Thursday, September 25, 2008

Foreign correspondent massaged in the Israeli snakepit: a serpent's tale

One of the bizarre spa treatments now available in Israel involves a "writhing braid of live snakes" rubbing on your bare skin. A session costs 300 shekels, and you are likely to be willing to pay more to end it sooner. Surprisingly, there are plenty of return customers. These slithering masseuses recently were put through their paces on the face and belly of the intrepid war correspondent, Tim McGirk, of Time magazine.

He reports that the effect is quite calming, at least for non-Ophidiophobes, and the spa even has awakened sensuality in some of the clientele who regularly trek to a carnivorous plant exhibit near Caesaria. Surprisingly, this spa treatment could even be classified as Kosher, according to Bible researchers who trace the symbolism from Eve to Aaron's Rod in the Torah and on to the New Testament.

Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.

The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself. --Quoting from Ecclesiastes, chapter 10

"be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."-- Matthew, chapter 10

Hmmmm. One wonders how these verses apply to war correspondents cavorting with serpents. Is the media really a venomous snakepit? This seems like awfully good preparation.

McGirk shows that this unorthodox snake massage is not a case of snake-handling, but rather letting the snakes handle you. He handles the experience surprisingly well, though he confessed to second thoughts when a snake upchucked a half-digested mouse moments before his snake massage session got underway.

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