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She is the Snake

Dreamed 1980 by Sharon Stricker

It has taken me this long--at least three years--to fully understand this image of the snake. She first came to me in a dream I had the night before I had to decide whether or not I would drive Janine to court. My life had become singularly embroiled in her, and my writing was suffering as a result. Yet Janine was my first experience with someone getting out of prison. Someone whom I cared about. She was a truly talented writer and she, like me, had for too many long years, kept her talent stifled. We were both in our creative prisons. I knew that her struggle in getting out was a symbolic rite of passage for me too.

But during the night, after two weeks of helping her and understanding that Janine was once again addicted to heroin, in my dream a very large, beautiful snake bit me. Bit me in my right hand--my writer's hand. And told me that my job for the next day was to stay home and write. Not to go to court to try to get Janine out of jail.

I did what the snake said. I stayed home and wrote. Not anything particularly dazzling, but I began to recapture that same voice that had been snuffed out in the machinations and manipulations of heroin. It was then that I first came to realize the power of heroin and any obsessions or compulsion or addiction to kill your creative voice/self/energy.

Janine was dying. She had given up from the gate everything she had gained inside and headed straight for the spoon 15 minutes off the Greyhound Bus in L.A.

...But it has only been this past July, after burning my face and neck, and healing, after four weeks of literally and figuratively growing a new skin in exactly the same manner as the snake, that I have come to understand and appreciate the power of the snake. To know that it is still correct to fear it. She still can poison and kill though it is in defense and for that she is a warrior woman. But her aim is for peace. For harmony, for creation. She is not by nature destructive and never has been.

It has only been with the coming of patriarchy and especially the anti-nature interpretations of the Bible that have derided her and torn her miraculous powers of transformation from the books. They have burned the pages that told of her stories, poems and myths. Until I myself could only relate to the snake with fear and disdain.

...I had to meet my demons in order to know them. In order to tear the masks off, in order to see the full face.

SOURCE: Dreamworks: an Interdisciplinary Quarterly (v.5, no.1, 1986, p.28-9)

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