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.
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.