I was reading this bit and came to yet another use of the phrase “the land of milk and honey” and I remember how confused I was by that as a child.
I was a pretty literal kid sometimes, and so when they said a land flowing with milk and honey, I imagined exactly that. Like streams, but instead of water there was creamy white milk and rich golden honey. A pretty image for sure, but incredibly impossible. It also didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. I mean, I liked milk and I liked honey but I didn’t see what would be so great about either of them. I mean, there were so many other wonderful things.
Of course, now I see milk and honey as symbolic and meaningful in the context of an incredibly harsh ecosystem. What do you need to produce milk? Healthy flocks or herd, with land fertile enough for grazing. What do you need for honey? Bees that feed on pollen, which means an environment suitable for growing crops. To have milk and honey, then, is to have abundance.
But sometimes in my head, I still kind of picture streams of milk and honey.
Moving on from that, we come to the bronze serpent that cures those bit by the serpent. First up: nifty bit of sympathetic magic.
Second: Interesting metaphor. So, serpents have shown up before having to do with both temptation and knowledge. So a land full of poisonous serpents could also be a land full of poisonous (or opposing) ideas.
But what’s really interesting is the cure. Because the cure is yet another serpent. That you must look at. The thing about temptation is we like to pretend that we don’t know it’s there. What, me? Tempted? ::whistles:: Nope, no idea what you’re talking about. I’m just going to mosey on over here.
But the thing is that when you ignore something, it doesn’t go away. I know we here that advice a lot, regarding everything from bad habits to bullies but I have tried and, y’all, I am telling you it does not work. Ever tried ignoring a bully? Despite what your parents may have told you, it doesn’t usually make them go away. It just makes them try harder. Ignoring a bad habit? Also not the greatest strategy.
Because the more you try to ignore something, the more it festers and grows in darkness. You try not to think about it, but in doing so you think about it. You try to avoid it, but you wind up tying yourself in knots to get away. All the while, it’s growing and evolving in that dark place in your brain that you’ve banished it to. It lurks and festers and you become even more fearful of what it will look like should you dare peek.
You can’t repress something forever, and the more you try the more spectacular the explosion is in the end.
So how do you deal with something? You have to face it. You have to look at it head on and really see it. Why is it there? What’s so tempting? Why is it so wrong to give in? Is it so wrong to give in? It may be the answer is yes, but ignoring it isn’t going to help. You have to face it and acknowledge it. You have to figure out how you’re going to deal with it, and what you’re going to do to change. Only then will you find that you can be released from it.
There’s a Tarot card of the Devil. It’s usually depicted as a Devil and beneath him, bound in chains, are the figures of a man and a woman. That’s what I thought about as I was mulling this; what someone once said to me about it. That it was about being enslaved by your temptations, but that it could also being about being enslaved to the resistance of them. Because neither is really freedom.