Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Feathered (Plumed)Serpent

Gouache Painting. "The Feathered Serpent Climbs the Tree of Life--Daystars

Serpents, as symbols of wisdom and transformation, have been found in nearly all ancient cultures. Serpent-power refers to the kundalini energy said to lie sleeping at the base of the spine. It rises up the spine (the tree of life) usually through specific meditation practices or dance. The rising of the kundalini brings ecstatic awareness and enlightenment. Serpents are often identified with the feminine principle and call up the matriarchal roots of modern, patriarchal culture. In this painting the feathered serpent climbs the tree of life. This could symbolize ecstatic awareness.

In Mexico, the feathered serpent refers to the mythological and historical priest-king called Quetzalcoatl. He was a culture bringer, magician and said to be an enlightened being who was against harming others. At least one king held the title of the "the Quetzalcoatl" and it seems there were other emanations of Quetzalcoatl. It was probably a priesthood. One emanation is said to be buried at Tule, Oaxaca under the 2000 year old "Tule" tree--a tree of life.

Quetzalcoatl (the priest-king) was tricked by his brother, broke a taboo and had to leave his home at Tollan. He and his followers visited many parts of Mexico teaching people crafts, language, spiritual practices, and agriculture. In the Gulf of Mexico near Veracruz he sailed into the unknown and turned into the morning star. He predicted his return to the same place in the year 1 Reed....the year Cortes arrived. Many thought Cortes was Quetzalcoatl. That is why Cortes was welcomed at first.

Once in my travels while visiting Walpi (Hopi Mesa) where the serpent has important ritual significance, I was showing these images to my guide, a young woman. She said there is a Hopi prophecy--"when the feathered serpent climbs the tree of life,......" Before she could finish the statement another guide interrupted our conversation. I suppose it is secret information. I wonder if anyone can finish that sentence.

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