“Music is delightful to every person. Low whistling, a melodious chant, or the sounds of a flute will invariably attract reptiles in countries where they are found. We have witnessed and verified the fact repeatedly. In Upper Egypt, whenever our caravan stopped, a young traveler, who believed he excelled on the flute, amused the company by playing. The camel drivers and other Arabs invariably checked him, having been several times annoyed by the unexpected appearance of various families of the reptile tribe, which generally shirk an encounter with men.
Finally, our caravan met with a party, among whom were professional serpent-charmers, and the virtuoso was then invited, for experiment’s sake, to display his skill. No sooner had he commenced, than a slight rustling was heard, and the musician was horrified at suddenly seeing a large snake appear in dangerous proximity with his legs. The serpent was uplifted head and eyes fixed on him, slowly, and, as if unconsciously, crawled, softly undulating its body, and following his every movement.
Then appeared at a distance another one, then a third, and a fourth, which were speedily followed by others, until we found ourselves quite in a select company. Several of the travelers made for the backs of their camels, while others sought refuge in the cantinier’s tent. But it was a vain alarm. The charmers, three in number, began their chants and incantations, and attracting the reptiles, were very soon covered with them from head to foot.
As soon as the serpents approached the men, they exhibited signs of torpor, and were soon plunged in a deep catalepsy. Their eyes were half closed and glazed, and their heads drooping. There remained but one recalcitrant, a large and glossy black fellow, with a spotted skin. This meloman of the desert went on gracefully nodding and leaping, as if it had danced on its tail all its life, and keeping time to the notes of the flute. This snake would not be enticed by the “charming” of the Arabs, but kept slowly moving in the direction of the flute-player, who at last took to his heels.
The modern Psyllian then took out of his bag a half-withered plant, which he kept waving in the direction of the serpent. It had a strong smell of mint, and as soon as the reptile caught its odor, it followed the Arab, still erect upon its tail, but now approaching the plant. A few more seconds, and the “traditional enemy” of man was seen entwined around the arm of his charmer, became torpid in its turn, and the whole lot were then thrown together in a pool, after having their heads cut off.”
H. P. Blavatsky