AWAKENING THE ANCIENT POWER OF SNAKE
Table of Contents
with Chapter Summaries
Foreword by Dr. David Lilley (click to read)
Introduction: Dreaming of Snake (click to read)
The dream of Snake that triggered my fascination with snakes and inspired this book. Included is a brief overview of the chapters: from snake’s biology and physical presence on earth to its mythic story and profound archetypal influence on human consciousness.
Chapter 1: The Secret Lives of Snakes
A look at both our fear and fascination with regard to snakes. Covered are facts about fear (in America, you are five times more likely to die by dog attack than by snake bite) and ways to shift fearful perspectives via knowledge. We look at the amazing anatomy of snakes — from the tip of their forked tongues to the double tips of the male hemipenes — and how snake taxonomy can help us make sense of snakes. A short ending dream reminds us that in order to know Snake, we may first need to unlearn some of our ideas about snakes.
Chapter Two: When Snake Ruled
Rainbow Snake, dreamtime creator of the Australian aboriginal landscape; Ananta, thousand-headed Hindu king of snakes; Damballah, wise and benevolent snake-god of Africa; Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent of Mesoamerica. Reverence for Snake is both ancient and universal. This chapter looks at Snake as creator, protector, connector and activator. It also introduces a theme which runs through this book — that at deepest levels we fear Snake because it protects us from knowledge about ourselves that we are not yet ready to see.
Chapter 3 What Happened in the Garden
By eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve activate the knowledge of good and evil and awaken to a more expansive consciousness. Once you open to something like that, there is no going back. This chapter examines the dream-story of the Garden of Eden in light of the historical fall of the Goddess and her advisor/guide Snake, and simultaneous rise of patriarchal rule. We’ll look at Snake’s connection with the Tree and the Goddess (Eve), and its role in both guarding divine knowledge and offering an invitation to those who are ready to awaken to wisdom. This chapter also introduces the idea of uniting sacred masculine with sacred feminine and thus re-pairing the fullness of who we really are.
Chapter 4 Living with Snake
The story of how we came to live with Carl, a ball python, and Chloe, a corn snake. Included are personal observations about shedding, eating, and snake personalities. Also featured is a fascinating section on snake smuggling and collecting, the role of herpetologists in acquiring snakes for zoos, and an account of one woman’s transformation from extreme phobia to developing a meaningful relationship with snakes.
Chapter 5 Swallowing Life Whole
This chapter interweaves my experience of learning to feed our snakes live mice with the mechanics of how snakes secure prey, swallow animals larger than themselves, digest their meals, and excrete. The karmic cost of sacrificing mice to snakes is considered, along with some interesting perspectives of snakes eating other snakes.
Chapter 6 Snake in the Psyche
Carl Jung associated Snake with the ‘collective psychic substratum’ — the foundation of human consciousness. This chapter explores why Snake resides in the basement of our psyche and how it interacts with consciousness when deep change is needed. Also included are sections on Dragon, snake charmers, the art & science of alchemy, the psychology of shedding, and Snake as a harbinger of transformation.
Chapter 7 Undulation
This chapter explores different types of snake locomotion — from how snakes can swim and dive, climb trees, and race across burning sand, as well as move around the globe. The undulations of snake sex (involving two copulatory organs for both males and females) and reproduction are considered. Also featured is the Taoist association of Snake with the psoas, the Eastern view of kundalini, and the story of a woman involved in a healing process who suddenly experienced herself as Snake.
Chapter 8 Once Bitten: The Healing Power of Snake
Isn’t it ironic that snakes can invoke such dread and even hate in humans, yet are also one of the most frequently used symbols of medicine — as well as the source of some of our most potent healing remedies? This chapter investigates the history of Snake in medicine — from the healer Asclepius to the Poison King Mithridates to the discovery of anti-venin and the use of venom in both homeopathic and allopathic medicine. Included is a brief look at the truth about Snake Oil, and a timeline of Snake Venom Medicine.
Chapter 9 Dreaming with Snake
When Snake shows up in a dream, it’s wise to pay attention! Carl Jung noted Snake as the most common dream symbol of transcendence. This chapter looks at dreams from several individuals in which Snake offers a range of gifts — from scientific insight and personal discovery to spiritual illumination and a nudge to self-awakening. Also included is a instructional box on how to decode the meaning of Snake’s presence in your dreams.
Chapter 10 The Snake, the Stargazer, the Scientist, and the Shaman
From the two entwined snakes on the staff of Osiris and caduceus of Mercury to the Ida and Pingala energy currents snaking along our spine and the serpentine double helix of DNA, secret codings from Snake are present in all times throughout human history. This chapter links some of the ancient symbols with what is occurring in the world today, and explores how uncovering symbolic clues from Snake may reveal a spiral staircase to spiritual awakening.
Chapter 11 Lessons from Snake: How We Transform Our World
Reminding us to release what no longer serves, Snake offers many insights to the current chaos of planetary transformation. This ending chapter presents a variety of lessons from Snake and looks at ways in which we can reconnect with spirit and nature, and better embrace the profound physical, emotional, mental and spiritual changes that are occurring daily. Special focus is given to snake advocates who work to educate others with new ways of viewing snakes based on respect rather than uninformed fears, as well as conservations groups that have created win-win situations between humans and snakes. Also included are are practical ways to engage one’s inner Snake to create sacred space, access the imaginal realm, explore dreams and symbolic encounters, shed outgrown aspects of self, digest the new, and become an ambassador of integrated wisdom.
APPENDIX ONE: Snake Science 101
While sharing my experiences of living with snakes, I've been asked many of the same questions time and again. This collection of very short essays covers the basics -- from how snakes constrict or envenomate their prey to how they swallow, digest, and defecate; from how they some so quickly and gracefully without limbs to the ins and outs of how they mate. Also included is an introduction to how humans attempt to classify snakes and how many snake species defy such classification.
The Keys to Classification
Securing and Digesting Prey
Snakes Eating Snakes
The Straight Poop
The Ins and Outs of Snake Sex
APPENDIX TWO: Ten Snake Bios
With over 3,000 incredibly diverse snake species, how do you choose only ten to write about? In this appendix, I sought to highlight a wide variety...
King Cobra: The Snake Eater
One of the best-known cobras, King Cobra is, ironically, not a true cobra. With its wedge-shaped head, prominent round eyes, stern countenance, and large facial scales, the King looks both imposing and intimidating. This snake surprises for it eats other snakes, builds a nest for its young, and is celebrated in art and mythology as a protector of gods and goddesses.
Brahminy Blindsnake: The All-Female Flowerpot Snake
A tiny snake, less than six inches long, she is slim and supple as a piece of cooked spaghetti. Nearly blind and the only unisex snake in the world (that’s right — only females in this species!), the Brahminy snake is nonetheless one of the most planetary widespread. How does she do it?
Corn Snake: The Snake of Many Morphs
Slender and lively, with an abundant assortment of colorful designs, corn snakes are the cutting-edge fashionistas of the snake world. Pretty, docile, and easy to breed in captivity, corn snakes have been genetically morphed more than any other snake in the world.
Green Anaconda: The Elephant Killer
The largest snake in the world and fabled killer of elephants, anacondas live in the steamy jungles of South America and the shallows waters of the Amazon. Quiet and solitary, they use camouflage and the element of surprise — along with a fast strike and firm hold — to hunt. Despite their size (an average of 20 feet long and 300 pounds), they are very good at hiding, making them difficult for humans to study.
Small-Scaled Burrowing Asp: The Side-Stabbing Snake
These small, burrowing, venomous snakes cozy up to prey and surprise them with a sideways strike. Though relatively harmless to humans, these snakes are near impossible to hold without being bit. Indeed, what’s most amazing about the snakes is that they can envenomate with only one fang — and without ever opening their mouth.
Black Mamba: The Fastest Land Snake in the World
Fast, fatal, and frequently feared, the Black Mamba is a snake with a reputation. Able to move as quickly as most humans can run, and capable of raising itself four feet off the ground, Mamba is the superstar of the African snake world. Experience its bite, however, and your chance of survival without treatment is a staggering zero percent.
Bushmaster: The Silent Snake with a Secret
Largest pit viper in the world, the Bushmaster is very quiet, very fast, very venomous, and deadly accurate with its strike. Generally portrayed as fierce and aggressive, Bushmasters are more often shy homebodies that rarely wander far. They are unique among pit vipers because the females lay eggs which they guard until hatching.
Yellow-Lipped Sea Krait: The Amphibious Sea Snake
Modern sea snakes evolved from terrestrial snakes. Some left terra firma altogether but some, like the Banded Sea Krait, live both in water and on land. With large lungs, valved nostrils and a paddle-shaped tail, this krait mostly hunts underwater, favoring reef eels of the Pacific and Indian oceans. Although this snake is relatively nonaggressive and tends to avoid people, one bite is potent enough to kill ten humans.
Paradise Tree Snake: The Flying Snake
While there are no snakes with wings or magical flying powers, five snake species (known collectively as the Chyrsopelea) have evolved an amazing ability to glide long distances. The Paradise — named for its beautiful, bold colors and pattern— is the most accomplished of the group, capable of launching itself from tall trees, oscillating its body mid-air in unique configurations, and safely landing an impressive 325 feet away.
Timber Rattlesnake: The Mostly Misunderstood Snake
The largest venomous snakes in the U.S., rattlesnakes have long been considered highly aggressive and nonsocial. But observation reveals otherwise. Herpetologists have recently discovered that rattlers demonstrate friendly ties to each other as well as high levels of maternal care, with some female snakes even caring for each other’s young.