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In the Shadow of the Scorpion: The Symbolic Teachings & Archetypal Invocation of an Ancient Spirit

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

By: A. W. Finnegan #Scorpion #ScorpionSymbolism #SpiritGuides

Saturnine, my Asian Forest Scorpion, with her big stinger ready for action

The year 2020 has been a challenging year for a lot of people, regardless of what country or part of the world one resides in. Those in the United States have especially seen a challenging time. For myself personally, 2020 has been among one of the worst years of my life. My health and well-being have been so thoroughly put to the test, my chronic disease has become increasingly more severe and debilitating, a relationship with someone I gave a lot of love, care, and loyalty to, dissolved and has been irreparably damaged ever since, and as of now, totally destroyed. In the wake of these factors, along with the effect of COVID-19 and its imposed restrictions, social isolation has become the mainstay of everyday life.

I started the Garden of Great Work back in July of 2020, and through this channel I have been able to keep some glimmer of hope and light within my daily life, by doing the Great Work, when i have been healthy enough to function. Good things are certainly under way, but hard times have prevailed to be the rule of daily life as the way forward is paved. In the process, an unexpected spiritual guide and alliance was formed, between myself, and a creature I grew up to fear; the scorpion. It was a very unusual and unexpected alliance, to say the least. Like this Great Mystery we call life, the magic is within it, even when it seems lost, but only to those with eyes to see.

Growing up, I enjoyed the dark, dangerous creatures of this world, such as the venomous snakes, spiders, and scorpions. I had many books, and I enjoyed going to the library with my mom when I was very young, to get books on snakes, and for some reason, the venomous snakes fascinated me the most. The same was true for the insects, like spiders and scorpions. I remember this book I had with venomous snakes, spiders, and scorpions, and I recall the emperor scorpion in it was so badass looking that it scared me, but the interesting thing was it had its babies on its back, and they were pearl white. She held them all up on her back and protected them with fierce devotion. They were so brutal looking that I was definitely afraid of them.

As I grew up, I encountered them several times, one time in 8th grade I was at the mall, in a pet store, and they had several emperor scorpions in a small enclosure and they were fighting each other, which only strengthened my fear of them, but looking back I realize now that the reason was less to do with them being overly aggressive, and more because of the inhumane conditions they were being kept in. I will elaborate on this more deeper into this article.

My next encounter with scorpions came around 2006, when I was much older. I remember it well, I was with a friend and he asked me to drive to some girls house I did not know. When we got there, we walked in, it was nighttime, and we went out to the porch and this girl came out. She had two creatures crawling up and down her arm. One was a tarantula, the other was a big emperor scorpion. Strangely, the emperor scorpion was not at all aggressive, scaling up and down its owner's arm and hand. It had not a shred of aggression or apprehension about its owner. Rather, it was completely tame and kind to its owner, it seemed to totally trust her. This experience, I recall, changed the dynamic for me. I was still a bit fearful to get too close or ask to hold it, but I was taken by surprise that this creature was not the aggressive monster I had initially made it out to be. A seed had been planted, and many years later it would take root...

My experience with the scorpion would not again resurface until the summer of 2020, sometime in the weeks after I started up the Garden of Great Work, my site of education for the teachings of Truth and Natural Law in the occult traditions and contribution to modern day Mystery Schools, which I will be working with soon. It came to me in a dream, in the most unexpected, random, serendipitous fashion, which is just the way I prefer it.

The dream was that I got up from my bed and walked over to my desk and on my desk I saw what looked like a big funnel web, and something black moving about within it. At first, I thought it was a big black spider, but then it surfaced and came out, and I realized it was a big black emperor scorpion, I was definitely somewhat afraid but also in awe of its magnificence, and suddenly an explosion went off and it jumped up in the air as though it was being catapulted from it, and I turned to run and I felt it hit the bottom of my spine on my back, but it did not sting me, but just as soon as this happened, I suddenly woke up. I remember thinking how odd this was once I awoke. I remember thinking why was that big black scorpion in my dream? I recall telling myself to look into scorpions the next day and find out what if any significance they had for dreams.

The following day I went about my business and forgot I even had this dream, until at some point later in the day as I was working on things I suddenly remembered it. I again thought about how unusual it was, yet how profound it was at the same time. I then began to research the symbolism and importance it may have held for me, as I can usually conclude that such profoundness is never a random, irrelevant occurrence. And so it was, that I began to research the scorpion and what it all meant. Unfortunately, the internet today and finding quality information in this realm is not always the most reliable, since there is so much low-quality, New Age mumbo-jumbo out there, so I had to do considerable researching to come to a point where my intuition could approve a more definitive conclusion.

My rendition of an emperor scorpion

Most of the sites recalled the scorpion as a bad omen, of disloyalty by those close, death, and things of unpleasant natures. I would have to say that, it could have included this, but was not the ultimate message, because this influence grew and sprouted out into many directions. I came to realize its message was much deeper than a simple explanation. I described this in my earlier article, Weaving the Work of the Warrior's Web: Symbolism, Archetypal Invocation & the Fabric of Potentiality, and said:

In doing an interpretation of symbols or animals one encounters in a dream, one should setup some time to research and understand it for oneself. The problem with quick dream interpretation using internet search engines is that first, its not always accurate information, and secondly, dream interpretation is not a one-size fits all, and for different people the message can be of a different nature. It can have varying degrees of context and meaning, based on the personality of the person. The best way to interpret the symbolic meaning is to draw from your intuition and use that as a guide in your research of the symbol, and when gathering the meaning of its symbolism, gather information from a wide net of different sources and amass them in one place. Next, using the intuition from your dream or life occurrence, attempt to weave the interpretation together, take time to reflect and let it come to you.

In my case, I found that while many sites indicate the black emperor scorpion in a dream is a bad omen, I did not have this feeling about my own. It was a magnificent creature, even though I’ve had a fear of scorpions my whole life, I felt a sense of awe and respect for it. I came to the conclusion that not only was it not a bad omen, but rather a very important, benevolent, and Divine Omen from the immutable Laws of Truth and Natural Law.

For one, scorpions have remained unchanged for millions of years, because it has what it needs to sustain itself from its inception, so it uses this established tradition, and this brings an association with timeless wisdom and immutable Truth, having lived a simple traditional life for millions of years.

The emperor scorpion is a nocturnal creature, but not an aggressive predator, it eats insect pests, which is beneficial to the environment, but it does not need a hefty diet, it can eat every few days or several times a week, and this symbolizes discipline and balance, and does the least amount of harm it needs to survive, which brings an association with Natural Law in diet. Overall, the emperor scorpion is gentle and non-threatening, unless provoked and threatened by nocturnal predators, so there is an association with kindness, but also self-defense, standing up for oneself. The hard exoskeleton that envelopes its body is also representative of wearing the armor of self-preservation and protection. The emperor scorpion moves gracefully and with precision using its senses, representing grace and sharp mental focus. It has poor eyesight, so uses its hairs and claws to feel and sense its environment, this brings an association with intuition and Heart.

Because it is mainly a solitary creature, it has rulership over and governs itself, which represents Anarchy, or Self-ownership, but when a mother emperor scorpion has babies she will take them on her back and vigorously protect them against any threat, she feeds them part of her meals, and it is this factor that represents the protection of the young and vulnerable against the vicious predators and harsh elements of a cold, dark world.

The emperor scorpion can go a year without food in some cases, and has been known to fast, bringing with it a reference to an aesthetic life. It can also regulate and greatly alter its metabolism and body to withstand either extreme heat or extreme cold. This represents adaptability and ability to withstand adversity. Its nocturnal nature, to traverse the dark amidst many predatory threats with a sense of calm and composure represents the ability to be fearless in the face of darkness and adversity.

The emperor scorpion sheds its exoskeleton many times over throughout its lifetime, it is a stressful and vulnerable process, but each time it molts a new, more durable exoskeleton. This symbolically represents the journey of Truth, having to reshape our worldview and understanding of the world many times over, and like the shedding of the scorpion’s exoskeleton, it is a painful, vulnerable process, but we persevere and live on with tougher skin and mentally stronger.

There was also another strange thing that occurred from the inspiration this archetypal symbol or creature was having in my life, as it began to grow, my fear of them became less and less pronounced, to the point of considering that I might raise and care for an emperor scorpion as a pet someday. I had actually seen this many years ago, when I was a young adult. I was with a friend and we went to some girl's house, and she had a pet emperor scorpion, she held it on her hand and let it crawl up and down her arm, and it was so calm and gentle as it peacefully crawled up and down her arm and hand, it seemed so calm and non-threatening. Recently, I watched a handful of videos on emperor scorpions by pet owners who handled them. I spent time observing its nature and came to understand them as kind, gentle creatures. It brought up an important Truth, that these little creatures were not the monsters I had feared them to be. There was a very literal aspect of facing my own fears within this spontaneous influence I had come across.

The scorpion’s two claws and tail are like the hands of a clock, with the two main hands as the two claws and the long third hand that moves the seconds as the scorpion’s tail, representing time or the Saturn energy, which represents the hands of Karma. It reminds us that what we put our time and energy into is what we will ultimately see manifest. If it is aimless and lacks effort, the vice will play itself out accordingly. There is also an association with the Hindu Goddess Kali, for the number of legs and arms the scorpion has, and its association to Time and Saturn.

I wear a scorpion necklace and draw inspiration from the symbolism of the emperor scorpion, because it serves as a link to all of these listed qualities or associations in one symbol. When I use the symbol in graphics or wear it as a pendant, I invoke these powers within me, to be a source of internal strength in a dark world full of predatory threats, yet remaining fearless to traverse the landscape with grace and confidence.

I wanted to continue and build on this because so much more has happened since this time regarding my interaction with the scorpion, and I wanted to go deeper into this, because of the interest by others, as well as the magic it has put into my life at some very dark and stressful times. Since writing that first article describing the symbolism of the scorpion, I spoke of the fact that the inspiration I draw from the scorpion made me want to look into getting a scorpion and caring for it as a pet.

One scorpion owner, Hugh Jorgan, runs a YouTube video which I came across, and his few videos on the emperor scorpion were very influential in my decision to get a pet emperor scorpion. I will post them here, which you can view, and anyone who finds them helpful or interesting, hit like and subscribe to his channel, as I have. One video, he has the emperor scorpion mother with a bunch of babies on her back, and later videos show the emperors all grown up, and he handles them easily, and they are very tame and non-aggressive. However, in another video, one of the emperors is somewhat aggressive when he tries to take its water bowl out, but it almost seems like its being playful and is very funny to watch.

Here are those videos, the babies, the grown up babies, and the water bowl incident, from Hugh Jorgan YT channel:

Kali, my baby emperor scorpion, being skittish

So, I actually got a scorpion as a pet, in fact, I got two of them. One of them is an emperor scorpion, a very young emperor scorpion that I named Kali, in honor of the Hindu Goddess of Time, Creation, Destruction and Power. The other scorpion is an Asian forest scorpion, which I named Saturnine, because she was in a saturnine state when I got her, as was I. Unfortunately, Kali is so skittish and squirrely, I could only get one blurry picture of her. She is a youngster, not even fully black. When emperors are first born, they are completely white. But when they molt a few times, they turn black and finally get their full armor later on. Kali has been hiding out in her burrow for what seems like weeks now, but this is actually healthy behavior for a scorpion.

Saturnine, Asian Forest Scorpion, on its way home with me
Saturnine, anxious to get out of small enclosure

With my Asian forest scorpion, Saturnine, I was fortunate to get a bunch of pictures and even videos, which I will be posting in this article. Saturnine has also recently dug herself a burrow and has also been hiding out in her underground bunker. This is healthy behavior so even though I hardly see either of them at the present moment, I know that both of my scorpions are living themselves healthy scorpion lives in their new homes.

It was rather amusing to me when I first bought Kali, because the total cost with the overnight shipping came to $108, which is a number that is sacred to the Hindu Goddess Kali. I recall that several times I said to myself, "did I really just buy a scorpion?" because I still had that residual fear from when I was younger. I remember the day it came I was kind of on edge, anxious, because part of me was still kind of afraid to have a scorpion. It was literally a case of me getting over my fears, but I sure did. What is even more comical to me was that when I was opening the box, I was stricken a few times with intense anxiety, but laughed when I saw how little and nonthreatening it actually was. Also, for several nights after I got Kali and had her in her home, I had these semi-nightmares that it was crawling in my bed, it was rather irrational, and I came to understand it as my subconscious mind releasing these fears by facing them directly. After this time, my fear of them simply vanished, and I've felt nothing but love for them ever since. That is a very beautiful thing to me.

Saturnine, happily exploring her new home

Saturnine, exploring her new home

In the case of Saturnine, I had not necessarily planned to get a second scorpion, and was apprehensive about the Asian forest scorpion, because I was told they might be a bit more aggressive than the emperor. My decision to get Saturnine, however, was made because she was being held in a pet store that kept her in what I felt was inhumane living conditions, borderline cruel, and I could tell that she was visibly stressed and suffering. For one, scorpions need things to hide under, and she had none, only this log that was leaned up against the side of the enclosure, but it did not provide a place to hide under. Second, scorpions are nocturnal creatures, they need darkness, and she had little of this either. She was exposed to bright lights and bright lights with UV hurt scorpions. Lastly, the enclosure was so small, and it also had no dirt for her to burrow into, and that is even more preferable for a scorpion, to have a burrow and a log to hide under. Neither was the case for her in this enclosure. After taking several trips to this pet store to buy crickets for Kali, I decided I was tired of seeing this poor scorpion suffering, so I bought Saturnine and gave her a new home. She is so much happier here. She has a lot of dirt to dig tunnels and burrow into, she has a nice big half log to hide under, and a big home to roam around in, humid and full of sphagnum moss and dirt. Its an ideal home for a scorpion, and I'm happy knowing she is much happier in her new environment.

Anyway, the last few weeks and month has been a terribly challenging time. I've felt isolated and alone, without the ones I really thought would be there to the end, very sick, and just stuck in a very dark place. Its been a test to my sanity. But one factor that has helped me get through, is the company of my new friends, my two scorpions. They had some things to teach me too. It seemed that when I became too pre-occupied with someone I shouldn't have been giving my time and energy to, they both burrowed into their dirt and remained in there, almost as if they were trying to tell me something. I believe that something was that I needed to stop giving my time and energy to people who did not value or appreciate it, or reciprocate it.

I felt as though my scorpions were trying to tell me to stop trying to make the impossible happen, stop trying to repair the irreparable, cut away those who just drain all my energy, and focus on me, just turn inward and work from there. I think they are much more than mere insects. I believe that when you care for these creatures, they have things to teach you, and this I have also learned from my nightshade plants. The spiritual also resides in these, and they have come to work with me, because the spiritual realm has more to offer when you open yourself to it, and it does not restrict you to humans, but you can work with other creatures and spirits, and I believe the scorpion is an ancient spirit, having been around for more than 450 million years unchanged. They obviously have prevailed in this form for a reason. They show us that within ourselves we have what we need, we have the powers latent within us to get through struggle, and it is this immutable Truth that the scorpion has taught me. The scorpion has become one of my new spiritual guides, and a very real process of overcoming my fears, but there is a literal interaction with them as well, because I return the favor by caring for them and giving them a place to be and live a good scorpion life.

Bless the scorpion, you are a wonderful creature and companion...

my scorpions' two mansions
Saturnine's turf
Kali's turf
Saturnine, getting comfy and climbing the walls of her new home

This article and music video is dedicated to my two scorpions, Kali and Saturnine, for their existence, their guidance & teachings to me in the darkest of times, "Be Death with Me..."


My Death

There's a sign carved deep In the palm, of your hand There's a birthmark craving On the left side of your heart

Your life was forever structured, composed and eternally given (The dying you produce never stops In the sound of universal destruction) (There's an inherent nihilism in your spirit)

Into your glory of emptiness I send my lifeforce My Death Be death with me, be death with me, death with me, death with me My Death

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