes from. Found in the Greek to Germanic to the Vedic myths as well as the reconstructed Indo-European cosmology. The Primordial cosmic egg seems in my mind to also be within the lost mythology and cosmology of Gaul. Death to life to rebirth; the never-ending cycle of creation. The snake is often guarding a scared thing in many stories and myths from around the world.
I am not here to create or reconstruct that myth. Only to talk about the Druid Snake Egg.
Let’s take a quick stop for thought.
In Greek Orphic thought, the cosmic egg hatched the primordial being. It is often depicted with a serpent wrapped around it. So the universe was born from this egg.
A mystic Greek religion offering initiates purification of the soul from innate evil and release from the cycle of reincarnation. It insists on freeing one’s soul from the physical chains of the material realm. The orphic concept of reincarnation is that the soul is purified in its sufferings during the physical rebirth. As the soul occupies the body, it is really doing penance for previous incarnations, which gradually purifies the soul. The Cycle goes on and on. The way to stop this cycle is through an act of divine grace that could only be achieved by devoting oneself to Orpheus’s teachings through the writings and its rituals and thus receiving the initiation into the mysteries of its teachings. We do not know the exact way of initiation, but one could assume fasting, purification rites, prayers, etc.
Some claim that Pythagoras was a founder of the above tradition or had something to do with it.
Why are we talking about Pythagoras? It has been heavily speculated that some of his thoughts are the same or similar to the Druids. As we do not have written Druid Philosophy, we have to lean on the Ancient Greeks to help us.
- An expert on the soul’s fate after death thought that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations.
- An expert on religious ritual.
- A wonder-worker who had a thigh of gold and who could be two places at the same time.
- The founder of a strict way of life emphasized dietary restrictions, religious rituals, and rigorous self-discipline.
The Pythagorean doctrine prevails among them [the Gauls], teaching that the souls of men are immortal and live again for a fixed number of years inhabited in another body.
Diodorus Siculus, “Histories”, v, 28, 6
Metempsychosis – meaning transmigration of the soul; and most especially its reincarnation after death. In which a soul lives in a succession of forms, including both human and animal. In between each life ~ in human or animal form; the soul rests in the Otherworld. With this, there is the idea of Death and Rebirth, so we druids believe in reincarnation. Well, most of us do. Philostratus of Tyana documented this view in the 2nd century. We are born in this world and die in the otherworld. Furthermore, when we die in this world, we are born in the otherworld—this a common theme in Druidry Death, Rebirth, and Renewal. We can see this in Nature all around us.
I only mention this as it seems to relate to a philosophical approach to the Druid Egg symbolism. That with Devotion and understanding, one can be born free from the chains of this realm.
Our essence is linked with that of the Deoui. Our destination, our being, becomes clear when we have understood the nature of the realm of life. That which is between the others
Ouion Natracos is Gaulish for snakes egg.
So with that, we come to our first mystery teachings within Druidobessus.
When a Druits becomes initiated, the soul hatches forth. Reborn from physical into the spiritual.
- The Egg represents the Soul of the Druits
- The serpent the Mysteries
These are the deepest teachings within Druidobessus. This is for those who want to put their religion and belief at the forefront of their lives—the truth-seekers and lovers of wisdom, those that think upon the nature of reality.
Set on a path of devotional living and rigorous discipline a form of Monastic living. Bringing focus, Awareness, and to remain in a state of stillness and centeredness. This is a philosophical view of the regenerative system of transmigration to develop the progress of the soul. These will be sacred rites and initiations. We will discuss this more in time. It is a mystery teaching, after all.
These are my opinions and do not reflect the greater Gaulish or Druid Communities.
How Druidobessus sees the snake egg is not historical.
This is what calls to me, and it is the meaning that Druidobessus shall hold.
The Druids Garden has a nice little write-up and a Beltane Craft using eggs so go check that out.