The rattlesnake tattoo on the cover of my new mystery novel Morning Mist of Blood is from a shell gorget found in a Mississippian mound that dates back to around 1,300 BC. There are many similar gorgets that feature supernatural beasts like strange-headed rattlesnakes, spiders and the underwater panther.
Beaks, talons, claws and fangs were favorite "metaphorical expressions" of power, hunting skill, etc. I'm not an archaeologist but it seems like there are many similarities with symbols from Mexico, Central America and other parts of the world, especially the all-seeing eye in the center of the human palm.
Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice and the park at Spiro, Oklahoma conducts a winter's solstice walk. The last guided tour (hike) starts at around 2pm and ends at the main Spiro Mound at sunset of the year's longest day. I was hoping to make it but it doesn't look like I will. So many interesting things to do and see and so little time. Oh well, maybe next year.