In the mythology of the Oceanic peoples, the world began with an Old Spider. All that existed was Darkness and the Sea. The Old Spider found a giant clam and crawled inside. Finding a snail already in residence, the Old Spider persuaded it to go west into the sky where it became the Moon. Then, with the help of another snail, the Old Spider pushed very hard on the top of the clam shell, raising it up, and it became the Sky, which it called Rangi. Then the Old Spider pushed down on the clam’s lower shell and it widened out to become the Earth. Confusingly for English speakers, the world was named Papa, which means ‘Mother’. The space between land and sky was then increased by the simple expedient of opening the clam shell wider.
Glycon was a snake god, worshipped until the fourth century by a small but dedicated cult. Centred upon the Roman Empire, Glycon’s followers erected temples and even had coins struck in the serpent’s name. Notable followers included the governor of Asia, Publius Mummius Sisenna Rutilianus, who declared himself protector of Glycon's oracle and who married the daughter of Alexander of Abonutichus, the leading Greek prophet of the cult. In time, even people like Marcus Aurelius sought prophesies from Alexander and Glycon. Abonutichus, which had been an insignificant little fishing village became an important centre for religion and took on the name Ionopolis.
Although the cult is long since dead, residual superstition remains with local people believing in a ‘magical snake’ that lives among the hills. The writer Alan Moore has declared himself a follower of Glycon and that he enjoys the idea of worshipping a ‘probable fraud.’ This is because the writer and satirist Lucien believed that Glycon was ‘created’ in the second century by Alexander as a hoax, with Glycon existing only as a glove puppet.
Final selection tomorrow. x