During my recapitulation there came a point in the process where I literally felt like I was shedding my old self and transforming into a new self. My body did not feel right. I didn’t fit into it anymore, even my clothes didn’t fit, and nothing about what was going on inside me fit either. Simultaneously, I began having dreams about snakes. Upon awakening from a snake dream I was immediately fearful. Snakes, after all, scared me. I noticed, however, that my dreaming self wasn’t afraid of the snakes, in fact she was quite calm in their presence.
I began to experience these snake dreams as supportive of my recapitulation, as part of the natural flow of my transformative process. I began to see snakes as offering healing venom and healing energy, rather than signifying something negative. I began to see them as giving back to me what I had lost, my own energy. Snakes became an integral part of my process as I shed the old self and became a new self, as I went through a viscerally real death and rebirth.
I pulled the Death card from the Tarot deck this week. It always appears so ominous, so negative, until I remember that it signifies this same process of transformation, as I shed the old self—old ideas, old habits and behaviors—and more fully embrace my greater potential. Life is full of transformational moments. Here I am thirteen years after beginning my recapitulation, still shedding the old self, even the self who evolved out of my three-year-long recapitulation process has been shed, as over and over again, I face myself and what life presents me with. In fact, the Death card, number 13 in the major arcana, is my growth symbol this year, so I know I must pay extra attention to this card overall. Each time it appears, it reminds me that I am changing all the time, and that there is nothing to be afraid of.
The thought that I am transforming all the time permeates my existence. We are, after all, nature, and nature constantly changes, in very obvious ways. One day the weather is calm and sunny. The next day we are buried under two feet of snow! Overnight things change. One day we are calm; the next day we might be agitated or moody. This is nature inside us, as we flow from day to day, just the way Mother Nature does, just as the stars and planets constantly move, align and realign, just as the oceans rise and ebb.
According to Angeles Arrien in her Tarot Handbook, the Death/Rebirth card symbolizes “the universal principle of detachment and release. It is through letting go that we are able to give birth to new forms… The snake reminds us that in order to transform, we must let go of old identities in order to be able to express new ones, much like the snake that sheds its skin…”
In Animal Speak, Ted Andrews presents a myriad of snake symbolism, but basically he too says that the snake is a symbol of alchemy—transformation—and healing. “Before the snake sheds its skin,” he writes, “its eyes begin to cloud over, as if to indicate it is entering into a stage between life and death.” I know this stage very well too, because during the time of my recapitulation my eyes repeatedly clouded over, in fact, they stayed cloudy for days as I remained in a dreamy in-between world, not quite the old self, yet not quite the new self either. I floundered between worlds, seeking to gain clarity on what had happened to me in childhood, while also seeking to gain clarity on who my future, authentic self might possibly be. It was a crucial time in the process.
Everyone who recapitulates goes through this same shedding and until the shedding of the old is done true clarity will not reign. But once the old skin has shed, the eyes clear and new life really begins as one enters a world that was previously blocked from view. As fear sheds with the old self a new self emerges into a world that, all of a sudden, is different. It’s not, however, the world that’s really different, it’s our perception of the world that’s changed. Our consciousness has expanded.
As I entered my own world of expanded consciousness, my vision literally changed. The blurry vision I’d experienced during my recapitulation did clear; my nearsightedness practically disappeared too. Now I see more clearly than I ever have in my entire life. And what was once so clear to me, the details of my past self—what I peered at so closely during my recapitulation—are no longer as clear; they don’t need to be. In fact, my vision has totally shifted from nearsightedness to farsightedness. My eyes are free to turn outward now and receive the world with new clarity. My snake dreams pointed all of this out to me so long ago, letting me know that one day I would navigate life without my old fears inhabiting and inhibiting me.
Snakes and death are healing and transformational aspects of nature. I see the old people in my life losing their visual clarity, and I know they are in transition, soon to be reborn. In the throes of recapitulation, as in the throes of death, there is the certainty of new life. Every day, we too have the opportunity to be reborn simply by the decisions we make and in how we choose to see and perceive the world around us.
We are all free to change, but it requires giving energy to questioning who we really have the potential to become and trusting that we will eventually receive the answer. It’s our choice to decide to commit to deeper work on the self. Are we ready to make this lifetime a meaningfully transitional lifetime? Are we ready to finally do it? Are we ready to face our fears and suffer through the shedding of who we are to become our true authentic self?
In the throes of death and rebirth we are offered opportunities to transform and expand our consciousness and enter new life!
Using snake medicine all the time,