Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Bike Shop Gets a Visitor

As I rolled my bike into the garage on Sunday evening, I noticed that somehow I had left an inner-tube in the middle of the floor. I didn’t remember changing a tire, but then it could have been a spare that had fallen off of one of the hooks. However, as I approached, the “inner-tube” got spooked and slithered across the cement and under the shelves I use as a pantry.

I had a 3½ foot long snake loose in my second favorite room in the house.

Quickly I snatched my LED headlight off The Tick and used it as a flashlight. I soon found out the no matter how hard you try, you can never get your head low enough to see under a stack of shelves. I moved all the boxes I could from the space I’d seen him crawl into and slid the empty coolers across the floor from their usual storage places. No luck … I could not locate my little friend.

Later that night and Monday morning still no sign of him. I moved things around at random, and listened for movement … Silence.

Then, I remembered that behind the shelves was a small hole in the garage wall where the condenser drainage hose exits the house. I figured he’d slipped out that way, which is why I couldn’t find him.

Live and let live.

“Rand, your little friend is still in the garage,” D’Wife told me, about noon on Tuesday, “But he’s not moving. I hope he’s dead and not just sleeping”

“Snakes don’t sleep, hon,” I assured her, “They’re like sharks; they’re always moving. He must be dead, since we haven’t seen him for two days.”

This wasn’t entirely true; they do sleep actually.

“I’ll take him out when I get home.”

Poor little guy.


“Oh, Rand … he wasn’t dead,” D’Wife informed me just as I was on my way out from work, “I asked Brian [our neighbor] to take him out, and he crawled back under the shelves.”


“Okay,” I reasoned, “Just leave the door open, and he’ll leave on his own accord”

“I’M NOT LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN!!! The kids will go in and out, I don’t want them getting hurt.”

“Okay, then. Close the door, and I’ll track him down when I get home.”

After changing out of my work outfit when I arrived home, I set to work calmly and methodically exposing every nook cranny and hiding space Mr. Squirmy could be in.

After shuffling 75% of the garage contents and just about to give up, I looked in one more place. There he was, coiled around the handle of my CD player in an alcove by my shelf of paints and gardening supplies. I made two quick and relieving observations. I noticed at our first encounter that he had no rattle and his skin was not “argyle” mean this wasn’t a rattler. My other two fears were that he was all black [a water moccasin] or brown and orange [a copperhead]. Nope, he was black and dark brown with a reddish orange belly. Also, his head was smooth and round, not angular, like a venomous species would be.

Fourth-grade reptile-geekishness came in handy.

Brian had returned to help out and grabbed a trash can to deposit my friend into. I tried to hook my reptilian pal with a rake, but he slid under this stack of shelves, much like he had done the other one. One by one, I removed paint cans, hoping to get close enough to grab for him, but he had settled too far back for me to reach. I slipped a broom towards him, hoping to scare him out of his cubby and into the open. I had moderate success … he moved out of the space, but could quite find his way to freedom.

When he stopped for a moment, either out of fear or confusion, I swiftly made a grab for him, catching him right behind his head

“Crikey!!!” I got him!!!

He quickly wrapped his tail around my arm, but there was no way I was letting go. Snakes are weird to handle, because their center of gravity is constantly changing.


Of course I had to show of my bravery and skill to D’Kid’s little friends, but soon the time can to release him once and for all. There was no way in hell D’Wife would let me just let him crawl under the chain link fence in the backyard. So, as much as it pained me to do so, I took a grip on his head and tail and chucked him as far as I could over the fence. He flew about 20’ towards the middle of the stand of cat-tails that used to be our pond and fell 12’ or so into the reeds. Hopefully, they gave away just enough to slow his impact with whatever water, mud or dirt lay below.



To the Native Americans, the snake is a symbol of transformation and healing. Snake ceremonies involved learning to transmute the poisons within the body after being bitten multiple times. These activated the energy of kill or cure, ultimately leading to dramatic healings.

In the Meso-American societies, the serpent or snake was depicted as feathered and flying, a symbol of their greatest god and hero, Quetsalcoatl, the embodiment of the dying god who would someday return. In many ways he was the patron of the Toltecs, and it was said that the heavens and stars and all the motions of the universe were under his dominion.

In Greece the snake was also a symbol of alchemy and healing. The god Hermes carried a staff upon which were entwined two snakes. This caduceus symbol is the primary symbol of western medicine and doctors. It is the symbol of wisdom expressed through healing.

In India the Goddess Vinata was the mother of snakes and a symbol of water and the underworld. Also in India were the demigods, Naga and their beautiful wives Naginis, who were usually depicted as half cobra and half deity. The god Vishnu is often depicted sleeping on the serpent of eternity call Ananta. Shiva wears snakes for bracelets and necklaces, representing sexuality.

The serpent has long been a symbol of sexual/creative life force within humans as is taught in eastern traditions. The kundalini or serpent fire lies coiled at the base of the spine. As we grow and develop, the primal energy is released, rising up the spine. This in turn activates energy centers in the body and mind, opening new dimensions and levels of awareness, health and creativity.

In Chinese astrology, one of the twelve years is named for the snake. Those born within that year are believed to have the qualities of compassion, clairvoyance and charm. They usually need to learn lessons associated with forgiveness, superstitiousness and possessiveness as well.

In Egypt the snake has also has mystical significance. The uraeus is a head band in the shape of the snake. The head of the snake rests and sticks out at the brow area. It was believed to represent a state of inner sight and control of the universe. It was a symbol worn by those who were initiated. Some believe it to be variations of the eye of Horus, while others see it as the sacred eye of Ra. It represents a certain degree of wisdom and understanding.

Because it sheds its skin, the snake has long been a symbol of death and rebirth. Before the snake begins to shed its skin, its eyes will begin to cloud over. It gives the snake a trancelike appearance. To many mystics and shamans this indicated the ability of the snake to move between the realms of the living and the dead, of crossing over from life to death and then back to life again.

The snake has often been depicted along with its relatives, the serpent and the dragon as a guardian. It is found in myth and lore guarding treasures, the springs of life or sacred places.

Anytime a snake shows up as a totem, you can expect death and rebirth to occur in some area of your life. It can also reflect that your own creative forces are awakening. Physiologically, it can activate the sexual drive, bring more energy, etc. Spiritually it can stimulate greater perception of how to apply your insight and intuition. Your own vision and intuition will become more accurate. Learning opportunities, formal and informal will surface frequently. You will be able to swallow and digest whatever you take in.

Learning to use the eyes to mesmerize and look into the hearts and souls of others directly is part of what traditional snake medicine can teach. It may even indicate a need to look more closely into your own heart and soul.

Individuals with the snake totem will find themselves extremely sensitive to smells and fragrances.... the sense of smell is linked to higher forms of discrimination and spiritual idealism.

Snakes are symbols of change and healing. They have speed and agility, so those who have snakes come into their life will usually find changes and shifts occur quickly and are soon recognized and defined. When snake comes into your life you can look for a rebirth into new powers of creativity and wisdom.


Hmmm, “change, healing, and rebirth.” I could use a little of those, these days.


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