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Monday, June 27, 2016

My Challenges With A Double Totem

Judith Ashley is the author of The Sacred Women's Circle series, romantic fiction that honors spiritual traditions that nurture the soul.

I’ve been blogging this month about Power Animals or Personal Totems sharing about my own, a snowy owl and snake. Yes, a snake And an owl!!!

Snake Bracelet
What was fascinating when I learned that? Not that I had a double Totem but that one of them was a snake. There was a time in my life when even a picture of a snake terrified me. I couldn’t look at National Geographic magazines because one never knew what would be on the next page. Visits to the Zoo never included the Reptile Exhibit.

It wasn’t always that bad. But as a child coming upon a garter snake in my backyard or the fields behind my house did startled me.

What brought on the terror?

When I was in fourth grade, I was chased by a group of boys who had caught a couple of snakes on the school grounds. Their idea of fun was to put the snakes down the neck of my dress. (This was in the fifties and girls did not wear pants to school not that that would have made a difference).

Since they were between the school building and me, safety did not lie in that direction.
I ran---
Down the sidewalk away from the school‑‑‑
Determined, they followed me‑‑‑
I was tiring and they were gaining‑‑‑

What to do?

I dashed inside the first doorway I came to‑‑‑the Mausoleum.

Empty. No people, no sounds, no safety.

Where to hide? I saw the sign for the stairs. Yanking open the door, I started down. When I reached the ground floor, the very bowels of the building, I turned down one of the aisles. Collapsing in a corner, I awaited my fate. There was nowhere else to go.

Surrounded by crypts, I wrapped my arms around my knees and sobbed.

I have no memory how long I was there before an older man, who I learned was the caretaker found me.

What happened next is hazy. I know he took me upstairs (by then I was hopelessly lost). Obviously I got home but I’ve no memory if he called my parents or I finally walked the ten or so blocks home.

What I do remember is that after that experience, my fear of snakes was so strong I became hysterical if I saw them in any form.

Top shelf is dragon cup with snowy owl and wizard below
The last time was when my seven year old son brought a rubber snake home and tried to show it to me. My friend, who was there at the time, heard me screaming and rushed to the bedroom. I was wedged between the bed and wall. My young son was having a great time terrifying his mom.

That life event showed me that I had to do something. I couldn't be that vulnerable. So, when an opportunity presented itself for me to learn NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) I jumped at the opportunity to attend an introductory workshop. So desperate to alleviate my fear of snakes, I even volunteered to be the subject of the evening. With my breathing fractured, my heart racing and my palms sweaty, I went through the process using the event of being chased by the boys with the snakes. To my great relief and gratitude, I left that workshop no longer terrified of snakes.

It isn’t that I want one for a pet but my heart stays calm and my breathing regular if I see one on television or in a magazine. Since I do not like thriller or many adventure movies or programs, the prospect of coming upon a snake is reduced. But I can once again leaf through National Geographic magazines.

What I find intriguing about all of this is that other members of the reptile family have not been sources of terror.

Not that I want to come up close and personal with a crocodile or alligator or a Komodo dragon but I remember being fascinate by chameleons as a child. Did you know that if you step on their tail, it comes off and they grow a new one? Geckos are another member of the reptile family that fascinates me.

What would have happened if I had not done the work to eliminate my terror of snakes years before I learn it was one of my Power Animals? My guess is that I’d never read about them and learn that they represent wisdom and healing and are a symbol of transformation (rebirth and resurrection) in many cultures.

Transformation: A snake transformed Adam and Eve’s lives in the Garden of Eden. While I have nothing that dramatic in my own life, my life has had several transformations‑‑‑times when an abrupt turn or out-of-the blue change/shift occurred. Some I’ve sought out and others just seem to happen.
I will admit I’m more involved with my Snowy Owl totem but I do not ignore my Snake totem. I have a snake bracelet (see above) and a couple of snake fetishes. However, I embrace the dragon and they are all over my house. Check back next Monday and see why.

Do you have a favorite animal? Or a least favorite? Is there a story behind that? Please share!!!

You can learn more about The Sacred Women’s Circle series on my website.

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© 2016 Judith Ashley


Diana McCollum said...

Great post, Judith. I really enjoyed reading it. My greatest fear is sharks. Like you, I hated turning the page of a magazine to find a shark there. Shark week? No thanks, I have to cover my eyes when the ads come on tv. I'm not sure why I can't even look at a picture of one, and this started in about 2nd grade. In 2nd grade I had not ever seen a picture of one and in my dreams they looked like flying fish. I truly believe in a past life I was probably ship wrecked and injured or killed by a shark.

Very odd that the snake is now your totem!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Diana. I was pretty freaked out when I was told I had a double animal totem. Thankfully I'd done that NLP work so I wasn't hysterical. One of the things I learned was to appreciate the characteristics of what I once feared.

I find it interesting and useful to read up on the qualities of various members of the animal kingdom when I notice any bird/animal I don't usually see. And I also read up on the ones that are so numerous they seem common to me. What is it I can learn from them? Always very enlightening.

You shared about your least favorite - do you have a favorite?