Dreaming of Snakes

Posted on October 15, 2011


Last night I worked as a snake handler. I used a broadsword to prod and lift a viper up into the air to show to paying customers the girth and color of its body. The snake and I worked in unison, if I thought something, it would respond. If it felt discomfort or lack of willingness, I knew to stop and make the public go away. There was a mutual respect. Neither of us felt exploited, or so I presumed as the human.

Then, my fiancee came by after hours to see me at my job. The snake was resting, having put in a full evening’s labor. Without asking permission, I slid the sharp blade under its belly to lift. The snake and I exchanged one long, hard stare. Within that split second, a thousand apologies passed. We turned from mutual to separate. It was simultaneously decided that one of us needed to die. We had broken a pact, and now there would be the inevitable result.

I cocked the broadsword skyward with a flick of my wrist, half second about to deliver the axe swing into its midsection and it sprung. Two open mouthed, short sinking bites into my abdomen.

The book of dreams on the library shelf said that a snake holds many sexual connotations, falling from purity, and all the obvious symbols. The one interpretation that held me was:

“Snake- fear of the descent into the depths of the subconscious”

Perfect. This is as good as a re-entry as any into the depths. I’ll pry open the fang marks still damp in my abdomen and reach inside, inject some of that poisonous flow back into my bloodstream. I’ll make excuses or not for the reason I haven’t kept my word. Suffice it to say that starting a union at my new school has been physically and mentally draining. Ten pounds lighter and having worked almost 140 hours in the last two weeks, my creative appetite was still functioning, but merely jotting notes down in card catalogs to be filed later.

I take my index finger and prod the first bite mark. It feels gel. It feels painful on the rib cage. I can silence my own sense of linearity. I said that my intention was to create words about the environment, about the scientific facts of the downfall, the future of the end of life.

I am filled with lack of biodiversity. I am filled with the need to make a statement that is alarming. I am tired of trying to pretend like this feeling of extinction does not put a damper on my spirit.  I am not tired being filled with the joy of the world. It brings great peace to wake and walk through a sun lined path in the mid morning sun and watch the millions of leaves and seeds helicopter down from the stripping trees, half nude on this definitive fall day.

I think of the moment of my separation from that snake. There are two layers deep that I know I can get to if the wound will allow me in.

One, here is one, the desire to create expansive art.

Two, here is two, the true fear of the depths.

Three, the parallel split of my own being from the flow of the world.

Four, the moment when the majority of my species fell in love with themselves and out of love with the world.

Five, the turn to agriculture, then organized religion, then the advent of the written language, then the moving away from feminine wiring of the brain to masculine wiring of the brain, then the death of great peace leaders, then caste systems, capitalism, consumer culture, war, technology, colonialism.

Six, the sixth sign. This is it. What comes next. The homogenization and systematic destruction of everything that exists. What is being created is weeds. Viral species that can adapt to any climate, region, soil, and thrive and multiply. There are few foods we eat, corn, wheat, rice. There are fewer strands in the web of life. Each day some irreverent human culture walks along, no drives is more apt, and cuts away part of the work of the spider.

I don’t think I can reach beyond the sixth. The snake was right, my mind shuts itself down once it realizes where it may go. A decade ago I imagined there as a little guardian in my brain, directing the flow of traffic, keeping it fluid and safe. For a short time, I had the ability to get past that guardian and feel comfortable with the depths. I was able to enter different levels of consciousness without the use of drugs. It felt alternative. There are a number of reasons why I haven’t gone back there. Sitting here today, in my nice, clean and organized life, I want to rip it all open again.

Writing for me, recently, has been guided. This is a beautiful feeling. I have some idea when I sit down of what I would like to accomplish. I have an agenda, an objective. Essentially, I’ve taken all the things about teaching, the structure, and allowed it to carry into my creative brain. The result is ordinary and expected. I feel the need to bring something revolutionary.

I am carrying the pieces of rock and stone over to the open field. I lay them down in circles and step between them.

I carry the bricks over individually and stack them one atop the other. They are beginning to create a shape. I know what the shape is, but the bricks are not in the proper order yet.

Years ago, I took a sledgehammer to the foundation and shattered everything to pieces in hopes that the rubble would offer insight, that the randomness of the way the pieces splintered and settled could provide guidance. I took a sledgehammer because I knew that there was a fissure occurring within my own physical and mental being; it felt good to split. The sledgehammer helped me beat back the inevitable. It was also a tool to help me accelerate the possibility for a new structure.

As I sit, I want to continue. I have finally opened the first bite mark. I am able to feel around with ease. I realize the snake did not merely bite me and flee. The snake is inside of me and trying to escape back into its world.

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