Snake Medicine: Remembering the Eros of my Animal Body

Many people fear and are repulsed by snakes and I was no exception. As a child, I had a recurring nightmare that dozens of snakes were dangling from their tails over my body, creating a canopy over my bed, their faces so close I could not turn and get away. Yet as an adult, I could not dismiss the fact that snakes kept presenting themselves at significant moments in my life.

One such moment was during a retreat at a rural Ontario property in 2008. It was my birthday, and at the precise moment of the autumn equinox, we were all meditating in different areas of landscape when a snake slid quietly in front of my feet. I remained utterly still as he turned and came even closer. Almost touching my hip, he slipped down between the rocks. Evidently, I was sitting on his home.

At the beginning of 2015, I was prompted by an intuitive message to ‘Turn up for sixty days and open to Source.’ As the message carried considerable gravitas, I rose before dawn the morning after, made a cup of coffee and settled into my armchair beside the fire. Closing my eyes, I let my energy drop deep into my body. Opening myself to whatever wanted to appear, I was given specific guidelines for how to proceed:

Drop into your heart and rest there.
Clear the screen. (I saw myself clearing snow off a frozen pond with a sweep of
my arm, in preparation for scrying into the dark water.)
Let whatever is in the water present itself to you.
Breathe it to the surface.
Greet it with an open heart; make it feel safe in your presence.
Watch where and how it wants to evolve.
Record what you see, hear and feel…

Following these instructions, I was not completely surprised when a snake rose up through a hole in the ice and greeted me as my guide.

From then on for sixty days, Snake and I met, morning after morning, sometimes for an hour, often longer, and I did not leave my chair until I had recorded as precisely as possible what had occurred. At the end of the sixty days, I set the writing aside for almost two years. When I reread the manuscript, the physical sensations surfaced as clearly and intensely as in the original encounters.

What follows are excerpts from those days. The complete meditations will be published later this year as The Book of Snake.

Day I   The Golden Ball of Love

Snake Visual, Linda Williams

After appearing through the hole in the ice and presenting himself as my guide, Snake dove back down beneath the ice and zig-zagged back and forth across the pond. Making a deep dive to the bottom, he latched onto something between his teeth — a small golden ball about the size of a penny. Swallowing it, he brought it to the surface, then spat it out before me.

I picked it up, looked closely and saw the word Love. The word was in different languages, not just on the surface but suspended within the golden ball. I realized these were not just words translated into many human languages but ‘Love’ in the ‘language’ of every living element — in rock-language, chemical, plant, and animal.

My reaction was interesting. ‘I already know everything is Love…’ and I was about to dismiss the gift as a trinket when I remembered the instruction to welcome whatever emerged. I paused to integrate what I had only superficially acknowledged. A snake had brought me the essence of Life, the living truth of Love, buried in the depths, in a powerful yet simple symbol — a golden ball with the word Love shimmering throughout it.

Taking the ball, I popped it into my mouth.

Day 19   Resurrecting Snake

When I cleared the pond I saw, with some horror, Snake lying inert, stretched out on the bottom of the pond. This cannot be, I thought, dismayed. But I softened my clenched fear and looked again. Sure enough, he was not moving, and he was almost bleached white and slightly bloated, as though he’d begun to decompose.

I sensed I was to gather my tools and be with him; immediately, I felt totally inadequate to the task. Again, I had to soften, open my heart and listen, and gradually as I calmed, I was given specific instructions on what to bring to Snake.

First I was to bring the leaves of a bitter green plant, like a shrub, near the east side of the pond. The small green leaves only, not the flowers or the berries.

Next was a rattle with numerous small objects, all from the natural world, arranged close to the length of a long stick, about two or three feet long. There were fish scales on it, dried berries, dried leaves, bits of singing crystals, very complex and arranged so tightly and close to the stick you couldn’t see each separate object or predict the variety of sounds it would make.

The third object was a salve, an ointment, made from something floral (perhaps calendula) with some special minerals dissolved in it as well.

The fourth object was a large bowl. (Only later did I discover the bowl was composed of several layers — metal, stone and red glass.)

I gathered these objects in a bundle and made my way down into the water to Snake.

I hesitated, repulsed at his appearance and once again had to soften and open my heart to even stay present to the scene. Though I had my tools, I had no idea how to use them without access to my heart-wisdom. I waited until it became clear how to begin. The choreography came as I proceeded.

I took the small green leaves and crushed them between my hands, then ever so gently and slowly began massaging his body from his head to his tail, with the lightest touch. As I did this, his colour, varied shades of brown, began to return. Then I gave him some to eat and watched; as I looked inside him, the green herb worked its cleansing, healing way through the entire inside of his body. There was a lengthy pause or stall near the end of his body, and I sensed whatever toxins he’d been exposed to (I sensed when I first saw him that he was ‘overwhelmed’ though I never knew by what) took some time to evacuate his system.

I took the ointment and again, with the greatest tenderness, gently applied it to his whole body, lifting him so I could cover every part. As I did this, I saw his flesh begin to pulse and I had the sense of the green herb going deeper, working within the cells through his body in an alchemical fashion with the ointment.

Then I picked up the rattle and began to shake it as though it was alive and intelligent in my hand, and I watched his delicate white skeleton begin to move as though the bone was remembering itself.

Now I only had the bowl and I wondered what purpose it served as the snake felt so recovered and alive. What would it want with this bowl, so man-made and artificial in this setting? I studied the bowl more closely and saw its layers of metal, stone and red glass; it was a truly rare and beautiful object. As I pondered the role of the bowl, I had a sense of it being a snake throne. It was significant because it came from the human world in a way that honoured Snake, and was offered with respect for Snake’s power.

What would snake make of it? I watched as he slid into the bowl, his body coiling into its shallow base. Then he began spiralling upwards, his body twisting like a vine, but without anything to support him. I realized he was showing me a dimension of his powers now accessible in this restored state. I felt this might not have been his natural or possible way of being before this experience, but after this process, his abilities and powers were very different.

Then he dropped back down into the bowl and indicated it was time for me to leave. He needed to rest…

Day 28   Snake’s Healing Medicine

Snake did not appear through the water as usual; I sat at the edge of the bank, waiting, stretching out on the ground with the cool earth at my back and the warmth of the sun on my face.

Eventually Snake came, gliding from below my feet, up and onto my body. I wondered if this was going to be some form of mating or lovemaking. I didn’t know if I was ready to receive him this way but as I lay still, he aligned his body from my right foot, up my leg, diagonally across my torso to my left shoulder, sliding along my outstretched arm until he rested his head on the wounded palm of my left hand. (I had sprained my hand in on a fall on the ice the day before.)

His vibrations affected me differently in each area — a gentle tug in my groin, as though releasing tension through the muscles at the joining of my hip and leg; a shimmering realignment through the underside of my left arm; a lot of gentle activation in my armpit; a shifting settling in my pancreas area; a slight tingle on the side of my right foot near the small toe where I have some dry skin; and the bruised palm, gently pulsing under Snake’s head. He lay on me, singing in this silent vibrating way for a good length of time, then I sat up and he coiled on the ground before me, as though we were to debrief. I did wonder if I would be given some explanation of what had just happened, for I was aware this was not a typically vertical, kundalini experience of snake’s energy… so I waited to see what Snake would say.

Instead of speaking, he showed me many ways snake has interacted with humanity through a series of scenes, one after the other. With Eve and the serpent, I felt the deep intimacy of their exchange, very different from the unholy seduction and ‘fall’ story. I had the sense of a very potent transmission, a gifting between them.

I saw a tribe in a jungle doing some kind of ceremony in the night around a fire. Intentionally called to participate, snakes approached from all directions and settled at the edge of the circle.

I saw Medusa, lost to herself in the snake energy, then the scene shifted as other Greek Goddesses appeared with snakes wrapped around their arms or held in their hands, in an attitude of shared power and mutual respect.

I saw snakes wrapped around the caduceus and was aware of their healing powers and energies.

I saw a naked woman dancing with a snake wrapped around her body, sexual and sensuous, followed by a vision of snakes being hunted in desert landscapes… I saw the snakes appear in many people’s dreams, and felt the presence of a huge Leviathan surfacing from the deep with a tiny ‘rider’ on it…

Then Snake spoke, ‘I have seen the holy and the hell.’

I sat with this insight, feeling the depth of his loneliness. How deeply misunderstood he has been. A painful pressure in my heart took all my attention.

Inwardly, I heard ‘medicine’ and was aware that Snake carried a most potent and essential medicine for these times. I thought of how his venom could kill and how swiftly it spreads throughout the body from a single bite. But this ‘medicine’ he was showing me now was a different frequency, far beneath the venom, equally powerful and systemic but in a different way that I could scarcely comprehend. I felt Snake’s care and his urgency to bring this medicine forward. Was this part of why I was so called to open to these meditations, to begin preparing for this very different ‘medicine’?

I sensed we could not go further today and Snake indicated there would be more… I hugged snake and he gently wrapped his lower body around my waist, about three times, and gently squeezed me in response. Then he was gone…

Day 33   Enjoying Pleasure

The sensation that began the meditation and gently persisted throughout was a soft, warm swirling pressure at the base of my tailbone. Instead of becoming more active, this gentle thick energy remained my primary reference. As I relaxed into it, ‘pleasure’ came to mind, for indeed, the sensation was very pleasant. Though I did not see him, I sensed Snake’s coiled presence here as he indicated I was to stay with the sensation of pleasure. I did not find this easy; I habitually take a tiny bit of pleasure, then push on. Snake showed me how abiding was not a dry ascetic practice but one rooted in a deeply pleasurable and ongoing interchange with the natural world.

Struggling to stay present, I asked for Snake’s guidance with this practice and felt myself in a jungle, taking in the beauty and lush energy of the exotic plants and flowers. The warmth at my root expanded through my groin and spread into the inside of my thighs. Delicious. Then I felt the cool sensation of drinking intensely alive water from beneath a waterfall, the pleasure of the sun warming my naked body, the sweetly sensuous relaxation of lying skin-to-skin with a lover, revelling in the pleasure of touch. Drinking in the scent of flowers felt incredibly nourishing and the taste of food made me want to slow down and savour one bite for a long time. I felt the delightful frisson of electricity through my whole body, alive with creative energy. Ah, all my senses heightened as each experience was drawn into this pulsing sponge-like locus at my root.

Then Snake showed me how all the creatures, in their own ways, have this wonderful capacity to enjoy the richness of the world in their animal bodies. I felt how Snake’s body is utterly sensitive and responsive to the earth — warm stone, cool moss, moist earth and water. I felt birds playing in the updrafts of air, was briefly inside a furry body, followed by the heavy weight of an elephant’s foot on a sandy path.

As human beings, we see only the barest of their experience; we see the survival and functionality of their lives, not the thick pleasure that they enjoy in being here on earth. Then a great wave of sadness came as I realized this pleasure was only possible when they have the natural conditions to let them feel safe and nourished. Unawares, we have destroyed so much while experiencing only a fraction of the pleasure they know in their bodies.

Abiding in this thickened pleasure was a silent yet compelling invitation for others to savour their own pleasure. When Love is rooted in pleasure, its healing power permeates far deeper than words can ever do.

‘This is partly why I am hated and feared,’ Snake said, near the end of our time. I understood why. Such pleasure comes from a deeply surrendered openness, defying dogmatic control. Writing this, I realize I have been lingering in Eros, Snake’s terrain.

Day 35   A Great Animal Heart

I was distracted as I approached the pond and Snake was nowhere to be seen. Finally I realized I was not as present as I needed to be, so I dropped a level deeper and heard Snake say, ‘I’m behind you.’ As soon as he said that, I was aware of him, his long form snaking up from the ground to the top of my head.

‘Feel me,’ he said and I opened to the sensation of his presence at my back. It was a distinct and important shift. Confirming this, Snake said, ‘When you feel, not just see, everything changes. Until then, seeing is only possibility. Feeling is the reality of Presence.’

I stayed with the intensely alive feeling-sensation of his body at my back, aware of the gentle pulsing pressure at my sacrum and a slight electric buzzing at my pineal. I could feel the energy throughout, not a straight line but a wavy presence. However, as I stayed with this, I felt a hollowness at the back of my heart chakra as though the energy was blocked. Then I saw Snake’s body looped in an actual knot there, not so tight the blood flow was constricted, but enough so that the natural radiance through the heart was compromised and choked.

As I wondered how this could be rectified, Snake flipped his tail, up through the slightly loosened knot and out again. No big deal! I was amazed. Was it as simple as this? What had just happened? There was no immediate epiphany, no sudden flash of radiant light. In fact, there was the same somewhat hollow, slightly numb or deadened feeling in the area.

Remembering to just stay present, I gradually saw tiny crystal-like lights in snake’s body in the area next to my heart begin to light up and almost vibrate with a purposefulness. I let this heightened, healing energy permeate the back of my heart; it seemed to rouse energy in my entire chest area.

‘This is your great animal heart’ Snake said. ‘See through the eyes of this heart.’

Immediately I asked my familiar question: ‘What am I to do?’ revealing my tendency to be overly responsible. ‘You are doing it. Bearing witness. Becoming animal…’ he indicated, and I relaxed, knowing the work was being done through this deep surrendering.

I am left with the fullness of a different heart, my animal heart that is able to resonate with the hearts of all creatures. What will this mean for me now? I am afraid to speculate and somewhat nervous about feeling too much after being numb to this reality for so long.

‘You are safe,’ I hear Snake say. ‘We will not harm or alarm you…’ As though to reassure me, I feel his gentle thud at my sacrum again.

About the Author

Andrea Mathieson is a writer, musician and intuitive counsellor. She loves facilitating women’s circles and webinars as well as hosting one-on-one retreats for women at her home in Port Hope, Ontario. As one of Canada’s few flower essence producers, she began creating the Raven Essence project in 1995. Her new website includes more original writings, conversations with colleagues, meditations with ancient stones and other excerpts from The Book of Snake.

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