Recently in China, a snake girl was reported in a village in the far north – about three flying or twenty driving hours from my hometown in Yantai. It’s very cold in this part of China, a Canadian kind of cold.
The snake girl who lived in the village was about thirteen years old. Before she became a snake girl, she was just this typical Chinese girl – with two ponytails in the back of her head and with skin that was a tan, Chinese color. When I saw her photograph, I liked her
immediately. She reminded me of myself when I was a kid – with mud on my face
from playing outside all day long.
So the story goes like this: one day the girl just suddenly fell down (a few days after catching a cold according to her father). She did not get up after she fell. Even with her parents trying to get her to stand up, she would not get up. Lying there on the ground she turned onto her stomach and suddenly started wriggling her arms and her legs so that she moved forward. So literally she’s crawling like a snake on the floor – with her legs and arms curling and unstretching behind her. And she was doing this with her eyes closed. From that day on, she moved around with her eyes closed.
Now her village was the kind of village where people didn’t keep their doors shut and everyone is everyone else’s relatives. So, instantly her story got known by the neighbors, and the whole village was concerned about her and wanted to help her. The neighbors would come to the house to see if there was some way that they could help. But as soon as they stepped inside, the snake girl would rush and bite them. She would bite anybody – including her parents when they were trying to feed her food. She wouldn’t eat their food. She would just drink water from the ground. And she would catch chickens and other little animals. She would catch these little animals and kill them. She would just bite them to death, and then drink the blood and eat the meat and tear the feathers. She also loved to stay in dark,
wet, humid corners empty of light.
All of this really shocked her parents. They didn’t know what to do. So, after going to talk with the local doctor, the parents also called the news media because they were so desperate for any help they could get from anywhere. The neighbors were very happy that the parents
were trying so hard because the whole situation with the girl was freaking a lot of people out.
In China, many of us believe that if someone acts like the girl does then they’re possessed by a spirit. In the U.S., they have this belief too of course. But you think of the spirit as mother figures or father figures or language or culture. We see the spirits as outside ones too. In this case, people said it was a snake spirit. An ancient one. That’s why the girl totally lost herself and all human characteristics.
After a couple of months, the news media contacted the parents with the name of a famous doctor. The parents traveled to the capital city in their province to meet with this doctor – who was a very nice man. The doctor asked the parents a lot of questions and then told them that he was worried that a cold triggered the girl’s behavior, that the cold had caused inflammation in her brain and maybe there was brain damage involved. The parents thanked the doctor for his opinion and time but said they would like to get another opinion. So, they met with a second doctor who had reached out to the media. He also lived in the capital city.
This second doctor disagreed with the first doctor. But not in a happy way. Without sympathy or warmth, he said the daughter was now completely insane because she was a schizophrenic and that there was no real coming back from such a state. He said he knew some institutions that might take the girl. The girl’s parents were shocked to hear this so they went back to the first doctor to see if he could offer them some hope. They felt in their hearts that their daughter’s sickness was unnatural and that with the right methods nature would reassert itself, and she could become normal again.
The first doctor was a very humble and genuine man. He listened to the parents talk about their feelings and then tried to reason with them in a scientific frame, while at the same time
allowing that other forces might be involved. The physical self could have weakened the girl so that she caught a spiritual sickness – just like an injury can affect your immune system and make you more susceptible to being invaded by a virus.
The first doctor said, “I will try. I will try. But be patient. Let’s just do what we can and see what happens. Until then, don’t worry what other people have told you – that there’s no coming back. That’s not true unless we try.”
So this doctor used all kinds of medicine like acupuncture and herbs and anti-inflammatory massage for the girl. And followed his instincts and the lessons he had learned from reading about and personally dealing with similar cases. In this way, the girl got cured and
became normal. She’s now as normal as any other teenage girl.
In the end, it is hard to say exactly what happened with the snake girl. Maybe it was a cold. But it makes me think too. If some ailment affects your brain, what type of switches might it turn off or on, or what parts of the brain might it open or close? What behaviors might it
cause? What is the real distinction between human beings and other beings?
Note: This event took place in 2016 in Meishan, Sichuan Province, as reported by Sichuan TV (STV). The girl’s name was not disclosed – just her nickname LanLan.