If you're in the DC/Maryland area this morning then you know what a gorgeous day we're experiencing. So this morning I took my two dogs for a walk down Sligo Creek trail, near my house, and as I went along I ran into a family that lives on my street. They were standing with their infant son on the bridge looking down at the creek below. The man stopped me and said, "Hey man, do you know anything about snakes?"
He had a worried look on his face.
"Hmm," I said. "Not much. Why what's up?"
He pointed down at the river below.
"I just threw two snakes down there that were in my yard. You can see them by that cinder block. Do you see them? They're brown. Yeah, right there."
"Huh," I said. "Yeah. They're big!"
"I know man. I'm worried about my kids playing in the yard now. Can you tell what kind of snake they are?"
"I wish I could tell you," I said. "But I have no idea what kinds of snakes live around here."
"Yeah they were brown, but I'm afraid they're rattle snakes. Oh look, that one is moving. I thought it was dead!"
"Oh yeah," I said. " I see it."
We sat there for a few beats, all of us just looking at the snake. The little boy pointed up at the sky. My dogs were sitting looking at the sky, smiling.
"You could always google native Maryland/DC snakes and see if you find the match. That way you know if they're dangerous."
"You think they can swim?"
The man was so fixated on his fear of the snakes, his fear that they would get his children, that it was like he couldn't hear me.
"Probably," I said. "I think a lot of snakes can swim. But you know I bet it's not even venomous. You could check and find out really quickly."
"Okay, yeah," he said. His wife was looking up into the sky. The boy too. My dogs too.
Then realizing he still wasn't "really" hearing me, I said, "I'll go home and look them up and next time I walk by I'll bring you whatever I find. You live right there on the corner, right?"
"Yeah, he said," turning briefly to look at me, his eyes still hypnotized by the water snake.
And I wanted to say, "Don't worry. Venus is in Cancer opposing Pluto. It's natural to feel protective right now."
And I wanted to say, "It's not just a snake you're afraid of. It's the affair your having. Or the too much alcohol your drinking that keeps you ignoring your kids."
And I wanted to say, "It's your marriage. You know something is changing. Or, don't worry, your wife is just pregnant again. You guys just don't know it yet."
And I wanted to say, "Astrology is so real. Let me tell you about it and we can work to figure out what these snakes might be saying."
And I wanted to say, "Don't be afraid. Snakes are lucky! Maybe something new is going to happen."
OR even, "Soon, your mother is going to pass away and leave you her house and her money and you'll move away from this place."
Because when you know the astrology, at any point in time you can find yourself looking into the sky...seeing the animal wheel of the zodiac, spinning in the people you meet, the bridges you cross, and the random conversations that stand out like stars between the otherwise dark and smooth passages of your life. You can see the possibilities, sense like an animal the nature of the secret symbols presenting themselves.
But when you know the astrology, you are also hidden, cloaked, and in some ways, holding the ancient staff coiled round with serpents. A powerful knowledge must so frequently be hidden for its power to remain integral.
A man afraid of suddenly appearing snakes asks an astrologer for help in identifying whether or not the snakes are actually dangerous, though he doesn't know the man is an astrologer.
He's not asking for astrological advice, is he?
I just printed out two different illustrated guides to DC/Maryland snakes, and I'm going to drop it off at my neighbor's house on my way to run errands right now. If I can't give him astrological advice, then at least I can hand him a pamphlet about snakes and hope it makes him feel like he can relax a little. Judging by the pictures, it looked like a worm snake, which is apparently very common and non venomous. I have little doubt this might mean something more to him...a deeper relief than either of us can name right now.
prayer: may we see the hidden that will hurt and keep hidden the virtues that will heal