In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius, also known as the Staff of Asclepius, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, and is associated with medicine and health care.
For my 42nd year of life, I created my own staff – complete with a red leather snake entwined around it – and then performed with it during my ‘Taking Up the Staff of My Life” birthday ceremony last year. Want to do the same? Ask me how.
In late March 2012,
I met a blue-tinted croatulus micheliii, aka a southwestern speckled rattlesnake.
I didn’t go looking for that snake. I came upon it, as I absent-mindedly stepped off of the marked trail in order to find a mystical cave located on my home turf at Calavera Preserve in Tri-City.
On an early spring day, I was tromping through waist-high sage brush on a western-facing slope, unable to see what lay just beyond it when I crashed into the snake’s secret sleeping spot. It simply did what all animals do, which is defend itself. I meanwhile felt a tiny prick – like a rose thorn, but a smidge deeper – and immediately looked around to discover what happened.
My eyes fell upon the creature that now lay in a defensive repose. So, I screamed and dove, belly first, back into the sage brush.
At that time, I had just lost a sub-lease on a 1500 sq. ft. wood floor, dance & yoga studio that I had been living out of in East Village San Diego. Over the course of the Prosperity Hive’s short life, hundreds of local San Diegans enjoyed diverse programming for “whole bee-ing sustainability” – including, intimate music concerts, embodiment classes such as dancing, singing, and energy work, and more.
Our studio was located in the original Art Center building, which was erected around 1924 and was the site of Ratner’s clothing manufacturing company. In 1988, the NewSchool of Architecture moved in to the newer, adjoining building. Last year, the building was sold for a whopping $34 million; it remains to be seen what the redevelopment plans entail. I, however, remain grateful to have intimately enjoyed my experience within this little piece of San Diego’s story.
It has been seven years, and one full life cycle, since that beautiful, blue snake’s venom coursed through my body, ballooning my left leg – from the tips of my toes to the top of my hip – to double the size of my other leg. Back then, I received 22 vials of anti-venom, spent a week in the hospital and moved through the ordeal with the quiet strength that I shoulder most of my pain and suffering with. I then spent 8-weeks recuperating at my parent’s house in Oceanside.
Later that year, after my leg healed and I returned to downtown San Diego living, I woke up to the clear realization that I was, indeed, once a witch who had been burned at the stake. I have Paolo Coehlo and his novel, Aleph, to thank for that wake up call. It was the dawn of my 36th birthday and, although I continued to thrash in everyday existentialism, I also have my sitting with the plant medicine, Ayahuasca, to thank for the embodied memory that it unlocked within me about how the only positive way forward (through our global mess) is through deep compassion and rocking man, like the baby he is – wrapped in a tight, blue blanket while being firmly held to my chest.
Since then, these past seven years have been filled with other vital rites of passage, such as: surrendering my walled-in heart to an unconditionally loving man who just so happened to also be one of my most trusted confidants and who helped to usher in my first pregnancy. That culminated in a natural labor and delivery of our son. The transformational fires of parenthood provide plenty of initiations on its own. Along the way, however, I have also experienced two+ miscarriages, plus the past 10-month+ journey of my partner’s 4th stage cancer diagnosis. My life also remains rocked by OUR GLOBAL MOTHER WOUND that has been handed down to all of us.
Once upon a time, and before my snake bite, I thought of myself as a bit emotionally immature due to my limited life experiences. (Ha!)
Have I mentioned yet that I have also been estranged to my family of origin during most of these experiences, as well?
It’s been a trying time, to say the least. It has also been an invaluable period of my learning how to honor and integrate my authentic voice and how to keep coming home – to my self, in my body.
Thousands of years ago, woman and an evil serpent were to blame for humanity’s innate fallibility and weaknesses. Man, in is hunt to extinguish all that is vulnerable, has wreaked havoc and destruction across the globe over all this time.
In our places of fear and trauma, the rest of us have sat back and watched. Then, after awhile, we have even joined in to save our own skins. Our despondency and silence have rendered us culpable.
On this 7-year anniversary of my rattlesnake bite, I declare myself free from my own victimhood.
I will no longer be silenced.
Fear still courses through me, yes. But the LOVE that ancient serpent imparted, both back them and within me seven years ago, is still doing its planetary work of transmutation.
Please read my recent article in medium.com to see how.