Red Serpent Tribe
In Mayan: Chicchan
Right big toe
Action: Survive Power: Life Force Essence: Instinct
Antipode (opposite and balancing energy) to Blue Eagle
Analog (support and similar energy) to White Wizard
Occult Power (mystical, magical energy) to Yellow Warrior
Guide to some in the Red Dragon, Red Moon, Red Skywalker and Red Earth tribes
Red Serpent is one of the 20 archetypes to be celebrated by the Maya in their Tzolkin sacred count. The 20 day signs are represented on our fingers and toes, and the journey through their images tells a creation mythology. Each of us is born on a day of the Tzolkin, and belong accordingly to one of the 20 ‘tribes’ and its teachings. We may embody the ancient icon described in the Mayan stellae – the stone carvings of their temples – or relate to the modernized language of the Tzolkin as channeled by Dr. Jose Arguelles. Through emersion in the calendar count, we can find our own correlations between self and the core images of the day signs. By meditating on the words, images, and our own perceptions of Tzolkin birth energy, we can find another awakening to ourselves and how we relate to the world.
Red Serpent is shown on the Mayan glyph as a simple snake, scales and slit eyes and a curiously full mouth. The picture is a reminder that Red Serpent – devoid of limbs and many internal organs – is reduced to oral pleasure and a skin-on-earth sensitivity to its environment. In other animals eyes take in the whole panorama of sky and sea, are night vision-keen, but for a snake they are barely of aid in survival. A Red Serpent has to orient its life to subterfuge in rock crags, tunnels under tree roots and commits to camouflage tones or the stillest undulations when in open space. Its sight is secondary and reserved for peripheral glances against predators – so Red Serpent is not distracted by the big picture goings on that occupy roaming mammals, birds in flight and humankind. Instead, Red Serpent commits its entire life experience to a sensual reality – determining its whereabouts, its alternating security and vulnerability, by rubbing against it directly with bared skin. No bones – no rib cage – confine or shield it from open exposure. So Red Serpent comes with poisonous emissions of self-defense, a threatening hood or rattle, and the flickering tongue that tastes the atmosphere for threatening odors and open air.
When we are Red Serpent, we are as reduced to sinew and sensual instinct, and life tracks slow – in the dirt, a squiggling serpentine path. We feel less for the lack of heart tremors, instead grapple with alternating hunger and digestion, resting when we are full-bellied because we can’t move while we synthesize the lump of our kill. And we do kill – are cold-blooded in instinctual survival appetites. We sink our fangs and stun with toxin, then swallow whole our prey and use the caloric energy to continue the simplest existence of getting by. Snakes don’t nest or live consciously in a tribal network. Their allegiance is to themselves and the land mass they undulate over. A Red Serpent’s orientation is ascetic, remote, paralleling the journey into the desert for easiest alignment with divinity. All civilization – culture – is removed to limit life to the elements and skin, an energy surge ringing between.
Red Serpent is medicine as much as poison. A snake will modulate its excretion to paralyze its prey – aware that there is only so much potent venom available in their glands. The snakebite is often lethal, but in this metaphor death is not the end. When Red Serpent floods poison, they are reorienting their victim into strength: what does not kill us makes us stronger, and the deadly aspect is simply another avenue of release. We are flushed with venom and our own antibodies seek to stabilize us – full engagement of life force. We are so rigorous in a natural defense response that we are charged with energy, arising, challenging the invasion and working the toxin to the surface and out.
The important aspect of Red Serpent time, of Red Serpent people, is the picture of a snake biting its own tail, a circle completed in place of a straight, stagnant line. Red Serpent is its own best company, and for that also inflicts itself with a poisonous but medicinal influence. The snakebite and its venom instigate greater life force – chi energy. A Red Serpent’s life path is alternately faltering from paralyzing or near-death experiences, then – in the face of such extreme danger, risk and challenge – overcoming the odds and obstacles and vigorously rising into full recovery. The poison is ultimately the empowerment, but only after dark days in the struggle against death’s pull and potency. Red Serpent people are masterful at tasting the ills, their acute sense of smell pulling them toward the scent and succor of overdoses and excess. On the other hand, they can survive these winding ways through experimentation, extremism, because they are so focused on instinctual survival and not emotional currents or spiritual aims.
Red Serpent’s strength within our human culture is this stamina, but its charm is its sublime sensuality. While mankind has sought to separate itself from primal imagery – nudity, overt sexuality, polyamory, tribal ritual that reveals the body as animal instead of refined – Red Serpent people are comfortable being throwbacks to a more natural state of liberation. They feel everything through their flesh, muscles tissue, skin pores – are spineless within social paradigms but visceral, vital when allowed to be wild and free. Red Serpent moves slowly and never on a straight line, but it feels every curve of its undulation, lives to be lithe and uncharted, alone. For the sacrifice of not being community-oriented, Red Serpent has the innate ability to connect deeply through its open physiology, one-on-one and skin-to-skin. Entirely phallic, Red Serpent seeks a safe enclosure to tunnel within, and has an unparalleled sensitivity to the portals it enters. It awakes to life through its external boundaries, is more alive at the surface than in its interior core. Nothing is hidden or held back, and likewise nothing is buried inside except the last, dissolving kill. The truth, too, is that Red Serpent is selfless even for this aggressive predatory edge: whatever it digests dilutes into its cells, and whatever it rubs against on the trail – rock, sand, stream – is as much taken into its being through osmosis. Red Serpent is solitary, powerfully self-slithering, but also describes its own existence through what it touches: I am this desert, this dust.
A Red Serpent has a venomous threat, a commanding charge in its focused, simple line – but it’s not a complicated presence and need not be a foe. Instead Red Serpent people and passages of time offer us the clearest picture of our life’s work – a wending back into primal instinct and the urges for sensual stimulation. This is sex, surely, at its most basic form of longing and lust – but as much it’s the awareness that our human form is more serpentine than a bird in flight, an elongation out of a four-legged crouch. When we rise vertically as a channel between earth and sky, we are stretched to sensitivity, sharing the Red Serpent’s appetite for simplicity and survival. We are not debased to sexual desire – we are just not distracted from it. We feel the energy vibration between the cosmos and the earth’s core, and this kundalini shimmering awakens our bodies, inviting us to transmute the divine rush to sensual exchanges with others. We don’t reach for them, as Red Serpent, because we can’t. Nothing is kept at an arm’s length, one foot out the door. In Red Serpent time we are bound by our body shape to get close, our stretched length against another’s. And then the snake’s natural undulation – a precursor to the movement of lungs or bloodstream – begins.
Red Serpent’s action – its direction in life – is to survive. Red Serpent’s animal nature is to protect its own vulnerability through venomous self-defense. It coils its length tightly to demonstrate mass, and bares fangs, spreads its hood or rattles to indicate fierceness. Red Serpent people also have this show of faux largesse that masks the true empowerment of a vital survival skill that wins by being deadly to others. The shadow side of Red Serpent’s survival is when its self-preservation is ensured only by impeding others, an act of vampirism. The positive Red Serpent survival mechanism is the opposite of death and draining others of their power: the sexuality we procreate with is the base means of continuing our existence. So Red Serpent has the deathly bite but also the sensual appetite to draw us together in passion, procreation and the release of tension, into exuberance. We survive not only through self-defense but also sexual highs of elemental interconnection.
Red Serpent’s power – its offering to strengthen us in turn – is life force. Again, life force can mean one’s survival bent over another: paralyzing prey, being the last one alive. This is the harsh part of reptilian instinct – cold-hearted and dispassionate. But any sojourn in Red Serpent energy, and among Red Serpent people, has the opposite, too, of this cool reserve and self-preservation. The hot sweat of base sexuality – hard to speak of culturally but energizing to our hearts, bodies – forces us out of our minds, our spiritual visioning and into the lower chakras – the power centers that fuel all the higher consciousness. We are lifeless when we shut down our sexual desire, trying to rise to eagle height and its big picture outlook. We gather life force from the earth, all those seismic tremors recreated in sensual stimulation and orgasmic release, and our snake aspect is how we commune with the goddess and her cycles through seeding, fruition and dissolution into decay. When we embrace Red Serpent, we are assured a full life experience with its aches of loss – the skin layer shed – and renewal. Our sexuality winds along the serpentine path and touches us in ecstasy and sometimes agony, owing to the soft vulnerability of our vital organs.
Red Serpent has the essence of instinct, and in everyday experience this means clairsentient skill – the ability to feel energy in situations, if not having intuitive visions. A thin skin means high sensitivity, and the snake can read moods and energy vibrations, can respond with self-defense to dark emissions or relax into bright light. There’s no thought involved, or memory to draw from. It’s rather about the moment at hand and what levels of ease or tension it holds. Red Serpent people use their sensitivity to stay safe, and to enjoy the simplicity of sidewinding between danger and havens of peace.
Red Serpent is antipodal, opposite, to Blue Eagle, and this is always a clear relationship of stark difference. While Red Serpent lives in the lower chakras – digestion, procreation, rooting to earth – Blue Eagle is in the skies of our bodies and being. Blue Eagle is vision from above, and Red Serpent is only the below itself without any capacity to experience a broader expanse. Together Red Serpent and Blue Eagle create the plumed serpent deity Quetzalcoatl, their duality synthesized into a sacred whole. Red Serpent forces Blue Eagle to land, settle out of its skyward arc and be vulnerable to the hardships on earth. This hands-on teaching makes a more compassionate bird’s eye view when it’s time, once more, to rise above surface life towards the heavens.
Red Serpent is analogous, supported by White Wizard. Snake venom is notoriously useful to medicine men, is the antidote to stronger ills. The White Wizard uses snake medicine for the most potent enchantment, that call to a frail body to overcome ache or injury and revitalize its own life force. Red Serpent in turn is supported by the reverence White Wizard offers – other animals are afraid or inclined to attack, but the shaman healer bows to the snake’s empowerment and asks, in faith, to share its medicine. In modern symbolism, we see the most sterile version of this relationship in the entwined snake emblem of Western medical practice. These doctors routinely save lives by offering antidotes to greater ailment, small poisons to combat large scale infection.
Red Serpent has a mystical, occult relationship to Yellow Warrior. A snake spends its life weaving in and out of self-defense postures and imitating, as best it can, a hard veil or shell. When it is certain of safety, it can be listless, loose – not coiled but stretched long. A Yellow Warrior is trained to be hard, unyielding in battle, but behind the shield and armor is the frail human with only thin bones as protection. The Red Serpent informs the warrior with mysticism – that instinct to survive, to transcend the grim death presence and emit stronger, enduring life force. But after the battle, when it’s time to return to the tribe the Yellow Warrior works to protect, another aspect of life force takes hold: passion, procreation, rest and revitalization. This snake medicine gifts the warrior with a home to defend.
If you are guided Red Serpent, you are drawn to self-expression through sensuality, sexual appetites, and sometimes that coiled strike. You are led by your lower chakras, instinct instead of higher-mind intuiting, and feel energy as it arrives in your space. You are alternately inclined to loose-limbed ease – bare bodied, opened to the sun – or a tight wind of self-defense. Being alone doesn’t feel lonely as much as the simplest way, but you are absolutely invigorated by the passionate interconnection of primal touch. Much of the time, you feel the easiest avenue through life would be to lie down – and of course this works against the cultural paradigm of vertical arising. Be confident in your alignment with the earth.
Red Serpent people:
Rainer Maria Rilke – Red Magnetic Serpent
George Washington – Red Lunar Serpent
Madeleine L’Engle – Red Electric Serpent
Bob Geldof – Red Self-Existing Serpent
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Red Overtone Serpent
Roy Orbison – Red Rhythmic Serpent
Django Reinhardt – Red Resonant Serpent (portal)
Lucille Ball – Red Galactic Serpent
Shakti Gawain – Red Solar Serpent (portal)
Barbara Kingsolver – Red Planetary Serpent
Sophia Loren – Red Spectral Serpent
Paris Hilton – Red Crystal Serpent
Marlon Brando – Red Cosmic Serpent