Dæmon in the Wood, Chapter Four

The Ritual Fallacy

Many years ago the people in a neighborhood near Pittsboro had assembled at the church for service. Before the service began, a man out in the grove encountered a large snake. He looked for something with which to defend himself. The snake ran toward him, and the man to protect himself dodged behind a tree. The snake at once threw itself against the tree, fastening itself to the tree by the horn on the end of its tail. There it hissed at the man, who struck at it with a pole until the snake was killed. The man left it there in the tree and went into the church. When the service was over, he found that the leaves on the tree had withered and later the tree died.

- told in 1922 by Clara Hearne of Chatham county, North Carolina200

Image of man and ‘hornsnake’ at the tree


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A Norwegian headboard with four live trees carved in relief