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Snake Medicine

One of the things I do when I don't know what to do is ask for help. But since I practice shamanic journeying, my help is sometimes coming from non-ordinary reality, or the spirit guides with whom I have established relationships. Usually, a shamanic journey is a short meditative experience in which one intentionally alters one's brainwave state to something similar to the feeling you have just before waking or falling asleep. These are Theta brain waves, and they are encouraged by the sound of a steady drumbeat or a rattle.

So, last week I was looking for some help. I used the rhythm of a drumbeat to enter the spirit world and seek out my usual guides. I asked one of my guides if he would travel with me to find an animal that might have medicine for a particular question I needed help with. We walked just a short way, went over a ridge, and immediately saw a snake. She was beautiful--coppery colored with diamonds on her back. The presence of the snake surprised me. I never know what I will find in a shamanic journey, and I just couldn't imagine what kind of medicine a snake would have for me on this day.

The snake began to talk to me, to share her medicine. The snake told me she makes a serious commitment when she chooses to eat something. Knowing that it will take a long time to digest what she eats and that she will need to be someplace safe, she carefully chooses things that will truly nourish her.

I thanked the snake for her medicine and thanked my guide for coming with me on the journey. The drumming slowly stopped, and I 'woke' from my meditation.

I was amazed! This was something I had not considered important before. The things that we take into our being will most likely be with us for a long time. That the things we choose to "ingest" or "eat" must be beneficial to us in order to make such a commitment as to allow their presence in our being. Further, the process of eating or 'taking in' is a vulnerable one, and we are best served by a safe space to do this, a space where we cannot be hurt, where we can rest, where we can fully integrate that which will nourish us.

Of course, I was super curious about the digestive habits of snakes. A quick click or two led me to learn that snakes can take 4-10 DAYS to digest a meal. Snakes eat not only eggs and small rodents but animals as large as a deer! And they are very vulnerable to predators such as raptors while they are digesting, so they look for a safe, protected place to finish their meal.

So, what did the snake have to teach me? In the moment, on that day the medicine seemed to say that life is full of things that we are choosing whether or not to let in. A cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a french fry, a banana. And then there are bigger things like a pet, a partner, a job, a surgery, a baby. These things will be with us for a while, some much longer. Snake is telling me that I should wisely consider the things I "take in" and examine whether this "food," "relationship," "house," or whatever is truly, truly nourishing for me. If this food will truly care for my body, spirit, and mind. If the vulnerable state I will be in while integrating this "food" into my being will be protected by my family, friends, and spirit guides. Will I have support to start the new job? Will I be able to adopt a new furry companion while I have so much travel for my work? Will the nourishment afforded by the "food" match the needs and availability of my life?

Maybe a french fry doesn't seem like a big commitment. Or a new quilt for the bed. But to snake, everything is a big commitment. Snake sees that all nourishment, all good things, need to be carefully considered before opening wide and letting them in.

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