The History of Snake Women

The snake women are some of the most powerful monsters ever imagined. From the snake goddesses of Minoan Crete and the stony-gazed Gorgon Medusa to Echidna, mother of Titans – the combination of women and snakes has long symbolised the awesome powers of Mother Nature. The fecund female form and the regenerative, deadly qualities of snakes has been a natural combination to represent the bloody, messy ability to give life and the threat of death. But the fear of this power, and the excruciating allure of the female, has caused them to be punished for it. Along with women, throughout history.

This talk will explore the monstering of Mother Nature, and how the snake women represent the most primal of fears. It highlights how patriarchal systems have tried to symbolically wrest this power from the feminine: by turning goddesses into monsters that can be slain, in order to absorb the ability to create life and deal death, all the while brutally controlling the force of female sexuality. This meaning is why the snake women are still so potent today, even after thousands of years.

This talk will draw fromEnchanted Creatures: Our Monsters and Their Meanings, Natalie Lawrence’s new book, which delves into the dark histories of the creatures that we have imagined over the past 15,000 years. Monstersembody our anxieties and irrational terrors, giving form to what we don’t wish to know or to understand. Exploring prehistoric cave beasts and serpentine hybrids, deep-sea leviathans and apocalyptic dino-monsters, Lawrence reveals how this monstrous menagerie has shaped our minds, societies and how we see our place in nature.


Natalie Lawrence is a freelance writer, illustrator and researcher. She has a degree in Natural Sciences and received a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge for her work on early modern exotic monsters. Her writing has appeared in New Scientist, Aeon Magazine, Atlas Obscura and BBC Wildlife and others, and she has given a TEDX talk and appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour. She lives in London, with her curiosity cabinet and the occasional atlas moth.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

18th Sept 2024 8:00 pm - 09:30 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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