About this title:
The rural Southern snake-handling cult, still flourishing, is graphically described in its complex historical, ethnographic, and psychosexual background. The specific poor-white, extreme fundamentalist setting of the cult is placed in its New Testament context and in relation to the folklore of similar practices in Africa, Mexico, and the ancient world. Accepting the Freudian theme that "the snake is man's own sexuality," the author points to the prevalent repressiveness of the cultists' lives, which finds outlet in the handling of the age-old symbol of sin and eternal life. Founded in 1909, the cult has spread from Grasshopper Valley, Tennessee, all over the South, and has survived fines, jail sentences, and numerous deaths from snake bite, including that of the founder.
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