Traditionally snakes were often associated with serpents usually known as water-bound creatures in the British Isles and Europe. Poisonous snakes were feared, with vipers often being the snake that was promoted as the most venomous of all upon those who were full of greed.
One morality tale tells of how if you suffer from avarice you should beware of the viper. One man dreamt of finding a beautiful necklace made of gold close to a freshwater spring. For three nights the dream came and was very vivid. Feeling that he knew where the spring was, the man climbed to it and felt underneath a stone. Suddenly he was bitten by a viper, that had not appeared in his dream. His greed had driven him too far, and as a result his desires caused his death.
Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire, England, was once plagued by snakes in Saxon times. St Hilda, the abbess, aimed to rid it of snakes and started to drive them towards the cliff edge. As they approached the cliff she whipped off their heads and cast them over the edge. According to folklore the remains of fossils found in the cliff wall are said to be the remains of these snakes.
The snake is associated in many countries with the Devil and dark forces. In the bible is was the Devil in serpent from that tempted Eve to take the Forbidden Fruit.
See Mystical WWW Mystic’s Menagerie : Adder.