An Easter Visitation From Serpent Mother


A blood moon rising over Lake Virginia.
A blood moon rising over Lake Virginia

What an exquisite time of year it is in Orlando. Easter weekend was especially lovely. Saturday night we went to the home of good friends, where, in the most gorgeous weather imaginable, we celebrated her 60th birthday with dinner in the backyard while watching the glorious rise of the astonishing red-orange “blood moon” over Lake Virginia. Afterwards, with the doors open to the cool breezes, we danced barefooted in the living room to his exquisite play list of the best dance music ever!! It was like The Big Chill—one of my favorite movies ever—all over again, except this time the music wasn’t Motown, it was “O” town!

Sunday was equally balmy and breezy.  So between the traditional indoor Easter Egg hunt for our grandchildren (we’re still missing a purple egg containing a $5.00 bill; maybe they’ll find it next year), and our version of Easter dinner (featuring Grandma Raffa’s Italian spaghetti and meatballs), we relaxed on the deck.

Our house is on a small secluded island on the edge of a large lake.  Most of the island lies within in the city limits of our suburb, but our end of the road is governed by the county.  So the neighbors across the street, whose home straddles the dividing line, have chickens on the county side of their backyard.  On our side of the street, a canal edged with a cypress swamp runs behind the few houses and merges with the lake at either end. Our tiny enclave is so isolated by the water and trees that it’s easy to forget we’re surrounded by large neighborhoods near the big city.

It’s paradise to the critters with whom we share this space. Nearly every day I see pairs of wood ducks flying in to make a splash landing near their nests.  Or hear a kingfisher screeching as he races through the treeless air space over the canal like a noisy space ship trying to shake off an enemy from Star Wars. Or listen to the piercing whistles of the ospreys who surf the air currents over the swamp and lake searching for fish.  We have 8-hooter owls, great blue herons, green herons, wood storks, coots, anhingas and bitterns. Ginormous turtles have been known to lay their eggs in our backyard, raccoons try to dig them up, bass swim in the canal, and alligators rule.

So I wasn’t very surprised Easter afternoon when I heard a shout from the big kids who were playing volleyball in the side yard.  “Snake! Snake!” As we rushed over Alex was hopping through the grass like a dancer over hot coals. Sure enough, passing beneath the center of the volleyball net, a 6-foot long snake was making a slithery bee-line for the canal.

My son-in-law recognized it right away and told us it was a non-poisonous rat or corn snake.  We watched, mesmerized, as she slid over the sea wall, slipped into the water, sashayed swiftly across the canal and disappeared in the undergrowth.

Serpent Mother
Serpent Mother

Judging by the direction from which she had come, my guess is she was returning from a visit to the henhouse across the street. Do they like eggs? I asked him.  Oh yes. Aha! So Serpent Mother likes to celebrate Spring with Easter egg hunts too!

Why do I call this serpent “her?” Can I tell the gender of a snake at a glance?  No, I’m not speaking literally. Everything has symbolic meaning that reflects the inner life of spirit and psyche, and snakes are especially rich with associations.  Aside from being a common dream symbol of transcendence, life-giving energy, healing, and the Sacred Self, the snake has always and everywhere been associated with the archetypal feminine and the ancient goddesses who represented the Great Mother of all life.

The moon is likewise associated with the cool light of the feminine, as compared to the masculine sun.  And a full moon, pregnant with life-giving blood, rising over Lake Virginia on Easter eve, a day when my psychologically aware and spiritually mature friend celebrated her 60th birthday, has very special meaning for me.

Plus, the element of water is the feminine counterpart to masculine fire. The name Virginia (from the OFr. virgine, and Lat. virgo), means virgin, a chaste maiden or unmarried woman who has taken religious vows of chastity. And Serpent Mother’s synchronistic visitation on Easter Sunday reminds me of the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, a Spirit Person who transcended the physical limitations of earthly life, thus symbolizing our hope for new spiritual life.

I hope your Easter was blessed with reverence for the Mystery of new life, and I wish you an especially meaningful Spring.

Corn snake image credit:  Wikipedia

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

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0 Responses

  1. Thank you, Jean for sharing the beauty and solitude of your Orlando home! Clearly it rejuvenates your brilliant mind to greater heights of insight and creativity from which I feel blessed to benefit.

  2. Thank you Jeanie for sharing! This is so lovely. A friend of mine who lives in Phoenix has been saying in email in the last 2 days about the coral snake in her garden; her husband corrected her and let me know it’s a KING snake that eats the rattlers .. so snakes and serpents are all around. I’ll read your post again to bask in its beauty.

    1. Thank you, Susan. I wonder if my CORN QUEEN needs a KING for company this Spring…. Given the “Nature” of this place, I’m pretty sure she won’t have to head for Phoenix to find one! 🙂

    1. Thank you. I loved your beautifully-phrased comment: “wrapping the weekend in metaphor, symbolism and mystery.” It’s what you and Cicero and I always try to do with our art, isn’t it? Create little symbolic, celebratory gifts for our like-minded sisters and brothers?

  3. Wow, what a beautiful one! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
    As for the snake being associated with feminine energy, Joseph Campbell says that in ancient times, the great Goddess was often portrayed with a (male) serpent lover. The serpent in Genesis who seduces Eve is also portrayed as a male entity. Greek gods like Zeus and Apollon often transformed into snakes (Zeus impregnated his daughter Persephone in the form of a huge snake) and were revered in serpent form, and the symbol of the god of healing, Asclepios, is a snake winding around a staff. When people came to the temple of Asclepios at Epidauros to receive a healing dream, they prepared by fasting and meditation for a few days, and then spent the night in a temple room that was full of live snakes, where they would receive a dream from the god.
    When the Buddha reached enlightenment, a mighty serpent king named Muchalinda rose up out of the earth and protected the Buddha with his great hood so that he would not be touched by rain and weather. Even Yahweh, a very patriarchal deity, sent snakes to poison the Israelites in the desert when they started complaining, and then told Moses to heal them by fashioning a snake out of copper and showing it to them. Campbell concludes “that the Lord Yahweh was himself an aspect of the serpent power, and so himself properly the serpent spouse of the serpent goddess of the caduceus, Mother Earth.”
    These are just some examples. It’s much more fascinating to read the whole thing in Campbell’s books. There’s a chapter “The Serpent’s Bride” in his volume “Occidental Mythology” where he describes serpent symbolism in different cultures in great detail.
    Have a wonderful spring! 🙂
    Many blessings

    1. Thank you for such a relevant and informative comment, Zarah!
      Yes, because of its phallic shape, snake has masculine symbolism as well. I had an amazing dream in the 3rd or 4th year of my dreamwork in which a little green male snake was taking a long and winding journey up a tree and finally bumped into a big old brown female snake near the top. She calmly opened her mouth and chomped down on his head twice. Chomp! Chomp! To my surprise he showed no alarm but with equal calm, simply accepted his fate.
      What happened next was extraordinary: the little green snake was transformed into a cowboy who sauntered up to a saloon bar, slammed down some coins, and said, “Set ’em up, Joe!” Not only did the little green snake not die, but he was transformed into a new, conscious, independent human being!! Totally puzzled by this imagery I searched my symbol dictionaries for some understanding and found this in Barbara Walker’s The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:
      Walker said that many ancient religions told stories about a male snake deity who was the Goddess’s consort, then writes: “[This male snake]…gave himself up to be devoured by the Goddess. The image of the male snake deity enclosed or devoured by the female gave rise to a superstitious notion about the sex life of snakes, reported by Pliny and solemnly believed in Europe even up to the 20th century: that the male snake fertilizes the female snake by putting his head in her mouth and letting her eat him.”
      Clearly, this strange image, which I had never encountered until this dream, was an archetypal symbol of transformation and renewal! If I had any reservations left about the value of my dreamwork, this dream swept them away in a single stroke.
      Wishing you a wonderful spring too!

  4. Such a pageantry of beautiful symbols and there seems such a cinematic quality to the entire event. I’m struck too by the ‘net’ in the story. Nothing was captured. All was revealed. I can imagine Turner painting this moon.

    1. Thank you, Steven. I noticed the net too, but didn’t give it much thought as I was trying to limit my word count! Yet, surely it is a reference to Spider Grandmother’s interconnected web of life in which all creatures and lifeforms participate. Very fitting for an Easter message, I think!

      1. Spider Grandmother’s web of life hadn’t occurred to me (at all)! I was just struck by air passing through the net mirroring the snake’s movement below etc…a Volleyball like the moon… A segue of images that didn’t lead to anyplace conclusive but now I’m glad to have mentioned it to have heard your response. Technologically too this works: Net/web. World wide web/Internet. This week I picked up a used copy of Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons & The Meanings Behind Them by Hans Biedermann. The description of ‘net’ includes this: In Ancient Persia the ‘net’ is the symbol of the mystic who seeks to ‘capture’ enlightenment with it…perhaps a small detail to add to the mesmerizing, symbolic ‘garden’ scene of the event.

        1. Your fascination with images and symbolism makes these comments so much fun for me. The way you were struck by the net hadn’t occurred to me either! I wasn’t aware of Biedermann’s book or associations with net, but I love it. Yes, my way of seeing the inner symbolic meaning of everything is the way of the mystic who seeks to capture enlightenment! Thanks for such a marvelous association to add to my iconographic repertoire!!

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