Journeying with Serpent to Shed the Old

Journeying with serpent to let go of our old “skins”.

Each time we enter a new year there are celebrations to mark the passing of the last one and welcome in the new.  There are resolutions and the hope that the things we did not like about the last year will be washed away and the new year will bring more of whatever it is we feel we lack: money, love, joy, a sense of purpose, or something else.

What we fail to realize is that we are taking our old selves into the new year with our same beliefs and behaviors.  Yes, we make resolutions to change behaviors, but these often fail within a few weeks if not sooner.  We may start with sincere resolve but find it too difficult to keep going with the new way of eating, or exercising, etc. to continue.  Why is that?

Shamanic practitioners across cultures and millennia have known that we need to change at the energetic level to create and sustain change at the physical.  This is physical law:  E=mc2.    While you could work hard at the physical to change the energetic, it would take a lot of work and wouldn’t be sustained without a change in underlying beliefs.  Where subconscious, or unconscious beliefs of inadequacy, unlovability, unworthiness, hopelessness, exist, those beliefs will work to sabotage any change made at the physical so that our behaviors comport with the underlying beliefs.

The shamans of old did not have physics labs to run experiments, they were great observers of the natural world.  Most great physicists today also have this talent.  It was Einstein’s observation of the world while moving on a train and considering how different it would look standing still that lead to the theory of relativity.   These shamans were familiar with the ways of nature: the plants, the animals, the wind, the water, the rocks, and stones.  They understood the character of each, their individual nature and how they all worked together to create harmony.  They could call upon the archetypes of these energies when needed to restore healing and balance.

For letting go of the old and walking through the world in a new way, the energy of serpent is a great ally.  For a serpent to grow, it needs to shed its old skin.  The process also gets rid of any parasites that might have attached themselves to their skin.  It does that all at once, not a little bit here and there.   It is a process that happens from four to twelve times a year.  The snake will begin by rubbing their head against something abrasive to create a tear, when that is large enough, they simply wriggle forward, leaving the old behind.

Snakes also move belly to belly with the earth, always in alignment.  No heavy tromping about.  They are flexible and take on the temperature of their environment.  They see things at a “just the facts” level, without emotion or color commentary.  Always a good place to start.

If there are things you’d like to release from the last year, or longer, and walk fresh into the new, a journey with serpent can help.

The Journey

If this is your first journey you will want to read about journeying here.

Any journey can be greatly helped by having a rattle or drum.  If you don’t have either you can put pebbles in can, something to make noise.  If you still don’t have anything that’s OK too.

Do a few minutes, it needn’t be more than one to two of meditative breathing.  The square breathing technique is quite effective.    Breathe in to a count of four, hold a count of four, exhale to a count of four and hold to a count of four.  Repeat.

Begin rattling or drumming if you like you can chant also.  This may be done standing or sitting.    The point is to get to an altered state of consciousness.  Follow the sound of the rattle or drum.

Imagine you stand up and walk out your front door into a veil of mist.  Step through the mist into a garden, or meadow.  Someplace in natural beauty.  Find a place to sit there, a rock or a bench, a log.  Whatever shows up for you.    Sit down and ask serpent to come to you.  This may not be immediate or even happen the first time you call if you are new at journeying, that’s OK.

If you have been feeling constricted anywhere in your life, or feeling the sting of bite, Serpent may have been trying to get your attention.

Ask the serpent what you need to release.

Is it an old idea or belief?

Is it a behavior?

Is it something bigger like a relationship, a job or even a move?

When you have your answer(s), return to the sound of the rattle/drum, and write them down.

Later you can do a fire ceremony to release that which needs to die for the new to be born.

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