Name(s): Rainbow Serpent, Rainbow Snake, and many others by various Aboriginal cultures.
Appearance: A rainbow hued snake, large enough to span the sky.
Lore: Most lore about this creature seems to primarily point to it being a guardian of water (the essence of life). Sometimes harmful to humans, and at other times beneficial.
Some legends make it into a creator deity, while others have it as a destroyer of mankind. It also seems to suffer from gender issues depending on which Aboriginal culture/tribe you check. Sometimes it’s male, sometimes female, and at other times it’s depicted as bisexual, hermaphroditic or even asexual.
There are similarities among all the stories however (which seem to even be as far reaching as Polynesian cultures), that can tell us what the Rainbow Serpent actually is or may have been.
It lives in or around water holes and creates rivers and streams. It protects waterholes even during droughts and has been known to eat people who get too close to it’s den. When there is a rainbow, that is the Rainbow Serpent moving from one waterhole to another. Apparently it can also cause gorges and mountains when it moves (I’d call it an earthquake snake. Can you say tectonic shift?). And now you know why it is both creator and destroyer in some legends.
When you consider that there were mega snakes in Australia that could reach 10m (did you say TEN METERS?!) long, I have to think that this might be one of those legends based on fact. Stories and drawings of the rainbow serpent have been dated back to 6000 BCE after all.