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Snake Charmers

Although snake charming as it exists today probably originated in India, the earliest evidence for snake charming comes from  ancient Egyptian sources. Charmers there mainly acted as magicians and healers. Part of their studies involved learning the various types of snakes, the gods to whom they were sacred, and how to treat those who were bitten by the reptiles. Entertainment was also part of their repertoire, and they knew how to handle the animals and charm them for their patrons.


Miriam refers to their presence in the agora in many stories, most recently in “The Beggar,” a story in The Deadliest Returns:


After all, the agora was throbbing with hordes of beggars, some tugging at my skirt, their pleas melding with the harangues of hawkers and hucksters, orators and priests, soothsayers and astrologers, tricksters and swindlers, magicians and conjurers, snake charmers and peddlers, wizards and sorcerers.


During a performance, snake charmers may take a number of precautions to protect themselves. The charmer typically sits out of biting range. Moreover, the snake is usually sluggish due to starvation or dehydration and reluctant to attack anyway. More drastic means of protection include removing the reptile’s fangs or venom glands, drugging the snake, or even sewing its mouth shut. The most popular species are those native to the snake charmer's home region, typically various kinds of cobras.


You can protect yourself by staying away from cobras, but you don’t need to stay away the Miriam bat Isaac mysteries.  They are your best protection against loneliness or boredom. To choose a book, just click here.


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