A day with the Serpent: Intuitive Magicks
          ( Little Mouth's first run in with a rattler )


About two or three weeks ago, I'm sitting in silence during the morning hours at my computer sipping some Yerba mate when I hear the boy, who was out walking his dog, come running past my open window, in a bit of a crying sort of murmur, at top speed. I thought for sure his dog had run away or got hit by a car or something similar. So, I thought to myself: Dfuck does this shit have to happen to me, now? (Yes, I am quite the selfish psychedelic satanist. Could've cared less about the boy or his dog; just wanted my hot beverage and my virtual newspaper.) Turns out the boy, who is only 10, stepped on a rattlesnake. Great. Ain't this my morning? So, I proceeded out the front door directly to the tool shed to get a hoe (which is actually not a bad a weapon against a snake, believe it or not). Then, I went to where the boy said he saw this alleged rattler, near a bush. I went around one side about halfway without being able to locate it, and something inside told me to go back the way I came. I believe the voice in my head to be my wife's ancestor, who is one of our guardians on this 3 acres of swampland and whose ashes lie near the bush I had been searching.

I went back the way I came, and sure enough, just about where I began looking was a coiled up 4ft fat ass canebrake. I had already planned on killing the snake because we keep chickens and cannot take the chance of a venomous snake slithering its way into the pen, but when we locked eyes, his slits spoke of immense wisdom. I counted his rattle buttons. There were 11! I am then, of course, reminded of Liber Legis I:60. This fucker was old. I prayed to Odin to give me the strength. I said out loud "I love you" before taking my best whack at his neck right above his head (granted I had already known this wouldn't be the killshot since he was coiled up, but I had to get him unfurled somehow). His eyes turned to horror as I broke half his jaw. "Why did you do that, you scumbag?" is what I heard him say in my head.

At that moment he started toward the bush, and I quickly pulled him out into the light of day with the hoe. This time I had a clear shot at his neck. Whack, whack, whack. I cut into the meat of his neck, and off with his head. He writhed in agony as his last few moments of life withered away. His head attempted to find his body, and his body attempted to get loose from the prison of blindness. Once the deed was done and my adrenaline had reached a fairly significant level, I scooped up the body and felt his muscles still twitching. He had been powerful. Thank fuck I didn't try to pick him up. He would've outwitted me and snuck in a bite. Since there was no profuse bleeding, I draped the body around my neck. The scales are not like that of boas and pythons that most people keep. The scales of a rattlesnake (and almost any venomous snake) are rough, not smooth. I felt the sensation of his muscles contract against my neck and thought, "Again, I have killed one of my brothers."

I slid the head onto the hoe; now, the thing about canebrakes is their venom can remain in their fangs for a very long time, so it's not advised to keep a trophy. I decided I would skin the hide, boil off the meat, and keep the vertebrae and ribs. All in good time. For now, to the freezer he goes. However, the head had to be honored. We have a spot in our yard for sacrifices of different sorts. A way of paying back the ancestors by giving up things we cherish to show how much we appreciate them. I chose to bury him under a rock where we had another much smaller snake buried. This is where he and I held council. After using post hole diggers to fashion out a decent hole, I spoke.

"I have no regrets for the life I have taken as A.T.W.A. knows my heart." I took the head and looked into its dead eyes. "You will always be a part of my spirit, now, brother; I shall keep your rattle as a reminder of how deadly your kind can be and how forgiving you were to me." He never once struck at me. The dead eyes spoke back to me. "Shithead, you do me no dishonor by placing me in the ground to rot. Now that I have no struggle, no hunger, no thirst, I am free." I smiled and nodded. Again, he uttered some words. "Dickface, do not grow sophistic in your aims; the world is a better place with your head on your shoulders and your feet on the ground. Always keep under the radar; don't get caught up in the undertow." These were the words that shocked me the most. He peered into my soul for a moment. Or was it me reflecting my own unconscious emotions forward into him? Either way, the fucker was spot on.

I placed his head in the hole, wished him "Mad P'z and Ov", piled dirt on top of him, and returned to the compound to put his body in the freezer. I haven't had such feelings for an animal I've killed before. He remains one of my closer allies at our sacrificial/veneration site, and we still converse quite often. The site is a very busy area (things I cannot go into publicly), so my conversations with him are sometimes linked up with other bits of rites that take place there. One thing that sticks out is a time about a week after his burying where we called on some of our own, and he showed up in full form about 8ft tall to my left. It was clear he had my back on that one. At one point, he said, "What'chu doin tonight, whiteboy? Playin' with that new conjure of yours, or just dabbling in your grandmother's art?" Clearly, he knew more about me than I had assumed. Death reveals much, and word travels fast among the ethereal realms.

We have yet to run into another canebrake; however, a few months before my new totem animal had to take it in the face, a baby canebrake was killed near our front porch by a friend, who was simply quicker to grab a weapon than I was, and we have skinned his hide and are letting the meat soak to get to his bones. Babies are much more dangerous than adults because they don't know their own strength and tend to blow their whole load in their first bite; whereas, adults may sometimes dry bite or hold back their venom.