The Snake Dance

Luisa got up to go. She did not offer to pay but said, ‘If you need any more plants for giving gifts, I will not charge you.’ I walked over to open the door for her, and she extended her hand – in typical Costa Rican’ women’s style, with her palm drooping at a ninety degree angle. Thank God, being a professional gardener and nursery owner, she worked all day in the dirt and was not into growing real or false nails. But, really, whatever happened to the whole-body-hug-and-handshake?

I cannot deny that very quietly, in the back of my mind, I was watching a tiny hope raise its head like a cute baby snake, ‘the remedy is beginning to work.’ But I had to ask myself not to cling to the result and maintain vain hope. ‘Who am I – a direct descendant of Hahnemann, or a blood relative of Rajan Sankaran that I just instinctively feel that a certain substance could have medicinal use for a certain individual. Helios makes me the remedy because I pay on time, I give the up-to-now-unknown remedy, and the patient begins feeling better and behaving better within ten minutes??? Ha-ha-ha, I had to be a bit more grounded and realistic than that. Perhaps Luisa was respecting the decorum of my clinic, even though I did not wear a white coat and throw a stethoscope around my neck. Perhaps she was just respecting the doctor-patient relationship.

I heard a few days later that some members of Luisa’s extended family were hurt in a car crash. They had all survived, but a couple of them had sustained serious injuries when their car was carried off the road in a major mudslide. Luisa was off to the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose, to help her extended family. ‘Patient unavailable for follow up’ I wrote in her case file.

She stayed back in San Jose for the next several weeks and we did not connect even once after the remedy. My eight weeks of vacation in Costa Rica were coming to an end. One morning I packed my bags and drove myself to the airport. As I passed by the sign that said ‘Baby plants. Warm café. Talk English. For sale’ I smiled, remembering the whole-body-hug-and-handshake from the woman who owned this nursery.

I eased back into my routine work in my US clinic. But, something was feeling very strange and different. Besides my regular patients, there was suddenly a very sharp spike in the number of patients with family names like Alvarez, Benitez, Cruz, Diaz, Escobedo, Flores, Gonzales, Hernandez, Perez, Sanchez, Ramirez, Torres, Morales, Chavez, Ramos… and so on.  They came from towns and villages within about three hundred mile radius of my village. They mostly had extended families and a few members of each family needed to see me for some reason or the other. Some of them spoke fluent English, some spoke haltingly, some spoke no English at all. They would drive all the way up to my village, check themselves into the only local Bed and Breakfast (the owners sent me a thank-you note for the increase in their business due to my patients) and then throughout the day, I would see various members of this family.

Besides the fact that my income suddenly rose to extraordinary new levels, and Nancy received a hefty bonus, I was stupefied with this sudden prosperity and had no way of understanding how it had come about till one gray and rainy day in the fall, Luisa found me on the Facebook and sent in a friend request which I immediately accepted.

On Facebook, Luisa informed me about her health. Her bleeding issue had gone away completely. Now she had regularity in her periods that she used to have when she was a very happy teenager living with her dear family in the rural village of Rio Piedra, years and years ago. It was now over six months since she took the remedy that I had given her and she has not had any single concerns regarding her bleeding. She was happy and doing well. When I asked her if she had something to do with all these Hispanic families showing up at my office, she said, ‘I don’t know. I just told one of my friends back in the States who had known all along how I was suffering, that I had seen you only once, taken the remedy you gave me only three times, and I was now completely well.  If she spread the news about you, you have to ask her. She is Patricia Fernandez and I can ask her to friend you on the Facebook.

To such an offer, I could not say no. I also could not say no to Nancy, when in the beginning of fall, she asked me if I wanted to go back to Rio Piedra for eight weeks in the winter, ‘By all means, Nancy, get me there for all of November and December’ I said as I watched a tiny leaf detach itself from the birch tree on the park across from my office, swirl in the breeze a few times and then gently land with extra-ordinary precision, right in the center of the window pane, its yellow side facing me, making me marvel at the precision of random events and encounters and how they shape our lives.

About the author

Vatsala Sperling

Vatsala Sperling

Dr. Vatsala Sperling MS, PhD, PDHom, CCH, RSHom(NA), was the Chief of Clinical Microbiology services at a children’s hospital in Chennai, India, where she conducted research with the World Health Organization and published extensively. On moving to the USA to start a family, Vatsala pursued an education in homeopathy at Misha Norland’s School of Homeopathy. An author of nine books ( and many essays and articles on homeopathy, health and spirituality, Vatsala continues to study with several teachers. She practices classical homeopathy in Vermont, currently volunteers on the case review committee of the CHC and has served on the board of directors of NASH. Vatsala can be reached via her website,


  • Beautiful story, Vatsala. We, the ticos, are very fortunate to have such kind of person and Homeopath visiting

    our contry (the Pura Vida country),and to help so many people in Rio Piedras.

    • Dear Roberto, Thank you for your kind words.
      I just wish to emphasize here that “SNAKE DANCE” is a work of fiction. As in most fiction, there is a microscopic kernel of truth in it and the rest is pure fantasy or my imagination.
      Glad you enjoyed the story.

  • Very well written, a great story!!! where fact, fable & fantasy seemed to rival each other to be the hero or heroine with each fork and turn of the narration. Even though at the very end Vatsala says there was some fictional basis, I want to believe that the whole episode was entirely true and autobiographical and who knows, it maybe is. Vatsala makes her characters come alive with homeopathic breath & meaning. Vatsala’s description of Louisa’s clingy, constricting husband blurs the line between harmless snake and deadly serpent. All, in all a great story that reveals the Similimmum by repertorizing the central character Louisa and her mesmerizing passion for snakes. I was enthralled reading to the very end though at times, it seemed as if the hiss of a snake with Louisa’s head would haunt me in future dreams. Great Job – Vatsala!!!

  • I really enjoyed reading the story. You really capture the feeling of what it’s like being a homeopathic doctor.

  • Thank you Vatsala! Your story has inspired me to remember to trust my inner voice; it is truly amazing how the remedies are revealed to us through our patients stories and that the remedies come just when they are needed.

  • Well written interesting story! I couldn’t wait to see which snake remedy was used. They also fascinate me …. Both snakes and the remedies!

  • Nice charming story like a snake charmer charmes the snake. I felt that you had been in costa rica for some time to catch nature’s beauty and peoples nature. Pure life living along with nature always beautiful and heart touching affair, which we lost due to urbainisation.

  • The most beautiful story I read in years, even among professional writers! Sophisticated in its metaphoric language, elaborate descriptions and subtle hints – I am grateful to you for putting this sketch of inner workings of life energies in writing..

  • Inspiring story, just like you and I so resonate with how you went ahead with remedy making and choice 🙂

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