The Snake Goddess

This is the second draft for an oracle card and book set I am creating based on my Spirit Guide Sketches, called the “Spirit Guide Oracle Cards”. I’m hoping to have the first edition ready by mid-year.

In this sketch, the snake and her goddess are in telepathic communication with one another. They see through each other’s eyes. The snake seems to emerge from behind the lady, but in another way, it’s part of her, emerging from within her. There is a strong emphasis here on the divine feminine, and female power: stepping into it, and owning it, being blessed and watched over by it.

My grandmother Anne is part of my divine feminine watching over me. As a teenager, Grandma wanted to be a doctor, at a time when women weren’t meant to have careers like that. She desperately needed her father’s support to do this, but she didn’t ask because she knew medicine was a very expensive course of study and most fathers would consider it a waste, given women weren’t allowed to keep working after they married. Her mother had wanted to study medicine too, and didn’t ask, for the same reasons. Having let her own dreams slip through her fingers, my great grandmother encouraged her daughter, saying “You’re smart enough to earn a scholarship.” Anne’s father was reluctant at first, but once he realised how determined she was, he caused an almighty raucous at her all-girls high school, insisting that they provide her with a proper education so she could go on to study medicine. “In this day and age, girls should be able to study science too for goodness sake!” Suitably chastised, the school arranged for Anne to visit a nearby boys school after hours so she could access the resources and teachers they couldn’t provide.

Grandma wasn’t just one of the few women to graduate as a female doctor in 1950 Australia, she broke social rules by continuing to work after she married and had children, and in 1966, she moved her family to “the back of beyond” so she could make a difference to those who needed it most: indigenous children in central Australia. Anne was the first female residential doctor in Alice Springs and although she was initially employed as a school doctor she did shifts in the hospital, flew with the flying doctor service and took care of quarantine arrivals at the airport. On Anne’s first day checking the vision and hearing of the local school children, she was puzzled when the nurse began packing up before they were done. “But what about the rest of the children?” she asked. “What children?” the nurse replied. “Those one’s over there,” Anne pointed. “Oh,” said the nurse. “We don’t service the natives.” Anne was furious and immediately went to her boss and threatened to quit if she wasn’t allowed to treat all of the children. After having spent a small fortune moving Anne’s family to the outback, where very few doctors wanted to work, the powers that be gave in to her demands. Before long, she was making the same big song and dance about going out to communities. She won that battle too.

Growing up with this female elder as my guiding light was such an honour. Grandma fiercely stood her ground when it mattered most, but was an otherwise gentle and sweet soul who was famous for her bedside manner and for being non-judgemental. Being surrounded by Grandma’s medical paraphernalia as a child, I became intrigued by the snake symbol used to represent the medical tradition she practiced within; a snake wound around an upright staff known as the Rod of Asclepius, the revered Greek God of healing. With their transformative ability to shed their old skin and be reborn anew, it’s no wonder snakes are thought to represent longevity and immortality. 

Inspired by Anne, I grew up and become a naturopath, a doctor of a different kind. For me, the snake isn’t just a symbol of healing, it’s a visual metaphor for the chakra system, a rainbow-coloured tower of energy centres that are considered major organs in the human energy field. Think about kundalini for a moment, that snake-like energy coiled at the base of the spine, and the way it rises up through the rainbow chakras of the energy field, and you’ll see why my healers’ psyche so readily associates snakes with healing. Snake is also my home. Some traditional owners and caretakers of this land refer to Australia as “Snake Island’ because snake is the Great Mother, the creator goddess who made everything, including the Rainbow Serpent.

Snake Goddess is an archetype known by many names. Two of my favourites are Isis and Medusa. Isis is the Egyptian goddess of healing, a gentle, wise energy that is similar in some regards to Mother Mary and Guanyin. Isis is an old friend of mine, a connection I trace back through my female guide Khryse (as depicted in the Moon Goddess sketch on the back of this card) and past life high priestess memories. Like many female healers, I have a sense of being apprenticed to her and guided by her mothering light. She is a beautiful embodiment of the Divine Mother, and one of her symbols is the cobra. In working with Isis, I have learned to stretch and move my third eye through space and time like a snake, in ways that remind me of periscopes, microscopes and telescopes.

This particular Snake Goddess sketch is a special ode to Medusa, who I am very much in awe of, and love working with in the healing room. I first met her while doing an aura sketch for a 16 year old boy who was troubled and felt misunderstood, his reputation unfairly tarnished. When Medusa came through as his Spirit Guide and ally, I realised she wasn’t the evil monster stories have made her out to be. When you read her backstory, you realise she was a woman who was raped, blamed for that rape, and punished for it by being turned into a monster, a story I’m sure many can relate to.

Medusa often comes through for women and misunderstood teenagers. She’s a bit of a rebel who refuses to be straightjacketed by the negative narrative projected onto her, and she often champions the underdog helping them stand tall with dignity in the face of great challenges. Contrary to popular opinion, her gaze doesn’t turn people to stone, it scans the aura for frozen blockages of stagnant energy and melts them away. Far from being a monster, she’s a powerful, beautiful representation of the Divine Feminine: a sea-spirit, a mermaid, a goddess of menstruation and sacred women’s business.

There is a rune symbol hidden in the patterns of this sketch, called Othila. Runes are old Viking/Norse/Germanic tribal symbols, an ancient alphabet of sorts, a sacred communication between humans and the gods. Othila’s magic helps free us up so we can become more truly Who We Really Are. Ask yourself what you want to release from your life, from yourself, and know that your snake guide is helping you with this. Snake medicine helps us let go of the past, to set ourselves free from the masks we wear that keep us trapped in identities and roles that don’t reflect our authentic selves.