Night of the Rattlesnakes

I Have Learned Collage"I Have Learned," a new collage I've been working on.

Emmett and I both had dreams with rattlesnakes in them last night. What makes this seem crazy-weird is that the last time I can recall talking about and seeing a rattlesnake was back on Memorial Day when we hiked Bouquet Canyon to Sierra Pelona Ridge with our friend, Tamra. I don’t think we’ve talked about that moment or rattlesnakes in general since. And even if we had, say, talked about rattlesnakes for hours last night, how surreal is it that we both went on to dream about it at the same time? I don’t think we’ve ever dreamt about the same thing in the same evening.

Is this what happens when you’ve been together for nearly 20 years?! I know couples have a tendency to start looking like each other or finishing each other’s sentences. But dreaming the same dreams? That seems a bit out of the ordinary.

When something like this happens, I stand up and take notice. I’m a firm believer that the Universe speaks to us all the time. Sometimes it even SHOUTS. I always pay attention when it’s talking but when it raises its voice an octave or two, not only am I a little more attentive, I’m a little more immediate in my assessment of things.

This is what I learned in the last hour:

In Native American traditions, snakes are seen as healers and transformers. They represent the spirit of life and death. In Australia, the Aborigines associate a giant rainbow serpent with the creation of life. Cobras in India are regarded as reincarnations of important people called Nagas. As early as 1200 BC, the Greek legend of Aesculapius was making the rounds, telling the story of a gifted healer who adorned his staff with that of a snake after watching a dead snake come back to life when another snake put magical herbs into its mouth. In 1910, the American Medical Association officially made the Staff of Aesculapius its logo. Of course, there’s that whole Judo-Christian snake-in-the-Garden-of-Eden bit, but that seems to say more about the weakness of humans than the evilness of snakes.

According to my Animal-Wise book:

All venomous animals teach us something about the toxicity and poisons in our life. They help point to paths of healing for us. Of none is this truer than with the rattlesnake.

The rattlesnake is not truly an aggressive snake. It will warn before striking and will move out of the way if possible as long as it has not been startled…The rattlesnake reminds us to be alert to warnings and to alert others before we strike.

Rattlesnakes move around during the cool hours of the night…when the rattlesnake appears, you will find yourself becoming more nocturnal, or you may find that your nighttime dreams become more lucid and real. The rattlesnake opens the doors between life and death, and dreaming is one phase of our movement between worlds.

[The rattlesnake] has a special sense organ; a small pit in the head the reacts to heat put out by other creatures. On a symbolic level, this reflects and increased sensitivity to the auras of others. You will start seeing them and feeling them more strongly. Trust what you feel around others, no matter how strange those feelings.

When the rattlesnake appears as a totem or messenger, we can expect opportunity for healing our life and transforming our world.

Wowzer. This all hit home for me. A little of it may have to do with me turning 40. While getting older has never been an issue for either Emmett nor me, we did have a conversation about the significance of 40 marking middle age (hopefully). We don’t see it as an end—that half our life is over—but rather as a fresh starting point—that the second half of our lives is about to begin.

We find that totally cool.

So I think that’s been the root of some restlessness (in a good way) for us—both mentally and physically. Sometimes it has manifested itself as sleepless nights or nights of “wild and wicked” dreams. Sometimes I can feel it right at the start of the day when I just can’t seem to focus on one thing, bouncing from one activity to another. Sometimes it’s just been a little tweak to our regular routine—like having a big sit-down dinner party or finding ourselves listening to the radio rather than playing our own records when we want to hear music. And I’ve seen it in the way we’ve been talking to each other, tossing out phrases like “what if” and “how do you feel about” and “are you ready to” and “would you be willing to do X in order to do Y?”

In the two decades Emmett and I have been together, we’ve been good at turning hard work and opportunities into some serious amounts of happiness, and I don’t think we’re ready to stop doing that just yet. In other words, coasting doesn’t appeal to us right now. Reading the words associated with the rattlesnake—“healing” and “transforming” and “alert” and “trust”—these words fill me up with lots of energy and ideas and desires. I see and feel movement—strong urges, pulls, and tugs that are becoming more and more noticeable every day. What direction they take us or what we do with them is still a mystery to me but I’m 99% sure something significant (to us, at least!) is on the horizon.

So, like a rattlesnake, I am officially alerting the Universe and our friends and family: we’re open and we’re ready.