This is a poem that birthed itself. The words beginning to spill from me, catching me off guard, without pen in hand. i’m beginning to be able to recognize this sensation more quickly, and quite literally run to get a writing instrument if there is not one in reach. Mary Oliver said that a writer should never be without a small pad of paper and a pen, I haven’t quite learned this lesson yet.
Snake has been growing in me for sometime now. I have never been afraid of snakes, in fact I’m enchanted by them, The cool smoothness of their bellies, their direct eye contact, the flick of a forked tongue tasting air, so beautiful to me. Yet this thing snake and I have going on, is really tied to the divine mother. Since I began in earnest last year reclaiming my relationship with Mary, now in a garment untied to any religion, and since finding a deep love of praying the rosary, snake has decided to show up in a big way.
Mary is often pictured with her foot upon the snake, some folks have said that she was squashing out evil, casting out the serpent, the temptress, the snake in the garden. I don’t believe this to be true. Yes, Mary has her foot resting on the snakes back, but perhaps more as a sign, A signature mark of her affiliation with the wild and wise serpent ones. Back and back through Time the snake has been a symbol of the goddess. And Mary is, with no doubt in my mind, a manifestation of the goddess. Not only is she the mother of God, she is God the mother. The fruit of her womb is life, and life is sacred. She rests her foot upon the snake with tenderness, and kind regard, a shared lineage of women and serpent, an ancient contract, steeped in magic and mystery.
When I was recently in the desert I was hoping so much to be visited by snake, I spoke aloud calling her, I drew her, as pictured here, courting her with my pen and my tongue. But she did not appear in her corporeal form, only in this poem, dropped into my heart whole and complete. Notice, I did not say that she did not arrive. Indeed she did arrive, hearing my calls and coming to me, gifting me with her presence through my own words. Sly like a snake she is…
What could it be that I have to learn from a snake? There is something about waiting, about not being too hot blooded, about taking the moment of opportunity when it arrives, without hesitation. Snap! Her jaws clamp shut, she does not wait for the perfect, precious moment, she needs to eat now. And all of life is death too. As I fall deeper into the practice of seeing nature as a mirror for my inner world, there is so much to be contemplated, and the thoughts that come into my mind and heart, the creatures I see with my eyes, the way I move through the wind and the rain, all become gifts meant entirely for me. I know how much I do not know, and how much I am willing to unlearn to be open to learning anew.
Blessed are we, creatures living on this earth and under the sun to be gifted teachers, teachers that come in all forms. Today I am giving thanks for snake, and all of her relations, and the gentle wisdom I am learning through contemplation of their ways.