When I was around twenty-one, I paid rent to live in a self-contained room in a house. The bathroom was separate, but all the kitchen equipment was in the room. The room was on the second floor and had a beautiful view across a green hill and a couple of fields.
I had a wooden, carved snake. A cobra I think. I bought it from an ethnic African store on the High Street of some town in London - it could have been Richmond. It was a couple of feet tall. I’ve always loved snakes – they’re one of my totem animals (a guardian one in fact, but that’s a post for another day). I placed this snake beside my door, inside my room. It was, to my mind, the guardian of the door – I often told myself this jokingly, and I would usually give it a pat on the head when I left the room before locking the door behind me.
I’m sure we all have small, slightly daft things like this we do, that don’t really mean a lot at face value, but we do them anyway for whatever reason that might be. Sports people are well known for having little rituals before a game or a match – it focuses and balances the mind; it makes you feel better, too. Actors will say “break a leg” before each theatre performance, and so on.
Patting the head of my snake before leaving the house was my little thing.
One day, I was on a train heading to somewhere I can’t remember now, but I was going to be out all day, and I remembered, with a sinking heart, that I had forgotten to lock my door.
Now, this was a room where one of the neighbours – a man in his mid-thirties – had walked in by “accident” before. He then apologised, saying he thought it was his room and he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going. (It was the middle of the day, and I hadn’t locked the door because I was awake and busy, and I didn’t see the need.) I was never truly sure if I believed it was an accident – not least because I had been stalked before by someone who did intentionally break into my bedsit (a different one) a couple of years before this.
Regardless of whether it was an accident or not, I didn’t want it to happen again, and I had always made sure the door was locked from then on, even during the day when I was in.
So remembering I had not locked the door, while on this train, made me feel quite upset. There was nothing I could do. Except there was something I could do…
I closed my eyes, and went into that dream state (like meditation) I’ve always been very good at slipping into, and I focused all my energy on my wooden snake that guarded the door. In my mind, something similar to a “spell” formed, and I concentrated my intention on the snake, speaking to it in my mind and willing it to guard the door and attack any intruder who might enter.
I did this for at least five minutes; maybe ten. Time is never something I’m properly aware of when I’m in this state. In my mind, I was feeling for the right time to pull back and end the trance – I wanted to be sure the “spell” - my intention – was fully complete before I pulled myself out.
There was a very loud CRACK to my left that made me jump right out of my dream state with a gasp. I looked to my left, and the entire window pane next to my seat (I was in the window seat of the train) had been shattered by something, and the glass had formed a pattern across the whole pane: tiny diamond-like shapes stretching from one side to the other that looked very much like snakeskin.
That was the answer I was looking for. The logical explanation, of course, is that a tiny stone, or piece of grit had flown up from the track, caught the glass pane at a specific angle (at that exact moment) and caused it to crack.
To my mind, however, the other, metaphysical explanation was also one hundred percent valid: my snake had answered my call, and the spell was done.
Which is the “correct” explanation? The answer is both – they are both correct. Because, as the saying goes among witches, “as above, so below”. We live on the material plane and everything that is “other” is connected to it. The scientist will find logic for the artist’s art (even if the artist does not need it), and the artist will find a spirit for the scientist’s experiment (even if the scientist does not need it).
I long for the day we can – as a collective – accept and appreciate this about each other without disagreeing and arguing. We all walk the same path, just from different sides of the track, and as far as I’m concerned, both explanations – both viewpoints – can exist in complete harmony. As with all things, acceptance is the key.
Whichever view you lean towards, my intention to protect my home came to fruition. The rest of that day went well. I accepted my spell had worked and I let it go, forgetting about my unlocked door (no longer “unlocked” to my mind), and when I came back home, everything was in order, no one had been in my space, and none of my items were missing. Perhaps everything would have been fine anyway, but that wasn't the point - the point was my well-being and balanced state of mind. We can always help ourselves, even if we think ourselves helpless. Many laugh at the thought of "prayer", but prayer with intention is very similar to what this was - if done right, it is energy focused and directed. The power of the mind is phenomenal and the second greatest tool we have as human beings. (The first is the ability to love.)
My wooden snake … I can’t fully remember what happened to it. I think it broke at some point over the past twenty years and went to wooden-effigy heaven (yes, that’s a joke). I didn’t feel particularly sad about it because I don’t believe items hold power on their own – only the power we give to it – but writing this down has made me think it would be nice to get another snake.
Perhaps this time, I’ll get a real one.