>>What does this do to the practice of tracing cultural lines through religious or “esoteric” symbols?<<
Well, briefly (in that I am still mulling over your thoughtful post), the practice of tracing cultural lines strikes me as a necessary process toward starting over, beginning again, or, quite possibly, being “born again.” In effect, sociologically, we’ve discovered a grumpy old bear along the path we’ve chosen and it remains for us to choose whether to “repent” of having chosen this path in the first place and returning to the crossroads where we originally “strayed,” or striking off into the brush to see if we can’t somehow get around this toothsome obstruction.
Lately, when I hear or see the word “serpent,” a path comes to mind . . .