In most cultures white is the color of death. No wonder brides wear white.
When I finally stepped into my life at 39, I entered a mythic world. I married myself to the serpent of life, a creature who is now wrapping itself (both male and female) around the earth four times and squeezing the life out of Her, according to Mythologist Martin Shaw (see Emergence magazine). The serpent, once life bringer for feminists now courts death.
I will always remember Marion Woodman, a Jungian analyst (and personal friend), who stated that every symbol carries both light and dark, and one side of the symbol will always shift into the other… She was speaking metaphorically but my mythic education and life experience as a naturalist have taught me/and continue to teach me that symbols like the serpent that were once holy beings are also living beings that were worshipped by Pre-Christian cultures, and then demonized by Christianity, recovered, and reverenced by feminists. Until now. Today the dark side of serpent has risen again and is swallowing us whole.
Four months before Covid struck I dreamed of a giant Rainbow Serpent that flooded the Rio Grande, sucking up her waters and was ‘told’ by a Voice that this mythic creature was heading our way…I awakened with nameless dread not having any idea what was coming, but understanding that whatever it was held a terrible Collective Power that was bearing down on us…
In myth, culture and in our personal lives if we are awake, honest, and have access to our feelings/senses we already know that we are struggling to live through this cataclysmic time. Today Women’s Rights are under such a powerful assault that it is mind-bending – literally beyond comprehension.
March 31’s post on abortion brilliantly written by Janet Rudolph on FAR brought this truth home to me once again on a visceral level. After reading the first paragraph of the post, I involuntarily leapt up to feed birds, instantly recognizing that I was not able to stay with the content without a break. Returning to finish this essay, I wept. Patriarchy has become such a devouring serpentine monster; women’s suffering is incomprehensible. Worst of all this serpent has not yet swallowed its own tail…
It must also be acknowledged that it’s not just women who are under attack but to a lesser degree so are most men. For many women it is hard to remember that the devastating Power of Patriarchy is held by a few.
When I awakened this morning to yet one more snowfall and lack of birdsong, I was cross. Starved for the first signs of spring, instead, the White Shroud had struck again.
Not one peep before a lifeless dawn bled into a dull gray sky. In Maine we have crossed a threshold into the sixth month of snow. My front door is buried under four feet of ice. Global warming is a monster that will leave no place unscarred, but equally destructive is the monster that has overtaken our culture, and one that threatens every individual with despair so intense that it can paralyze us.
We must do three things: take steps to stay awake, advocate for ourselves and the earth in equal proportions, and refuse to give in to despair, regardless of outcome.
Unfortunately healing ourselves as feminists is not enough until we begin to heal the earth our mother. Advocating for the earth by taking local steps to create compost, grow our own food, install a few solar panels etc helps us to feel better about ourselves; but in fact, this behavior can also be a hidden form of denial, a way we don’t have to face the Global Serpent that is squeezing us to death.
I am NOT saying we shouldn’t be advocating feminists, compost, grow our own food, save frogs, create art, become writers, protest, consider solar solutions etc. Of course, we need to do what we can on a personal level, but we must also stay with the truth that unless we unite globally the future for all living beings on earth is grim.
And maybe we simply have to be with what is, and let the monster devour us, so the earth can recover what has been lost…
I have no answers – only more questions.
What I observe around me is that massive denial that takes many forms. Distractions abound; Consumerism is probably the most common. Travel anywhere. Buy a new car, house, new clothes – fill in the blanks. Addictions are too numerous to mention. Focusing on personal healing without regard for the planet is legion. Rage, murder, an inability to tolerate diversity, a total lack of compassion, an inability to cross the isles for conversation are others.
What I am obsessed about is learning how to survive so I can keep on writing, my way of doing what I can to educate and help others fall in love with nature.
How do I stay with the three things I must do – regardless of outcome?
I feed birds.
After the first slop fell from the trees this morning the chickadees instantly perched in the apple tree followed by cardinals and titmice. As I opened the window to scatter some seed the presence of my avian friends with their melodious songs shifted my dark mood into one of gratitude for this simple joy. As I felt this blessing, I walked out into the sloppy gray soggy day, felt the cold winter rain and just stood there listening…. Coming back indoors quite chilled, I put on a coat and took my IPhone outside to record the bird songs. Listening to and feeding the birds is a powerful way for me to dodge despair every single day. Being emotionally present for my avian friends forces me into the moment; gratitude pours in. I am so happy to be alive to listen to so many… joyful symphony…
Restored to myself once again I am ready to face the future…”Hope is a force field, not forged out of personal need or want, Hope is a willingness to engage with the future,” I once read. My birds open this door.
Sometimes people do too.
I just received a text from a friend who tells me he will be ‘honored’ to put my birdfeeder together. He ends with the following remark,” Peace, my sister”.
For each of us the coping mechanisms are different. The importance of staying awake, advocating for others as well as ourselves, and for the earth in equal proportions and refusing to give into despair may not change the outcome but if we cans stay with the process a new earth may be born.
About two months after the Rainbow Serpent dream I had another. In this one I was holding the earth in my hands. It was wrapped in plastic. I could still see inside and beheld with piercing clarity an emerald earth so lush with birds, vegetation, trees, water, and animals – the latter were streaming out of an ark. I was so stunned by this sight that it was only gradually that I realized there were no humans on this earth that I held in my palm like a prayer.
6 thoughts on “Feeding the Birds by Sara Wright”
Hahahaha Gods “I am dead” has never sounded funnier than it does now,
“In most cultures, white is the color of death, no wonder brides were white,”
That completely took me by surprise. I was actually drinking water while reading this. You made me choke. So I almost wore white myself 😂
But besides that, I have to agree with all you have said on here. About everything. Right down to your analysis of the serpent. The rainbow Serpent sounds you like saw Dumbullah and his Wife Ayida Wedo.
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Humans have become a plague on the earth and Mother Nature is done with us. Our clever brains have led us to “dominate” with no vision of the future. As my friends and I say, it’s a good time to be old. I continue to enjoy the birds and gardening, but I try not to focus too much on what inevitably lies ahead for humanity.
There is truth in this statement – it is a good time to be old –
As a naturalist I am so aligned with nature’s process that grief is overwhelming – staying in the present is getting hard and harder.