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They were living in Sia. The Snake medicine men and women, before their ceremony, fasted for four days. Afterwards any one who had fasted with his whole heart was able to catch a living snake and bring it to the ceremonial room. On the third day of the fast all the people in Sia were baking and cooking for the feast of the fourth day. The men and women of the Snake Society had gathered the snakes they had caught and put them in great ollas in their ceremonial cave. The women gathered ikia (a red-flowering cactus with large flattened spines) and they ground them into flour and

p. 16

put in water and drank it. They boiled the spines also and ate those. It was all they ate during their fast.

When the days of fasting were over they were very weak. They went into retreat in their own ceremonial room. On the fourth night all the people in Sia, came to the room of the Snake Society, and they danced before the altar. Four men stood in front of the altar and each held a snake. They danced, and the snakes curled around their necks and waists. When the dancing was over the people brought in the feast. All the people of Sia brought in baskets and set them on both sides of the road 20 that led to the altar. The chief medicine man took a pinch from each basket and offered to the dead. Before they ate, they took the snakes back to the mountains. They ate and the chief medicine man said, "The ceremony is over. Now everyone can do as he pleases. You must all sleep here and no one must go out of the house." All the men and women stayed together that night in the house of the Snake Society. They slept with each other. They had intercourse with each other in their ceremonial room. In the morning they had all turned into stone. They are still to be seen in Sia.


15:5 Informant 2. Notes, p. 209.

16:20 The road is made of two lines, one of fine white corn meal, the other of yellow pollen. They are called the white road and the yellow road.

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