By Daniel D. Ziegler

"....I immediately knew IT WAS NOT A GARTER SNAKE!!!!"

Chapter 5 sNAKED

SOCIAL NUDISM HAS AWAKENED ME to my spiritual connection with
Nature. The following incident, had it occurred a few years earlier in my life,
may have had a much different outcome. Prior to my nudism influence and the
shift in consciousness that resulted, I probably would have reacted quite
differently. But now, as a part of me stood back and participated as an
observer, I was aware of a change in perception that had taken place within
me and of the significance of what was now taking place. It was a friend,
however, witnessing the incident, who helped me to place the experience
within a larger context.

In the Spring of 1989, Shari, a member of a study group that I had been
facilitating, and I drove from Michigan to Angel Fire, New Mexico to attend a
forty day seminar. The seminar had been billed as a “Forty Day Wilderness
Retreat” but in reality was being held in a very lovely and comfortable resort
hotel. Although there was a certain amount of free time during which we could
leave the air-conditioned environment and venture into the outdoors, it was not
enough for me. I had driven all that way and something inside of me was
crying for more adventure. The wilderness itself seemed to be calling.

I began skipping sessions, and instead, drove around the country side
exploring the outskirts of Taos. I knew there weren't any nudist parks in the
area but I also knew that, like in many parts of the country, there would be
some secluded areas where people enjoyed outdoor nude recreating. I was
right. A phone call to a traveling nudist organization, and I was headed to the
Blackrock Hot Spring, a.k.a. Hondo Hot Spring, a few miles outside Taos.

The spring itself is at the bottom of the six hundred foot gorge, the 100 degree
water flows out of the rocks into the Rio Grande. Rocks have been placed
around the spring forming a tub or basin six or eight feet across and perhaps
two feet deep with the cold river flowing by not more than two feet away. Local
residents, including a whole families, as well as an occasional tourist, would
drive the narrow switch-back road to the bottom of the gorge, hike another
hundred yards or so, leave their clothes on the rocks and commune with
Nature at what the Native Americans consider a very sacred spot.

Eager to share my version of a wilderness retreat with my new-found friends
back at the hotel, I began inviting others to join me. I did not want to offend
anyone with nudity, so I would always explain that the local custom at the
hotspring was 'clothing-optional', which meant some people opted to wear
clothes while others didn't, and that I was one who didn't. They could wear a
bathing suit if they chose. I made sure they understood what they would be
encountering before we left the hotel. A number of people accepted my
invitation, including Shari.

Although only one or two of my friends eventually opted to go nude, the others
seemed to have no problem with my nudity. In fact, someone would
occasionally comment on how natural it seemed to see someone nude in
Nature, and how comfortable and at peace I seemed to be. Indeed, I was at
peace. The choice I had made to follow my inner voice and skip the sessions
had led to finding this beautiful and sacred place, and the opportunity to offer
this experience to my new friends all contributed to an incredible sense of well-
being. I felt spiritually connected to All-That-Is and apparently my friends also
delighted in enjoying the wilderness, as evidenced by their repeated return
visits with me.

One afternoon, as Shari and several others were sitting around the rocks and I
alone was naked in the spring soaking in the peace of the setting, a snake
swam out from behind the rocks less than a foot from my right shoulder. Now
understand that I had never seen a snake like this before since I had lived in
Michigan all my life. I knew nothing about the snakes in the southwest part of
the country except I knew that that is where rattle snakes lived. I didn't know if
this one was venomous or not, but I immediately knew IT WAS NOT A

Shari saw the snake emerge from the rocks the same time I did. My first
thought was, 'This is its home, I am a visitor and I am honored to be able to
share this place with its resident'. I felt no panic, had no thought of killing it and
had no thoughts of jumping out of the water. I felt that the snake and I were
one, not separated in any way and that we were on equal terms sharing this
sacred space.

The snake swam a foot or so out away from the rocks and then turned toward
me. It reached my side just behind my right arm and, gently making contact
with my skin, it slithered along my back until it emerged on my left side just
behind my left arm where it eventually broke contact with my body and swam
off into the rocks several feet away.

I cannot describe what I felt except that I felt total PEACE. Looking back, I
cannot say I felt grateful for not having been bitten because that thought had
never entered my mind. I can only say that I felt that I was an integral part of
something awesome and that I had been welcomed and accepted by the
snake in its home, and even by Nature herself. I felt that I had been welcomed
and accepted because I had joined with Nature--equal and on her terms--

Shari, witnessing the incident, displayed an expression on her face that was a
combination of gratitude it wasn't her, fear that it might have been and
disbelief that I hadn't reacted differently. The only words she was able to utter
were, "You just passed the test."

To this day I haven't concluded that it was so much of a test, as it was an
initiation or perhaps graduation--having arrived at a place of awareness
where I could appreciate Nature through an experience to which a few years
earlier I would have reacted with fear. Because of what I had learned and how
I had grown, I was now reacting with love instead of fear--love for the Universe,
for Nature, for the snake itself--and for myself. It was a welcome change in my

The positive effects of nudity and social nudism extend far beyond what we
can imagine, but that does not seem surprising when we consider that our
natural state is nude. It is returning to our natural state that restores our
harmony with Nature and our awareness to our spiritual connection with All-
That-Is. I am LIVING proof of this ever since the day at Blackrock Hot Spring I
was sNAKED. * * *
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