A man who used to hunt rattlesnakes related to me some of his hunting experiences. He said that one way to gather his prey was to pound on the ground with a wooden post. The percussive impacts would vibrate through the surrounding soil and draw the snakes to him. He once did this in an area more heavily populated with snakes than he originally anticipated. In a short time he discovered, concerningly, that he was being approached by snakes in every direction.
In another adventure he had a rattle snake in a tight grip with his fist just below the snake’s head. However, the snake was stronger and more clever than he anticipated, and was slowly but steadily powering its way through his grip trying to create sufficient space for a deadly strike. He had to keep putting one fist over the other to immobilize the rattler’s head until his hunting partner could kill it.
The uniting theme of both these stories is that of the hunter becoming the hunted. Nature has ways of protecting herself. She tolerates humankind’s arrogance up to a point and then puts us back in our place. When we overwork and don’t protect the soil we get dust storms and drought. When we engage in poor mining practices or pesticide use we poison our water supplies. When we overuse antibiotics we develop evermore deadly strains of bacteria.
This same dynamic applies to your relationship with your psyche. Itself a part of nature, the psyche is a living force that can turn upon the ego like snakes upon a snake hunter. The ego has the freedom to pursue a path at odds with that of the larger personality, or psyche, but not with impunity. The face that we turn toward the psyche is the face mirrored back to us. Disregard the psyche, deny its existence, seek to control or suppress it and you will eventually encounter its dark side.
Much of Western medicine involves a strong-armed approach to illness: powerful drugs and a heavy reliance on surgery, for example. Sometimes these methods are necessary, even life-saving. Oftentimes they are not. Not infrequently we try to beat the psyche into submission rather than hear what it has to say, what it’s trying to tell us. This is illustrated in the emphasis placed on chemicals for the treatment of psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Finding your path of healing through a physical or mental illness can be challenging. It is important to take stock of your own instincts and intuition and not just the mainstream, establishment viewpoint of how to address an issue.
Here’s hoping that your conscious goals align with those of your soul, and that your psyche has not purchased a hunting tag for your ego.