Don't Tread On Me
A propos of absolutely nothing, here are some photographs of a
venomous snake, Echis Coloratus, also known as the Israeli
Saw-Scaled Viper, Burton's Carpet, or Painted Carpet.
This deadly snake is most likely the one described as the
"Fiery Flying Serpent" in biblical accounts (e.g. Numbers 21). The
Caduceus symbol of the medical profession might also be grounded in
that same story.
This snake can lunge through the air at high
speed. Its venomous bite leaves a fiery burning sensation, and death
occurs from slow internal bleeding.
there is another mystery here. The same story (Numbers 21) says that the
cure was to gaze upon a bronze cast of the snake, mounted on a staff.
How could that save you?
Keep in mind that the venom in the bite
contained a powerful anti-coagulant, so that the panicked victim bled
to death. The panic, of course, was mediated by the operation of the
Amygdala and Hippocampus -- the brain's fear processor -- which
released heart-pumping Adrenalin which hastened the bleeding. By
gazing upon a bronze replica of the snake, the person 'faced their
fear' and that helped arrest the panic attack. With the adrenalin
surge attenuated, the victim was less likely to bleed to death from a
The name of this snake suggests it may also be
the inspiration for the storybook notion of the Arabian Flying Carpet.
The notion, suggested in Numbers 21, of conquering one's fears
by contemplating a harmless model or a replica of them is found today
in our unending fascination with games, simulations, plays, and other
artistic recreations of dreadful situations.
We do not make
idols of our gods, but of our demons. By reckoning the idol of a
demon, we lose our dread of it.
And the goofy demon thereby
loses its grip on us.