Land snails - you may be surprised to know - have been present in various aspects of human culture, including legends, myths, films, books and graphic works according to documented research. From still life paintings to works of contemporary art, land snails - tiny gastropods - have been included in various artistic disciplines - for a very long time!
Actually the snail was even referred to in religion. They had, for instance, a prominent role in many works of Christian art, for example, where they were considered a symbol of - in addition to laziness or sloth - sin. This was because the snail was considered to be an animal that does not try hard to get food because it eats almost anything organic on the floor. There was also even a belief by some that snails had been born from clay.
The Aztecs believed, however, that the snail was the moon god and that the spiral of the shell represented the moon and its cycles. The snail was regarded as a symbol of time or transition. Moreover the habits of land snails could be indicators of some events. Hesiod, a poet from ancient Greece, recorded that when snails climbed the stems of plants, it was harvest time.
Meanwhile in the famous works of psychologist Carl Jung he often talked about interpreting thoughts and dreams. The analogy he referred to with snails is that the shell is the conscious thinking process and the soft part of a snail is the unconscious of the human being.
Land snails are also important in that they are part of the customs, traditions and language of a region. In many areas “snail” is used to describe a person with slow movements - perhaps that he walks like a “snail.” Many people even now do think of land snails as being slow - and therefore lazy. For example, saying someone moves as the pace of a snail or that they are as slow as a snail are usually derogatory and rather demeaning. References in our language today to snails are often not very complimentary - or made in a good light - and rather slow movement is often actually criticised. Yet in fact one can think of the slow movement - like a snail - as being mindful and calm!
Finally, it is interesting to think about completely opposite regional customs that have evolved around snails. One vivid example is snail racing, mainly in the United Kingdom. There is actually an annual event in which, as with other race animals like greyhounds and horses, people take their land snails and put them to compete in a race, on a circle track. As always the one who first reaches the goal wins - debunking the myth about laziness!
It is good to think further about the life of a snail and imagine what is would be like - to consider their daily activities. Perhaps it would help us to calm down and be quiet if we just observe snails wherever you live as in fact they can be found in most parts of the world. There are so many specimens, with shells of different shades and colours. In some places they are positively beautiful - absolutely gorgeous! They are wonderful to find, watch, draw or paint! Among the roughly 1,400 species of land snails found in Cuba, for example, those from the genus Polymita— Latin for “many stripes”—are unique to the island nation. They are aptly known as painted snails because of the variety of vibrant colors of their shells.
What a wonderful world Eenie’s World is!
Welcome to the Learning Corner!
Eenie introduces us to some of his insect and animal friends, to different places, to the ways of the weather and to the wonderful world. Eenie also shows us how to feel happy and healthy! READ MORE >
Dr Linda Spedding creates this charming world of Eenie, the sparkly snail who enjoys wonderful adventures, sights and sounds - despite his very small stature- in a world where right values are illustrated and rhymed as memorable guides for young children.