A snake charmer is a person who appears to hypnotize a snake through the playing of a musical instrument, or sometimes simply through eye contact. It takes a fair amount of care and effort to become a snake charmer, but it is ultimately not that difficult, although the act is veiled in a shroud of mystery and superstition. The basic theory behind snake charming is actually quite easy, and you can become a snake charmer in the simplest sense with only a few preparations. To actually mimic the traditional Indian art of snake charming, however, requires more work.
First of all, it’s important to check the laws in your area regarding the ownership and handling of snakes before trying to become a snake charmer. In India, owning snakes has actually been illegal since the 1970s, and in recent years the government has cracked down on snake charmers, largely eliminating the art form. For this reason, finding a teacher in India to help you become a snake charmer may take some work, as they tend to work only in more remote villages and smaller cities where the laws are not as strictly enforced, or on selected tourist sites where the government has given them special dispensation to practice their art.
Snakes to be charmed are kept in a woven basket or a clay vessel, largely to keep the snake cool, and therefore more docile. The container needs to have some sort of lid, so that you can bring your snake around with you without having to worry about it. Once you’ve found a place to set up, you will set the container down, and make sure to situate yourself outside of your snake’s striking range, as an added security in case the snake does strike.
Once you have a crowd gathered, you can open the lid of the storage container. This sudden movement will prompt the snake to rise up out of the container to see its environment. If you are then playing a flute of some sort and swaying back and forth, or tapping your foot to keep time with the music, this movement will attract the snake’s attention, and it will also sway back and forth following your movement. Although the snake is not reacting to your music, to observers it will appear that the snake is hypnotized by your sound, rather than keeping its eyes tracking your swaying.
The reason the snake will likely not strike you is simply that most species of snakes do not like to strike if they can help it. So long as you make no sudden threatening movements, you should give the snake no reason to strike. So long as it is kept full, and the container is cool, it should be relatively sedate naturally anyway. Once you are done charming the snake, you can stop playing the instrument while you stop moving. Assured that there is no further threat, the snake will gradually coil up back in its container.
Of course, snake charming is dangerous, especially if using truly venomous snakes. Many charmers remove the poison glands or the teeth of their snakes, and some even sew the mouths shut, but this is considered cruel and likely violates animal cruelty regulations in your area. In the end, while it may sound entertaining to become a snake charmer, it is ultimately an art built on the exploitation of the animal, and could lead to serious injury if proper precautions are not taken.