November 18, 2020

Medicine of the Scorpion: How we can Transform in Moments of Conflict.

I’d only had one cup of coffee before sunrise when I saw the large scorpion on the kitchen wall.

I spotted the fly swatter on the counter and my first thought was to kill it.

I’d been stung earlier in the summer on my index finger when moving a salt rock lamp. The glass-sharp and electric pain traveled up my arm, through my armpit and shoulder, stiffened my neck, and tingled onto my sinuses. My arm was paralyzed for hours and waves of pain swallowed me throughout that night. I was brought to tears uncountable times. So, my instinct to kill the big scorpion pre-dawn was understandable.

I eyed the swatter again and asked myself, “Who are you now? Who have you become?”

I decided to catch it, though it meant the scorpion would be out of my sight while I gathered the materials. I found a clear plastic cup and a credit card bill. The scorpion shrunk and its tail coiled as I scraped it off the wall and into the cup. It suddenly looked so small and vulnerable.

My heart was racing as I took it outside to release it. Om Mani Padme Hum was the prayer that I offered it.

There are defining moments when we remember who we are amidst the fear. There is skill in those tenuous moments that seems not to be our own. Even with the memory of pain, we reach with the same hands toward the stinger, only to transport instead of destroy it.

I’d been studying mindfulness training intensively for the last three months with the aid of an online course. I’d been given steps to be with my thoughts in a new way. The essence is to name the thought, stay with it so that the cycling story can stop, contemplate the underlying need, and nurture the suffering self. Be with one thought long enough so that there is resolve through understanding.

An old friend had challenged me over the weekend. Even after our time together was over, I was still replaying our conversations and judging her. I was annoyed and had decided that maybe we wouldn’t be friends anymore given our competitive personalities.

I looked up the meaning of the scorpion in my medicine cards and there was an immediate resonance. Discord, deception, disagreement, and defensiveness—something has to give. Scorpion signifies that transformation is imminent. I went for a long morning walk.

The moon was still in the sky, getting ready to set behind the clouds and mountains. It was 70 degrees and I had hours to wander the hills before going to work.  The brisk walking was loosening me up and the thoughts were streaming. I worked with the judgment and went through the method out loud.

The salve at the end of the process was a proclamation, and I spontaneously threw my arms out to the side as I said it. I made myself laugh, so I did it again. From my chest, I opened my arms like wings and yelled, “Make my heart space big enough!” It became my mantra, and I embodied it at the top of each hill.

The dried hillside was illuminated as the breeze waved through it. Lately, on my walks, the wild grasses bring me immediately into presence. I can be chewing on thoughts and the tawny grass stops my mind. I grabbed a handful, placed the blades to my nose, and with a deep inhale, I smelled the sweet earth. All I could feel was gratitude.

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Katie Munger  |  Contribution: 4,085

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