In April I developed a dermatitis. I can’t really remember ever having a rash before this development. It was pretty fierce and seriously uncomfortable. In my circle, when we have a physical ailment arise, we remind one another to ask ourselves – that would be our higher selves, guides, the consciousness that provides wisdom if only we know to ask – what does this mean or why am I experiencing this discomfort? When I asked, the answer I received was loud and clear… “snake woman shedding her skin”.
In June of last year, I left my 16 year career with the arrival of new management. I was immediately discovered and hired by another company, but it did not resonate with me so I departed after a few months and took the rest of the year off. In January I put myself back on the market, but three months into the tedium of receiving multiple emails every day with job postings and recruiter reaches I had developed a sense of repulsion at the review of each job description. In rapid succession the following events occurred: I finished writing a book, I submitted the first three chapters and a synopsis to four publishers, I declared that I could not return to the corporate world, I could no longer stomach doing what I have done for the last 25 years, I discontinued every single recruitment tool from entering my inbox, and decided to devote my time to becoming a certified End of Life Doula. And then… my skin went into a flaming rage. This is what I wrote about it:
It started small, in a place beneath my belly that never sees the light. It spoke to me of nurturing, and I did it wrong. I caused harm instead of healing. I didn’t mean to… I promise. I love you. The wrong I had done grew with rage, and expanded the hurting beyond its meager beginning, angering everything it touched. Bellies are meant to expand in order to bring new life to birth. My belly expanded decades ago, and brought only shame and strife. I looked at her with disappointment and longing… to become something she was not. I degraded her with my thoughts at each passing of the mirror. I didn’t mean to… I promise. I love you. Skin is the largest organ we possess, a full time job of holding. How can it possibly work so hard for so little reward? From the time we be-gin, until the time we cease-to-be this sacred container embraces every cell, every bone, every heartbeat, every thought – for better or for worse, the ultimate supporter. Seriously, she deserves a bonus! That anger is contagious, you know. What started at the belly expanded to the thighs. Then it just ran screaming, enflamed, throughout the body, from upper arm to lower ankle… as if the skin cells had been spreading rumors. Can you believe what she did to the belly?, they said. No love. No pride. No respect. No compassion. No tenderness. Just shame and regret. Well, we’re not going to stand by and witness such disregard for her own perfection. We shall rise with the burning desire for loving kindness. We shall itch and pull to the point of discomfort, so that sitting still is no longer an option. When every thought of loathing and distaste has been burned away, a fresh, new beginning will be revealed. The entire body, belly, thighs, and all will be loved and nurtured in this very form… exactly as she is… deserving of soothing caress, and quenching delight. Outdated perceptions and false belief will be shed and left behind, as the former assumptions have grown too limiting, and no longer fit. She is becoming something better and deeper than before. I really mean to… I promise. I love you.
The book I had just finished was about my own journey through self-loathing to self-loving, and I am quite sure that this burden was a kind of test. For nearly twenty years I have been strongly influenced by the archetype of Artemis. She is a Greek goddess of the hunt… the archer. Her realm is mountain and stream, and she is fiercely protective of women and children. One who is devoted to such a character of strength might ask herself in a moment of suffering, what would Artemis do? Well, I can tell you that she wouldn’t bury her head in shame, and she wouldn’t punish herself for the behavior of nature, she wouldn’t pretend to be something she is not, and she wouldn’t suffer in silence… she would reach to her sisters for guidance and support. And that’s what I did. I am blessed to have a soul-sister who is a healer and practitioner of Chinese medicine. In case you wondered… acupuncture can cure a rash, just so you know.
I believe I passed my test. I chose to love my body through her discomfort, rather than to degrade her for what I would have formerly dubbed another episode of body betrayal. Today, I love her even more than before. I have shed the skin (the identity) that had grown tight and unbearable. I have slithered into a new beginning that is shiny and smooth. I feel liberated, joyful and free. I am hopeful for the future for the first time in years, and I cannot wait to receive the bounty the Universe has been holding for my discovery. If I needed a sign from the Universe of my confidence, it came the other morning in the form of a black snake traveling from west to east across my front yard. I was so excited to see her, and I rushed to get a photo before she disappeared into the brush. In the Animal Dreaming Oracle by Scott Alexander King, it informs us that SNAKE is about Transmutation. It reads, in part: “… While embracing the promise of new life, the Snake can be seen as representative of the healing we must accept if we intend to move into the next phase of our life in a complete and fertile way.” “… Snake encourages us to look at our baggage, our burdens and our pain and transmute them into new opportunity and new life. She offers us the chance to physically rebirth ourselves by strengthening us emotionally and deepening our relationship with Spirit.”
Dear ones, if you find that your current situation has begun to rub you the wrong way and is making you want to crawl out of your skin, I wish for you the emancipation for which your spirit longs. The unknown future may be scary, but it is also exciting… an adventure that beckons new friends, new vistas, and healing, glorious, delightful new beginnings. I’m so grateful that I managed to find you here upon my new path, taken!