Slug & Snail Spirit Guide: Folklore and Symbolism
He’s tiny, slimy and moves at a snail’s pace. Literally. Mother Earth’s creatures are truly amazing, no matter how big or small. And when they pop up into our lives, they all have a message for us. Has the slug or snail spirit animal appeared to you lately? The snail may be small, slow and seemingly unimportant, but it has a profound spiritual message for you. As does the slug. Learn about the slug and snail spirit guide, snail symbolism and folklore here.
The Overlooked Power of Snails and Slugs
- Slugs are hermaphrodites, they have both male and female reproductive organs…and can fertilize their own eggs
- The largest slug in the United States is called a banana slug which can grow up to a foot long
- Slugs can breathe through their skin and respiratory pores
- Snails have been around for over 500 million years!
- Snails can live as long as 25 years in domesticity and between 3 and 7 in the wild
- The symbol of never-ending life is manifest in the snail’s shell
The Humble Snail Spirit Guide
The snail is one of those creatures that not everyone finds pleasant. Children usually find them entertaining, but adults are often displeased to find a snail in their garden. With the use of pesticides and other chemicals, many are happy to rid their property of the humble, slow snail. While snails and slugs can be a “pest” to certain plant-life, their presence on one’s property usually brings a message of some kind to the inhabitants. Do you know what those messages are?
Let’s learn a little about the humble snail and it’s history as we look through the ages passed. While the snail might be considered a nuisance in modern times to those who don’t pay attention, there are those of us who are ready to learn of the snail’s deep spiritual symbolism and beginnings and how these can be applied to our lives today.
Snail Spirit Animal & Symbolism
Snails symbolize deep and powerful things. Keep in mind that not only are there land snails, but there are also sea snails. This special species bridges the gap between elements. And any animal that bridges the gap between two elements bridges the gap between the mundane and the spiritual worlds. The snail spirit animal crosses spiritual boundaries with ease.
- bridging the gap between the element of Earth and Water
- crossing the spiritual barrier between the physical and spirit worlds
- the spiral of life, death, and rebirth (reincarnation)
- the earth’s rotation around the sun
- carrying one’s home with them
- taking one’s time; enjoying life at a slower pace
- Amun – ancient Egyptian ram-god
- Tecciztecatl – ancient Aztec god
- fertility, abundance, things coming to fruition
- Taking one’s time in making life decisions
- being in liminal space: be it physical or experiential threshold space
- moving between homes, jobs, relationships, etc.
- being gender-queer, binary, and hermaphroditic (LGBTQ+ rights)
- connection to the moon and moon deities
The Snail Spirit Animal’s Spiral
First, if we look at the snail spirit animal, what do we notice? It’s shell, of course! Most snails have a spiral shell that holds much wisdom. The spiral to many ancient cultures represented the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It also represents the rotation of the Earth around the Sun. In the spiral is the essence of the Universe and of time itself.
Snail Symbolism: Appreciating the Present
The snail is a slow creature, taking its time going where he pleases. While some see the snail as lazy, there’s something to be said for taking one’s time. If we rush in life, how will we fully appreciate the small things? The snail is slow and steady and appreciates the path he is on and isn’t solely focused on where he is going down the road.
The Snail’s Defense Mechanism
The snail and snail spirit animal carries his home and protection on his back. The snail’s spiral shell acts as a mobile home to the nomadic snail. It acts as a protector in times of danger. The snail knows how to employ his body’s resources to defend himself against predators and dangerous species.
The Snail is Sacred
Before Christianity used the snail as a symbol of the deadly sin of sloth, other ancient cultures saw the snail as sacred. To the ancient Greeks, the snails keyed them in as to when the crops were ready to harvest. They represented fertility and fruition of hard work. The snail was also a symbol in ancient Mesoamerican cultures.
Tecciztecatl, Quetzalcoatl & Snails in Ancient Aztec Culture
The ancient Aztecs saw the snail as a sacred being because its shell represented the cycle of life. Their beliefs are seen in ancient paintings, drawings, and carvings of the spiral snail shell.
Tecciztecatl: The Moon God and the Snail
There were Aztec gods whose sacred animal was the snail. Tecciztecatl was a lunar deity who carried a snail shell on his back. Just as the snail retreats into its shell, the moon retreats into the depths of the ocean.
Quetzalcoatl and the Snail Shell
Quetzalcoatl is another Aztec god associated with the snail. He wore the spiral shell as a symbol on his chest. Therefore, he knew the secrets of reincarnation and the cycles of the Universe and of the gods. In the picture below, you can see the panthers are holding the spiral snail shell and using it as a horn.
Slug Spirit Animal & Symbolism
Some find the humble snail cute, but if you mention slugs they go running for the hills! To many people, slugs are slimy nasty pests. But to those who know better, the slug is an important symbol. The slug was not always considered a nuisance but was once an ethereal being with healing powers. Some Native American tribes used slugs to heal a toothache by allowing them to squirm around in their mouths. They believed the trail the slug leaves behind has healing properties.
Slug Symbolism = Hermaphroditic
The slug is considered a hermaphroditic animal and is therefore embodies the Divine Masculine AND the Divine Feminine. Because of this, the slug is more of a spiritual being than an earthly being. Great balance and strength is also a message the slug brings. They are able to mate with any other slug and produce hundreds of offspring and henceforth represent fertility. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, the slug is here to encourage you to be yourself and love yourself. And to speak your truth at your own pace.
Slugs and Shamans
I used to see slugs as being snails that are “between homes” but I realized slugs are actually a different species than snails. They don’t need a mobile home. They are strong without it. The slug spirit animal is connected to shamans of certain cultures. During the mating process, the slug sometimes loses a part of its body, just as the shaman loses a part of himself upon initiation. Honoring the slug during an initiation or transformation process is beneficial.
The Slug and Snail Spirit Animals’ Messages For You
The Snail’s Messages
What the snail and the slug have to say will differ by individual. For me, the snail represents me in a way. I am slow to do things, but I am steady and stable. I also have a hard shell that I tend to retreat into when I want to defend myself. When snails come to us with a message, we have to examine the situation closely. Are we finding a new path in life? Does the snail spirit animal’s presence tell us we are ready to “come out of our shell”? The snail also brings up memories from the ancient past, particularly for magical people who believe in reincarnation and the spiral of life. Are you finding snail shells everywhere? It’s time to explore your many incarnations in the universe!
The Slug’s Messages
How about the slug spirit animal? The slug appears to some as lesser than the snail, but the slug’s strength and physical abilities are extraordinary. Is the slug appearing to you to encourage you to be strong and steady in your path? Or is slug spirit animal trying to tell you to start a family? To be fertile and spread your seed over the earth? Perhaps the slug is prompting you to become one with spirituality, to embrace the masculine and feminine within yourself. Or to learn how to accept those around you who may be gender queer, binary, etc.