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11 April, 2008

Scale to Skin

There is a snake on my leg. A winged snake, coiled to protect an egg.

She is wrought in blood and ink and time, from my initial vision and the skilled hands of an artist who knows how to work flesh.

She is a sacred snake, a royal python, who guards her eggs when she lays them. She is a sacred snake, winged like the uraeus, the guardian of the king (though the uraeus is a cobra).

I was born in her year, the Snake, though just at its transition; my summer boyfriend when I was sixteen, four days younger than I, was born a Horse. When I was a child, we caught a garter snake once, kept it in a jar a while to study it and learn to have no fear, released it in the stump at the bottom of the yard, into which it wriggled and vanished like a mystery.

She is wise, is the snake, a liminal creature. She knows the mysteries of rebirth, shedding her skin to be made anew over and over again, many times in her life. She is a primordial, one of the first gods, guardian of secrets. There were times she bargained with people, to live in their homes and keep them free of vermin, in exchange for the warmth of their hearth, the protection of their children. She gave oracles, sometimes in the dangerous edges of the effects of her venom. Her reputation as a healer is multicultural, touching many worlds, many serpents.

She spreads her green, feathered wings widely, wrapping my leg in a gesture of benediction; green for life, living, birth, rich against her fertile browns. She can freely move in any direction she chooses, and chooses to mantle protectively over one egg, tucked luminous dark into her coils.

The egg she protects is a pisanka, an egg of old, old tradition among certain of my ancestors. An egg now marking and celebrating the mysteries of life and death, the shedding of the skin, being born into salvation. Blue for breath, breath for soul, ruach the colour of sky; the starburst sun in white and gold, pure and joyous and the brightness of the laughter of children.

She is my ancestor mark, my protector always with me. She is my memory of those who came before, my promise to those who come after. She is wrought in flesh and bone and blood and breath, etched under skin, holding close and gentle.

When the healing skin peels away, it will look and feel just like snakeskin.

(As I started writing this, some weeks ago before the work was done, Stephen Bodio's Querencia linked to this post at Atomic Nerds about ink and the shapes and meanings thereof, and what people will see.)

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Get some Neem lotion, for best healing. If unavailable, try Burt's Bees Res-Q ointment!

Post pics in umm, some accessible location or other! :P