Snake medicine is very powerful, enlivening the seeker with deep wells of esoteric truths. This medicine can awaken a soul, the inky blackness pumping through the veins touching all that is within, releasing it. Reminding us that we are whole. The depth of this darkness contains within, infinite knowledge which has been absorbed and contained. And when the light of our being is shone through its darkness, the intensity of the absorbed light shines out in every direction opening us up.
I began working with snake around the time that I began to work with Isis. I cannot recall which came first but they are intimately linked in my mind and practice. The mythology of Isis and her creation of the snake is so foundational to my beliefs. It is said that Isis, looking around her world, could see the suffering and abandonment of her people and wanted to help them. Her father, Ra, was aging and the people were no longer flourishing under his Sun. The earth was too hot, and the people dehydrated from the constant carelessness of the heat and the light. Isis took it upon herself to assist them in her own way and turned to her intrinsic, innate magic. Isis is known as a Mother Goddess, the Goddess of the full moon. She knew about creation as do all mothers and those in tune with moon magic. She created a snake out of the spittle of her father that had combined with the dirt of the Earth and set it upon her father’s path so that Ra would be bitten. So it came to pass that Ra was pierced by the venomous fangs of this snake and he was unable to do anything about the dark poison that coursed through his veins as it was not of his creation, it was something else. Isis, knowing her creation, went to her father and told him that she could heal him if only she be given his true name. Now, we know that names are potent magic because it reveals the truth of that which it speaks. Ra did not want to give up his true name, favoring the stories of his magnificence and the names that were given to him since his creation. As he told her his many names, never revealing the truest one, he became weaker and weaker until he was no longer able to refuse Isis. He surrendered his true name, whispering it into Isis’s ear. She repeated the name and the poison dissipated, relieving him from the burning pain that he had been suffering.
Opening to snake medicine, whether accidentally or on purpose, creates a dynamic energy running within the seeker that is very hard to stop or slow as it winds around and through at its own pace. But it does seem inevitable that the seeker must find her own name in order for that energy to be absorbed back into herself, returning home and making her whole. The energy akin to a fire running through us, lighting us up from within. And so there are times, we too, grow weaker and weaker as we cling to the names that have been created for us throughout our lives that speak of our identities. Gripping each mask, fearing it’s removal for each mask has served us well as each was created to protect that truest self that lies within. We can have so many masks, clinging so tightly, that we forget that they are even there; often identify more with the fear and the pain that keeps us hidden, then the idea that we can have choice in our own lives. But when we surrender to that snake energy that is pulsing through our bodies, we claim our power, seeing the truth of who we are. The fiery energy slowly absorbed into us entirely, able to be called when needed. There is a reason that this is seen as Underworld activity, something that occurs below the surface of the world in places that are deep, scary, and secret. It is not easy, but it is necessary. Without it, we are unable to find our own truth and without knowing our own truth, how can we see the allusions that surround us from the outside.
I cannot speak of serpent medicine and Isis without also talking about Lilith. The two Goddesses are intertwined in my practice representing a micro and macro version of finding oneself. Just as Isis knew the name of God, so did Lilith. There is no mythology of how Lilith knew the name of God as was with Isis. I imagine that she was imbued with the energy of the snake. And through the void that she absorbed, she came to the center of herself where all the knowledge hides. The biblical version of Lilith is such a mythological powerhouse, inverted in such a way to distort the importance of what Lilith did. Lilith was said to have been created by God from dirt of the Earth as a companion for Adam. She did not want to lie beneath Adam but wanted to be equal to him. I imagine that this was because she knew that the hierarchy being forced upon her was not truth but an allusion entrapping her within. And so, since she knew the name of God, she said the words and flew away. She chose not to participate; she didn’t care what was said of her because it no longer defined her. Her energy can be called upon and felt for those that seek the Underworld Goddess, Mother of the Dark Moon.
I was talking to my daughter about this story a few days ago, and I decided that it would be a good time to introduce the Eve mythology to her. These are things that I need to think about now which I find to be truly odd. When I was growing up, we read bible stories, went to school, and to church. I don’t know if my parents ever wondered what to tell me, when, or why as it was a part of our family’s collective cosmology. I feel as if I got all these stories without any of the consideration that they deserved. Also, they were always given with homilies which remind me of opinion pieces in the newspaper. I was given the take-aways for each story instead of identifying my own. My family, on the other hand, does not have that same integration of organized religion and so my children learn mythology from us, podcasts that we listen to together, and books that we get them. They learn a variety of mythologies. So, teaching them bible stories, I realized, had to be an actual decision on my part since it would never come up in regular conversation. I never really thought about it until my 5-year-old saw Christ hanging on a cross for the first time. She asked me about him and so I told her the Christian story. She was aghast hearing about how Jesus was crucified on the cross by Romans who didn’t like his message. The more I talk about these stories with my children, the more I see them in a totally new light. It so much harder to question those foundational stories that we have heard our entire lives versus the new ideas that come along. New thoughts are much more easily challenged and disregarded than the things on which we built our entire belief system. As an angry tween, instead of examining the stories and questioning them, looking for the importance of the stories, I rejected them completely. Even when I was older and learning philosophy, I removed myself from the stories in a way that would not allow me to really consider any of it meaningful to reality. Since having kids, I have started to revisit this mythology and find fascinating lessons for me held within. I talked to my daughter about Eve, and how I was taught that she was the first woman. I was never told about Lilith, as far as my upbringing was concerned, she never existed, but my daughter heard about her first. I knew Eve, a woman made from Adam’s rib that brought ruin to Adam when she ate the apple, getting them kicked out of Eden and forcing them to live their own lives. There they were, on their own, naked in the world. When I was talking to my daughter about the snake that talked to Eve, my daughter asked if I thought that snake was Lilith. I asked her what she thought, and she said that she thinks that the snake is Lilith reminding Eve that she can be free too. And my whole life as a Catholic, I never thought of Eve in that way, a woman who wanted to experience freedom. She was just someone that didn’t want to follow the rules and therefore was kicked out because we all need to follow the rules. What a great mythos to impart upon people who you intend to enslave. Finding these foundational beliefs that oppress us is tantamount to becoming free within ourselves and shedding the parts of society that do not serve us. Snake medicine can help us find the parts of ourselves that hold us back from being ourselves, and it can help us find the bigger foundational stories of our culture that imprison our minds as well.
The subversion of reality that is felt in the biblical Lilith myth is on both cultural and structural levels, weaved into every part of the dualistic perversion of reality that often supersedes our own. From the beginning of our creation myths, hierarchies are inevitable and necessary. The Sun being the most important aspect of reality while the darkness is to be feared. Genders, races, countries, politics, and ideas that pit one person against each other in a never-ending battle for dominance over the “other”. No one wants to be at the bottom, and no one wants to be the one that doesn’t know. The mythology pinpoints all the imaginary dividers between people that allow us to exploit, blame, shame, and hide. I see this playing out daily. People fighting against the ideas of other people that they don’t even know. I am reminded of how large organizations and political groups create imaginary foes amongst the people so that we think that we are helping, fighting against an injustice, when indeed we are just doing the work of subjugation for them. All of this is in some way, marketing and sales. Sew discord among the poor based on fear so that someone else can make money off of it.
Lilith heard the hiss of Isis snake and showed to the seeker that it is possible to absorb that energy and allow it to activate every part of the shadow to illumine the self. And once the self is discovered, the seeker knows that there is choice. And here lies the strongest lesson of snake medicine. Seeing the truth is a constant practice of sifting through the darkness and communing with this energy of dissolution, integration, and creation in all aspects of our lives. Making choices from this place is so much harder than simply responding to stimuli. Outside of this place, we only need to react through our only perspective which is so much easier than slowing down and opening up to alternative perspectives and really seeing things from a variety of lenses. As every perspective is unique and equally valuable because each person’s reality is based on their own history, knowledge, and DNA. And when we can include a variety of perspectives, then we can more easily see the truth of what is and what matters.
If you want to work with snake medicine, allowing it to enter into who you are, be prepared for a very challenging time that will expand your awareness of yourself and your awareness of the allusions that surround us all. And once that consciousness permeates into your being, you will have to make all the choices. What do you want to participate in? What do you want to opt out of? What choices can you make to lessen your own hardships? Even refusing to choose is a choice. You are now exposed, out of Eden, and in the wild of the world. What will you do? Who will you chose to be?
Jessica v, co-founder of Lilith's Left Hand Occult Community and Podcast. She is also the co-host of MagikCool Podcast. When she isn't talking into a microphone, she can be found in Oregon hanging out with her family, teaching classes, or learning something new.