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The Message in Your Experience

By Tiffany A. Dedeaux

As Sacred Time I define wilderness coaching as an empowering process of awareness and action that takes into account the metaphor and experience of nature.  What that means is I understand that when you’re outside what you notice, what is drawn to you, is part of your message in that moment.  Nature as a messenger, a mirror, means that what you come across can tell you more about yourself, your path, or what you may need to think more about.

Mirror, Mirror

Rattlesnake on Lakeshore Trail

In my recent trip hiking along the Lakeshore Trail to Stehekin I encountered a rattlesnake that did

its duty in warning me that I got to close.  I saw the snake as a representation of how I have been responding to challenges lately…warning others when they got to close and striking when I felt threatened.  While I am not yet sure what I may do with this information, part of what I’ve done is recognize that I am mature enough that if I do need to strike it can be a dry bite rather than – as with an immature snake – a venomous strike without much thought behind it.  What have you encountered on your journey in the last week?  The last month?  How does what you’ve encountered relate to your experiences?  How can you use this information to further your goals, your growth, or your understanding of your journey?


This is not the first time that I have reflected on my life with such a prompting.  This is also not the first time that I’ve encountered a rattlesnake.  Two summers ago I watched as my adopted ball python writhed and wriggled and was released from another layer of skin, reminding me – as I had just quested for a life vision – that snakes also represent transformation.  Of all the different ways nature demonstrates transformation what resonated with me was that during my quest my fellow seekers and I had been singing a verse from Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer”:

I kicked the habit (I kicked the habit)

Shed my skin (shed my skin)

This is the new stuff (this is the new stuff)

I go dancing in, (we could go dancing in)

The timely witnessing of Nagini shedding his skin acknowledged the path that I was on and gave me a visual way to look at my quest experience.  By the end of that summer I might have looked the same – minus a few pounds because I had been fasting – but I felt a sense of freedom as if I had shed a layer of the past that had been holding me back.

The Power of Story

During my quest it was not me but another seeker that had a snake encounter.  She nearly stepped on the snake that was sunning itself at the threshold of our base camp.  Her screams and subsequent dance not only drew attention, the experience bonded the group to the point where we told the story to those who were not around.  As the story traveled I began to understand the power of story and that lead me realize that “what we witness becomes a part of our experience, and our experience is our story to tell.”  What is your story to tell and how has nature helped to shape how you see yourself and this journey that you’re on?


Rooted in Water:  The Importance of Story to Ecopsychology and the Beginning of a Practice in Narrative Ecopsychology


Snake Totem

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