Today’s blog is by Luci Attala, Lecturer in Social Anthropology at UWTSD Lampeter. Luci has recently published a chapter entitled ‘Digesting ‘cryptid’ snakes: A phenomenological approach to the mythic and cosmogenetic properties of serpent hallucinations’ in Anthropology and Cryptozoology: Exploring Encounters with Mysterious Creatures.
Below, Luci gives a description of the work covered in her chapter:
The book is concerned with exploring the notion of unclassified creatures who despite not being scientifically categorised inhabit people’s lives and imaginations, and provoke behaviours and practices. My chapter explores the significance of the hallucinations of snakes that recur regularly for people who ingest the decoction Ayahuasca – a thick, brown brew that is comprised of a number of different Amazonian plants, one of which is the serpentine liana Banisteriopsis caapi.
My discussion draws comparisons between the experiences of snakes in hallucinations, snakes in mythology from around the world and the phenomenological responses documented about snakes. It concludes that the symbolism of snakes, and ‘snake’ as a recurring potent theme is similarly used to encounter the uncomfortable, almost visceral emotions that people find difficult to verbalise. The sign ‘snake’, then, is shown to be used to help people swallow and assimilate personal discomforts into their lives.
More information about the book can be found here.