Gifts: Shedding what you have outgrown. Expanding your idea of what’s possible. Keeping your belly to the ground. Trust your senses. Trickster. Strike quickly when you find what you seek.
Challenges: Relying too much on external validation. Striking too soon. Lack of vision.
Snake is a common shadow spirit animal. That is, it may be a lifetime power animal for you, but your fear of it has made you push it into the shadows. Many people are afraid of physical snakes, and it makes evolutionary sense. Snakes can be poisonous. If you stumble across one and you can’t tell if it’s poisonous or not, best to leave it alone.
But we have turned our understandable fear into a paranoid witch hunt. Instead of leaving snakes alone, we kill them (same thing with spiders and sharks). We associate snakes with trickery, temptation, evil, and sin. And yet you find snakes on the caduceus—the doctors’ symbol for healing.
What are we so afraid of? Simply, we are afraid of our own power, the power that Snake represents. You may be afraid of your own ability to trick, to tempt, to lure, to poison. As such, you bury your gifts, hide your power, and push Snake into the shadows. What ends up happening is that you become depleted, impotent. Snake doesn’t die within you. It becomes more dangerous.
Toward the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when most of the horcruxes have been destroyed, Ron speculates that Voldemort is getting weaker. But what Harry senses is that Voldemort is becoming more dangerous. Afraid of losing all of his power and his very life, Voldemort becomes erratic and quick-tempered. His fear does not make him slither away; it makes him come out harder—fangs bared, poison flying.
That’s what happens when you try to bury your Snake. It doesn’t want to die. It doesn’t want to leave you. It wants to share its power with you. And so it rattles and bites to get your attention.
Snake teaches you to shed what you have outgrown. This can be an old identity, a façade, even a no-longer fitting brand. While Hawk teaches big vision, Snake teaches staying grounded and focused on what’s here now. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have a big vision. It just means that you need to focus on what’s in front of you, on what needs to be done now in order to bring your vision to life. Snake offers the gift of striking quickly when you find what you seek. Make a decision now. Trust your gut and your intuition. Take your experiences and transform them into personal strength and creativity.
As Snake is able to expand its jaw to ingest its prey whole, the message for you is to expand your idea of what’s possible, of what you’re capable of doing and handling. Don’t hold yourself back based on other people’s limitations. Know your limits, and expand them.