Difference between revisions of "Hoopsnake (race)"

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==Description==
 
==Description==
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[[File:Ouroboros3.png|200px|thumb|right|Ouroboros (Hoopsnake), from a 1776 grave marker in Old Burial Hill Cemetery of Marblehead, Massachusetts]]
 
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"As other serpents crawl upon their bellies, so can this; but he has another method of moving peculiar to his own species, which he always adopts when he is in eager pursuit of his prey; he throws himself into a circle, running rapidly around, advancing like a hoop, with his tail arising and pointed forward in the circle, by which he is always in the ready position of striking.  It is observed that they only make use of this method in attacking; for when they flee from their enemy they go upon their bellies, like other serpents. From the above circumstance, peculiar to themselves, they have also derived the appellation of hoop snakes."
 
"As other serpents crawl upon their bellies, so can this; but he has another method of moving peculiar to his own species, which he always adopts when he is in eager pursuit of his prey; he throws himself into a circle, running rapidly around, advancing like a hoop, with his tail arising and pointed forward in the circle, by which he is always in the ready position of striking.  It is observed that they only make use of this method in attacking; for when they flee from their enemy they go upon their bellies, like other serpents. From the above circumstance, peculiar to themselves, they have also derived the appellation of hoop snakes."

Latest revision as of 04:34, 11 February 2020

Hoopsnake, Hoop-snake, or Hoop Snake

Origin: American folklore

Description

Ouroboros (Hoopsnake), from a 1776 grave marker in Old Burial Hill Cemetery of Marblehead, Massachusetts

"As other serpents crawl upon their bellies, so can this; but he has another method of moving peculiar to his own species, which he always adopts when he is in eager pursuit of his prey; he throws himself into a circle, running rapidly around, advancing like a hoop, with his tail arising and pointed forward in the circle, by which he is always in the ready position of striking. It is observed that they only make use of this method in attacking; for when they flee from their enemy they go upon their bellies, like other serpents. From the above circumstance, peculiar to themselves, they have also derived the appellation of hoop snakes."


— Karl Patterson Schmidt, a letter from 1784

According to folklore, the distinguishing feature of a hoop snake is that it can grasp its tail in its jaws and roll after its prey like a wheel, thus looking somewhat like the ouroboros of Greek mythology, or Tsuchinoko (a legendary fat snake that can roll like a wheel and double jump) in Japan. In one version of the myth, the snake straightens out at the last second, skewering its victim with its venomous tail. The only escape is to hide behind a tree, which receives the deadly blow instead and promptly dies from the poison.


Keeper Notes

  • I'd encountered the "hoopsnake" myself, at least in the form of a variation on the "snipe hunt" practical joke: a prank, in existence in North America as early as the 1840s, in which an unsuspecting newcomer is duped into trying to catch some variety of fabulous and imaginary animal of varying description (generically, a "snipe"); the prank often associated with summer camps and groups such as the Boy Scouts, or in my case played by country boys on "green" newcomers from the city. In the usual version of the prank, the victim is led to an outdoor spot and given instructions for catching the "snipe"; these often include waiting in the dark and holding an empty bag or making noises to attract the creature, while the others involved in the prank then either leave the newcomer alone in the woods to discover the joke. In this variation, the pranksters describe the hoopsnake, warn the victim of the weird and supernatural dangers of encountering the creature, and later run off, and, hidden from a distance, shout "look out, there's a hoopsnake, it's rolling your direction!" "There's another!", and then hurl pebbles past the target of the prank, before shouting "Help, one stung me!", "Run for your life!", and then falling silent, leaving the victim alone in the woods to find his way out.
  • The snipe/hoopsnake prank might be used as a setup for encountering something far weirder in the woods.
  • Included here for use among the other bizarre folkloric creaturs described in Manly Wade Wellman's "The Desrick on Yandro (fiction)"; some country folk take the story very seriously, and are very afraid of even seeing a hoopsnake, which is supposed to be bad luck; I'm not sure it's supposed to actually be a snake in the usual sense - a hoopsnake is implied to be snake-like, but something a bit more supernatural in quality.


Associated Mythos Elements


References