Snake slithered up to me today as I was saying my morning prayers at the base of my old, wise tree friend. I had just put down an offering and then out of the corner of my eye was a black, gold and red banded snake coming up towards my feet.
Like the wise, animal loving nature woman that I am, I screamed. A little scream, but yes, I screamed. Snake stopped just a foot away from me and looked up at me.
I stood frozen studying the colors. I tried to remember the rhyme, ‘gold touches red, you’re gonna be dead…’ No wait, that’s not how it goes, ‘red touches black…’ My mind cannot remember the rhyme. My mind is focusing on the bands of bright, beautiful colors; red, black and yellow, on this snake. I know if I can read the colors right I will know if it is one of the deadly ones in my yard. But the colors blur together as my eyes grow weepy.
It stays still, close to my bare feet. We both pause and consider our options.
I remember my pain and my eyes grow teary. Snake bit my dog, Baby, a month ago. Now my Baby is gone. I want to scream at this snake, I want to release my anger. My pain rises as I stare at this being. I want to blame him for what hurts inside me.
Snake stays still. It is not hiding in shame, nor is it running from me. It is not even flinching. It is here and it is telling me something.
I don’t want to hear. I don’t want to listen.
Since the passing of Baby, snakes have been showing up everywhere. I have been avoiding a close encounter for weeks. I found a dead rattlesnake right outside my gate. I have seen them sinking into the ground when I work in the yard. Spirit usually warns me when one is near, and I call to the snake from a distance asking its permission to pass through. Then they come out of hiding and disappear again into the ground so I can proceed.
I like it best when I don’t see them at all.
But today was different. Today something told me to come up to the tree and to place an offering on the ground. Snake called me to come. I put down the offering and then it came.
It is sitting on the path and I can’t move. I am surrounded by tall, thick, prickly plants and the only clear path is blocked by snake, very close to my feet. My tree friend stands strong and silent behind me, unable to offer me any protection. I wish I was smaller and could crawl inside one of the cracks in my tree.
Snake inches closer to me, undaunted by the strong vibration I am sending it to go away.
I look at the options. I know I am to listen. I know I am supposed to confront my fears. Do I try to push snake back or should I dive through the thorny bushes? Fear allows us only two ideas – attack or retreat?
Adrenaline rushing through me I hike up my nightgown and jump over the bushes in two very long and quick leaps. My fear said retreat.
I want to run inside the house but I hear Spirit call to me. I am to stay with snake and face the truth. I must face my fear.
Now that I am in the clear and have room to run, I look back for snake. No longer feeling cornered I realize I want to see him. I come a little closer, a little closer, taking baby steps towards the beautiful and brightly colored creature.
My snake friend slithers to the spot where I was standing. It smells the offering I left on the ground, and then it lifts its black and gold head in my direction.
“You are a powerful healer,” it says to me matter of factly.
Snake slithers in a circle, just as I had turned to face all four directions. Still in the place where I was standing, he comes round full circle and gazes back at me, lifting his head up from the ground.
Then he slides up the side of my tree friend. He seems to know where to go as he moves into the crack where many have placed prayers and offerings. Slipping inside, he disappears.
I stand in awe. He is beautiful. He is powerful. He commands attention. I find deep respect inside my soul and stand frozen no longer in fear, but something greater overcomes me.
I know snake was doing his job. My dog passed over and now she is happy and free. I forgive snake completely. Peace washes over me.
Tomorrow when I wake up and go outside to say my prayers, I will look for snake. He has a lot to teach me about his power. I will no longer be intimidated. Now I appreciate his beauty and I respect his powerful presence.
Question is, will I have the courage to hug my tree friend? Will I stand afraid to wrap my arms around the wise one, now that I know what lives inside?
Now that I have seen snake up close, I think about all the times, day after day, I have been hugging the tree, not knowing. There I sat on the ground, leaning upon my tree friend, not realizing nor fully appreciating the powerful presence that was living deep inside of him.
Will I be able to love him without reservation now that I know what lives in there? Will I live in fear, or will I embrace my friend in love, knowing what is inside could come out and hurt me or possibly even destroy me?
I want to continue to live in love for I know this powerful presence could also help me.
As we allow what is inside to rise up, we will be able to use all of our power. The power that lives within us can be used to destroy, or to heal.
So I will let you know how it goes…whether or not I can embrace without fear, all that lives within.
Find the power that lives inside you.
Set what is within you free. Do not be afraid.
Do it in love.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” – The Gospel of Thomas, The Gnostic Gospels of Nag Hammadi
P.S. It turned out to be a coral snake, a very beautiful and very powerful venomous snake.