Meta. The serpent is a symbol of elemental life. When the serpent elemental is lifted up, or spiritualized, it adds radiance to the whole man. The "brazen serpent" that Moses caused to be put up where all could see it, and by looking be healed, represents this elevation of the sense man to a higher consciousness. (See SERPENT.)
This by which the Israelites were healed, however, became to them later an idol, Nehushtan (a small brass object, a fetter of brass, a brazen thing). Even so it is possible for one to be lifted up in personal pride, because of a marked overcoming that has been accomplished, and to worship or become enamored of the fact that one has made this attainment, until one may become actually hardened presumptuous, and obstinate in his pride and in his belief that he has in this one phase of overcoming gained the whole Truth. Thus he forgets the true God who is all-love, all-tenderness, all-compassion; the love that seeks not its own but always the good of others, and is unselfish, humble, of good deportment, ever charitable toward all. To such an egotistic individual that which should be--and was in the beginning--a source of spiritual realization and attainment has become an idol that must be put away, that the individual may begin over again and really in all things put God first, instead of self, that he may become in all ways like Him.