The shadow serpent is a symbol of the darkness within you. It is your inner shadow that is comprised of your fears, insecurities, wounds from the past, all that which you have not made peace with that has been sent to the deeper recesses of your mind, cast into a cave of solitude. When it is hidden (in our unconscious) we don’t have to deal with it. It is a natural human tendency after all, to avoid what causes pain and suffering, and seek out pleasure and comfort instead. We associate pleasure with reward and pain with punishment. On a physical level, it makes sense to avoid situations that would cause us harm; it is an inner mechanism designed to keep us alive.
Even on a psychological level, avoiding pain has its advantages, namely when we are children. Children are still developing their egos and do not have a strong stable sense of self that a psychologically mature adult would possess. When trauma happens to a child, the horror of it can become too much and can cause damage. Cases of Multiple Personality Disorder for example, occur in those who have experienced such intense abuse that they literally had to split their mind to avoid the horror of their current reality, of which they have no control of. Our ego defence mechanisms as a child are lovingly there to protect us, to give us respite in a cruel world that we cannot control. This is an extreme example of the extremities the mind will go to in order to avoid suffering of the here and now, but ALL of us have experienced suffering to some extent in our childhood and so go into adult hood with a variety of defence mechanisms that have protected us in childhood.
As adults however, these ego defence mechanisms have reached their shelf life. They were created and implemented because the environment in which you were growing up was not safe. You were not in control. As an adult however, you have control over your environment. You can choose to seek a safe environment, choose what you want to do, who you want to spend time with etc.
What happens in adulthood is that situations will arise that will present you face to face with what you have pushed aside in the past. Now that it is safe, now is the time to re-address what has been hidden. For we are always seeking wholeness; much like the universe is continually expanding, so our mind seeks to expand and grow. We cannot grow and evolve if we have thoughts, memories and emotions pushed aside and not addressed. As Carl Jung once said, what you resist, persists. When we keep things we don’t like in a box and pretend it isn’t there, eventually the box is going to fall open, whether you like it or not. Symptoms will always keep appearing until you consciously face your inner fears, whether it is insomnia, disease, stress etc. such symptoms are there to tell you that something isn’t right and needs to be looked at.
We can live our lives avoiding the confrontation of our deepest fears and the associated anxiety and stress that comes with it – after all, the human tendency is to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Yet keep following the comfortable path of distraction and ignoring any symptoms, and trust me, situations will always keep manifesting that will bring you face to face with what you have been avoiding. Let’s take relationships for example. Have you ever found yourself asking “why does this keep on happening to me?” whether it is work, relationships, home life etc. repeated patterns which create suffering are perfect opportunities to do something different.
Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Can you relate? Do you find yourself in a “Groundhog Day” situation where the same things keep happening and nothing changes? How frustrating is that?! Well now is the time to make changes! To make different choices, whether it is changing your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions, so that you are no longer creating suffering for yourself. Ultimately this requires facing what you have been hiding, and in doing so provides the opportunity for emerging out of it a stronger and more powerful person. This is empowerment. This is fearless living; to not let your fears hold you back from living at your highest potential.
I work with snakes. I work with them in coaching workshops to release fear, and I also dance with them in my belly dancing. It was snake charming – the ancient art of belly dancing with snakes – that brought snakes into my life. I have always been drawn to them, and a few years ago the opportunity presented itself to have one and learn how to dance with them. I’m not going to lie, I experienced anxiety working with my first snake; I’ve always had a phobia of my neck being constricted (I would never wear chokers, polo necks, or have ANYTHING around my neck) and yet here I was, holding a snake that kept wanting to wrap herself around my neck. It was my calling that brought me to this point, a deeper pull which I couldn’t understand at the time but I trusted my intuition to keep working with them.
Over time my anxiety of having her around my neck disappeared. I learned to let go and to trust her. This is key here: to let go of the fears and to trust. This wasn’t a random snake off the street, nor was this a venomous one- simply a harmless snake that enjoyed being played with. To help me overcome my fear initially was to use logic; to remind myself that snakes will NOT eat anything that is bigger than their circumference. I am much too large for her to eat. A snake isn’t going to exert its energy in attacking and killing what they can’t eat. I specifically chose her breed (Colombian Rainbow Boa) because they are the most easy-going and laid back of all snakes. And let me tell you, she’s never bitten me once. She hasn’t felt threatened by me and I haven’t by her. Trust works both ways in the dancing: I trust her to not hurt me, and she trust me to not hurt her.
On a psychological level, there is something quite powerful in the act of surrendering and letting go. Those who are successful in their personal and spiritual growth are the ones who surrender the will of the ego to the will of the Higher Self. To let go of following the whims and urges of ego defence mechanisms, to stop following the well-trodden path of self-destructive cycles and to embrace the will of the Higher Self, that is, following a path that is authentic to you, that is ruled by compassion, love, authenticity, respect, truth, empathy etc. Your highest potential. The act of surrendering with my snake has given me inner strength to surrender the will of my ego, to stop fighting, to observe the pain and the fear within me yet not let it control me.
Myself and Shiva (photo by Scott Cole Photography)
After a short while of dancing with Shiva, I realised that she was having an impact on me. Before I got her, I was starting to lose my motivation to work and to dance: I was very much experiencing a “dark night of the soul”. Soon after working with Shiva, I noticed myself feeling more powered up and dedicated to my work. I felt passionate about dancing again. She had somehow invigorated my will power and had given me back my zest for life. I had lost confidence in my dancing before having her, but she somehow restored it for me. This is her energy that she gives to me when she is wrapped around me, powerful energies of both destruction and creation.
In order for something new to be built in your mind: whether that is new ways of thinking, feeling, new habits, the old must die for the new to have space to grow. If we keep giving energy and attention to old habits that are no longer serving us, then there is not enough attention dedicated to nurturing new habits. Let go of the old for the new to be born. The snake is the perfect metaphor for this: she sheds her skin every month or so until she dies: she is the only creature in the world to do this because snakes keep growing until the day they die, so their shed is their skin that no longer fits them. This is a perfect symbol for us humans to use: learn how to shed what is not needed on a regular basis, so that you have room to grow into something bigger than you are now. She helped me confront my fears, and to do so –to challenge my fears and overcome them– is one of the most empowering things I have ever done. Much like how I confronted my fear of needles by having tattoos and now the fear is gone. Each time I challenge a fear, I emerge a stronger person from doing so.
It is from dancing with snakes that I understand their associations with kundalini energy. Kundalini energy is likened to a serpent living in a cave, waiting to be called. This is reflected in how they live in real life: they spend most of their time resting half-asleep in their hides (the shadow, the unconscious), emerging every now and then for food, for play, for interaction. I respect their need for being alone, and when I get them out to play, their energy is incredible. For example, I held a workshop in London about the transformative power of snakes, in which I brought Shiva along. The energy raised in this workshop was so strong: some people were giddy with euphoria, some were crying, and my phone battery blew!
Myself and Shiva (photo by Scott Cole Photography)
Now I have three snakes of all different sizes. The longer I work with them, the more my confidence grows. I respect their power, but I am not afraid. My work is twofold: to help people shape a new perspective about snakes through my snake charming, and to help people transform their perspectives of their fears through life coaching.
Myself and Ghost (Photo by 105 Photography)
The next time you are confronted with your inner fears, let it be: surrender to the will of your Higher Self, trust that in this loving place, no harm will come to you. This is because love has a higher vibration than that of fear. It is stronger. When you are in a loving state, you do not fear. Think about a time when you fell in love. Everything seems magical, seeing the world through rose tinted glasses. Does fear really hold you back when you are in a loving state? The answer is generally no.
Learn to see crisis as an opportunity for transformation. When you embrace your own inner shadow serpent, when you can learn to surrender and to trust, a great well of inner strength, confidence and power emerges from within. This is the metaphorical dance with the shadow serpent, and in time – like I did – you will start to see your darkness as not something to be afraid of, but an ally that teaches you how to be the strongest version of yourself.
Patrick Dahdal and all the team at Transformation TV are thrilled to be working with Melanie Philippides and sharing her unique message with the world.
You can watch Melanie's TV Show on the TV platform here: https://www.transformation.tv/p/MelaniePhilippidesTVShow
My name is Melanie and I have 10 years worth of training: A BSc in psychology, MA/Diploma in Psychosynthesis Counselling & A Diploma in Energy 4 Life Coaching and leading workshops. I have spent the last 12 years studying and practising meditation. I trained with the British Meditation Society and also with the Triratna Buddhist Community. I have also studied and worked alongside top nutritional coaches who specialise in living/raw foods, travelling with them to raw food conventions around the world.
**NOTE** All photos and information on this page are from Melanie Philippides and we own no copyright on the photographs.
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