Snakes and Humans-A new story

Cynthia sped up the desert trail. She was working on improving her minutes per mile ratio while jogging. That was what her mind had in mind and she did not see the curled up bundle in front of her until she almost stepped on the snake. The little animal, out sunning herself to soak up the warmth that would give her the ability to move did what rattle snakes do, she reared up her head and sounded her alarm, her in-built body rattle to tell the human being on the trail to back up and give her time to retreat.
The big, (in terms of human snake size ratio) what the snake called “human animal” was just too close for her. She preferred a little more distance between the woman and herself. The woman had been so fast that the snake did not have a chance to sense her step coming up the trail ahead of time. She was taken by surprise and did not have time to crawl back under the rock where she had come from, where she lived. Plus, her metabolism was still sluggish from the morning cold and she simply was not able to move that fast. That was all. She was communicating her sentiments to the woman via rattling.
Cynthia stopped in her tracks. That old, primal fear that lives in the most un-evolved part of our brain, in the brain stem, wanted to go into flight mode and turn around fearfully to run for her dear life. But she did not do that. Instead, she remembered the words of her friend Gaia. Gaia was an interspecies communicator, that is the fancy term for people who refuse to let go of their innate connection to all life forms to fit into society’s norms of what is acceptable, which for Gaia included talking to animals, communicating with plants, trees and minerals and poring her heart out for the wild onesʼ thriving, the ones that we fear so much. Gaia instead of using the more scientific sounding title did not call herself anything for she knew that it was not her having a skill or special gift. It was Creator that had found her to be an open vessel and was operating through her. If people insisted on a name to put to what she was doing she called herself a “True Human Being”, a name that one of her Native American friends had given her. “I am nothing special, we all have it in ourselves to communicate with other life forms. I am just a mirror for you to see what you can do, too” she had explained to Cynthia. 

Gaia had talked to her after that other snake incident, the one in Cynthiaʼs garage. She had learned about it on facebook.
At the edge of where fall and winter meet in the desert, during that time when the wild ones seek shelter for the winter, a little female rattle snake had come into Cynthiaʼs garage to seek a place where she could be safe. She sensed that Cynthia had an open heart for animals and she just gave it a try. Plus she had an ancient, deep, important message for Cynthia and hence she was waiting for the human by her car. She knew that this is where she would eventually encounter her.

“You see, snakes were not always feared and persecuted, they were actually revered by the ancient feminine goddess cultures for their ability to shed their skin, to transform themselves into something new, a new being. People coexisted peacefully and safely with them and made sure they had what they needed. There was an ancient “do no harm” agreement between the humans and the snakes and no one was ever harmed. Hence we still see the hippocratic staff portrayed with two snakes wrapped around it. Children were taught to respect the Snake Nation and only brought love and reverence to their encounters with them. They felt blessed when they saw one. Snakes are a symbol of the wild feminine nature in all of us. The instinctual one that always knows” Gaia had told her. 

“Only after we disconnected ourselves from that way of walking on the earth did we start to fear all things wild. It is very strange to me that we fear the very same animals the most that our ancestors loved and revered so much, like the snake and the bee, both symbols of rebirth and renewal and a blessing when seen with our very own eyes. And that we have lost our ability to envision a different way of being with them. A fearless and loving and connected way. Just like we would have a heart connection with our pets, like you and your beloved dog Scooter have.” 

Back then, when she had not known about all this, Cynthia had called the fire department right after she saw the snake. The snake did not have time to tell her the message that she had come to share with Rachel.
Our contemporary culture requires the 911 response from us when in the presence of a snake. The burly, good looking men had arrived within 5 minutes of Cynthia calling them and had done what men in a patriarchal culture do: they had “removed” the snake with a big fork like instrument to protect their women. And they had joked uncomfortably with each other in the process of keeping the tiny creature at armʼs length with their device. It came with the territory because they felt that uncomfortable edge sneaking up on them for they were overdoing it. Their approach to removing a snake was overkill and they knew in their hearts that there was a better way. That more beautiful way our hearts know is possible had just not become mainstream yet.
Hopefully they had relocated her, but most likely they had killed her. Snakes and humans coexisting with each other was not a story that they were familiar with. “And even if they relocated her”, Gaia had explained to Cynthia, “the snake would most likely not make it. Humans have no clue as to where good snake habitat is, they might have dumped her into a place what was already occupied and the cold must have gotten her that night in a strange place without shelter, without a home. She is still so little.” Gaia spent much time in the wilderness, keeping an eye, ear and heart on the animals. They told her many things and she learned about their lives from being with them, just as much as she learned about being a true human being.
“When a relocation happens, everybody in the desert will know about it. Raven will fly ahead and tell all the other animals. And it will take a long time for the animals to calm down, to not be upset anymore. For the balance to return. Because they all care for one another.” Gaia had witnessed this many times and was sharing it with Cynthia.
Cynthia had felt bad after she called the fire department. There was this small spot in her, that spot which lived in her heart and wanted to keep evolving to a care for the whole in the sense of the true human being. The same spot that had caused the fire men to joke and laugh uncomfortably in the presence of the snake. Although her reptilian brain had felt relief over the manly men removing the tiny snake from her garage, her heart had sensed that there was a more beautiful, connected, evolved way to be with a rattle snake.
She posted pictures of this “incident” on facebook as if she wanted to get reaffirmation for what she had done and she received much confirmation for her choice. Because we resonate with fear and the 911 response and it is really difficult to break that pattern because it is deeply embedded in our cultural story. There are whole countries where the snakes have been all killed, down to the last one, because of that fear. And every year there are still “Snake killing contests” taking place as a tourist attraction in some of the Southern states of the US. 

Gaia did not want Cynthia to feel bad. “Guilt and shame have no place here. This is about evolving the story of our interactions with snakes. Of writing a new story of coexistence with them. Donʼt feel bad. Use your energy and feel into the conception of a different story, a story that wants to emerge through you.” 

“Cynthia, you live in the desert and you WILL most certainly see a snake again if you stay here. Furthermore there is a message for you from the Snake Nation and they will get in touch with you again to make sure that you receive it. I cannot tell you what it is, the prize comes from establishing enough of a relationship with the snakes so they have a chance to tell you themselves.” Gaia did not want to disclose any more information. “Just come from an open heart when you see your next snake, consider the possibility of her being a sister on the path, instead of a threat to your life. A sister who is dealing with constant encroachment on her habitat, unnecessary fear being thrown at her all the time and nowhere to go. Most likely she cannot go and be where she used to go because there are more and more housing subdivisions going up where she used to live. And of course, donʼt get too close. Always be mindful and awake out there in the wilderness of the land and the wilderness of the city.”
“Come from fearlessness, love and compassion for this creature that is walking the same path on this earth alongside of you. Come from a new story in your heart.”
That had sounded very strange to Cynthia, but she kept the words in her heart. Until now, when these words broke lose and she realized, that it had literally come true. She was walking the same path as the snake. She was walking the snakeʼs path and she was not going to turn around this time. The snake belonged here just as much as she did.
Cynthia backed off a few steps until she felt she was at a safe distance from the snake. The little being immediately responded and put her head back onto her beloved earth and stopped sounding her rattle. Maybe she could communicate more in-depth with her after all. She would give it a whole hearted try.
Cynthia sat down on a rock. She looked at the snake and for the first time in her life she could truly see another being in front of her, not an enemy, a threat or a pest, varmin or menace. Not an other. But herself. She could feel into the intuitive intactness of the little snake who had ony done what she needed to do and was now satisfied with the distance between her and the human animal. There was no fear or danger in her. She just was. 

“Make contact with the animal. Tell them quietly who you are, send them a greeting, introduce yourself and then ask them a question, start a conversation.” Gaia had suggested to Cynthia. She wanted her friend to go beyond her first missed opportunity of receiving snake medicine. 

“You missed an opportunity of connection, but it is not lost. It will come back to you. So be prepared next time” Gaia had smiled and expressed her complete trust in Cynthiaʼs future response to a snake being that of two equals meeting and initiating conversation, not fear. “The snake was in your garage, but you know what, why should she leave? Her ancestors had been on that land long before the people came. For her, seeking shelter in your garage was a very intuitive thing to do. At least until she could find something more suitable. Plus she had been disturbed in her winter nest by the neighbors somewhere down the road and had to collect herself from that human drama. She was still very little. And then there was the message that she came to give to you. It makes sense that she had to meet you in person.” 

Gaia had ended her talk with Cynthia on the note of a new story of human-snake interaction being possible. No sense in pushing her friend too much. She was already at that evolutionary edge, the place where heaven and earth meet and where all things are possible, where coexistence between wild animals and humans is reborn in an open human heart and vessel for the evolutionary impulse. Cynthia would go beyond it by herself. Of that she was sure. 

All that had been a little stretch for Cynthia, she even considered it weird. But now, on the trail with the rattle snake in front of her it made complete sense. Of course, this place belonged to the snakes, if they had a sense of real estate property that is. Or rather: They belonged to the land. They were made to be here, they needed very little water, their bodies were engineered by nature to be in the desert, they knew their place on this earth, what to eat and what not to. They kept the rodents in balance. The little snake exuded confidence and belonging to Cynthia.
All of a sudden she knew exactly what to communicate to the snake. “I am Cynthia and I love animals, all animals. You belong here and I want to make sure that I include you in my ecosystem. What do you need from me, little rattler to be ok, to be comfortable, to keep living your life undisturbed and authentically?” The snakeʼs body twisted a little as if she was moving into position to ponder that question. Then she was still.
“Now what?” Cynthia asked herself. She felt a little silly doing this, but luckily there was nobody else around. “Trust the image, or the sense of knowing or seeing that will come up. Just trust it. It is your intuitive knowing and it will give you the answer” Gaia had told her. Cynthia cleared her mind just like she had learned in meditation. In fact, she practiced meditation herself. She knew! She must know because for unity and connection to work it must include the Snake Nation. It must include the Whole of life. Her heart broke open.
The images kept coming in her heart and mind and snake told her “I need you to be unafraid of me and to grant me permission to share this earth with you without being fearful of me. Your step is warning me of your arrival and I more often than not have time to get out of your way. Our Earth is sending your foot stepsʼ vibrations through my body long before you appear in front of me. Just be mindful all the time so that you can go around me when I am too cold to move away quickly like right now. Always be mindful and awake, especially when you are out in the wilderness, open your heart, eyes, ears and nose and act accordingly. And if you see one of us in your garage again, please communicate where else we can go and give us some time to leave, give us an alternative to being removed against our will. Work with us. We are here to walk this earth together.”
Cynthia was stunned. She chose to believe what she had received as the snakeʼs answer. She knew it to be true in her heart.
“I have a gift for you, Cynthia, a gift from the Snake Nation” the little one continued the conversation. “It is the gift of transformation. You are evolving right now and shedding old skins. It is not always easy for the ego. You suffer, feel the urge to defend yourself, explain yourself, make a case for yourself or you take a step back. All humans do that. It is the human condition. But we from the Snake Nation are here for you. We are masters of shedding old skin. We have done it for eons and we support you on your journey. Just call on us for help and assistance when you feel stuck in your skin. It will come off! That we can guarantee you!” With that the little one slithered gracefully away from Cynthia and slid under a rock, her home. 

“Wow!” Cynthia said. “Wait until I tell Gaia about this one!” 

The beginning 

Based on a true story, true human beings, a true garage, a true snake, true burly firemen and lots of love 

 

Snake.jpg

Earthquake

 

From talking with you, I have discerned that many of you have similar sensibilities to mine, that have been made wrong by the dominant cultural belief system that nature and the animals are a commodity solely here on this planet for us humans to "use", hence there is written "land of many uses" on our National Forest signs. We have been told early on that "they do not feel like we do and they do not matter". We have been separated from ourselves and our connection to everything on this earth that way, from our intuitive faculties that lie dormant and are just as strong and potent as our brain power.

My whole life, ever since I can remember, the animals and the land/wilderness held a special pull for me. I feel, what they feel. When somebody hurts an animal or does something to the land, I feel it in my own body as if it where mine, which it is because we are all related on this earth. Just a few days ago, I felt a difference in the air when I lay in my tent, ready to go to sleep after a long day. I checked in to see if there might be an animal in distress, but all was calm in that realm. Since there were not any humans in the vicinity, I concentrated on the earth instead and her well-being. I can sense, when she is in distress, when she is ill in certain areas from too many pesticides, too much fertilizer and too much extractive industry. It feels like she has pneumonia sometimes and she cannot breathe. Or, on the other hand, I touch on her general state of wellness and being unscathed in certain wild and untouched areas on this earth, on her breathing freely and joyfully.

This time, I discerned that she was shifting, that a change was in the air that had to do with her. Even the birds were singing a different tune. In fact, only a few of them sang their regular evening song, the others were quiet or chirped a tune that seemed to carry more stillness than usual, almost as if they were waiting for something to happen, as if they relaid a warning. The usually industrious and ubiquitous ground squirrels were nowhere to seen or heard. The stream murmured, but her song, too carried a chant ofinternal knowing that I was not privy to. All I knew was that she did not sound like her happy and carefree self. She was preparing for something that was hidden from me. Yet, even I, the enculturated human, along with the animals, could sense that something was off. I just did not know what ... 

It took me a long to go to sleep and I was soon jolted back to a waking state. It was not a dream that had brought me back from my deep sleep. It was the earth herself that had woken me up. She was moving and so was I, my tent and everything in it, the trees outside and the air ... Gentle ondulations moved the tent, the little mattress, and myself cocooned in my mummy sleeping bag. I would not have been able to leave the tent, the zipper was stuck and most likely broken and I knew it. I had been wanting to deal with it in the morning, during daylight. But really, I did not want to move. I felt held and cradled by our earth, gently swayed back and forth like a child in a bassonette. It was absolutely still around me, every body knew what was happening and bowed to its unfolding with their own innate reverence for the design of life. It felt like I had been falling asleep on a sleeping giant who woke up and was stretching herself. 

The earth was truly stretching and reaching and moving. She is a living being, sometimes called Gaia, an immensely intelligent and perfect organism who takes great joy in creating new life forms. Can’t we just work in tandem with her? Co-create more beauty to complement the beauty and perfection that already exists, create and design graceful and LIVING designs that are sustainable and regenerative like the ones she comes up with, not like my tent in its last throes with its finite zipper life. That moment in the tent, in that gentle embrace I knew that I was a part of it all, that there was nothing to fear. Yes, earth quakes can hurt people, but mostly it is our structures that hurt us when they go down, our what some native people call “hard houses”. I sense it is time for some “soft houses”, meaning for on open heart, for gentle treading on the earth and for honoring her and her daily bounty in gratitude. I am ready to go deeper with this kind of “embodied living” as I call it. Not just talking about it anymore as in “would’nt it be nice” but actually living in a way that nurtures All Life, that honors our interdependence and interconnection. The time is now and We are It.

The fat dormouse-A story of interrelatedness

Dormice are rodents that are predominantly found in Europe. Their numbers are connected to beech nuts and during years with lots of beech nuts they become abundant. What is so fascinating about them is that their numbers do not go up during the year following the abundant nut harvest which is the case with other animals, like the mice, but they seem to show up in droves right when the nuts are ready to be eaten, that very same year. And if there is not enough food the following year then their numbers correspond to that situation right away and there are far fewer dormice than the year before. 

People noticed this fact in the past and attributed it to the “work of the devil” like it is illustrated in this drawing from Europe below.

Fortunately we have moved on from that notion of the past. New research has shown that it is the animals’ innate intelligence and instinctual nature that is working to their benefit. Dormice go into hibernation in October and do not wake up until April/May. Upon waking up they check the beech nut food situation for that year probably by checking on the abundance or lack of beech nut flowers. If there happens to be enough food coming they stay awake and are out and about in large numbers. If that is not the case they go back to sleep and most of them do not wake up until the next spring to check on the food situation again. The overall number of dormice does not change that much like it does with mice i.e., but the number of ACTIVE dormice changes drastically every year depending on their food source situation. Their reproduction rate, unlike that of mice is slow and they live a relatively long life of up to 10 years. They are immensely important to the ecosystem as they are a major food source for lynx, fox, owls, weasels and birds of prey. 

But they also affect the food chain in many other ways: If there are lots of beech nuts, many dormice decide to stay awake and hence become food for the lynx. That year the lynx will not kill as many deer and the deer population will go up. It is the beech nuts that determine via dormice and lynx how manydeer will survive. It is that simple: Everything is truly interconnected and we cannot take anything out of the web of life. 

 European dormouse. Photo: Miha Krofel

European dormouse. Photo: Miha Krofel

Bison Nation-Walking Sacred Sites: How it all started

I grew up in Germany on an organic farm. By that time we Germans had already wiped out our large mammals, the Wisent (German bison), the wolf, the bear, the lynx, the wild cats, the auroxen, the moose and in my part of the world the elk were gone as well. All we had left were some deer whose numbers skyrocketed every year because their natural predators were gone and who were now eating geraniums in the village. They and the wild boar were subject to annual driven hunts and their numbers were decimated by trophy hunters and hunters who used them for meat.

I felt lonely without the large animals and longed to have them back. Somehow, I always knew deep down inside that large herds of wild animals had roamed on this planet in earlier times. I was especially interested in the bison and the wolves that followed them. 

Secretly, I wished to see them, to be around them, to spend time with them. I yearned for their presence and I missed them. I often bargained with Santa to take my dolls and legos back and to instead grant me the immense gift to spend time with the reindeer and bison. Needless to say, it never happened, I never met them as a child.

Fast forward to six years ago. I had already moved to the US to be around wilderness and wild animals and I was back backing in Yellowstone National Park when I came across a bison bull who stood broadside in my path. He looked at me with great intensity as if he was saying: “Don’t move.” I sat down and took off my back pack and told him: “I can go anywhere in this world. But you only have a sliver of your former habitat left. I will not make you move, or get too close and disturb you. I will not even go around you. I will just wait here.” He kept looking at me with this great intensity in his eyes, and I kept looking back at him in anticipation of what was to come. And then it happened: My childhood dream came true. Bison started coming down the hill from all sides, surrounding me. I was in the midst of them all. They kept pouring in and I counted 423 animals. I was able to discern the mothers, calves and the bulls were with them because it was rutting season. They were all very calm and communicated with each other in their snorting type of way, and I was able to discern what they were saying. My childhood dream had come true and I was filled with joy and awe. I told them: “Thank you for coming and being with me. Out of gratitude and to help you thrive on this planet I will tell your story.” A few months later I started on the documentary, “Bison Nation-Walking Sacred Sites” which premiered as an outdoor screening in Albuquerque, NM on October 29th 2016. Over 370 people came to see the bison’s story and bear witness to their return to the Northern Hemisphere. 

 

 Bison baby and mama. People who do not know about the bison call them "little red dogs."

Bison baby and mama. People who do not know about the bison call them "little red dogs."

I choose love

The other day I saw a car passing me on the left lane with a bumper sticker that read “I CHOOSE LOVE”. It instantly inspired me and I immediately stepped on the gas a little to see who was driving the vehicle, but to no avail. The person in front of me did not want to move as fast as I did and there was no way of getting into the left lane. So I changed my focus and started thinking about when I could choose love over other emotions and how. Where I could change the course of a whole day by choosing love instead of frustration and fear, a heart based approach instead of the takeover by my mind and old behaviors dictated by even older experiences and conditioning. This gotme started:

I choose love for the extremely slow driver in front of me, I choose love for my self and my life, I choose love for this world and how it is right now. I choose love for the people that think and act radically different from me.

Now I was on a roll. I choose love for the things that I cannot change. I choose love for this entire planet and all of her creatures, plants and rocks. I choose love for other people whose behavior I cannot understand and who were raised differently. I choose love for hunters who poach wolves. Now wait a minute, did you just say that and MEAN it? Yes, I did. Wow! I choose love for all the expressions of life on this planet. I choose love, love, love and love again. By now I was feeling REALLY good, even though I had already been feeling good all day. But I felt even BETTER. Just the thought of love made love spill over into my whole being.

This is what love does to a heart. It expands it and makes everything more vibrant and bigger and more perfect. And all of a sudden, there are solutions and openings where before there were none. I choose love… There it was again, the car with the bumper sticker. This time I was passing it from the right lane as it was waiting to make a left turn. I took a really good look at the driver, an “ordinary” appearing person, not an angel at all. If he only knew what the message on his bumper sticker had done to me, he would be smiling, too. He did not look in my direction and was concentrating on his left turn instead of noticing me. One moment later I had passed him. I choose love…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Nature

I have been feeling into the etymology of our human words lately and where certain expressions and words come from. What came up was the expression: Human nature. For one thing it commonly refers to the notion that we cannot help who we are and what we do. It is simply human nature to wage war, to be disconnected and to be an island upon oneself. But when I looked a little more deeply, I saw something else:

We are the human expression of nature! We are the outside earth. We are not separate or different from her, but a part of her, a vital and integral part of the rest of what has been created and is still being created every second on this planet. This interpretation of "human nature" is a much taller order for us. It calls us to step up to the plate so to speak, to realize who we really are and what we are capable of. In this light, our simple dismissal of our abilities and our infatuation with the ordinary and mediocre is put aside and makes way for something else. If, for a long time we have acted and lived from fear, now is the time to act, be and live from the spirit of unity-consciousness, belonging, love, gratitude and joy. Just imagine what we can do and be from that vantage point of life. Out of the ashes of our past will rise a new possibility: that of the connected, caring human being. And our human nature will truly shine!