Monday, December 22, 2008


Maybe you're wondering why this guy is making an appearance in the dead of winter. Well, it's not because I saw one of his kind in the woods recently. It was 9 degrees Fahrenheit here this morning, so all our snakes are snuggled deep in hibernation--and I realized yesterday, as I walked toward the Solstice sunrise, I'm in hibernation, too.

Not physically, of course. I've been out hunting and gathering in typical 21st century human fashion, but spiritually I am half-awake, dozing and waiting for spring to rouse me. That's why the posts on this blog have gotten so sparse. My body is taking me along for our daily walk, but I don't feel inspired to interpret the sights and sounds along the way. My brain, for once, is silent.

I've been a little troubled by that internal silence, wondering if maybe this walking meditation is becoming a dead ritual or a chore, instead of the blissful practice it's always been. But it dawned on me--literally--as I did my Yule observance that it is inevitable that my talking self would retreat during this time of the year. A friend appeared for a moment with the rising sun and explained it to me.

A long time ago, when I first began to understand that there might be something of value in my intuitive connection to the earth, the snake became my totem. It was not a conscious choice, and I didn't do any ritual or dream work to determine it. The serpent just declared himself my companion and that was that. It made perfect sense, because the snake is associated with healing and with the power of transformation, both things I desperately needed at the time. As the years have passed I've come to see that I always had an affinity for the special energy of snakes, and that their particular forms of wisdom--decisiveness, resilience, the ability to change--are gifts I will always lack.

And so, as the earthly serpent goes underground and sleeps during the dark season, so does the spiritual serpent inside me. My own energy is inextricably tied to his. Nothing's wrong, we just need to be a little quieter now.

Photo of a black rat snake by Patrick Coin from Wikimedia Commons.


Mary said...

Snake as your totem makes perfect sense to me. You're so creative, with so much fire energy! My totem is Swan...always seeking that bridge between reality and spirit.

BitterGrace said...

Oh, now I have totem envy ;-) Swans are so beautiful--and fierce, too!

Mary said...

Sometimes excessively so. :) And not terribly accepting of the need to spiritually hibernate at times.