It is a warm Saturday night in August and my partner and I, along with another couple, have just left the bar at the Sylvia Hotel and are walking down Robson Street in Vancouver. Everything is right: The night is balmy, we are immersed in an easy friendship, and we are elated about our destination – we’re on our way to a concert. Two of my favourite bands are playing, Santana, and the delicious Michael Franti and Spearhead. For me, it’s musical Thanksgiving.
Laughing and chatting as we near Rogers Stadium, I am suddenly aware of movement in my periphery vision. There is something to my left – something yellow, something unexpected. I turn and there, incredibly, in the middle of a busy street in downtown Vancouver, is an albino boa constrictor at eye level.
Instinctively, I reach out to touch it. I do this before I remember something very important, something very entrenched in my psyche: I have always been deathly afraid of snakes. In fact, I have had a screaming, ballistic, out-of-my-mind lifelong paranoia of the creatures. But here, with a two meter long boa staring right at me, I forget all that. I forget that I spent my childhood in absolute terror of seeing a garter snake in summer, of turning a page in National Geographic to see the ghastly image of one looking out at me, of – God forbid – walking into the nocturnal pavilion at the Valley Zoo near my home.
No, in that moment, I forget to be afraid and crazily, openly, reach my hand and touch it. I forget that I have always expected that their skin would be slimy, slippery, smelly. I forget as first my fingers, then my whole hand, reaches out and strokes it. She is smooth, damn it; silky and soft.
The small dark-haired young woman on whose shoulders this snake hangs asks me if I want to put it around my neck – for a fee, of course. In the lightness of the moment, in the anticipation of a warm night of excellent music and the gift of good friends, I nod my head.
And as my partner snaps a series of pictures on my iPhone, I allow – yes allow, that boa constrictor to be placed on my shoulders. This is a miracle in every sense of the word.
And what happens is this – the miracle continues. Damn it if we don’t fall in love; me and this albino boa named Fluffy.
She wraps her prodigious musculature around my legs and in a movement that feels like expert massage therapy, she undulates across my chest and shoulders.
Wait – isn’t this supposed to feel creepy? Repulsive? Traumatic?
It feels divine. Yes, absolutely Divine.
Fluffy lifts her face to my neck and reaches out her tongue and licks my neck. Instead of screaming, I laugh. Instead of casting her off, I throw my head back and allow her to sense me. Instead of cringing at her embrace, I embrace her back.
And in this moment, it is clear. I am free of my fear. I have embraced something in me that is ancient, sacred, known. Something that pre-dates the serpent in the Garden of Eden with all its twisted symbolism.
I am holding an ancient symbol in my arms. A symbol of transformation and change. A symbol of the Divine Feminine.
I am dancing with the Goddess.