It is snake season here in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Snake Season. What feelings do those words bring up in you? What images are conjured in your imagination? Snakes are a powerful cultural metaphor. In our predominately Christian nation, snakes are thought of as evil, wicked, cunning. The tale of the serpent in the Bible has the snake tempting Eve through lies and deception which leads to the “fall of man”. The snake is then punished by God to crawl on it’s belly through the dust for the rest of eternity. They slither through horror movies, adorn gothic-metal icons, and speak in sinister tones to the dark lord, Voldemort.
In contrast, the ancient Greeks saw the snake as a symbol of healing. Aesclepius , the god of medicine used a staff with a snake wrapped around it as his power tool. Hermes used a wand with two serpents entwined in a double helix (the Caduceus). Both symbols are used in our medical world today.
Ancient cultures revered the snake as a powerful teacher. To most, it represented the primal life force, strongly connected to Earth’s energies. Serpents symbolized fertility, sexual energy, and rebirth (shedding of skin). The mound builders of ancient Ohio paid homage to the snake by constructing a serpent effigy over 1,000 feet long which is aligned with the summer solstice. You can still visit this beautiful monument, Serpent Mound, today.
So it is snake season. The heat of summer dispelled, the snake now moves out from under the cool rocks to bask in the warm, golden sun. This is a powerful time of year. Autumn…the season of letting go. All around us the trees are letting go of their leaves just as the snake sheds it’s skin. We emotional creatures are called once again to revisit old wounds, to recall what lies in our shadows, to go deeper into our own spiral of healing.
This is the season of shedding our skin. To sit still, go inward, and discover what needs to go. What are you holding onto? What pain are you keeping buried deep? What myths about yourself do you need to get rid of in order to grow? What fears are ready to be released?
This is the season of transformation. The people are remembering. We are reconnecting with the world which our ancestors walked out of generations ago. We are noticing how the phases of the moon affect our bodies, grounding our anxiety with the earth and trees, interpreting the message of the crow upon our doorsteps. We are leaving behind the dogma and doctrines which separate humanity as we recognize the truth that we are all connected…to everything…
It is snake season…in ourselves, our communities, our region, our nation, our planet.
This blog was inspired by my own shadow work. As I embark on more deep healing of past wounds and fears, snakes continue to show up in my life. This past month, I have met with 4 Copperheads in the forest and 2 Ring neck snakes. I have had an irrational, instinctual phobia of snakes my whole life. The first copperhead this year shifted something inside me. There was no fear as I looked down upon this golden serpent camouflaged in the rusty dirt. It was beautiful. Powerful. Magnificent. It was a magical moment when I realized that it reflected my Self back to me. That my fear stemmed from a fear of my own power. As I rise in my power, I am greeted by more snakes. None of them defensive…relaxing in their confidence.