Snake Medicine: The Alchemy Of Shedding

Art by Kinuko Y. Craft

Each blend of Chinese herbs we take offers different teachings. This recent formula has been incredibly powerful for me. Over the past few years, I’ve been clearing a virus out of my system using Chinese herbs. (Western medicine has no way to remove a virus.) Operating under the premise that all illness is an invitation to change, the basic principle of Classical Chinese medicine, I’ve been focused on what the root cause of the virus might be, and releasing it. Each formula has brought up something different. This one was no exception.

I’ve talked about being an Empath before, and what that means. Over the past 40 years, my work as a counselor has focused on working with survivors of sexual abuse, domestic violence, survivors of narcissistic abuse, ( people in relationships with personality disordered individuals, people with mental illness, or addicts), and working with high-risk adolescents. That last group, while being difficult, was probably the most important out of all of them, for me.

The first high-risk teen I worked with was in 1993. A friend asked me to see his 14 year old daughter, who was in a very volatile place. She had already chewed up and spat out two other therapists. My initial reaction was, oh, fuck no. I hadn’t worked with many kids. And this was like jumping into the deep end of the pool. He begged me to reconsider, saying that I was his last resort. Oh, goody. No pressure, though. She was drinking, drugging, acting out sexually, and was a cutter. ( Self-injurious). She was defiant when she arrived for her first session. She was defiant for the first few months. She didn’t trust me, and made that perfectly clear. Trying to reach her was challenging, to say the least. I was close to giving up, until during one session, she said, “ Can I ask you a question “? Me: Sure. Her: Do you think it’s okay, that sometimes I still play with my Barbies? Me: ( In my head, oh, my god, she’s just a baby.) And in that moment I knew I was totally fucked, because she had me. She had my heart, and I was completely committed to keeping her on the planet, while she was doing her level best to self destruct. Yep. Fucked.

Our journey together was incredible. She learned to trust. She got into 12-Step recovery. She worked with Taoist Master Dr. Yuen, and drank nasty tasting herbs. She learned to meditate. She connected to her Higher Self. To Spirit. She blossomed. (She’s 38 now, is a vibrant, courageous, and loving woman.)

Another one was also 14. She had been in and out of rehab. She came for a few months, and began to stabilize. At that point, her Borderline mother decided that she didn’t need any more therapy. I suggested that that was not the case. But, that was it. I got a frantic call from the mother a few months later, that the daughter had run away, and they had no idea where she was. Could I help? I had a number of kids seeing me, going to the same school. I asked if anyone had seen her. Yes, actually, she was in class that day. I got a note to her, asking her if I could come to the school and talk to her. Yes, she said. I went the next day, and waited for school to get out. And there she was, in a group of kids, her hair was matted, she was a mess. She saw me, and ran to me. I hugged her. She agreed to come home with me. We got her cleaned up and fed. I contacted her parents. She went home. Then I found out that they had institutionalized her. Their insurance company wouldn’t pay for another rehab, so they put her in a mental hospital. I asked her parents if I could see her. They agreed to take me to the hospital. When we got inside, she again ran to me, sobbing. She wrapped herself around me like a koala, and wouldn’t let go. She was begging me not to leave her there. “ Please, Jude. Please. Don’t leave me here. I know I need a rehab, but not this. I’m scared”. The hardest thing I ever had to do in my life was to leave that child there. I lobbied all the way home with her parents, to find another solution for her. When I got home, I laid down on my bed. Sobbing. Devastated. We did find another place for her, a high school for high-risk adolescents. She graduated, and went on to nursing school.

So, somehow, the word spread that I could reach the wounded kids. The kids others had given up on. They found me. One after another. Sometimes, the kids would tell their friends about me, and one of them would call me, and ask for help. I never said no. And I fell in love with each and every one of them. I never saw them as kids. I saw them as baby dragons. Old, powerful souls that were fearless about everything. It was an honor to be trusted by them. And they all healed. I became a minister because of them. I found out that clergy could not be denied access to hospitals and prisons. I figured that was a plus, given what some of them were doing.

These kids all had one thing in common. They all had survived at least one mentally ill, alcoholic, or personality disordered parent. Sometimes both. What I learned was that if they had just one person in their lives that truly cared about them, loved them, they could heal. Sometimes, that one person was me. Now, loving humanity is easy for me. I’m an Empath. But here’s what’s hard for me, which brings me back to the title of this post: Shedding.

I very consciously absorb into myself some of the pain of a client, if I see that they need help processing trauma. That’s not a problem. The problem is that sometimes, I don’t realize that I haven’t let it go. It’s still floating around inside of me, invisible. Last night, I saw a clip from a movie someone had posted. It was brutal. It was a scene of an 8 year old little girl, following her narcissistic father out to his car, begging him to take her with him, while her mother stood back, watching. Knowing what that asshole was going to do. And let the father reject her, and ignore her pleading. And drive away, leaving her sobbing and devastated on the street. Who was the worst parent, the narcissist driving away, or the mother that did nothing to protect her child from the emotional abuse she knew was coming? ( She had been married to him, after all). That scene gutted me. It triggered an avalanche of very specific memories of all of those kids in my practice. Their pain. Their bewilderment. Their tears. Their grief. It was an endless, excruciating loop of traumatized kids playing in my head, complete with sound, color, and vivid detail.  And that’s when I got it. I had absorbed some of that, yes. But until that moment, I had no idea it was ALL STILL IN ME. Son of a bitch. I immediately got to work releasing it. I already feel lighter. I also wanted to smack the living shit out of the characters in the movie.

Snake Medicine is about alchemy. A snake sheds its skin as it grows. For me, the teaching here is about shedding. It’s about the importance of releasing everything that no longer serves us. If we don’t release, we can’t grow the way we need to. We’re going to be stuck in the old skin, constricted by it.

There was no reason for me to have held on to any of that old pain. ( All of those people are adults now, with wonderful lives. I officiated at the weddings of two of them. That brought me incredible joy.) The startling thing is, I had no idea it was still in there, a vast untapped reservoir of other people’s grief. Clearly, this is a soul pattern for me, and for many of us. This is my invitation to change. To immediately release what I have absorbed, after every session. To trust the person’s process. To trust Spirit. To give the best that’s in me in that moment, and trust that it’s enough. I’m ready.

To all of those wonderful souls I had the privilege of working with, I’m so proud of you all. You are fierce and fearless warriors. I’m so honored to have been a part of your journey. You all taught me so much. Be proud of yourself. You’re all miraculous. You humble me. I send you all love. Always. Blessings, Judith

** Kinuko Craft’s painting of the Medusa.**


February Monthly Forecast

February starts with some really good aspects. Saturday, February 2nd has the Moon in Capricorn making two powerful conjunctions, a sextile, and a trine. The conjunctions are to both Saturn and Pluto, two heavy hitters. This is an alignment that brings deep insights, X-ray vision into the subconscious, along with the tenacity to bring old wounds to the surface, to be released and healed. The sextile is to Neptune, the planet of grace and divine love. This is a very high vibe.

2/4 is the New Moon, with the Sun and Moon conjunct in Aquarius. This is a wonderful day for new beginnings. Another good day is 2/7, with the Moon in Pisces. There are several good aspects that day, both to the Sun and the Moon. Other good days are the 10th and 12th, with a number of opportunities for flow.

2/16 is a mixed bag, somewhat challenging, with the Moon in sensitive and nurturing Cancer in opposition to both Saturn and Pluto. This can trigger feelings of fear and insecurity. Or, a desire to walk away from everything. It will pass quickly.

The Sun enters Pisces on 2/18, with the Full Moon on the 19th. Again, a positive vibe, it’s a Supermoon, yes, but it has a lot of support. The Moon trines both Uranus and Mars. This can activate anybody, and get things moving.

The 22nd is also somewhat challenging, with the Moon in Libra, the sign of justice and laws. Any old feelings of being treated unfairly, or of old betrayals may surface to be released. Libra is an Air sign, a part of the Metal Element in Chinese Medicine. It’s about holding on and letting go. Let go of anything that no longer serves you, including an attachment to being right.

The Moon moves into Scorpio on 2/23 and 2/24, both really good days.

The month ends with two more good days, the 27th and 28th, with optimism, and a willingness to change. Take advantage of that.

May February bring you peace, and the beauty you deserve. Blessings, Judith

My Love For Indigenous People

So many of us were horrified by the events in Washington last weekend, with a mob of racist Catholic School boys jeering at a Native elder, and also catcalling young women, calling them horrible things. I don’t need to go into it further, other than to say how disappointing it was to have the parents of one of the boys hire a huge PR firm, Runswitch, owned by a former Karl Rove/Mitch McConnel aide, and commence a media bombardment, shifting all responsibility away from what was clearly a pack of animals. People excusing this behavior because of age, have no understanding of what a Conduct Disorder is. It is the early version of Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is what Trump has been diagnosed with, by many. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it, as it is not biochemical. No, they will not learn from this. No, this is not a teachable moment for them. They are vicious, entitled little creeps, who will grow up into vicious entitled big creeps.

My spiritual journey has been deeply inspired  by Native people. As an Empath, I’ve always had a connection to Earth Mother, and all living things, the Stone People, the Standing People, the Winged Ones, the Four Leggeds. Since childhood, I could communicate with all of them. In my late 30’s, I felt guided to start a drumming circle for women. I did that monthly, for about 13 years. We took donations every month, and sent the money, as well as blankets and food, to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations in the Dakotas, where elders and children were freezing to death. At some point, I had heard about a Seneca elder, Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, the head of the Wolf Clan Teaching Lodge. She lived on a reservation in Buffalo, NY. I contacted her assistant, and made arrangements to drive up to Buffalo to attend a teaching circle. Grandmother allowed us to stay in her home for three days. Grandmother was small, but fierce. She tolerated no disrespect. If she knew you were sincere, and coming from your heart, she would take you under her wing. Her generosity of spirit was incredible. She offered to work with me in the Dreamtime. In fact, I am writing this blog at her direction, since she has continued to work with me after her death. She was a force of nature. She had a white wolf, named Luna, who lived in the house with her. Luna had fleas. I returned home covered in flea bites.

I’ve had the privilege to work with a number of elders from different tribes. None of them cared at all that I was an Anglo. They lived from love and respect for all. No racism, no discrimination. All they cared about was your capacity to love. It was always stunning to me, that people who had been the victims of the largest genocide in human history, could be so compassionate to everyone. No suspicion, no bitterness. I was embraced and taught. It was a stark contrast to my evangelical Christian family, where hell and eternal damnation were the threats of not conforming with their beliefs.

I was given my name by a Lakota Holy Man, a great honor for me. I immediately had my name legally changed. Oh, boy. Try getting a name like THAT through the courts. That was fun. Not. All of the elders were kind, patient, and wise. Again, it was a privilege to work with them, and at times, to be allowed to do healing work on them if they needed it. It would never occur to me to charge an elder for anything, ever. All that I am is theirs.

I’m very aware that there is cultural appropriation that is rampant, especially now with the New Age Movement. I refuse to be a part of that. So much has been stolen from Native people, their land, their way of life, forced onto reservations that are wastelands. The idea of anything else being taken from them sickens me. Seeing that elder, a carrier of the Sacred Pipe, as he was drumming and asking Spirit for guidance and protection for all, was absolutely devastating for me. Seeing him weeping, afterwards, was unreal.

Native people have had every single treaty made with the government, violated. Not one was honored. They have no big P.R. firm to represent them. No politicians stand for them. Once again, we watch as history is rewritten to protect the atrocities of white men against POC, women, and Native people. I am writing this to bear witness to the truth about the ongoing racism and violence perpetrated by white men. We must stop it.

I’ve been blessed to have been taught by some of the most beautiful souls one could ever hope to meet. I refuse to remain silent about any of this. I send my prayers to the spirit realm, where some of my teachers reside now. I send my love. I send my gratitude. And Grandmother, you are always, always in my heart. You are with me, in writing this. I hope you like it. It was for you. Blessings, Rev Judith Star-Medicine “ She Who Heals With Stars”

** Photo Of Grandmother Twylah **