I've been reading Marc David's Nourishing Wisdom, and came across the following passage this weekend that pretty well sums up the Garden of Eden serpent symbolism for me:
Though their plight may seem an unfortunate one, Adam and Eve were not tempted to do something bad. They were tempted into consciousness. The serpent represents not some outside evil force, but the primal evolutionary impulse within each of us that lures us into awareness, literally tricking us into participation in life so we may fully experience both the imperfection of our humanity and the awesomeness of our divinity. There was no other way because the unfolding of the self into higher states of knowing is the natural order of human development.So great, yes?