Not long ago I read the following legend of the birth of Quetzalcoatl, one of the major Toltec deities, as narrated by Don José Ruiz, in his book The Wisdom of the Shamans: What the Ancient Masters Can Teach Us about Love and Life. “Quetzalcoatl” is a word meaning “the feathered serpent”, and the story I’m about to recount is one of a small snake realizing its power and flying to the sun with its wings of imagination.
Tlaloc, the god of rain was sitting on a cloud, preparing to send rain to offer the water of life to the earth. As he looked down more carefully, he noticed a beautiful cave, where snakes went to drink water. He saw a small snake that was too scared to go out of the cave and into the light; instead, it preferred to hide in the darkness and safety of the cave.
The god, watching the little snake being so terrified, felt love and compassion for it and decided to help it crawl out of the darkness of the cave and towards the light. To do that, the god started a heavy rain. It kept raining for days, weeks and months, until the water entered the cave and flooded it.
All the snakes were hurrying to abandon the cave for a better shelter, but the little snake, being too scared to leave, tried to crawl to the highest rock, in order to avoid the water. Tlaloc saw the snake’s fear, but he knew that only through suffering, could it find the courage to leave its cave.
When finally the snake had no other choice, it slowly crawled out of the cave. The god stopped the rain at once. The clouds then scattered away and the sun started shining bright again.
The little serpent was in awe, astounded by the sunlight and the world outside the cave, which it had never seen before. It felt the warmth of the sun on its skin and marveled at the beauty of life. Looking up towards the sky, it saw the most exquisite creatures: magnificent birds with colorful feathers flying around it, the quetzals.
A serpent that had been watching the scene all along, asked: “Do you want to be as beautiful as these birds?” The little snake nodded. But the serpent whispered: “Forget it! You are, and will always be, a snake! You were born to crawl and you will never fly like a quetzal!” Our little snake was heartbroken.
Seeing the disappointment in the heart of the snake, Tlaloc made the sun shine like never before and the reflection of the snake appeared in the water. The snake saw the reflection of its eyes in the water for the first time and realized the power in its soul.
“I may not have feathers, but I have the power of imagination, and with this power I can make anything possible, because I believe in myself”, it said.
On hearing that the snake had realized its true power and was no longer afraid of the Light, Tlaloc decided to help it a bit more, by blowing air on it so that it could go higher and higher and start flying. Feeling more alive than ever and having completely overcome its fear of the Light, the snake flew towards the sun. It entered the body of the sun and became one with it. At that moment of absolute unity, an eclipse was generated! What came out of the sun was not a little snake anymore, but a magnificent feathered serpent: Quetzalcoatl.
The enlightened flying serpent could now fly without the help of the god, as it had mastered the power of its imagination and believed that it could transform itself into something higher than before. And so it did.
Never underestimate the power of your imagination. Believe that you can and you will achieve anything you set your mind to.