Why do lizards kiss the ground every evening?




When I was a kid, my grandparents always told me to go home before the lizards go down and kiss the ground. The words 'go down' seemed normal to me, but when they said 'kiss the ground' I wondered. Even my uncle told me the same. I asked them why, they didn't know the answer. But my grandmother remembered a phrase that other elders do say - Lizards are Godly. Well, their act of kissing the ground is like humility and remembers where they originated. Still, I have no idea and read no scientific explanation, however I read two Philippine legends (alamat ng butiki - the legend of lizard) explaining it.




Ang Alamat (The Legend)



The Legend of Lizard


Long ago, there was a mother who loved her only son deeply. She was a pious woman and her son imitated most of her good deeds, which were many. Her son was good at heart, but young. The woman knew that he still had much to learn before he could fully adopt saintly ways.

God decided to test this young son’s piety and love for his mother. He sent a beautiful woman to capture the young man’s eager heart. The beautiful woman urged the son to keep their meetings a secret from his mother, and though it pained the boy to do so, for he never kept secrets from his mother, he obeyed. But the real challenge had not yet been failed.

The beautiful woman beguiled the boy so that she was able to make him promise that he would do anything she asked. She therefore asked that he should – if he loved her as truly as he declared – cut out his mother’s heart and bring it to her. The young man, blinded by love, dutifully slaughtered his beloved mother. It was exactly six o’clock in the evening, and his mother was reciting the Angelus then. He held the still-beating heart in his hands as he rushed to where he knew the girl stood waiting. But when he got to their meeting-place, the girl was not there. Nothing was there – save for the realization of what he had done.

The heart still beat, though it tarried long in the hands of the prodigal son. And then it began to speak. In his shock, the boy dropped the heart, and it fell into a crack in the ground.

"Are you in pain, my child?" the mother’s heart inquired. "Let me sing you a lullaby, to soothe you to sleep." The heart softly started singing, as lovingly as its owner would have done. And in the son’s remorse he fell flat on his belly and kissed the ground that the heart lay on. The boy was so filled with guilt and grief that he did not notice himself changing, growing smaller, losing all his hair and clothing so that he was a tiny web-footed thing, that kissed and kissed at the ground as if begging for someone’s forgiveness.

At exactly six o’clock every night, when the Angelus strikes, the lizard comes down from the walls of the house, and crawls down to the floor, where it would make slight ticking sounds like quick kisses. It has been said that the lizard has not yet redeemed itself in its own eyes, and that with its tiny ears it could hear an ancient beating, and a lullaby that does not end.[1]



There was young boy who was naughty, he always play tricks and mischief to anyone and everything in the village. This character of him makes a lot of people angry and they don't like him, which is the reason why he always get spank and scolded by his mom and dad.

However, this kid hadn't changed his attitude and instead he got more hard headed and is being disrespectful of the elderly. No one doesn't want to be his friend because of this. And the animals has been his source of entertainment because nobody wants to play with him. And this created another problem, the tame animals become elusive once this mischievous boy got close or around these animals doing them harm.

Later on, he even got to the point of secretly destroying plants on the neighborhood.

One day, he did another mischief.

He got to the mound and ruined the mound while his mother was busy sweeping their yard. His mother saw this and she got very angry and scolded his son. Afterwards, she did all her best to ask for forgiveness to the mound's dweller (the goblin) that might be residing in there for what her son did.

"I ask for forgiveness ancestors," she pleaded to the mound. "My son wouldn't do it again and that he would be good, I promised."

The mother preached her son never to do it again to the mound because the goblin can get very angry.

In the country, it is a dreaded thing to do to stomp or step onto the mounds as they might be inhabited by this unseen beings.

But this kid didn't learned his lesson. After lashing the carabao the following day, he concentrated on going after a monitor lizard. The stubborn child followed the monitor lizard around but he missed it when the animal went through a protruding roots of a tree. He continuously search the area holding his slingshot.

How happy he was when he found the monitor lizard's eggs! He happily used his slingshot on each one of the eggs.

But he got startled when a goblin suddenly appeared in front of him.

"Hey there mischievous child! Didn't you know that there's life inside those eggs? Why did you cracked those eggs?" the goblin asked him. "I am going to punish you because of what you did. You are going to be a consanguine of the monitor lizard."

"Please don't do that. Have pity on me. I'm going to be a good kid now. I swear!" pleaded the naughty kid.

"You are such a liar! How many times have you promised that every time your dad spanks you? And just yesterday it was your mom who made a promised, but you hadn't changed. Now, as your punishment, you will kiss the ground just before dusk. But you will still live inside a home because you are a human the Creator had created. You will be called as the house lizard." the goblin said.

The horrified naughty child hurriedly rush to his home while screaming.

"Help me mom! Please help me! I don't want to be a house lizard. I don't want to be a house lizard," he cried.

The mother had a glanced of her son from the window and she saw how he fall on his face even before he could go up the bamboo stairs. She wondered on her son's transformation until he became so small and looks just like a monitor lizard.

House lizard was the last word she heard from his son and so that's what she called him. And even though the strange animal was gentle, it is elusive because of shame on what happened that had led him to become like this.

Up to this day, the house lizard still continuously kisses the ground at sundown.

Can he still go back to his human form and be with his parents? He might be feeling really sorry for all the mischief he had done.

But only time can tell.[2]


Afterword


Actually, I haven't caught a lizard doing the act. So, I am not even sure if they really do it or just a legend.

In my opinion, the lizards go down the ground to feed and/or drink water because they usually stay on the ceiling. They lay their eggs on any small cracks on the wooden wall or boxes on the old cabinets or anywhere they like to lay, but not on the ground. Thus, it's not their breeding time. Some lizards also only appear every night (maybe they are nocturnal), and they start to stay near the ceiling lights where the moths often flock for some reason.

I don't really know the reason behind those acts of the lizards, but I love to think they remember simple things - like kissing the ground habitually.

Sources:
[1] http://www.philsites.net/folklore/stories/legend4.html
[2] http://precyanza.hubpages.com/hub/Philippine-Legend-The-Legend-Of-The-First-Lizard


Image Source:
http://mycruisestories.com/2011/10/15/divinng-and-snorkeling-anilao-philippines/

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