11. Richard Catlett Wilkerson,

1. Gathering Venom

I am with a small team of snake venom collectors. We are in the field collecting today. I see a small snake and quickly grab behind its neck. I get the snake but get a bite anyway. I quickly decide to not drop it, but go ahead and extract the venom first. I hold the snake behind its head and put pressure on it, which forces the mouth to stay open. I then put my thumb from my other left hand on the roof of its mouth and press. The venom flows down into a glass beaker. I try not to hurt the snake, but want to make sure its drained. This all happens very quickly. Now I put the snake back and attend to my wound. The knife I have to cut the wound on my arm is very blunt and between worries of waiting too long to deal with the bite, I curse the dull blade and wonder why others aren't offering me a sharper one. I draw out as much blood and venom as I can, spitting it out on the ground. Then I lie down and await the effects of the poison on my body, hoping and wondering if I will make it, whether it will be worse than having a bad flu, and if help is on the way.

2. Gathering Muscles

I notice that I have become way to muscle bound and my joints can barely function. I find the situation humorous, and stumble around like a bloated sailor.


As I look at my dreams in terms of Gathering, the first things that come to me are the dream titles, I couldn't resist these titles as they sprang into my mind. Sticking with them a moment, I see two gatherings, one where muscularity is gathered, the other venom. From the perspective of Muscles, poison is something that is almost the opposite of musculature. At smaller doses, there is a poison that muscles produce whenever they are active, and this is why we get fatigued. At higher levels, like that of venomous snakes, the poison actually deteriorates or dissolves muscles. So in this sense, we have a whole or two incompatibles that create a coincidentia oppositorum, a whole of two things that cannot logically exist in time-space at the same time, but taken together at another level are a pre- configuration of the Self. Thank you CGJ. Bringing this back into the Planetary Dreaming, this dream set is about the new consciousness that is emerging, or the old one that is dying. From the viewpoint of the dying king, the dreamer has been bitten and that particular form of consciousness is about to pass. I often see our society as a big muscle, pushing our way around and producing venom which seeps into the ecology of the 20th Century. We had a time when we nearly became so nuclear that our musclesbound us into stupidity. An so it becomes an important question to any late 20th Century Gathering - how are we collecting venom and muscles, and for what end ?

Back to the dream. From the viewpoint of the venom, it is a natural protection from muscles. Snakes hold their own against huge competitors. Venom has many other uses as well. Psychologically we get at soul more through venom than muscles. Journeys into the underworld often begin after a hero is bitten. Being bitten is a metaphor for possession and linked to the repressed goddesses who in Western civilization appears only as temptresses, whores, witches, crones and hags with their venomous bites that lead muscle downward into ruin. Venom as a word comes from uenenum, meaning love potion, and only later poision.

In the Venom Gathering Dream, there seems to be a price for the Gathering. Is it the death of the old king, or is there a new mythology beginning to emerge ? I know as I grow older and new paradigms emerge that require transformation, I always ask myself if I will survive, or just become an old object in history.

In Ancient Greece, it was a sign of healing to dream of encountering a snake. Asklepios (Latin Aesculapius) has many statures with his staff and snake, and the caduceus has become the modern medical logo. Modern Mythographers like Campbell, Jung, Kerenyi, Eliade and others feel these snakes trace back to a time were we had more contact with serpent energy, Kundalini powers centers where earth and heaven meet, struggle and maintain a vital, soulful connection to life. But we needn't wax nostalgically for lost civilizations to contact soul as the snake may now include in its polyseminal symbolism the dream state itself. Dream recall is venomous. Our dayworld structures are drawn downward and backward into the night. Taboo is no more relevant than Tradition in dreams. Dream knowledge & sharing lends to gatherings a venom that dissolves restricted passages and opens new territory and fields of movement.

Can we extract this poison and survive the transformation? It seems, to my dream, that we can't completely avoid being bit and suffering some of the contact. But the dreamer is not alone. Gathering is not just a collection of objects, but the support of subjects. In the dream there are things that the bitten dreamer must suffer alone, but other things, like a sharp blade of another member, may be shared. Also, as a friend pointed out to me, I am doing more fearing than suffering in this dream. Its true, but I pointed out that I was also not a panicky as I could have been, and finished the task of venom extraction before being overwhelmed with self concerns.

An so, the venom gathered from this dream is the sharing of dream world itself which offers us not so much a safe haven but a re-connection to a future that we have not yet traveled but have always know existed. For me this would be our personal, cultural and global journey into the 21st Century and next millennium. Much of the Net activity has been a trial run for this, concern with unique individual projects, non-hierarchical politics, wide dissemination of information, radical democratics, community efforts, global thinking, ecological awareness, peer/partnership paradigms and the freedom to express and unfold oneself in new, yet unheard of ways. Venom awareness will also include the making of the 21st Century Soul. Poisonous to willful and repressive structures, the venom will be the love potion of the 21st Century Gathering.

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