Chapter Four – Snakes and the Web of Oneness

Surrender to the song, surrender to the way of God, surrender to Kundalini.

Mantra received in a dream.

      With me, there have been two main avatars of kundalini Shakti, the snake and the spider. Broadly speaking, they represent the two aspects of the power described by Gopi Krishna. The snake may be seen as the coiled aspect at the base of the individual’s spine, the spider as the cosmic aspect beyond our understanding. 

   Kundalini Shakti is often represented as a snake. One of the reasons for this is that she chooses to manifest in this form to the aspirant in dreams and visions. People in kundalini awakening often have recurring snake dreams. This is partly because as the kundalini moves up the tube of the sushumna and in and out of the valves leading to the chakras, the mind asks itself, what could possibly fit in this space and move in this way? More often than not, the mind comes up with a snake. 

   There are many different kinds of snakes in my dreams from tiny venomous ones to frighteningly large constrictors. The poisonous snakes want to bite me, their poison is an agent of death and therefore transformation. The huge constrictors serve to remind me of the coils of Maya, which enfold us in ignorance of our true nature. I don’t see these snakes as power animals or spirits in the shamanic sense but as pure manifestations of Shakti Kundalini, the mind’s interpretation of the spiritual processes occurring. 

   The reticulated python I first saw in Bali has come many times. Initially She revealed the feminine aspect of Herself.

I see a HUGE snake on a wall. It’s a reticulated python. It’s really beautiful with gorgeous skin patterning in many different colours. The snake changes into a woman, she stands up and jumps off the wall. We link arms and we walk and talk, she says, ‘I want to be with you forever’.

   In the following dream She reveals Herself as that which binds us here.

I see a beautiful lake filled to the brim with still cold water. A reticulated python sits on my lap and nuzzles my face.

This dream shows pure consciousness as the lake with kundalini Shakti as the python saying, look at me, I am the illusion keeping you from this.

   In this dream She reveals definitively Her aspect as creator of the illusion.

I see a reticulated python, it’s in a booth at a zoo. It has huge teeth and rubs its head all over me like a cat, she talks to me and tells me her name, her name is Maya.

Although her name is Maya and in this aspect she functions as concealer of truth, in her manifestation as the cobra and other venomous varieties of snake, she becomes the revealer, if you will let her bite you. Initially of course I was afraid.

I’m standing in a street, with myself, as a young boy. We are looking in a shop window, which is full of snakes. A man appears and picks up a King Cobra. He opens the hood and presses the snake’s head against the window. The cobra’s fangs are huge but I tell the boy not to be afraid.

   Over time I began to allow these snakes to bite me. In this dream I am being asked to make myself a home, for kundalini Shakti.

I’m given a small wooden box. Inside it is a small red and white striped snake. A voice says, ‘Can you make a box for this?’ The snake opens its mouth to a vast proportion and bites my hand.

   Eventually I learned to relax into the process and love the snakes that were biting me.

I dream I’m on a bed with my dad. A black mamba is chewing my hand. I stroke its head. I see a huge cobra with green and white stripes by the door.

This dream shows the divine masculine as my father, and the mamba as divine feminine, the bed symbolising the unification. The cobra with its two colours represents the witness of this unification at the doorway to self-realisation.

The shamanic aspect of kundalini presents itself most often as an anaconda. In these two dreams I think at first that the anaconda is dead or sleeping but in fact it is only dormant and reveals itself as a great and terrifying force awakening within me.

I’m walking along our lane. I see a snake, a small patterned anaconda. I think it’s dead, I prod it with a stick, it comes alive, stretches out, forming a bridge across the path, now it is huge. My cats are with me, I’m afraid they will be eaten. A small Native-American child appears, she tells me not to worry.

   In the second dream I saw an anaconda of monumental proportions lying in heaped coils in a field. I was with a friend and we walked between the coils thinking that the snake was dead. Then suddenly it reared up above us, I screamed to my friend but then the snake transformed into a human and vanished into thin air.

   Sometimes Michèle is in the snake dreams, reminding me that I am not taking this journey alone, that others are drawn in. In one dream Michèle and I walked in a river in a forest. In the river were many rocks and lying on the rocks were cobras, we just kept on walking through the water. Before going to take ayahuasca a snake dream delivered a wonderful and amazing divine communication. I found myself standing in a small clearing in the forest. Michèle was sitting in a car repeating over and over, like a mantra, the number twenty-six. As she chanted, a green snake with a black stripe down its back, passed by my feet through the grass. Subsequent research revealed that the numerical value of the name of God in Hebrew, formed of the Hebraic letters yod, he, waw and he, YHWH, is 10+5+6+5, which adds up to twenty six. This name of four letters giving twenty-six is found in the fourth chapter of Genesis with its twenty six verses, beginning with Adam and ending by the name of God. By using as a correspondence table, A=1, B=2, …, Z=26, we find that the name of the divine in English, GOD, gives also twenty-six. Michèle had been chanting the numerical name of god as the kundalini serpent slithered by.

   The spider occurs in many cultures as a feminine creative principle. It has eight legs, the number eight turned on its side becomes the symbol for infinity. The Vedas compare God and the physical universe we experience to a spider and a spider’s web. The spider’s web comes out of the spider and the spider resides within the web itself. Similarly our physical universe has been created out of the Oneness and the Oneness pervades all things in the universe. The Oneness is both the container of the universe as well as what is contained inside it. 

   The Upanishads say, Brahman is like a spider catching everything in its net but itself moving freely through it untouched. We remain ensnared until we realise the web is entirely of our own making. In the same way that our consciousness interprets the energy moving within us as a snake, the best the mind can come up with in attempting to process something far beyond its capability is to present us with a spider.

   One of the first spider dreams I remember is one where I was in the cellar of an old castle. There was a spiral staircase going up but to get there we had to pass under huge spider webs containing giant black spindly spiders. I was not happy about this but Michèle went ahead and I followed. In another dream we returned to the same cellar and it was full of giant spider egg sacs. These dreams were showing me that in order to ascend the spiral of consciousness I had to pass through the webs of illusion and that these webs are created and hatched deep in the cellars of the subconscious.                               

   Sometimes, as with the snakes, the spiders wanted to bite me, reflective of their transformative aspect as bringers of death. In my dreams I have been bitten by a black widow spider, a symbol of the goddess, in her dark aspect. I was also bitten on the inner thigh by a baby bird-eating spider. It is good to be bitten by the spiders in dreams; it is a surrendering to the process, an allowing of the venom to destroy the illusion of which the spider is the original creator.

   Twice I have woken to the presence of spirit spiders in my bed. The first time I awoke to find a huge spider walking up and down on my stomach, its abdomen changing constantly to different chakra colours. On the second occasion I saw a brown spirit tarantula running into the bed and under the covers. I just went back to sleep, if it had been a real one I would have been out of the bed in a shot!

   At other times I find that I am shown something in a dream and then I notice the presence of a spider there also. I sense this is a way of telling me, pay attention, this is important.

I find myself standing on some steps. There are people looking at a swarm of bees. The bees are huge. I see there is a tarantula standing on the steps next to me.

   A swarm of bees is a metaphor for the Oneness and the illusion. Bees may appear separate but a hive is in fact one organism. The spider on the steps is saying, 

I am THAT.

I’m on a bus journey. When it’s time to get off I can’t, because I find I have too much rubbish. Amongst other things I have a draw full of old computer floppy disks. Then I see a huge tarantula crawl up the wall and onto the ceiling, it is very beautiful, black with yellow stripes.

This dream was telling me I can’t get off at the final destination until I have rid myself of outmoded ways of being (the floppy disks). The spider as the Oneness will bring me to the final destination of itself.

   Most profoundly the spider has brought messages of the eternal self, that which is present in, yet beyond all states of consciousness and phenomena. In one dream I saw a caterpillar transforming into a spider. Normally the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, but the butterfly is not the final transformation, the spider is. In another dream Michèle gave me a sword in a scabbard. I carefully pulled out the sword to reveal a large spider in the scabbard. The sword my weapon to cut through illusion is also kundalini which when unsheathed reveals the presence of the spider all along.

   In a dream I see my mother, she shows me two huge orb-weaver spiders on either side of the room. I realise I’m in the living room of my childhood home and the room is filled with a massive spider’s web, it is crystalline, it looks like it’s made of light. My sister walks across the room to my mother and I see that the web is attached to her and moves with her. From this I understand that through the web, we are all connected to each other and the Mother. In the web I see a small spider, it is completely transparent, made of silvery light, very beautiful. Then a grasshopper crawls out of the web. I say, that’s not the spider and a voice says, it IS. It washes contentedly then returns to the web, wraps itself in silk and becomes a pupa. Everything that emanates from the web is the One, all is the spider, the Oneness. Between lives we emerge from the web of illusion content in our remembrance, until our unfilled desires draw us back and we once more bind ourselves in the web of illusion and forgetting.

   In meditation I saw a pair of hands. They made a movement and a black spider appeared in a palm. In Kashmir Shaivism the illusion is likened to a kind of magic trick, this was like seeing the hands of the conjuror. The spider walked around shapeshifting, again showing itself as everything in many forms. Then I saw a matchbox, it opened and now the spider was inside. Then I felt it dancing on my crown chakra, the spider both within the container and containing everything. Then a sri-yantra appeared, that perfect depiction of microcosm and macrocosm, I heard many people singing om namah shivaye, I began to sing.

   In a powerful dream, Michèle and I walk into an open-air cinema. On the big screen an Indian woman is singing mantras and everyone begins to sing along. Above me, from the sky, a giant butterfly descends over my crown chakra. On top of the butterfly, like the turiya state in the Om symbol sits a green spider. A man comes and places a hawk on Michèle’s arm and then on mine and another spider walks repeatedly up and down in front of us. Two huge beautiful snakes come towards us very fast. As they are moving they are shedding their skins to reveal gorgeous patterns underneath. A female voice sings, place every action in the heart, place every action in the heart.

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