Visits from snake with death in her eyes

snake medicine 2017


Snake Medicine 2019


Two years ago right around this time of year (the vernal equinox / Ostara) I found a dead baby snake waiting for me just outside my back door. Yesterday, I found an adolescent snake who had been injured by one of the neighborhood feral cats in the same place. I moved her to a safer place in the grass and offered some prayers, telling her I hoped she recovered quickly or passed on peacefully. This morning I found her dead about six inches from where I laid her down in the grass, her head burrowed gently into the soil, evidence of our Mother’s parting gift of comfort in her final moments.

Two years ago, after allowing the baby snake to rest on the boulder / altar in our garden for a while, I laid her to rest in the lily patch across the yard. The snake who died last night is resting on the boulder now, with plenty of bright sunshine to warm her one last time. This evening I will bury her with her long departed kin.

While I feel sad that these young beings never got the chance to grow up and flourish, I also deeply appreciate their appearance. Symbolism aside, if I’m being honest I was grateful for the opportunity to handle, observe, and appreciate their elusive bodies. I was particularly enthralled by the sheen on the belly of this year’s visitor, it was so luminous with a pearlescent rainbow cast. When was the last time you were able to gaze deeply at the belly of a snake?

Snake is grounded and in deep connection to earth. Snake unceremoniously sheds what she has outgrown, like so many translucent breadcrumbs for us to find and follow so we may learn her unburdened ways. Full of paradox and surprise, snake moves with a speed we do not expect of a creature without limbs, and she can spare life as surely as she may catalyze death with the nectar of her fangs.

Two years ago, I felt like an underdeveloped creation whose protective shell was being ruthlessly crushed, I was sure I would be the collateral damage of its destruction. Today, still in the shell somehow, I can stand up (though my legs wobble), I can fashion a hammer from the debris left over from being knocked around (though I have no clear diagram to follow), I can hold the hammer high (though I need the strength of both my arms), and I am ready to smash myself out of the egg that has held me.

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