Scarlet Kingsnake Symbolism and Meaning

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The scarlet kingsnake, also known as the scarlet king snake or the scarlet milk snake, is a non-venomous snake species found in North America. It is known for its striking red and black coloration, which resembles that of the venomous coral snake, making it an interesting subject of study for those interested in symbolism and meaning. This article will explore the various interpretations and beliefs surrounding this fascinating creature.


The scarlet kingsnake is a unique species of snake with a captivating appearance that has caught the attention of many people throughout history. Its vibrant colors and striking resemblance to venomous snakes have led to numerous myths, legends, and symbolic interpretations across various cultures. In this article, we will delve into the symbolism and meaning behind this fascinating creature, examining its role in folklore, spirituality, and cultural significance.

Physical Appearance and Habitat

The scarlet kingsnake is a small snake species native to North America, typically found in grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands. It measures between 20-36 inches in length and has a slender body with a pattern of bright red and black bands. Its coloration serves as an excellent camouflage against predators due to its resemblance to the venomous coral snake, which is known for its toxic bite. This mimicry is called Batesian mimicry, where non-venomous snakes adopt the appearance of a dangerous species to avoid being preyed upon by potential threats. The scarlet kingsnake’s striking red and black bands create an illusion of danger, protecting them from harm.

Symbolism in Native American Culture

In Native American cultures, the scarlet kingsnake holds significant symbolic value. For instance, among the Cherokee tribe, it is considered a symbol of protection against evil spirits and bad luck. They believe that carrying or wearing a piece of its skin can bring good fortune and ward off negative energy. The snake’s ability to mimic the coral snake’s appearance is seen as a reminder to be cautious but not fearful of appearances, as not everything that looks dangerous is necessarily so. This belief reflects their philosophy of life – understanding that things may not always be what they seem.

Symbolism in Christianity

In Christian symbolism, the scarlet kingsnake represents Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. The red bands on its body represent the blood shed during his death, while the black bands signify the darkness of sin. Some Christians view it as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity’s sins. It also symbolizes rebirth and renewal, as snakes often shed their skin, representing spiritual transformation.

Symbolism in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, the snake is associated with longevity and immortality. The scarlet kingsnake’s bright red color represents vitality and energy, while its black bands symbolize wisdom and knowledge. It is believed to bring good luck and prosperity when kept as a pet or displayed in homes during the Chinese New Year for wealth and health.

Symbolism in Astrology

In astrology, the scarlet kingsnake is associated with Scorpio, a zodiac sign known for its intuition, passion, and transformation. Those born under this sign are said to possess traits similar to the snake’s adaptability and resilience. The snake’s ability to change skin symbolizes personal growth and self-improvement.

Symbolism in Dreams

Dreaming about a scarlet kingsnake can have different interpretations depending on context. If you dream of handling or interacting with one, it may signify facing challenges head-on without fear. If you’re scared, it could indicate an upcoming challenge or fear of change. Conversely, if you see one slithering away, it might represent avoiding confrontation or running from issues.

Symbolism in Mythology and Folklore

In Greek mythology, snakes often symbolize wisdom and transformation. The scarlet kingsnake’s mimicry of the coral snake could be seen as a reminder to be cautious but not let fear control your actions. In Celtic lore, it represents rebirth and renewal after shedding its skin.

Symbolism in Spirituality

In spiritual practices, the scarlet kingsnake is associated with transformation and change. It symbolizes shedding old beliefs or habits for personal growth. Some believe that encountering one signifies a need to let go of past traumas or negative patterns.

Symbolism in Art and Literature

The snake has been depicted in art and literature throughout history, often representing transformation, rebirth, and renewal. In Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” the scarlet kingsnake appears as a symbol of divine wisdom and guidance. It also features in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” as an emblem of deception and cunning.

Symbolism in Tarot Cards

In tarot readings, the snake represents transformation and change. The scarlet kingsnake can appear in the Wheel of Fortune card, symbolizing a significant shift in life circumstances or unexpected events. It may indicate a need for adaptability and resilience during challenging times.

Symbolism in Feng Shui

In Feng Shui, the snake represents flexibility and adaptability. Placing a scarlet kingsnake figurine can bring prosperity and protection against negative energy.


The scarlet kingsnake’s symbolism varies across cultures and beliefs but consistently conveys themes of transformation, resilience, and adaptability. Its striking appearance serves as a reminder to face challenges without fear and embrace change. It represents renewal, wisdom, and protection against evil forces. Whether in dreams or daily life, understanding its meaning can provide insight into personal growth and overcoming obstacles.

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