Winding up the Year of the Snake

Hello Fellow Pilgrims 🙂

At last I have finished my BA in Japanese at Curtin University and I’m looking forward to returning to my role as a Buddhist priest and counsellor, renewing my acquaintance with you and continuing our journey together. Although in many countries where the Gregorian calendar is used the New Year has already past, according to the traditional lunar calendar, we are now in the last phase of the Year of the Snake before the New Year of the Wooden Horse, which starts on February 4th. Although I have shed my University-student skin, I am still very much the student and I would like to continue to share with you the teachings that are bestowed on me.

I have now set up a website, several blogs that cover my various and eclectic interests, and a Facebook page where I will be coordinating my work, writing, teaching, counselling, services, classes, etc.
Facebook: Wabi’an page and Cate Kodo Juno page – I’m a newbie to this, so please be patient with me as I follow the learning curve to understanding how this works 🙂
Buddhist Astrology (based on the almanacs of Japanese Buddhist astrology)
The Temple Kitchen (about shojin Buddhist vegetarian cuisine)
Kuan Yin Oracles (applying the oracles to everyday life with one oracle per month)

Sacred white snake in Japan

Sacred white snake in Japan

The Year of Snake is very much about shedding skins and beginning anew – how was it for you? I had a very auspicious sign on the eve of the first day of the New Year: I was driving home after having watched the sun go down over the Indian Ocean and toasting the old year with my husband, when across the width of the road there seemed to be a banking of white sand. It had been raining and often the sand gets washed over the road in wave-like ripples. But my husband suddenly cried out, “Stop!” And as I jammed on the brakes, we both watched in awe as an enormous albino carpet python continued its path across the road into Yalgorup National Park, adjacent to where we live. We had never seen anything like it! In Japan, a white snake is considered to be the incarnation of Kannon (Kuan Yin) and a sighting of a white snake is said to be harbinger of good fortune. What an auspicious beginning to the Year of the Snake!

We hadn’t seen a snake on our block for several years because Russell has been keeping the long grass cut and the ground clear. However, in November, we were just going to bed and Russell was about to open the bedroom window when, to our great surprise, we encountered a large brilliantly coloured carpet python climbing up the window frame. Although we are quite happy to have a resident carpet python in roof cavity, where they keep away any rodents (there was one in our bunkhouse for some years), I didn’t really want to have one living in the bedroom! Russell manoeuvred it out the window and encouraged it into the garden.

Wargyl eggs = thrombolites

Wargyl eggs = thrombolites

Now at the end of the year, we have found that there is a large dugite snake living under Wabi’an. Although dugites are poisonous, they are very timid and avoid human contact, so as long as I stomp up the path and let it know I’m coming each day, I’m not at all worried about it. In fact, according to the Buddhist tradition in Japan, it is very auspicious to have a snake living in a temple because they are considered incarnations of protector deities. My home temple in Koyasan has a large snake that tends to curl up near the fire altar in cold weather because it’s warm. Furthermore, Wabi’an has been acknowledged by a Nyungar elder as a site that is sacred to the Wargyl, the Rainbow Serpent. It is said that the Wargyl traced a path that goes under Wabi’an, from the estuary to the east to the shore of Lake Clifton, where she laid her eggs. These eggs are known today as thrombolites, the oldest living organisms on our planet. So I feel very blessed to have these associations with the Wargyl and Kannon emerging in the Year of the Snake.

What will the Year of the Horse hold? I’ll talk more about the signs for the Horse in a future entry in my Buddhist Astrology blog.

12 thoughts on “Winding up the Year of the Snake

  1. Hi Cate! That was a wonderful read, this past year of the snake has been amazing for shedding away alot of issue holding me back, I loved reading about your resident snakes too and the positioning of Wabi’an, makes sense xx

    • Hi Sha 🙂
      Lovely to hear from you and to hear that the year’s snake energy has helped you to move forward. I’m looking forward to hearing more – pop round any time for a cuppa x

  2. Dearest Cate….my third attempt to send this to you 🙂 something about my password etc sigh.
    I seem to recall your having met another special white snake in the forests of your beloved Japan. It’s no wonder you see such wonderous signs…yep I’m going to have to say it 🙂 ….because you are such a Blessing 🙂
    Born in the year of the Water Snake you would imagine I’d be quite comfy with a Python in my room… would hear me screaming from Wabi’an!!!
    Last year I was sitting quietly enjoying a cuppa out in the back patio when I ‘felt’ a snake. A little dugite was hanging halfway out of an opening to the shed just feet from my head! The vibrations I emmitted must have almost killed the poor little darling. It’s one of a handful I’ve seen here. The neighbours must think I’ve gained an awful lot of weight the way I stomp to the washing line 🙂
    It’s so fabulous that you will be sharing your wisdom and words with us again Cate. And your new format is brilliant…even this little techno primitive can navigate it.
    Sorry I could’nt answer your email. Little box playing up. All is well though and thankyou for your wonderful Birthday Blessings…received with love and returned with Love xx Gabi

    • Thank you for kind comments Gabi – yes, the white snake that crossed our pilgrimage path at Temple 26, Ichijoji, was certainly an awe-full experience and according to the priest there, the snake was a very rare vision of a manifestation of Kannon, which Russell and I were blessed to encounter.
      I didn’t realise you were born in the Year of the Water Snake – that makes your birthday very special indeed 🙂 You are now “born” again as the next cycle commences – I pray that blessings rain down upon your beautiful self and you continue your radiant presence in this world in good health and joy xx

  3. Thank you Cate for returning to us. Nearly 5 years ago you carried my prayers for my husband to the temple of Kuan Yin. My husband has since “shed his skin” and passed away. In the year 2016, to celebrate both my and Raoul’s 70th birthdays I am taking some of his ashes on the Shikoku Trail. Thank you for your inspiration.

    • Thank you Patricia for your poignant sharing – what a wonderful idea to take his ashes to the Shikoku pilgrimage. The temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage are all associated with Kobo Daishi, the founding saint of the Shingon sect of Buddhism that I am ordained in. The Shikoku pilgrimage works with masculine energy and is considered the essential twin of the Kannon pilgrimage, which represents the feminine. So there is an important link with that pilgrimage where I originally took your prayers. By the way, I really love how you said that your husband “shed his skin” – how eloquent and true 🙂

  4. Hi Cate

    Congratulations on finishing your BA….all that hard work and dedication will bring you great rewards…..See the snakes think so too.

    It is lovely to have your blogs back

    The very best wishes for 2014

    Lots of love


  5. Hi Cate,
    I too congratulate you on your academic accomplishment. I have a beautiful snakeskin hanging on my art studio wall right now to remind me of renewal. Thanks for the post.

  6. Hi Cate
    How wonderful that you’ve successfully completed your studies and congratulations in mastering the complexities of the language of the holy texts. This was a huge undertaking.
    I’ve loved hearing your positive interpretations on snakes and the year of the snake as our family was blessed last October with the arrival of twin snakes, Lucy and Felix. They are thriving and as a little aside, remember how our little group in 2008 kindly prayed for my yet to be born grand daughter in Melbourne? Well tomorrow she starts school.
    Wishing you a happy year of the horse and I look forward to sharing your beautiful photography and wisdom.

    • Thank you Laurel for your kind thoughts. That’s wonderful news about Lucy and Felix! And how time flies – it only seems like yesterday that we were on pilgrimage together, praying for that little miracle and now she’s starting school – wonderful!

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