Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Snakes in the Water

Snakes in the Water

A woman friend* (?) is visiting me. I seem to be living in Big Sur or someplace like that. We are on a cliff looking down at waves crashing on the beach. She speaks of swimming, but I say we can swim up here, and it's very peaceful. "We can swim to the right, we can swim to the left." There suddenly appears to be a deep clear warm lake at the top of the cliff. The water is comforting, warm, refreshing, pretty. After we swim a bit in peace and comfort, we encounter snakes. They are swimming in the water around us, and my friend is frightened of them. I ignore them and swim right through them, and they ignore me. But my friend yells angrily at them and splashes water to scare them off. Instead of fleeing, they rear up in the water hissing, showing their fangs, and then come at us in attack mode, opening their mouths to bite. I am offended that they are attacking me when it wasn't me who attacked them. I am also put off and a bit frightened by the now angry snakes. And I am upset with my friend for provoking them.

*In the dream, I know her, but when I wake, I can't remember or figure out who she is.

I had this dream several days ago and it has been haunting me.

I often think of water as the subconscious.

The green snakes (they were all green and in a wide variety of sizes) seemed peaceful and harmless at first. They floated in the water like lily pads. Relaxed. But when riled, they went into attack mode.

Snakes can be sexual and represent male genitalia, but also represent female power. The Goddess. They can represent nature and the power of nature.

The snake can be a symbol of transformation. Snakes are often seen as symbols of life, death and rebirth. In North American native tribes, the shedding of the snake's skin is associated with life and a new beginning.

If all the parts of the dream are viewed as part of myself, one could look at the dream as two different ways of dealing with life. If I approach life and change in a relaxed and calm way, I move through it without difficulty, but if I get frightened or angry, yell, splash around, than life becomes a problem and attacks me. I've seen this over and over!

I also wonder if the dream could have been caused by a confrontation with the security guard at Elmwood Cemetery. I can't remember if it happened before or after that. The guard was upset and K was exacerbating his upset instead of soothing it.

In any case, ONE message of the dream is to relax and go with the flow, so to speak, be soothing rather than angry and reactive. Unfortunately, when riled, I tend to attack, just like the snakes. That's the wrong approach. I learned it again today when calling the bank about an issue. Calmness works better. BUT, how do I get a grip on myself when upset?

I hereby ask for a clarifying dream.

Could this happen in waking life? Yes but it is unlikely.

Note: I am not normally afraid of snakes in waking life. But I often am in dreams.

OK, I have worked ALL MORNING and part of the afternoon Tuesday on a poem about this, 6 drafts so far.

Thin as Our Fingers
(Turning Flowers to Garbage)

A lake appears along the trail, above the cliffs
and pounding surf beneath. Bounded by cliff-side rocks,
it stretches nearly as far as we can see. Huge,
like the ocean below, but calmer. More welcoming
than the crashing waves of the sea. The trail
enters the lake and continues out of sight under the water,
as yellow as the yellow brick road in the Land of Oz.
I plunge in, eager, excited. Warm as air, the water
caresses me. Soft. Buoyant, delightful. I exhale, sink into it,
and rise again. “We can swim to the left, we can swim
to the right!” I tell you. And demonstrate. A smile
blossoms on my face and fills me with light
like the first sunny day of spring. You hesitate, then follow,
slowly. Wade, then swim. Then smile, too. We drift together,
above the yellow path under the water. You laugh,
bob, sway, almost seem to dance, until you see
the snakes. Green snakes, hundreds of them.
Some are as thin as our fingers, some as thick and long
as our arms and legs. The snakes float on the water like lily pads,
hold only their nostrils above water, heads suspended, tails dangling
like the long stems of water lilies. I swim and glide among them,
easy, relaxed, smiling. No clouds crowd the horizon; the sky
wears the clearest, deepest blue robes imaginable. Reflects
the endless blue water. But you stiffen. Hang back.
“Look,” I say, “they are harmless.” Snakes surround me,
and pay me no mind. Still frightened, you refuse
to swim forward. Suddenly, you yell and splash at the snakes.
In an instant, they all rear up, draw scaly lips back
to expose their fangs and hiss. They charge us both.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
For BB and jo(e)

I wonder if I should attempt a version of this poem that not only tells the dream but also explores feelings and possibilities about it. That feels challenging and frightening to me. Making a good and successful POEM out of all that. And right now I am totally overwhelmed, but maybe I can try it later.

I was up really late working on this last night and have done nothing else including EAT (no food yet today, BAD for me!) exercise chores etc. This has really consumed me but I MUST do other things!

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