By Phoenix of Elder Mountain – (All articles are written by Phoenix from her experiences of a forty year initiations of wrathful dismemberment, permission is needed to share). On the morning of the Summer Solstice, I was going outside and I look down on the front porch, and there was the tiniest black snail. I wondered how long its journey was to get on the porch to greet me for the summer solstice morning? Last summer solstice, another snail was on the little water plate in the garden and it was pretty magical too, so this being the second time, I was very happy to see the tiny black one. I have had big mountain lion totems, hawks, egrets etc. but the older and wiser I become I see the great power of the small.
My life is pretty slow in general and I can say I have worked hard for that in my spiritual journey over the decades with self-healing, disciplines and spiritual practices. This particular summer solstice moon cycle, I noticed though, that I slowed down to a really super slow level, which is unusual. I associated with it, that I was tired, but I am not tired… it just seemed that my whole system down shifted to first gear and I am sure its for a good reason.
Snail or Turtle are not easy totems when one leads a busy life or is young (under 40). If snails don’t visit you often, then its not really a totem, its a “messenger” and the message it brings is pacing yourself, slowing down, taking time to really master that mind and meditate to assist you.
Messengers and Totems
In basic totem work, large messengers (animals, birds, insects etc) means large changes are coming and to watch for when they start. Totems on the other hand, are around for years to go through the steps of those changes with us, always reminding you to stay consistent and keep doing your spiritual work. Snail lets us know that time itself will be slowing down and you might experience that or that “we” need to slow down… can’t have one without the other.
The Snail Spirit is always consider lucky for some, but not everyone finds the snail spirit pleasant. It symbolizes deep and powerful things that can bring you good tidings. When your snail appears to you, focus on its subtle traits, this will invite more good luck and prosperity into your life.
The myth of Cupid’s arrow might come from the mating rituals of Helix aspersa, the garden snail. Some snails shoot “love darts” at the object of their affections, containing mucus that increases the chances of their sperm surviving (snails are hermaphrodites, and both individuals receive sperm during mating). In earlier times, people believed that these were gifts of calcium or an aphrodisiac.
Egyptian hieroglyphics and many other cultures have the spiral as a common feature in nature. To the ancient Egyptians the spiral and its association with the snail is a symbol expantion. The symbolism represents spiritually, that of increasing consciousness and to do such work that encourages this. And the evolution of your own life which means what cycle by age you are in right now.
For Pre-Columbians of South America, snails were a symbol of joy. Their sea snail was considered a symbol of rebirth and joy for Central Americas, who believed the whirled shape of its shell represented the circle of life and because they are tiny it represented the personal not the collective.
Snail is gentle and quiet, and it signifies our need to be gentle and kind to yourself and others. It teaches us to work quietly but industriously, and to celebrate our victories with gratitude and wonder.
Because snails have shells, it speaks of boundaries and slowing down to be able to see what is all around you in your environment. To snail the world is immense and many things exist within it, but it has its shell to keep it safe. Not everyone has good boundaries, they may feel guilty or not love and light if they assert them. There is no proper way to begin to flex your boundaries, no perfect way, we just have to start somewhere.
Sometimes its through our voice, by speaking up, other times its closing a door on a toxic relationship, however you begin to practice boundaries, do it until you do it with conviction. Practice makes perfect. Remember nature’s rule is, if snail is a messenger, then someone will come into your space that month where you will have to assert boundaries.
If snail is around all the time year after year, then its a totem helper to teach as nature does, to have healthy boundaries in the physical rather than emotional arena of your life. Crabs live near the ocean, so they are about emotional boundaries, but although snails like water, they are earth bound animals.
Black Snail means that the unknown, the inner feminine, the seeing with second sight. When black snail makes its presence, either positive or negative, we wear the color of all colors, showing a more advanced symbol of the feminine, the night, and the dreaming. When black snail shows up, which is more rare, watch your dreams that night and the message that comes. I usually have dreaming lizard that shows up when I am going to have a dream, but I feel with snail show up, my totem is changing in regards to my dreams that will come forth.
Folklore and Folktales of the Snail
Snail Woman, Korean Folklore
A long time ago, there was a young man who lived by himself. He was working in the rice field one time and was talking to himself aloud, saying things like “Why don’t I have a family or a wife?” He then hears this voice, okay, “I’ll be with you” . He looks around and he can’t see where it’s coming from, but he hears it again, and it’s by his feet. All he sees a snail, so he picks it up.
The next day, he wakes up and there’s this feast on the table, all this delicious food and he doesn’t question it, he just eats it. Later, he thinks more about it and decides that he wants to know who it who works so hard. He hides and in the middle of the night, sees a beautiful woman come out of the snail shell and she makes him food and cleans the house and then she goes back into her shell.
After some nights of him hiding and watching her, he decides to keep her. One day after he eats breakfast and pretends to go to work, he hides again and waits until the woman comes out and he grabs her before she could go back into her shell. The man asks her to marry him and she says yes and then she tells him that she’s the daughter of the Dragon King. They fall in love and then get married.
One day a rich noble guy comes by and sees the woman and thinks to himself that he wants to marry her so he challenges the husband to a contest, and the rich guy proposes to race in cutting down a tree. The husband’s worried because he loves his wife, but then the wife whispers to him to go visit her father the Dragon King. He goes to visit the Dragon King who lives underwater and the king gives him a bag. When he returns the contest starts, and he opens the bag and little men come out and cuts the tree for him and he wins.
The rich guy gets mad and demands to compete again, this time with riding horses. The husband goes back to the Dragon King and he is given a really old horse. When he returns, and they race, the horse, of course, is fast and wins. The rich man gets so upset he starts flailing around and dies. The husband lives happily ever after with his wife.
This is a mythical beast from Gascon folklore, described as being both a serpent and mollusk at the same time, taking characteristics from both types of animals. Its massive and long body carried an enormous shell upon its back, much like a snail’s shell, that was believed to live in underground caverns in southwest France. Its gaping mouth was surrounded by several long, hairy, and slime covered tentacles that could extend for miles.
These appendages stretched out from the cave it inhabited for a long distance and laid upon the ground among its own viscous slime. They would ensnare and drag back to its abode anything within reach. It would then swallow the victim whole with its gigantic mouth. The Carcolh is a nickname given to the city of Hastingues, in the French department of Landes, due to its situation on a rounded-shape hill. Furthermore, the men of Hastingues used to say, as a pleasant warning to young and pretty women “The carcolh will catch you!”.
Legend of Golden Snail, Folklore from East Java, Indonesia
Keong Emas (Javanese and Indonesian for Golden Snail) is a popular Javanese folklore about a princess magically transformed and contained in a golden snail shell. The folklore is a part of popular Javanese Panji cycle telling the stories about the prince Panji Asmoro Bangun (also known as Raden Inu Kertapati) and his consort, princess Dewi Sekartaji (also known as Dewi Chandra Kirana).
Here is the story: Once upon a time, king Kertamarta from Daha Kingdom had two daughters namely Dewi Galuh Ajengand Dewi Candra Kirana. Daha is bordered by Kahuripan Kingdom. To strengthen the brotherhood ties between the two kingdom, Dewi candra Kirana was engaged to the Crown Prince of Kahuripan namely Raden Inu Kertapati, a brave, handsome and wise prince.
Galuh Ajeng envided Candra Kirana because she had feelings for Raden Inu Kertapati, too. To prevent Candra Kirana from marrying him, Candra Kirana was slandered so that she was expelled from this place. More than that, to harm her, Galuh Ajeng asked a favor from a witch. The witch put a curse on Candra Kirana to become Keong Emas (Golden Snail) and then threw her away to the sea. The curse would disappear if Keong Emas could meet Raden Inu Kertapati.
One day in Dadapan village, Keong Emas was found by an old woman when she ws fishing. The snail attacted her so she took it home. The next day, the old woman went fishing in the sea like usual. That day she couldn’t caught any fish. She went home sadly. To her surprise , a variety of delicious food was always available at her home.
Until one day, she was too curious and tried to find out who on earth had cooked the meal. She went out early pretended to go fishing. She actually hid behind her house to see what was going on. She saw a very beautiful girl cooking in her house. She asked the girl, “Beautiful girl, who are you truly?”
The girl eventually told the woman that she was actually Candra Kirana, the princess of Daha Kingdom, who was put on a curse by a witch sent by Galuh Ajeng that envied her. When the sun was getting high Candra Kirana turn into Keong Emas again. Meanwhile, Raden Inu Kertapati kept searching for Candra Kirana who had left the palace. In the search, he disguised as a commoner. On his way, he met a talking crow. He asked the crow for the direction to where Chandra kirana was, and he followed the direction pointed by the crow.
Yet, the direction was misleading because the crow was actually the witch in disguise who prevent him from meeting her queen to be. Later he met a starving old man actually had a supernatural power, and in return for his kindness, he was assisted in fighting the witch and was given the direction to where Candra Kirana was.
Following the old man’s direction, Raden Inu Kertapati headed to Dadapan Village. She saw an old woman repairing her house. He approached her and offered her some help. After the work was done, she offered him to rest in her house. To his surprise, Candra Kirana was there. They were happy to see each other and the curse put by the witch disappeared. Candra Kirana introduced him to the old woman, and brought her back to Daha Kingdom.
In Daha Kingdom, King Kertamarta was furius after learning the evil Galuh had done to Candra kirana. Being frightened, Galuh Ajeng ran to the woods and fell from a steep slope. King Kertamarta asked Candra Kirana to forgive him. The wedding of Raden Inu Kertapati and Candra Kirana proceeded joyfully and welcomed happily by the people of both kingdoms. The pair lived happily ever after.
Golden Conch is a 1963 Chinese paper-cut animated short film directed by Wan Guchan 万古蟾 and produced by Shanghai Animation Film Studio. The film was adapted from the Chinese folk tale Snail Girl.
Sources: Korean Folk-tales, retold by James Riordan; Narrated by José E. Tomeldan of Binalonan, Pangasinan. Filipino Tales by Dean S. Fansler; East Java Folktales; Ancient Chinese Culture Folk Copper Statue of the Lucky Snail; Snail at Heydar Aliyev center Azerbaijan