The Year of the Snake began on February 10, 2013. And ever since then, we’ve noticed people being, well, kinda serpentine. Mean. Vengeful. Slithering up with a sneak attack. Ouch! The bite is sharp and hits the deadliest spot: our insecurities, private shame, weaknesses. And the sting can be deadly…if we don’t catch the poison before it seeps in.
Being an optimistic Sagittarius, I like to turn lemons into lemonade…or venom into venom-ade, as it were. I believe everything happens for a reason, and to spark a transformation. So I sit (nursing my wounds) and ponder: what is the Snake teaching us? And how can we deal? Here are five thoughts that have uncoiled so far:
1. Suck out the poison, spit it out.
911! If you ever watch any “lost in the wilderness” movies, when someone gets a snake bite, the hero cuts an X shape in their skin, sucks out the poison and spits it out. So, when someone attacks you personally, REJECT and EJECT!
Constructive criticism is great. It’s delivered with love and with the persons’ growth and well-being in mind. Snake year critiques are more low blows, given with the intention to hurt or disempower. People may draw you into their lair, only to attack you when you’re at your most vulnerable. Snakes have “forked tongues,” and are known to speak out of both sides of their mouths, which can be confusing and even dangerous.
It’s already happened to me, and I’m still recovereing. I was caught unprepared, and the hurtful venom knocked me down. I tend to trust people readily, giving them the benefit of the doubt and opening my heart to them. So when I get negative feedback, I take it personally, feeling like I’ve done something terrible…then spiraling down to feel like I’m terrible. No good can come of that. In the Snake years, we have to discipline our minds not to go into those dark, self-hating corners when we’re bitten. Spit it out and reclaim your power! (Need a reminder of how? We love this post by Danielle LaPorte on some of the most surprising people who’ve overcome failure.)
And if you’re the one spewing venom (because we all probably will), catch yourself. Ask: how can I say this in a gentler, more compassionate way? Am I projecting some of my own anger, insecurity or darkness onto the other person? In a Snake year, it’s wise to think before you speak. You don’t want to contradict yourself or do accidental harm with your words—a higher risk during a Snake year.
2. Don’t reject the “Snake medicine.”
Shamanism speaks of animal totems, and how each animal symbolizes a “medicine” that heals our souls. So what are the Snake’s medicinal properties?
Well, snake medicine inspires transformation. Once the venom hits our veins, we are forever changed. A part of us may need to “die” for something else to be reborn. The Snake is an awakener, too. Sometimes, it takes a “bite” to remind us we’re on the wrong path. My experience with receiving harsh feedback from someone this week reminded me: I’m doing something that I’m not passionate about. This is not my heart and soul’s work. So I was able to see it as a gift from the universe. Remember, the Snake dwells on the ground, so sometimes, he needs to bite to get your attention. Where in your life have you been ignoring signs…to the point where the universe needed to zing you with a painful one?
Read more on the Snake totem at http://alltotems.com/snake-spirit-meaning-symbols-and-totem/
3. Build a tougher skin…
Make like the Snake and toughen up. Don’t let ’em get you down. Even if you feel small or low, act mighty. It can be hard to summon your will to go on when you’ve been taken down. But that spark of desire is all you need. So let the painful stuff slide off your slippery scales.
4. …Then shed it.
The skin-shedding Snake knows: when you’re done with something, let it go. Slough off the dead weight–and that includes your “armor.” There’s a time to be tough and a time to be vulnerable. Sometimes, showing your vulnerability is the strongest, bravest thing you can do.
And if all else fails…
5. Charm the snake.
The captivating Snake has the power to seduce like no other sign. In Biblical lore, the serpent was the source of temptation that got man kicked out of paradise. So how can we beat the Snake at its own game?
Snake charmers entertain by taming deadly cobras with rapturous music. (Well, it’s actually the vibrations of the music, since snakes can’t really hear.) What a great metaphor for making friends with our own “shadow” or dark side. Dance with the Snake, look him in the eyes, show no fear. The Snake is a bully, a power-monger, but he’s also a test. Can you own your power enough to stare him back in his beady little eyes? Can you love-bomb those “difficult people” who you’d usually fight with? We’re reading an awesome book called The Tools that suggests some really effective ways of befriending our own shadow natures, and even drawing strength from them.
So let’s not shoot the messenger during the Year of the Snake, even if his words are written with poisonous pen. (As I write this, I remember the anthrax postal scare in 2001, which was the last Year of the Snake!) Enemies may unveil themselves, so be prepared. Know thy enemy, love they enemy. He can be your greatest teacher.
P.S. Fun and bizarre fact I discovered while researching this article: “Ophiology” is the actual term for the scientific study of snakes and reptiles!
Image via WeHeartIt.