- Reptile Conservation Resources, Inc

Boa in molt - Central American boa constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator), originally uploaded by EcoSnake.

¬†An educational picture: The flash shows what was not seen in natural light. “Chaucer” is close to shedding his skin. His eyes still have a faint blue color (opaque) caused by a secretion separating the dead outer layer of skin (brille) covering his eyes from the new layer underneath. The light also caught the dead outer layer of skin on his body…In a day or so when his eyes clear up, he will slough off the outer layer of skin. “Chaucer” is a Central American boa constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator). He’s approximately 10 feet long.

The act of the snake shedding it’s skin figures in the creation myths of almost every culture in the world. The snake shedding it’s skin symbolizes immortality and regeneration and renewal and eternal life because the snake looks like it’s sick and then when the skin is sloughed looks healed and “reborn.” Has a lot to do with why the snake is depicted on the cadeucus, the symbol of medicine and healing.

The snake shedding it’s skin has been a symbol of immortality for as long as our civilization has had written words. The Epic of Gilgamish as verbal history may date back some 8000 years BC and today is the oldest written document found in our “western civilization” dating back some 2500-3000 years BC) and preserved on stone tablets, discovered in the last century in what is now called Iraq. In this passage the snake gains immortality and shows it by shedding its skin:

Gilgamesh spoke to Urshanabi, the ferryman, saying:
“Urshanabi, this plant is a plant against decay(!)
by which a man can attain his survival(!).
I will bring it to Uruk-Haven,
and have an old man eat the plant to test it.
The plant’s name is ‘The Old Man Becomes a Young Man.’”
Then I will eat it and return to the condition of my youth.”
At twenty leagues they broke for some food,
at thirty leagues they stopped for the night.
Seeing a spring and how cool its waters were,
Gilgamesh went down and was bathing in the water.
A snake smelled the fragrance of the plant,
silently came up and carried off the plant.
While going back it sloughed off its casing.’
At that point Gilgamesh sat down, weeping,
his tears streaming over the side of his nose.
“Counsel me, O ferryman Urshanabi!
For whom have my arms labored, Urshanabi!
For whom has my heart’s blood roiled!
I have not secured any good deed for myself,
but done a good deed for the ‘lion of the ground’!”

Posted by Frank - February 1, 2009


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