The Snake Head was worn as a protective talisman by both the living and the deceased and regarded as a powerful protection against the bite of the cobra or other venomous snakes. This protection was also deemed necessary in the Underworld and the Book of the Dead provided a spell to prevent the mummy being devoured by the snakes and worms of the Underworld (Duat).
Meaning of the Snake Head: To the ancient Egyptians the Serpent or Snake Head was generally regarded as a protection against the attacks of the evil serpent Apep, the enemy of the sun-god Ra.
In ancient Egypt the Serpent or Snake Head was often sculptured on either side of the doorways to the tombs of kings, temples and other sacred buildings to guard the dead from all enemies.
The image of a snake or serpent was believed to prevent the entrance of evil spirits.
Snake heads were also placed round the heads of ancient Egyptian deities and round the crowns of Pharaohs as a symbol of royal might and power.
The Uraeus was the name of the rearing cobra symbol represented on the front of the headdresses of gods and pharaohs as an emblem of their supreme authority.
The protective role of the snake and the snake head is incorporated in scenes depicted in the Book of the Dead, associating the cobra head symbol with the underworld (Duat)
Priests devized a magic spell to transfer the protective power of the snake or serpent to the deceased.
Spell 34 in the Book of the Dead relates to the snake head symbol and states, "O Serpent! I am the flame which shineth upon the Opener of hundreds of thousands of years, and the standard of the god Tenpu". The god referred to as Tenpu is an ancient name for Atum Ra, the creator god.
Many Snake Head amulets were made of the red carnelian stone that was a symbol of life and immortality. The carnelian was believed to possess magic healing properties and to protect the wearer from evil forces and witchcraft (snakes were believed to be evil demons). Other kinds of red stones were used for creating the Snake Head including red jasper, red glass or paste and red porcelain.
A Talisman or an amulet such as the Snake Head can be described as a religious object consisting of a stone or other small item, often inscribed or carved with magical inscriptions, magic signs, magic symbols, formula or sacred text.