Serpent is a powerful archetype. Joseph Campbell referred to her as “a traveling alimentary canal…the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live” as she sheds her skin. She is related to the moon being reborn again and again, and related to the water in her movements along the earth. The Q’ero Indians call her Sachamama, and speak of how she is in constant contact with the earth, belly to belly with Mama herself. In yogic traditions, the serpent represents the kundalini life force energy as it rises up the spine (see also the Rod of Asclepius). Serpent and DNA mirror each other’s shapes, again linking snakes to primordial energies.
Big stuff for a creature that most people find creepy.
Big stuff for me to be integrating as I work with some archetypal energies in my spiritual practice. So rather than focus too much on the volumes of stuff that other people had to say, I journeyed to speak directly with Sachamama to see what she had to share with me right now, at this point in my life.
And I saw her hunting.
She wrapped herself around a mouse and waited patiently for the heart to stop before she swallowed it whole. Then she moved on. There was no dance of celebration, no ethical conflict or shame, no entitlement. She didn’t insist on eating more. She took only what she needed at the time, and trusted that there would be more for her to eat when she was hungry again later.
Having spent the last two years healing my compulsive eating tendencies with the help of Geneen Roth’s Women Food and God, changes to my lifestyle, and spiritual practices, this was an important vision for me. I don’t feel the need to eat in secret anymore, and I no longer feel greedy, like I’ll be missing out if I skip dessert or seconds when I’m already full. But I admit that there are still moments of insecurity and restlessness, times when I justify my food choices to myself in preparation for the Nutrition Inquisition that never actually happens outside my own mind. There is an occasional pang of shame when I stop in for frozen yogurt, still a shadow of resentment over not being able to eat wheat anymore.
Serpent was reminding me that there is plenty— of food, love, money, comfort, material stuff, or whatever it is I think I’m craving. I don’t have to chase down more than I need; I can conserve that energy and be patient. I can let my guard down and trust that Mama is there for me, that I am loved enough to be provided for. If I know that there is always plenty, I don’t need to worry and hoard. I mean, Snake doesn’t stockpile snacks in the pantry, and she doesn’t feel victimized when there are no gluten-free desserts. She knows that there will be nourishment available when she needs it because that’s simply her relationship with Mother Earth. This is just the way it is.
I feel the difference in my own relationship to Her these past few days since the journey. I feel the sense of plenty, and a new kind of patience. And I’m so grateful to be shedding a habit that has outlived its usefulness.
Where do you receive nourishment? What do you take in and digest? Where in your life do you feel greedy, and where do you have enough? It may be that Sachamama has a message for you, too.