1976-08-02 Beverly Hills, USA / Snake Dance / Schlangentanz / Dança Cobra / Danza de la serpiente

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Fritz Lang was approaching blindness during the production of ‘The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse’ and it was his final project as director. He died from a stroke in on August 2nd, 1976.

After emigrating to the US in 1936, the ‘Master of Darkness’ had returned to Germany in 1959 to make his ‘Indian Epic’ (consisting of ‘The Tiger of Eschnapur’ and ‘The Indian Tomb’).

In 1959, ‘The Indian Tomb’, revealed Debra Paget’s Indian avatar as a snake dancer. It is quite a performance. It is a very sexy scene where Paget dances to charm the cobra in that most revealing costume.

Paget’s costume may be non-existent, but it certainly looks very appealing. There is really not much to say about her choice of, well, clothing – except that it does a wonderful job of defying gravity, and could possibly play muse for beachwear designers.

For thousands of years the Hopi tribe of northern Arizona has performed a secretive, sacred ceremony that embodies the manifold and richly evocative archetypal nature of the serpent.

The so-called Snake Dance has gained notoriety, partly because its participants put live rattlesnakes in their mouths and wrap them around their necks.

The Hopi believe that their intimacy with rattlesnakes and other ophidian species engenders rainfall and fecundity upon the high desert.

The biennial native ritual is held every other August during years that alternate with the Flute Ceremony.

This ceremony can not actually be considered serpent worship. It is instead a plea for agrarian fertility and monsoon moisture in a stunningly beautiful but harsh desert landscape.

The sixteen-day ritual encourages the final maturity of the crops during the annual agricultural cycle.

After being gathered from the four directions (northwest, southwest, southeast, and northeast, in that order), the snakes are baptized by washing them with milky yucca-root.

These messengers of the underworld must be pure enough to carry the prayers of the people to the ancestor-spirits below. They must also be clean enough to place between the dancers’ teeth.

The warriors, who make prayer-sticks for the Snake Dance shortly after the winter solstice, also provide a male medicine made from various roots for the August ceremony.

The reason for using ‘man medicine’ of the Warriors is that the Snake ceremony is not only a prayer for rain but an exhibition of manliness and fearlessness.

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