“And her eyes shine like lamps”

Since I ended up deleting one of my initial posts, explaining my id, “amphisbaina”, I thought I might write a new and improved one, for anyone who might be interested. ^_^

Usually, when I confess to owning a blog and people ask for the URL, they get stuck at “amphisbaina”. They give me that “what” face and I have to spell it out. Well, it’s all my fault for having a penchant for the bizarre, even when it comes to website addresses and ids. Amphisbaina, a variant of “amphisbaena” (literally “going both ways” – for more linguistic insight, please see the small god of internet info, Wikipedia) would be something like this:

[images via BeastPedia, Worm Salad and Les Minimes]

The 1960’s “The Book of Beasts”, compiled by T.H. White, features the following regarding this double-headed monster: This is called an AMPHIVENA (Amphisbena) because it has two heads. One head is in the right place and the other is in its tail. With one head holding the other, it can bowl along in either direction like a hoop. This is the only snake which stands the cold well, and it is the first to come out of hibernation. Lucan writes of it: ‘Rising on twin-born heads comes dangerous Amphisbaena/ And her eyes shine like lamps.’ There is more in White’s footnotes on the amphisbaena, but I’m not about to go all encyclopedic on you (despite this blog’s title). And in any case, you can read all that stuff in your spare time directly from the source, here. There are several different descriptions of the beast, but it generally comes across as a two-headed reptilian creature, invariably deadly. Most interesting is that people like Pliny and Lucan who have taken the pains to add this little wonder to their catalogue might not have been all that far from the truth. A little-known, little-studied reptile, baptised amphisbaenia, after its conceptual ancestor of sorts, does indeed exist in parts of Africa and South America.

The reason why I picked an id taking on the name of this particular obscure mythological beast is my long-lasting fascination with all things and creatures going in doubles, as well as with serpents and snake-like beasts. So what better than the two-headed snake to base my online journal on? Granted, it is somewhat arbitrary, but it is, nevertheless, consistent with the nature of my blog: random oddities on display.

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