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Velburg is another small…well…burg (German for “village”), about 10km from where I’m living and working.  My two teammates and I ventured there last night for some Greek food and impromptu tourism.  They are awesome and I am really enjoying the companionship of these two women so far.  It rained ALL DAY yesterday so the pictures look a bit dreary, but actually there’s a certain peace that German architecture has made with its weather, and the town looked content and sleepy, and a bit glistening amongst all the rain.  Pictured here are the Rathaus (town hall – the one with the stepped roofline), somebody’s sideyard garden, the onion-domed town church, various streets and cheerfully-colored houses, and two pair of jeans that definitely were not getting any drier.  The Greek food was really good, and I loved the napkin that had Greek phrases translated for your pleasure.  Into German.  Of course it makes perfect sense, but still tickled me.

[Edit: Oops – burg doesn’t mean village!  Dorf means village.  Burg means castle.  Um…yeah.  There you go.  Read on.]

My lovely spirit-sister Pixie holds much wisdom about animal medicine, and I have been privileged over the years to be introduced to the potent lessons animals have to teach us.  During our last retreat in Yosemite, Pixie and Julie and I delved deeper into animal medicine, and I really found myself wanting to become more conscious of it and its workings in my daily life.  So last night, I found Snail among the flowerbed I was digging in with my iPhone camera, and realized that I have seen snails all over the place since I got here to eastern Bavaria.  I don’t find these creatures gross in the slightest – they are actually quite endearing to me and always have been.  I remember stepping on one when I was 3 or 4 and crying and crying…  So it got me wondering, hey Snail, what learning to do you have for me right now?  Here’s what I found out. (Reprinted from who had reprinted it from somewhere else.)

The Snail

Snails are found in gardens, ponds and even the sea. Their soft bodies are protected by hard shells which they use as a defense. When disturbed or alarmed the snail withdraws or pulls itself back into its shell. It also retreats into itself and seals the entrance in dry weather to protect its body from drying up. Those with this medicine know how to retreat when danger is present as well as seal themselves off from others. This can be beneficial as long as the individual does not become too much of a recluse and inhibit their communication and interaction with others. Knowing when to retreat and when to act is an important teaching for those with this totem.

The snail creates a slime trail to travel on so it is easier to move over different surfaces and textures. They remind us to take the easiest path to reach our destination. When snail appears in your life ask yourself if you are taking a harder path than is necessary. Because snail retreats into its shell during adverse weather conditions those with this medicine have the ability to build walls around themselves and withdraw until a situation improves. Snail medicine people have clear perceptions and need to learn to honor those abilities in all situations.

Both male and female the snail can produce sperm and eggs at the same time. Because of this duality those with this totem have a tendency towards identity conflicts in their younger years. This conflict triggers issues of self esteem and confusion. Fortunately as the person gets older their male and female characteristics align and begin to work together in a complimentary way.

Most active at night or on cloudy days the snail uses all of its senses equally and simultaneously. Those with this totem often find they seldom have one intuitive gift more pronounced than another as all psychic abilities are utilized in any given situation.

The snail understands the value of slow movement and teaches us how to use that movement to our advantage. It holds the teachings of patience, perseverance and respect. It asks us to be mobile and fluidic as we move through life, always aware of how our actions or lack of them affect others. The trail we leave behind holds the history of who and what we are. When snail enters your life your reputation is under review. Past situations come to the surface to be healed or balanced in some way. Snail asks us to “make right whatever we have wronged.” In this way spiritual growth is attained.

OMG.  Who knew such a little creature would carry such big lessons?  Another thing that comes to mind when I meditate on Snail is the fact that it carries its home on its back – there is something parallel here for me, as I am learning how much of home I can carry with me, and how it can be equally liberating and burdensome.  And when you carry your home on your back, you can bet you’ll be the only one living there.  The title of my blog is all about this duality in my life – the wanderlust answered, the freedom I find in packing light and becoming far-flung…and the constant reminder that relationships come with roots, and hold you to the ground but also build a nest of love, comfort, and companionship around you.