Tag Archives: Animal Speak

A Day in a Life: Snakes Alive!

Sometimes we wake up to a different world... not by choice,  but by the power of nature... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Sometimes we wake up to a different world…
not by choice, but by the power of nature…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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.

It's all about transforming  and expanding consciousness... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It’s all about transforming and expanding consciousness…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

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,

A Day in a Life: Of Blue Jays, Dreams & Resolutions

What's the story Mr. Jay? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
What’s the story Mr. Jay?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Why are there so many blue jays in my yard? I ask this question because it’s true; the jays have taken over! I study them as they come to feed on the seeds I’ve put out. If I don’t get there early enough they knock impatiently on the window, suggesting that I hurry up and feed them! Their coloring is a combination of blue, gray, white and black. They have come to teach me something, I surmise.

Along with the usual New Year’s resolution to do more yoga and meditation, to eat healthier, to cut back on what I know is not good for me, I have set the intent to become a better dreamer, to train myself to be aware while I dream, and to discover what the shamans and Buddhists, and many others mean when they say that all worlds are one, whether we are awake or dreaming. I’ve had plenty of experiences of this concept, but I’m interested in going more deeply into the true meaning of reality while I’m asleep and my energy body is active. So far, I’ve had some pretty cool dreaming experiences, which I won’t go into here, but suffice it to say, my intent is working.

If I am to use my dreams to evolve beyond this reality, as is my underlying intent, I must learn how to remain fully aware as I dream. This is all in preparation for the time of my death when I intend to seamlessly pass through the bardos and achieve life beyond human form. At least that’s my intent. As far as I know, this is what we are all challenged with, to find a means of not having to reincarnate in human form more than we absolutely have to. If I can do this, I feel that I will have not only accomplished my own personal soul intent, but that I will free up space on earth for others to live more comfortably. We all know that the earth is overpopulated and overtaxed. I don’t really want to come back again, knowing that I could possibly have done more to free myself of this realm, and this realm of me! Now, back to the blue jays.

While they sit and scarf down the seeds I’ve put out, I study their coloring and the way their wings lie enfolded across their backs. When in repose, an intricate pattern appears, so beautiful that I am reminded of stained glass windows. As soon as they spread their wings and fly, solid bars of color appear and the intricate pattern disappears. Okay, this, I see, is what I am being shown, what I must learn something from.

Ted Andrews, in his book Animal Speak, says that the blue jay “has the ability to link the heavens and earth, to access each for greater power.” The jay represents both heaven and earth, the white of the heavens and the dark of the earth separated by the blue of the sky. The gray perhaps represents the veils that keep us from fully knowing and experiencing our full potential, to be both of the heavens and the earth, aware in dreaming and while awake. The colors also represent our light and dark sides, what we show about ourselves and what we keep hidden, to both ourselves and others. Andrews also notes that the jay is a little tricky in that it can be a bit of a dabbler. It shows us our potential, but if we are to gain mastery and fully utilize all that we are capable of we must grapple with this side of ourselves. I see how my New Year’s resolution, to train my dreaming intent could be a challenge if I don’t stick with it, but I have no intent of dabbling.

I notice that when in repose—in dreaming, as I see it—the blue jay’s colors are all present, though the pattern of them is quite different from when they are actively flying—going about in their everyday reality, as I see it. We all wear certain stripes and patterns. We are perceived and perceive of ourselves in a certain way. But in actuality, all that we are is present in us at any given moment. When we dream, I surmise, everything that we are in waking life is also present. Likewise, in waking reality, all that we are when we dream is present as well.

Will I remain aware when I enter the bardos? - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Will I remain aware when I enter the bardos?
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

It’s easy to assign to our dreaming selves some of our more challenging possibilities; the ability to fly or shape shift, to instantaneously be in one place or a thousand miles away. But, if we keep in mind that all that we are, all of our potential, is present in us at all times—like the colors of the blue jay—we might just be able to appreciate what our dreaming self is trying to teach us about the oneness of worlds, the fluidity of our energetic selves, and the fact that all realities, dreaming and awake, are equal and the same, just formatted a little differently. Whether we are in stained glass pattern or striped pattern, it doesn’t matter, we’re all composed of the same substance, and that is energy.

I watch the blue jays fly back and forth, feeding on the seeds and then flying into the trees or off to have an adventure in the world. They drop to the earth with ease; they fly to the heavens with ease. This is what we are challenged to do in our lives, to be fully energetically present in our daily lives, finding the means to realize our fullest potential at all times, all parts of us assimilated and in alignment with the fact that we too can fly. At night when we spread our wings, disrupting the usual patterns of who we are on a daily basis, we earn our energetic stripes as we fly through our dreams.

And so, if we can just remember that we are energetic beings all the time and not only while we dream, we are well on the way to achieving what the Buddhists call enlightenment, freedom from samsara, the suffering of being in human form. With intent, we can gain mastery to fly seamlessly, and with awareness, between heaven and earth, just like the blue jay!

Happy dreaming!