Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sacred Circumvolution

Our ancient family appeared 
during the first great explosion of diversity,
as the Oceans drew their first breath.
Yet the salt within every tear 
most often brings us only death.
Hard without, tender within
we crawl across the moonlit lands
quietly singing Wisdom.

Is it time to withdraw, 
or come out of our shells?
Spiraling from double helix to galaxies,
Inward or Outward
like the shell of your ear;
although I may not hear you;
I see you 
And can easily scent 
that which feeds me best.
Grasping firmly with my tongue
before I feast 
upon my chosen vegetation.

Be Aware
Be Patient
Be Humble

Persistence without haste
may be perceived by some as sloth.
bravery does not require a spine.
Time is relative
Life moves at its own pace
Slooow Dooown
and the World will spread out 
its possibilities for your perusal.

Perfectly poised 
twixt trust and self-preservation
Creating Sacred Space
for the Spirits that protect us.
We teach that there is a time for all things.
Allow them to unfold
Explore their textures
Go with the flow
Dance until the rains begin
Best foot forward, 
sliding along my glistening trail
will reduce friction
helping to ease the way
allowing you to defy gravity
while protecting you from life’s rougher edges.

Stronger than appearance suggests
Self-Reliant and steadily progressing. 
We can help you balance duality,
becoming either Mother or Father at will.
We need both to leave each other fecund,
carrying the future forward.

We show you 
how to pay attention to the small details,
the importance of staying properly hydrated, 
or how to safely seal your threshold
in times of trouble, as needed.
Will you read our history or future 
from the patterns found upon our carapace? 
Expand your consciousness, my dears,
but stay grounded
Because no matter where you go
there you are
taking your home with you,
building as you grow.

For those new to the game, each poem is inspired by a Teacher found in Nature; a star, stone, animal, plant etc that holds lessons of Wisdom for those that listen. Can you guess who is singing today? Congrats to Barbara Horter, Cat, Alan, and Jaguarwombyn for naming this Teacher!

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished." ~Lao Tzu

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."  ~John Quincy Adams

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.” 
― Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 
― Brené Brown

There are 1000s of species in the large Gastropod family found all around the world. They are typically sorted into these categories: "land" snails that respire with lungs belong to the Pulmonata Order, "sea snails" which respire with gills, "freshwater snails" some with gills - some with lungs, and shell-less Slugs. For our purposes here, the common Garden Snail was the specific Teacher I had in mind while writing as well as land snails in general. Although, the line between "land" and "freshwater" can be quite narrow at times with many species being equally at home in either medium. Snails are hermaphrodites, having both male and female reproductive parts, but still need a partner before they can procreate. Self-conception is possible but far less certain than with a partner. Both will lay eggs after a successful mating.  

Snails can live anywhere from 2 to 25 years depending on species and circumstance. Some hibernate through bad weather (cold or drought). Some are tiny. The largest recorded snail, a Giant African Land snail, was 12 inches long and weighed about 2 pounds. If asked to list things that are slow, snails would surely make your list. They are one of the slowest species in the world! 

Snails have one large muscular foot which allows them to crawl. The mucus they secrete reduces friction as well as allowing them to climb vertical surfaces, slopes of any angle, even creating enough suction that they can travel upside down. They can whip their mucus into a defensive froth, and can even traverse sharp surfaces like pine needles. Garden Snails reach speeds of 50 yards per hour, approximately 1.3 cm per second. Slow but steady is a major Snail lesson, a good mantra for people called by this Teacher. 

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't."~Henry Ward Beecher

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use." ~Earl Nightingale

At the very least, Snail advises, slow down! If we are constantly rushing from one task to the next, we aren't really living, this Teacher says. Now is the most important time in our life. Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow a vague wish. Now is the only time with any real significance; the place where we do the majority of our living, growing, healing and learning. Stop worrying about tomorrow or regretting yesterday's choices. Stop telling yourself that you will "be happy when..." Enjoy now. 

Snail asks us all to slow down and pay attention. Take some time and live it with no plan at all. No destination, no deadlines, no alarms set, no distractions and no goals. See what it feels like to just breathe and listen to that quiet voice we all have whispering within us. Eat, sleep, wander, play as the whims of your being tell you. You might just surprise yourself with what you discover.

I see people angry on the roads acting like getting to the next red light first is the only goal of importance. People excuse themselves of all sorts of wrong doing and rudeness simply because they are "in a hurry". In the time I've spent working as a cashier, I have had people yell viciously at me for "wasting their time". How? By telling the customer in line ahead of them a joke while I processed their transaction. I don't know their story, but I hear their pain when they yell like that for such a flimsy reason. Very little in life requires such urgency, and only rarely while standing in a line at a store. Excusing your own poor choices and behavior because you are in a hurry is selfish and arrogant. Snail says this is neither humble, kind, respectful nor wise. The kind of energy you put out into the World will return to you, usually when you least expect it. It gains in size, strength and momentum as it travels too. 

Who really wants to be smacked in the face unexpectedly by a big ball of anger, humiliation, disrespect and impatience? No one ever made themselves great, or even feel a little bit better, by making others feel less in any way. Snail, being a bridging energy between the elements of Water and Earth, can help us traverse difficult terrain in life as well as giving us a solid leg to stand on when the emotional waters run high. 

Patience, just like Respect, is a key lesson from this Teacher that begins within with Self and spreads outward to the World around us. Slowing down is the first step to true observation of self or surroundings, the first step towards Awakening. All spiritual growth begins with these concepts. Snail advises us to let go of unrealistic expectations, the frantic feelings deadlines inspire, and old ways that no longer serve who we are or who we are attempting to become.   

'The spiral in a snail's shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it's also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It's the same ratio that you'll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world." ~ Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.
Julia Margaret Cameron

“The path isn't a straight line; it’s a spiral. You continually come back to things you thought you understood and see deeper truths.” ~ Barry H. Gillespie

Garden snails sport yellow and brown spiral shells that help to protect them from predators like birds, insects, frogs, small mammals.Their shells are made of calcium carbonate. Brown symbolizes earth, nature, being grounded. Yellow symbolizes thought, new beginnings. Home is not a fixed place, it is the shelter and love we take with us wherever we go. Snails are born with a tiny bit of shell that grows with them throughout their lives, spiraling outward with the passing of time. The Snail's ability to withdraw inside its shell for safety indicates lessons on Trust, typically of Others rather than Self but a healthy sense of Trust flows both ways. 

Protection, a need for withdrawal /solitude or hibernation, Patience/allowing time for fruition are also symbolized. Ultimately though, Snail's biggest lesson for us is to find a proper balance between Protection and Trust. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there, risk being vulnerable, to achieve your goals. Knowing when to withdraw behind your protective walls and when to allow yourself to be completely exposed is a delicate balancing act we all experience throughout our lives. Snail can help us understand the need for, strengths and timing of each state.  

The Sacred Spiral on Snail's back can symbolize the cycle of life death and rebirth, expanding consciousness, going within, natural cycles like lunar phases or the seasons, release/surrender, the interconnectedness of life, or simply progress. Snail's message here is that the Sacred, Nature, Life are our truest homes, greatest protection, and we are a much a part of the whole as it is a part of us. Giving ourselves the time and space to live in harmony with natural cycles is tremendously difficult in today's demanding distracting society. The rewards of making space for this in our lives are well worth our effort though! Not only do we as individuals benefit, the whole World is made a little better for each effort.

Snail asks us to continue progressing slowly but steadily. No rush! Engaging ourselves in inner journeys, contemplation, and the natural cycles around us helps us to not only stay grounded, well balanced and better able to make good decisions, but also to strengthen our connection to the Sacred around us, to attune ourselves to a higher spiritual vibration, develop our intuition/our faith in the Divine and Self as well as our connection to All Our Relations, the sacred World around us. The lessons of the Sacred Spiral can be found over and over again in life, from the golden ratio at the heart of a sunflower to the cochlea of our own ears and the double spiral of our DNA  to the uncontrolled power of a tornado or the wonder of a distant galaxy. A subtle reminder that Beauty and natural Wisdom can be found wherever we might look.

Snails have no ears, but can sense vibration quite well. "You don't have to hear the music to feel the beat", this Teacher laughs. Listening, true listening, isn't simply waiting for your turn to respond. Snail emphasizes the importance of Listening to learn either about Self or about Life teeming all around us. Snails rely more on their sensitive tactile nature than their poor vision. The two lower stalks beneath their eye stalks process sounds, smells, proximity and textures. They can retract any of these stalks in times of danger and even re-grow them if damaged! These "horns" and their preference for night time activity has associated them with the Moon. 

Nocturnal herbivores, they have a chitinous toothed ribbon called a radula with which they shred food like fruit or leaves of trees, garden produce, grains, moss, and decaying plant matter. Their hermaphroditic nature brings lessons of Fertility as well as the patient steady efforts required to bring all plans to true fruition. Their friction reducing slime teaches us to find what truly motivates us as well as how to ease over seemingly impossible obstacles to reach our goals.

When Snail appears in our lives it is often beneficial to us to turn towards a similar vegetarian diet as well as paying more attention to our hydration needs. This quiet Teacher is easy to overlook and effort is needed to hear his lessons.  Having a hard time getting motivated? Feeling lonely, isolated, impatient with yourself or others? Harried by looming deadlines? Do you seem unable to "find time" for yourself? Have the walls you built to protect yourself started feeling like a prison? 

While others may view your withdrawal from a situation as "spineless" or "lazy", Snail people understand that sometimes time to yourself, silence or simply allowing things to progress as they need to requires Far more effort and bravery! Afraid of the darkness within you or others? This Teacher is often a Shadow Teacher, one who guides us through our fears and darkest challenges. Studying the Jungian concept of Shadow Self is extremely useful to those called by this Teacher. Snail is gently coaxing you from some damp quiet corner of the soul to come out of your shell and simply enjoy life!  

"The West has made people too time-conscious, not knowing where they are going but speeding to get there because time is short." ~Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves."  ~The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown

Ultimately, there can be no complete healing until we have restored our primal trust in life. ~Georg Feuerstein

Keywords: Protection, Fertility, Patience, Persistence, Steadiness, Slowing Down, Sacred Spiral, Trust, Respect

Associated with: Spring, natural cycles, cosmic force, the Moon, water/rain, earth, winds, YinYang, Motivation, Healing, Androgyny, attention to detail, humility

Gods and Goddesses:  Tecciztecatl and other Lunar deities, Mayan Wind gods, Anat, Nu-Gua, Rain/Water deities

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