There are very few references to scorpions in mythology or modern symbolism books. I have no good theories on why this would be the case, but many of my searches for information on the scorpion have been in vain. In response to this lack of information, I’m going to post my thoughts and personal symbols for the scorpion as well as the little information I’ve found.
In every case that I’ve found, the scorpion has represented the death that comes unsuspecting. It does not attack with ferociousness like a tiger or bear, but instead dances around its enemy, drawing their attention to its pincers while it slowly draws near enough for the fatal strike from its tail. This teaches us the value of the never letting your enemy know the true danger until it is too late.
On the other hand, there is no cruelty in the scorpion. It is simple, emotionless, and deadly at the same time. Cold-blooded simplicity at its finest. The scorpion will fight, kill, and then devour any rival scorpions and even their mates. They teach us that we are alone in the world, and that it is often best to rid the world of competitors. Unlike people though, this is not done through hate or distrust, simply the cold knowing that all competitors can turn around and destroy you if you do not destroy them first.
Strangely, they are one of the only “bugs” that cares for its young. As soon as the eggs hatch, the baby scorpions climb up on the mother’s back and completely cover her. She then protects them until their first molting. This cold-blooded killer knows that it must protect her young from the world until they are ready to fight their own battles. She knows that in this world, there is no mercy to be had, even for the young.
The scorpion represents death in its most simple sense. It represents the world in its harshest most destructive nature, and yet with a very protective nature. Crowley integrated the scorpion into his Death card in the Thoth Tarot, along with the serpent and eagle, the other two pieces of Scorpio.
In the Ritual of the Portal, an initiatory ritual of the Golden Dawn, it is said that
“The Scorpion is the emblem of ruthless destruction; the Snake is the mixed and deceptive nature, serving alike for good and evil; the Eagle is the higher and Divine Nature, yet to be found herein, the Alchemical Eagle of distillation, the Renewer of life. As it is said:–’Thy youth shall be renewed like the Eagles.’”
There are many parts of the Golden Dawn that I disagree with, but on this series of transformations I agree. It is necessary to learn the destructive nature of the scorpion before you can learn the trans-formative nature of the snake who can travel between the upper and lower world.
This post is not about this Golden Dawn ritual and so I will not go deeply into it, I was simply showing yet another example of the symbolism of the scorpion. If there is any interest in this topic, I would have no problem writing about it in more detail.