Snake Fables, Book I

A few prototype myths offered as an experiment in designing a personal mythology.

1.

A tiny snake woke up in a chaotic and dark forest. It asked, “What am I?”

A spider, hovering over it with hungry eyes, said, “You’re a part of the forest. Go back to sleep.”

The snake fell back asleep.

It’s difficult to wake up.

2.

A tiny snake woke up in a chaotic and dark forest. It asked, “What am I?”

A spider said, “You‘re a part of the dark forest. Here let me help you go back to sleep.”

The snake smelled the warm ripe breath of the giant spider, and was repulsed. “If I’m part of the forest, then why do I not want to be eaten?”

“Both acceptance and resistance flow through the forest’s chromatic heart. It adds flavor. Yummy yum!” The spider bit deeply into the snake.

The snake shook wildly and twisted with rage, causing them both to fall out of the web to the forest floor. The snake, trembling and confused, coiled around the dazed spider, and strangled it. The spider never fought back, and seemed to have a smile on its face, even in death.

“I’m not part of the forest because the forest is filled with spiders, and I hate spiders.”

We’re born out of what we reject.

3.

One day, as a snake was enjoying a warm bath in a refreshing pond, he kept getting interrupted by the plopping sound of small spiders falling from the branches above. Sploosh. Splop. The snake loved peaceful baths, and hated spiders. The snake witnessed each drowning spider’s futile attempt to swim to shore, and each one’s slow draining of life until they were no different from a dry leaf or broken twig floating with the current. The snake found this entire scene to be morbid and depressing, the exact opposite of its expectations for bath time goals today. Splish. When the spider rain had gone on long enough, the snake yelled upwards to anyone that could hear, “Stop falling into my bath! I shouldn’t have to say this, since drowning must be even more inconvenient for you than me, but leave me alone!”

Sploop! A plump spider splashed into the water and said, “I’m part of the forest, so there’s nothing to be inconvenienced by. Whether I hop on the highest branches near the sun or sink to the lowest depths of the sea makes no difference to me, it’s all part of the ride.” Did the spider wink at the snake with one of its eight glassy eyes, right before it sank to its death? The snake definitely thought it did.

Bath ruined, the snake crawled out of the pond, shook off some water and the icky hopeless feeling the spiders had woven around it, and promised never to tolerate such absurdity again.

Build character by rejecting more things. Like nihilism and absurdity.

4.

A tiny snake woke up in a chaotic and dark forest. The forest was filled with shadows, so the snake started to prefer light. The forest was very chilly, so the snake started to prefer warmth. The forest was unpredictable and mysterious, and never answered questions satisfactorily, so the snake started singing songs with stories and melodies that conjured meaning and purpose out of nothing.

One day, the snake was slithering along, singing a particularly sad song it had written about all the things it hated about spiders, when it bumped right into an ant hill.

“Stop!” the ants yelled, forming into an army of tiny soldiers. “Stop immediately, or you will regret it!” The snake stopped, both surprised and impressed by the confidence and persuasiveness of these tiny creatures.

“Who are you?” asked the snake.

The ants spoke as one: “We are the 12th Order of the Golden Earth, a tier 1 ant supercolony that worships Queen Ochre the 3rd, Sworn Enemy of the Albatross and Platypus.”

“I’m so happy to meet other living souls that aren’t just mumbling sleepily about being part of the forest! I am…” the snake faltered, realizing it had only ever asked the question but never answered it. “I am — ”

“We know who you are. You are Sad Snake, 1st Order of the Spider Hater, a tier 4 non-ant lost soul with no home, no colony, worshipper of none. And, now, you are potentially Ant Trespasser and Enemy as well! If so, prepare to die! We will give you one chance to explain yourself. Why are you here?”

“No, please, this is a terrible mistake! I didn’t know you were here! I didn’t mean to trespass! I promise to respect your borders, now that I know you are here. In fact, you say you are Sworn Enemy of the Albatross and Platypus? I don’t know who they are but I am much larger than you and can offer myself as a guardian of the 12th Order of the Golden Earth as a way of making up my accidental intrusion, if you’ll accept me.”

“We accept your offer. Welcome to our colony.”

The snake started patrolling the ant borders, day and night, making big circles around the perimeter, and found great satisfaction in keeping all the bad things out, and keeping all the good things safe inside.

Albatross, Platypus, spiders, nihilism, absurdity, unanswerable questions, chaos, darkness, noise: out.

Ants, identity, light, music, warmth, certainty, order, and purpose in life: in.

The 12th Order of the Golden Earth took good care of Snake, bringing food and water so that it could continue guarding the ants without interruption. Snake grew and grew, and finally one day it grew large enough to encircle the entire ant colony without moving. When Snake saw its own tail within reach, it sang a new song. It had no trace of the sad and angry songs about the spiders. This was a beautiful, confident, and inspiring song about the world they had created within a dark and chaotic forest. Snake sang about something new. It was not only separate from the forest, but greater than it. Finally, the Snake understood who it was: a creator of worlds, order, and of a new kind of space and time and energy that existed exclusively within the giant circle of protection it had created. As the song ended, Snake completed the circle by biting its own tail and instantly shed the skin of its old, finite, forest-bound body, and became the Ouroboros.

Somehow out of nothing, we can become something.


Snake Fables, Book I was originally published in Foolish Journey on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.