It's Time for Shedding
Spirituality & Health|January/February 2022
The Chinese Zodiac suggests that while snake people may be seductive and slightly dangerous, at the same time they are intelligent, wise, and the most intuitive of all personalities.
By Sarah Bowen, Illustration by GettyImages.com/Bonnechance

“DON’T. STEP. BACKWARD,” my mother whispered forcefully to my father. He froze in place, camera in hand. Accordingly, my sister and I also ceased moving, two kids poised precariously atop a steep outcrop somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. We had all been mid photo op, recording a moment that now stands eternalized on grainy Super 8 film.

But someone is notably missing from that image—the western rattlesnake who my father nearly trod on. Yet, his memory lived on throughout my youth, as Amy and I were repeatedly warned about the dangers of snakebites. This conditioning did little to assuage us from our curiosity about them, though, and our amazement at how serpents could shed their skin in entirety.

Because although rattlesnakes expand and lengthen, their skin does not. And so, when they outgrow this piece of themselves, they merely shed it … and move on.

In this way, the slithering ones can inspire helpful New Year’s resolutions.

SHEDDING STORIES

Admittedly, our humankind has a long history of snake shaming through both sacred and secular stories—from the Bible’s Garden of Eden to Rudyard Kipling’s fear-inducing cobra couple Nag and Nagaina in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi to Lord Voldemort’s massive companion snake in the Harry Potter series.

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