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53147RE: << lovingpurelove >> Mommy Mystic: Meaning in the Year of the Snake

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  • ilona lynch
    Feb 4, 2013
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      Nods to this gnostic post in deep appreciation.
      Thank you.
      Bless you.

      On Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 3:16 PM, Ash wrote:


      Meaning in the Year of the Snake February 3, 2013

      “If the account given in  Genesis is really true, ought we not, after all, to thank this serpent?  He was the first schoolmaster, the first advocate of learning, the first  enemy of ignorance, the first to whisper in human ears the sacred word  liberty.”
      - Robert Green Ingersoll
      William Blake's painting 'Eve Tempted by the Serpent'William Blake’s painting ‘Eve Tempted by the Serpent’
      In honor of the Year of the Snake, which will arrive with Chinese and  Tibetan New Year on February 10th, I decided to explore the snake as a  symbol across cultures and history, just as I did with the dragon last year. If you’d like to read some of the predictions for the Year of the Snakebased in the Chinese and Tibetan astrology systems, I wrote a bit on that o ver at Bellaonline.com.  This post is more of a free-form exploration of the snake and the  serpent as a symbol.  Symbols speak to us beyond words, on a visceral  level, and can serve as shortcuts to meaning, or even doorways to other  dimensions. This post is a meander through images and myths  related to the snake, which I hope will spur insights for you about what  you’d like your Year of the Snake to be about (it certainly did for me.)
      The snake has so many different interpretations, but if there is any overriding theme it is one of consciousness – of good and evil, of choice, and of awakening to the power of this choice .  The snake, across all cultures, is never seen as stupid. The snake is  not only smart, but aware, and it brings awareness – sometimes at any  cost. In Judeo-Christianity of course,  it’s the snake, or serpent, that  convinces Eve to partake of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge  of Good and Evil. The conventional interpretation is that this is a fall  from grace, and over the centuries both serpents and women have  suffered from this association, considered the root of all evil in the  world.
      Mystic and esoteric interpretations of  Genesis have always been more nuanced, and seen the snake as a catalyst  for Adam and Eve’s awakening – to their independence from God, to their  own free will, to their sexual energies, or, as in the Ingersoll quote  above, to the quest for knowledge and learning itself. Seen in terms of  the spiritual journey, it is only through separation from God or Source  that we can seek to come back to it. In this way, the snake is nothing less than the catalyst for our own enlightenment.
      This is closer to my own primary association with the snake as symbol – as the ‘nadis’ or energy channels through which the spiritual energy of kundalini rises through the chakras as part of the enlightenment process:
      Chakra Mapping, showing the two spiraling nadis as serpents.
      As the kundalini rises – not just once but  over and over – it triggers lessons, insights, gifts, and challenges  associated with the stages of consciousness linked to each chakra.  Sometimes we are engrossed in the lessons of one or more chakras for  years – or lifetimes. Sometimes we move all the way through, and  experience an awakening of sorts, before cycling back through to learn  on an even deeper level, resulting in an even deeper awakening, and  integration of that learning into a new self.
      The awakening process depicted as human evolution through kundalini rising.
      Awakening is a healing process as well – a healing of our intrinsic separation from Source .  Often ‘dis-ease’, whether physical, emotional, mental or spiritual, is  the spur for our seeking, and so it’s appropriate in that sense that the  spiraling kundalini snakes were incorporated into the modern-day  medical symbol in the West, albeit conventional medicine has moved far  afield of its holistic roots (although gradually coming back to it these  days – we hope):
      Caduceus, symbol of American medicine
      The snake, in particular the cobra, is linked not only to awakening  in the East but also to the protection of enlightenment. Many versions  of the Buddha’s life story tell of his protection by one or more cobras  while sitting under the Bodhi Tree in meditation. This image represents  not only protection but also the Buddha’s peace with all beings, as the  cobra’s initially antagonistic instincts are quelled by the great peace  emanating from Buddha:
      Statue in Bodhgaya India of Buddha in meditation protected by a cobra. Source: trekearth.com
      Cobras often also encircle the head of Vishnu, the Hindu god who  plays the role of ‘preserver’ in the Trimurti of Brahma the creator,  Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. Together they represent  the never-ending cycle of birth and death, creation, destruction, and  transformation.
      Vishnu – Preserver of the Universe
      This connection between snakes and protection is mirrored in the  Hindu and Tibetan ‘nagas’ – serpent/snake deities featured prominently  in the Indian epic the Mahabarata. Nagas play many different roles in  this tale, and in related Buddhist mythology, but are almost  always linked to water and the underworld, and often to the protection  of natural forces and/or secret mystic knowledge . They are  usually portrayed as benevolent to humans unless they are mistreated, in  which case they strike back through natural disasters, often based in  water. In some contemporary interpretations nagas are therefore  sometimes thought of as protectors of the environment, with the  disasters they are connected with seen as retribution for environmental  destruction wrought by humanity.
      nagasNagas portrayed as protectors of a shrine.
      In Tibetan portrayals, nagas are sometimes also portrayed as  protectors of termas, or ‘hidden treasures’. Within Tantric Buddhism  termas are teachings planted by Tantric masters for eventual discovery  by future adepts, at such time as they are ready for them. Termas are revelatory in nature, and only understood by those ready to receive them . They are linked to direct knowing of enlightenment, rather than intellectual understanding.
      tibetanfemalenagaTibetan painting of a female naga, or nagini.
      The cobra was also a powerful protection symbol in Ancient Egypt, and  placed on either side of the sun (representing Ra) in some versions of  the winged solar disk found above temple and pyramid doors:
      Cobras as protection for Ra, sometimes called the ‘fiery eyes’ of Ra.
      The cobra also came to symbolize Lower Egypt, and served as guardians in later tombs:
      Of course, there’s a shadow side to the snake in mythology – this is  not an uncomplicated symbol. How could we talk about snakes, especially  on a site largely devoted to women’s spirituality, without covering  Medusa? In Greek mythology, Medusa has a hideous face and venemous  snakes for hair, and her glance turns onlookers to stone. In  more modern interpretations Medusa is often equated with feminine rage,  and thus as a shadow that can be transformed through awareness into  feminine power.
      Bernini’s Medusa
      Another ‘shadow’ representation of the snake  is found in the Tibetan Buddhist symbol for aversion, the root of  hatred or anger, which is one of the three root delusions or ‘poisons’  that leads to suffering. Within Wheel of Life mandalas, the three delusions are depicted as a snake, pig (ignorance) and bird (attachment):
      threerootdelusionsThe  snake (aversion), pig (ignorance) and bird (attachment) in the center  of a Wheel of Life. Together they keep us trapped in suffering until  through mindfulness and awareness we break their hold.
      Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec/Mayan ‘feathered-serpent’ god captured a lot  of interest in 2012 as one of the gods associated with the Mayan  calendar. There are a lot of different interpretations of Quetzalcoatl,  but in all of them he is nothing if not intense. He is linked to both  creation and destruction, death and fertility, and cycles of all types.  Taken as a whole, the common thread running through Quetzalcoatl stories  seems to be choice-points and redemption - the destruction of the past for the creation of a new future:
      Quetzalcoatl  – ‘feathered serpent’ God associated with the calendar, death and  resurrection, water, fertility, and even secret knowledge by some.
      Which brings us to the other main theme associated with snakes – that of rebirth, because of their ability to shed their skin and grow a new one each year:
      Snake Shedding Skin by artist Alice Friend
      This theme is common in Native American  depictions, but is also perhaps related to the Ouroboros, a picture of a  snake eating its own tale, representing cycles and eternal renewal in  Egyptian and Greek texts, and later adopted by alchemists and even  Gnostics to represent duality and non-duality (similar to the yin/yang symbol.)
      Ouroboros – symbol of cycles, and the ‘eternal return’, here shown in a medieval alchemical tract
      Because of this link to renewal, the snake has also often been connected to fertility ,  as with this Minoan snake goddess statue estimated to be from around  1600 BCE, making it one of the oldest such statues archaeologists have  found:
      snakegoddessMinoan Snake goddess from 1600 BCE
      So there  you go – awareness, awakening, choice, delusion, protection, esoteric knowledge, cycles, fertility, rebirth. There’s no shortage of snake mythology to draw upon when contemplating  your Year of the Snake. For me, it seems to all add up to a moving  inward, a necessary retraction after the fiery Year of the Dragon, for  honest self-appraisal and inquiry. The result can be an emergence into a  new level of awakening, a rebirth born of direct knowing, a cutting  through past delusion, and a new level of alignment with both earth and  Source.
      This was a necessarily a subjective  and limited view of the snake, there are so many different legends to  draw upon! Feel free to share your own favorite snake symbols or myths,  and your own interpretations too…Namaste, and Happy Year of the Snake.


      'May we live in peace without weeping. May our joy outline the lives we touch without ceasing. And may our love fill the world, angel wings tenderly beating.'

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