You know how those online ads seem to chase you? Maybe one day you are scrolling your life away and you pause on a phone case ad a little too long, maybe you sneezed or something and gave it an extra half second of your time. Suddenly you are bombarded with cellphone case ads, you find yourself following them down rabbit holes of cellphone cases of every kind: glitter, floral assortments, catchy phrases, environmentally friendly and indestructible. Within each, a new promise. A new version of yourself will be ignited when your forever companion cell phone receives a new look. You will be trendier, prettier, inspired, cool. Before you know it you have a tracking number for your new cell phone case.
The spirit does this too. Whether its numbers on the clock, hearing the same phrase again and again, deja vu, running into an old friend, finding money in your pocket or an animal that appears for you from no where.
Recently, for me, its been a snake. We do not have snakes in Hawai’i. And I’ve never been a reptilian kind of girl, in fact full disclosure I was initially disappointed that my child was born in the year of the snake. Snakes are mysterious and we are taught to fear the mysterious. But the image of a snake has appeared for me recently, in dreams, depicted in the shape of clouds and yes, them IG ads. And as Sarah Gottesdiener says “notice your noticing.” So I trust this observation and decided there was more the snake had to offer me. Snakes have been celebrated in most ancient cultures to represent many different things, the most of which, surprisingly for these spooky looking suckers, are extremely positive and inspiring.
You don’t have to look far to see examples of this. In fact, please if you want your mind blown, google it. I considered breaking this down for you but I’d like to stick with what meaning really stuck to me. As with all matters of mystery and the spirit, you take what you need and leave the rest. But let’s start in modern day ‘merica. Look no farther than your neighborhood health clinic to see the symbol of medicine represented by a rod wrapped by one or two snakes, at times accompanied by wings. There are two theories about who this is a shout out to, both of which are rooted in Greek Mythology. First, there is Hermes, the messenger between humans and the Gods. So the story goes that Hermes used his staff to separate two battling snakes who then remained stuck in balance and harmony. Meanwhile there is also the references to the staff of Asclepius, the greed demigod of medicine. He was said to restore the health of the sick and bring the dead back to life.
How ironic that a field based on scientific study would be symbolized by such a fantastical ideology. Now, I love me some modern medicine. I’m no stranger to surgeries, medication copays, therapy and this is very important way that I take care of myself. Anyone whose been here a bit knows I’m currently in recovery from a major surgery and I’m thrilled that I’ve done this for myself.
But I also think this serpent friend can tell us a lot about other forms of well-being. Snakes, as a means of survival shed their skin several times a year as a means of survival. Imagine the process of literally sloughing off your exterior every now and then, what physical sensations trigger this process. It’s not hard to see the symbolism of rebirth and transformation here with this phenomenon. But what we call a phenomenon, snakes call necessary. Such as a woman who sloughs her uterine walls monthly. With that is pain, emotion, her body swells, her body bleeds.
A few months ago, in the midst of pandemic boredom, I had the time and space to look around me and see my clothes, jewelry, shoes and other items I had collected and acquired as worthless as they really were. With no where to go, nothing to do and no one to impress they lost their meaning to me. I think we were all somewhat transformed during that time, I think we all shed a few unnecessary versions of ourselves, I think we were all able to perform a release. Whether it was willingly or involuntarily, it felt good. Now, I find myself buying. Lots of shopping (by my standards) lots of excitement for colors and prints and new hobbies. And a lot of guilt and buyers remorse I should add but that is for another time and place because for now I feel the thrill of expressing myself in a new way.
We seek shedding in many ways, losing weight, cutting ties with unhealthy partnerships, changing ideas, changing profile pictures, cutting your wardroom in half, decluttering our home and hearts and minds and then we welcome in transformation with new wardrobes, new friends, new hobbies, new mindsets, renewing contracts with others and with ourselves, finding new crap to fill our homes with happiness.
I’ll leave you with Ouroboros, from ancient egypt, the serpent appears to eat its own tale, as a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life. The process of shedding and rebirthing goes on forever. We are absolutely not meant to stay the same. Not individually, not collectively. It is a matter of survival.