Snail - Patience
Patience. Water energy. Rain energy. Celebrating the Winter. Spirals. Protection. Letting go of deadlines. Letting life pass you by. Sensuality. Celebrating texture and minutiae.
Australia has a large quantity of native snails, none of which are known to do great damage to garden plants. It is the invasive European snail that we most commonly see in our gardens, munching on our plants. In fact, many native snails are carnivorous and consume European snails! Some species of native snail in Australia are able to remain dormant for years until appropriate, wet weather conditions enable them to move with ease.
Snails are mollusks that move via contracting the muscles in their 'foot' and easing their way with slime (that also can serve as a scent trail to other snails). They are known for their slow speeds and for carrying their internal organs in a protective 'shell,' if the shell is cracked, they can often heal it over time, however serious damage will result in death. Snails eat a variety of foods and live in a variety of habitats. Snails are hermaphroditic. They are eaten by all major vertebrate groups (including humans.)
Lessons and Challenges:
Snail is often overlooked as a valuable guide (our loss, really), but has many important lessons to teach. Snail teaches us to cultivate patience in both our expectations of ourselves, others and life in general. There is a lot of emphasis on doing things fast these days, no wonder poor snail has been left behind as a powerful guide and teacher.
The concept of patience frustrates many people who just want to get it done 'now.' However, patience is a necessary ability. Knowing how to endure waiting and delay with calmness, without annoyance, is a skill that needs to be gently trained and developed. Snail energy is a champion of patience. It patiently waits for the rains to fall, sealing itself up safely in the meantime. It knows that its own journeying will take time, and snail energy is okay with that.
It's important to let go of fixed or unrealistic deadlines, and if necessary, let life pass you by. It is not possible to do all the things you want to do in a single lifetime, that doesn't mean don't have any goals at all, but it does mean that it's okay to slow down and appreciate the smaller moments and the parts of your life that aren't 'goals,' but nourish you all the same. When you let go of unrealistic expectation, you learn how to accept the present as it is, and find joy in that.
Take time to appreciate texture and minutiae. Literally start focusing on the smaller things. It might be learning to appreciate the smaller fauna and flora around the place, learning how to immerse yourself in touching different textures and learning how they feel. Life isn't always about the big events, but instead, the smaller moments where you notice a great sleeping position, a new way of preparing dinner, a tendril of life shooting out of some local soil.
Along with celebrating texture, snail teaches one how to appreciate sensuality. Snail is a tactile creature, its single 'foot' fully embraces every surface that it touches with the added benefit of mucous, making sure that it is as connected as possible to what it is attached to. It is worth reconnecting with touch and sensuality. See how touch can be pleasurable, how even sensations that you might associate with being unclean (like running your hands through dirt) can actually be a positive experience if you begin to change your perspectives about it.
Actively bring water energy into your life at this time. Consider having more baths or showers (remember to be water conscious), alternatively, take the time to stand outside in the rain. Water, when utilised in conjunction with snail energy, is a deeply nourishing and enriching force. It enlivens the spirit and heightens the body's ability to function. For those with SAD, snail can be a useful metaphysical counter to some of the emotional symptoms of the disorder, as snail finds joy and growth in rain and Winter.
In continuance with above, snail suggests that we celebrate the Winter, no matter what it represents for us. Whether we use Winter as a time to recharge, whether it is a time when our bodies slow down and we need to be gentle and patient with ourselves, or whether we - like snail - are recharged during the colder, wetter months. Take the time to write down what Winter means to you, and see if you can find ways to make it more meaningful and enriching as a season.
There is an element of self-protection when snail comes into your life. Snail is - let's face it - a vulnerable animal. It tastes great to a lot of different creatures. It moves slow (bonus), it's not usually poisonous, etc. So snail has a few methods of protection, one is the development of a shell to protect its inner organs. It has also developed a love of the darker, quieter places in life. And it will hide, as necessary, when the environment around it is not working to its favour. Snail teaches you how to protect yourself as necessary.
Snail teaches the sacredness of the spiral. It incorporates the spiral clearly into its own shell, and in turn possesses a metaphysical connection to pagan spiritualities in particular. The spiral has been used in megalithic and pagan art in the past to represent the sun, death, life and rebirth, cycles and progression, among others.
The Shadow Aspects:
Those who dislike, or fear snail may find that they associate fear with slime and dirt, and textures that they have come to associate with being unclean and unsanitary. Snail challenges this idea that some textures, sensations and feelings are 'bad,' and asks you to learn how to look at addressing such textures in a different and perhaps healthier manner.
Like all animal helpers, this animal will only appear when right and appropriate, and cannot be forced to visit you, commune with you, or share messages with you. Snail, like seadragon and some of the other gentler guides, can be an easy energy to push aside even when its constantly trying to get your attention. Learning how to listen to snail's messages is a skill that comes with learning how to listen to yourself and your body.
Snail is easily approached in visualisation, and also in journeying. Meeting snail in places of water and rain work to your advantage, as snail won't come forward in dryer times and environments. Remember that snail is a gentle guide, and requires conscious, dedicated work. It is easy to lose a connection with snail, because it disappears from time to time, and because it doesn't have an imposing energy (unless, of course, you have it as a shadow guide).