The Twenty-Eight Midsummer Miracles of Sabazios
On Monday night I returned home from some shopping to an unexpected shock, which is potentially game-changing in certain respects.
When I first entered my Thracian Exodus last autumn, first moving from California to the Northeast, and then losing my stable “home base” (and the subsequent safe storage of my ritual holdings, shrines, and the secured housing for the sacred Temple serpents), I wound up homeless and nomadic through the region. My Temple things lived in storage, while my serpent family took up temporary residence in a warm furnace room in Massachusetts. Nevertheless, my ritual year was uninterrupted: my gods were served, Their rites performed, Their sacred oracular serpents cared for (if infrequently visited).
This year’s Winter and Spring festivals and rituals were nevertheless full of serpent-themed Work, in terms of the Holy Powers invoked, praised, and Worked for.
Summer Solstice this year for my Thracian lineage was a Serpent Rite for Sabazios. The Temple Serpents were ritually greeted, handled, consulted and finally fed a special Solstice meal. One of them — a thirteen-foot female Argentine boa constrictor — was particularly pleased with her meal, and continued to dance back in her massive enclosure, being far more active than she normally would be after taking in such a meal.
Two nights later, as I arrived back into the sacred serpent’s room after some shopping, and encountered a sight that brought my mind screeching to a halt. My eyes focused, and unfocused, staring into her enclosure. My brain could not make sense of what it saw. Dread filled me, and my heart skipped, and my neurological activity was frozen — seized up, as it were, unable to process what it was seeing. In the enclosure where I should have been looking in on a beautiful and lively (if digestively lethargic) serpent queen, I instead saw a mass of indistinguishable shape, as if a hole had opened up in the substrate to some infernal realm of swirling color and glistening darkness.
And then the darkness yawned.
And stretched its head. And then its other head. And then twenty-eight heads. And then it hit me, and I gave silent prayers to Sabazios before calling for another priest.
The oracular Temple serpent of Sabazios had given birth — quite unexpectedly — to a clutch of nearly thirty glistening dark babies, who sat coiled in their membranous sacks stretching their heads up in sequence, breaking free of their birthing robes and naked into the red-light of the room.
As I collected the babies one by one, and set to sacred task of washing each in baptismal waters and placing them into a large and safe enclosure, I realized that their mother had been going into labor following her Solstice meal. Her “dancing activity” was the beginnings of the birthing process, which I had not been expecting. Which should not have been possible.
She had had contact with a male Argentine boa — her best friend, and ritual partner — but none of the very specific conditions that chemically trigger ovulation or breeding chemicals in either animal had been met. In the wild, boas go through a colder season — just like everything else — and that cycling of temperatures annually triggers the chemical process necessary for breeding. In captivity, that cycle has to be intentionally created, as the animals live with artificial heating and moisture environments, which are controlled automatically. Meticulously controlled.
I got to reading. It turns out that it has been proven — as in scientifically — that snakes of this or related constrictor species are capable of parthenogenesis, or “virgin birth”.
Scientists found that the condition that made this possible was exposure to a breeding-age male, without the chance (or contact) for physical reproduction. Meaning that the male’s pheromones could potentially, although very very rarely, cause the female to impregnate herself. In these instances, the hatchlings were all female.
These 28 maybes? So far, they look female. Each and every one of them. But that isn’t confirmed, yet. They’re only six days old. After their first shed, they will be given their first solid meal as independent animals. Once they’ve eaten, and settled? Confirmation of physical sex will have to happen. If they turn out to be all female? Coupled with the incredibly small variation in their coloration, patterning and general appearance — the male Argentine who could be their father does not share the same patterning as their mother — suggests a miraculous virgin birth.
On the fucking Solstice.
And if I’ve done my math right? They were potentially “conceived” (fertilized) at the Equinox (as they appear to be prematurely birthed, a process inadvertently triggered by the Solstice feeding).
Potentially game changing.
I’d like to formally welcome the 28 Midsummer Miracles of Sabazios — or the 28 Solstice Serpents of Sabazios, depending — to this world, and to this House.
- A wonderful event occurring in the physical world attributed to supernatural powers.
- Many religious beliefs are based on miracles.
- An example of a miracle associated with Muhammad is the splitting of the moon.
- A fortunate outcome that prevails despite overwhelming odds against it.
- An awesome and exceptional example of something
(And now, back to cleaning out and preparing caging and set-ups for them, for when they are ready to move out of their small individual “neonatal” spaces, for individual observations, health-checks, and care.)
Many blessings to you all.
P.S. The mother is doing well. She took a good sized meal the following day — and lots of water — and has been resting since the ordeals of birthing twenty-eight live babies into our world. She is cranky and her body is coursing with hormones, still, but she is healthy and physically relaxing. Every other serpent in the house knew what was going on that night — I was apparently the last to know — and has been attentive and alert to all goings-on since. It is a lively time here.
P.S.S. It is a damn good time to be a Polytheist.
P.S.S.S. As a rule, I do *not* breed snakes. Nearly all of my sacred animals are rescues, taken in from poor and inadequate conditions, or rescued from the frequently very unethical reptile breeding “scene”, where these sacred animals are often housed in plastic tubs stacked one atop the other for their fertile lives, used to produce more and more complex (and profitable) genetic variations, by producing hundreds and thousands of offspring that flood a “pet market” not exactly known for their ethics or base competence. I have been an animal rescue, rehabilitation and caretaker person for over two decades: aside from breeding hamsters once when I was nine years old to continue on the bloodline of a particularly amazing animal, I have never bred “pet” animals. I do not consider any of the animals in my care now to be “pets”; they’re family, or they’re sacred food (depending) and in either case are treated with the utmost dignity, respect, and care. I’m staggered by the babies I have now been entrusted with, and do not know what comes next, but have already spent three-quarters of a month’s rent securing adequate housing and food for the foreseeable future. I take my responsibilities with animals as seriously as I do with ritual; the two are literally inseparable in fact, as my duties as a priest of my gods and spirits are entwined with the care and welfare of these other-than-human partners, relatives and champions. “Broke on religion” happens to be a favorite quote of mine from another Polytheist voice who finds the time to write on the internet now and again…