The Rainbow Serpent or Rainbow Snake is an immortal being and creating God in Aboriginal Mythology. It is a popular image in the art of Aboriginal Australia. It is the shape of a rainbow and a snake.
The connection between snake and rainbow suggests the cycle of the seasons and the significance of them and water in human life. When a rainbow is seen in the sky, it is supposed to be the Rainbow Serpent traveling from one waterhole to another.
This is meant to explain why some waterholes never dry up when drought strikes. There are countless names and stories connected with the serpent. They all illustrate the importance and dominance of its presence within Aboriginal traditions.
It is said to be the giver of life, due to its connection to water, however it can be a destructive force if enraged.
The Rainbow Serpent (Snake) has a significant role in the beliefs and culture of the Aboriginals in western Arnhem Land. Today it is associated with ceremonies about fertility.
Aboriginals in the Kimberley regions believe that the Rainbow Serpent places spirit-children throughout waterholes in which women will become impregnated if they wade in the water.
It is also connected to the abundance of food through propagation of plants and animals, as well as the governing of the community and the keeping of peace. The Rainbow Serpent is part of the philosophies of Aboriginal people in various parts of Australia, but is best known in Arnhem Land.
The Rainbow Serpent or Rainbow Snake is creator of human beings. It has life-giving powers that send conception (fertility) spirits to all the watercourses, such as billabongs, rivers, creeks and lagoons as it is in control of producing rainfall.
The Rainbow Serpent is the protector of the land, its people, and the source of all life. However, the Rainbow Serpent can also be a destructive force if it is not properly respected. In times of anger or rage it causes storms and floods to act as punishment against those who disobey the laws.
In times of the floods the Rainbow Serpent swallows and consumes people and regurgitates their bones, which turn into stone. They can also enter a man and give him the gift of magical powers, or leave ‘little rainbows’, their progeny, within his body which will make him ail and die.
The Rainbow Serpent is the considered the regenerative and reproductive power in nature and human beings and is therefore the main character in the region’s major ceremonies.
The Rainbow Serpent or Snake is portrayed as a long mythical creature made of different parts of animals such as a kangaroo’s head, crocodile’s tail with a huge snake body.