by Judith James
“The Mistress” PO-TI-NI-JA The most apparent characteristic of Minoan religion was that it was polytheistic and matriarchal, that is, a goddess religion; the gods were all female, not a single male god has been identified until later periods. It is not easy to describe the nature of the mother-goddess of Crete. There are numerous representations of goddesses, which leads to the conclusion that the Cretans were polytheistic, while others argue that these represent manifestations of the one goddess.
All summer I have been in a major transition, going from local to global with my new website and expanding my public speaking, seminars, coaching and finding the courage to get out there in the world in a more expansive way. Needless to say I have been in an initiation period and the sighting of my third rattle snake for the summer was an outward signal that my initiation period, for this adventure, was over and I have the wisdom, courage and emotional fortitude to move out into the world as the passion of my destiny requires. So what does this have to do with the Minoan Crete Snake Goddess? Actually I was in the dark about that myself until I began to unravel my story from present time, third snake, backwards to the beginning of my snake experiences.
The first snake appeared as I drove into the carport. I looked up at the embankment and here was this seven foot rattle snake moving down the hill to my walkway. I watched it go and walked behind it, curious to see what it was up to. It went to the step going to my front door and just laid there. It was forty-five minutes before it moved on and hide in a bush a few feet away. After I was sure that it was securely settled under the bush, I was able to get into the house and went about my business. I checked on it every five minutes or so and the third time I checked it had disappeared.
About 3 weeks later I was taking the trash out and it was just beginning to sprinkle, not really thinking about snakes (surely they’re not out in the rain) I came upon the 2nd snake at the end of the carport. I talked to it however I kept a good space between it and me. As I talked to it, it made a turn and started toward me. I did not stay around to see what would happen. The third one appeared when I decided to explore a road up to the base of the mountains where I hadn’t been before. I had only gone about half a mile when I realized that I had just seen a rattle snake. So I backed the car up and sat there, talked to it and took pictures of it. Amazing
It did not move, just stayed there and then finally it turned around and went back into the weeds. Now normally I would have just thought snake totem was paying me a visit and telling me that all was well and once again I was shedding an old skin. Only this time I really started thinking about my three visitors and what the deeper meaning was in my life. As the Goddess would have it, I had just finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s book, “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter”. The Minoan Crete Snake Goddess was mentioned several times, so the sleuth that is in me went to work. I looked the Goddess up on the web and to my amusement and delight, realized that I have received or purchased pictures of this Goddess because she appealed to me esthetically, however my Self knew better.
Through my research and reading, I learned that the snake in prepatriarchal times was a symbol for the Divine Feminine. The last know place for honoring of this Minoan Goddess is on the Island of Crete and that was before 3000 B C E. Amazing what comes up from the collective unconscious. A friend went to visit Greece 10 years ago and sent me a post card with this Goddess on it. I kept the card and put it on my bulletin board where I collect favorite cards and little gifts given to me.
A few months ago I went to hear a talk by a local artist about her feminist art, all Goddesses. I decided to buy one of her pictures where the Goddess really reached out to me. Of course, I now realize it is her interpretation of the Snake Goddess. So now I am really in the thick of it, tracing all the remembered incidences of encountering snakes, snake dreams in my journals and symbolic snakes in my dreams. I was totally amazed to find so many snake references in my life. I remember finding a little garden snake where we were living, a little green thing, not big. I captured it for my sons to study and then we took it to a vacant field and released it. It was many years later, after three marriages, three divorces, and two grown sons, that the snakes began again appearing in my life and mostly in my dreams.
I was housesitting for a friend and found a snake outside laying across the water hose. I just left it and went on about my business. However that snake was the precursor of many dreams about snakes to follow. An outstanding snake dream occurs with me sitting on some kind of throne and below me are 5 snakes. They are mostly coiled with only their heads looking up at me, expectantly. They seemed to be waiting on some command from me. Now the most interesting thing is that they are all flesh colored. (Wouldn’t a Jungian love to get a hold of this dream) Well I have my own interpretations. A simple straight forward interpretation would be to see these as some creative facets to myself that I have not colored in yet. They are waiting for conscious direction. The dreams continued for a while and then suddenly stopped.
I was having a difficult time and was in a state of fear, it seemed like constantly. So I went to a naturopath to get some kind of relief and she gave me over the course of a year, three different remedies. The last remedy is a constitutional remedy, the one that will always help me. It is called Lachesis and it comes from a South American (what else) snake. I have had some snake dreams off and on since then and a few sightings yet nothing like this summer and coming face to face with three diamond back rattlers. As I continue to move backwards recalling my snake episodes, I realize my first encounter happened when I was fourteen and was having my first menses.
I grew up in Missouri and the big outing was to go to the Lake of the Ozarks for a weekend in the summer. We had unloaded the car and had set up the tent and my brothers (there was 6 of them at the time) were running around playing in the water, the woods and just generally doing whatever they could with all that excitement and energy. Something was left in the car and I was going back to get it and as I was walking up the path this huge black bull snake slithered across my path. It was on a dead run to get across the path and away from me. Now get this, I had never seen a live snake before not even at the zoo. So it scares me and I scream. I learned later in life it was better not to scream as it makes boys and men too excited and more antagonistic. So of course everyone came running to see what was happening. They beat around in the weeds and trees trying to find that five or six foot long black snake. To its credit, it knew where to go to hide. So as the day continues on, I decide to walk out on the rocks that are in the middle of the stream. Some are bigger than others, however none are very big, so it is a balancing act. The stream is probably six or seven feet wide, at the most two feet deep and the rocks end in the middle. I am given to flights of fancy, which my parents didn’t understand, so who knows what I was dreaming about as I stood on that rock. The next thing I know, coming out of my revelry, I looked down into the faces of seven water moccasins or cottonmouths swimming around my rock. I remember just standing there fascinated and watching them swim. Then my mother happened to see them and told me to get out of the water right now and away from those snakes. I didn’t know till much later, how poisonous those snakes were.
Those were the only remembered snake episodes, until I was married, had two sons and had moved to Colorado. We did lots of mountain climbing, hiking, skiing and in all that time, I only came upon a snake once. I had run and jumped upon this flat boulder where a rattle snake was sunning itself. It didn’t even move though I jumped back down very quickly and just stood there looking at it and watching it for a while, then I went on down the mountain.
As I am writing this, I see so much symbolism and metaphors, as that is how I tend to think and view my world. Still fanciful, just part of this package called Judith. Now here I could go off on a tangent in my head about the word package. Well is it in brown paper or is it fancy paper or maybe some of that beautiful Japanese paper that I love so much or is it a mixture of all of them, an eclectic package. Does this package have string tied up neatly or ribbon that is iridescent? Then of course the next question is, well do I want to be a package that might limit my freedom. And above all my freedom is the nearest and dearest to me. Back to the snakes.
As I conclude my to date snake odyssey, I realize that the Divine Feminine has always been with me and always giving me messages that help me in remembering who and what I am and what I am about. It is also a realization that the time has come for all women to acknowledge and respect the Divine Feminine that resides in each of us.
Judith James is founder of Women’s Empowerment Resources, LLC,. www.womensempowermentresources.com
For the past 30 years Judith has acted as a woman’s advocate, therapist, guide and coach which is the passion of her life. During this time she have worked with individuals,groups and corporations, always in the same capacity of imparting empowering information and encouraging them to be their authentic self.