Wild Snail Festivals by Molly Remer


“It’s a wild snail festival out here!”
—Tanner (age 3)

This spring we took a family mini vacation to Table Rock Lake, about three hours away from home.

At its best, working and schooling from home with our family of six feels like a beautifully seamless integration of work and life—there is no need to compartmentalize or draw distinctions between “life” and “work,” because it is ALL just life and living. At its worst, it feels like the work bleeds into everything else in an all-consuming way and the to-do list just never ends and something or someone is always getting overlooked or shortchanged. We find that it is helpful for us all sometimes to just all step away and be somewhere else, while the to-do list stays at home! We try to take at least five family adventures/trips a year (some of them small and some more involved).

One morning, I went out for a walk with our youngest son, Tanner, to collect supplies for May 2018 650a goddess grid. As we came up the steps near our room, we discovered that there were many different sizes of snails crawling along the rain-dampened stone steps. Tanner exclaimed: “it’s a wild snail festival out here!” and squatted down to admire the snails. I crouched and admired the snails with him, watching them slowly investigate the goddess figurine I’d set on the steps and reflected that if we hadn’t made the time to squat down, to get to a snail’s eye level, we would never have seen them. I loved it. I loved the rhythm of this “wild snail festival.” He meant wild in the sense of “crazy party” rather than “opposite of domestic” and I loved his choice of wording. How May 2018 661beautifully incongruous and wonderful it was to think of “snail” and “festival” or “snail” and “wild” in the same context and it felt like this charming moment, time out of time, just partying with the wild snails.

We found snail shells later and collected them for our mandala, examining each one, upon which he would announce: “Nobody’s in this one!” or, “Oops! Somebody’s still in this one!” We set up our goddess grid on the balcony and when returning to it a little while later, I noticed an “error” in my snail shell pattern from the center…as my eyes slid over the altar cloth I saw the culprit. Part of our mandala had made a break for it and was sliding away across the cloth to the edge of the table. One of our “empty” shells was still inhabited! (We took it back to the rocks and set it free.)May 2018 687

Crouching beneath cedar’s arms
studying the stained-glass effect
of sunlight through oak leaves
two things are clear:
there are stories
in the smallest places
there is magic
everywhere.

When we returned from the beach this February, I reinstated my daily “woodspriestess” practice–visiting the same spot in the woods behind my house every day, rain or shine, without fail, and seeing what I learn from the woods, the world, and myself. It is vital to my well-being and I cannot believe I ever let my dedication to this practice slip. Each morning I awake with a sense of excitement and anticipation to see what I will discover and doing this has re-enchanted my daily world and more deeply connected me to a sensation of everyday magic.

One recent morning I became fascinated with the sound of two dry leaves dancing together on an oak tree. The fascination to me came because the sound of those two leaves caught my ear above all other sounds in the woods that morning and I was oddly exhilarated by being able to differentiate the sound of two leaves out of many in that way. I reported this climax of my story to my family with glee: and then I heard two leaves! (They appeared mysteriously underwhelmed.) About an hour later, I turned to that day’s page of my Meditations for Living in Balance book and the quote of the day was this:

“To be able to listen to the silence is to be able to hear the infinite.” 

–Anne Wilson Schaef

She goes on to say this:

“Silence is almost a lost experience in today’s society. See if you can develop a way of listening to what is being said in such a way that nothing is required of you. Conserve your power.”

Bringing it back to listening to the leaves in the woods and watching the wild snail festival, I would add that I find it vital to discover a way of listening to the world around you, as it is, in this exact moment.

And, that reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite books, Listening to the Oracle:

“Ancient people saw and heard oracles everywhere because they lived in an ensouled world. The phrase ‘ensouled world’ may inspire us today, but perceiving everything around us as truly alive, brimming with consciousness, intensely present, and gazing back at us is an experience of a different order. Few adults living in modern culture are able to sustain an ensouled relationship with creation for more than a few moments at a time…” 

–Dianne Skafte

This very week, one morning I laid on my back on the rocks, stuck my legs straight up in the air and then spread them open to the sky. I brought my knees into my chest and laid there on the stone like a stranded beetle for a while thinking.

I had the sensation that I was waiting for something, some insight or inspiration or 35058222_2097345813810963_3155220135422197760_omagical something to happen, and I had a vague feeling of disappointment in such a “normal day” with no special lesson or encounter.

But, then I heard a small voice from within say:

“Well, you got your spirit back, so there’s that.”

And, I decided that was enough.

On my way back to the house, right in my path, there was a snail on a leaf.

May we always
have time
to take part
in wild snail festivals.  

 

Molly has been “gathering the women” to circle, sing, celebrate, and share since 2008. She April 2018 475plans and facilitates women’s circles, seasonal retreats and rituals, mother-daughter circles, family ceremonies, and red tent circles in rural Missouri and teaches online courses in Red Tent facilitation and Practical Priestessing. She is a priestess who holds MSW, M.Div, and D.Min degrees and wrote her dissertation about contemporary priestessing in the U.S. Molly and her husband Mark co-create Story Goddesses, original goddess sculptures, ceremony kits, and jewelry at Brigid’s Grove. Molly is the author of WomanrunesEarthprayer, and The Red Tent Resource Kit and she writes about thealogy, nature, practical priestessing, and the goddess at Patreon and at Brigid’s Grove.

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Categories: Children, Embodiment, Family, General, Gratitude, Motherhood, Nature, parenting, Poetry, Sacred Space

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13 replies

  1. It’s hard not to love anything with the words “wild snail fest” in it :)

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  2. What a wonderful post. When I read your essays (and your vitae) I wonder what it is like for such an obviously powerful and progressive woman to be living in rural Missouri.

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    • Thanks, Sue! I should write about that for my next post. I love Missouri deeply, it is my heartland. Growing up as a homeschooled, agnostic, self-defined feminist teenager amidst mostly fundamentalist Christian peers definitely presented challenges though and then I went on to be a professor on a military base–a goddess-loving woman in classrooms full of Marines and soldiers. I have some tales to tell. ;)

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  3. And sometimes a post will reflect my life back to me, giving me the words to describe what I have been experiencing and didn’t know quite how to verbalize it. Loved it. Keep writing!

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    • Thank you, Ann! Did you somehow, magically know, that I have been through a slump recently wondering why I “bother” writing and if maybe I should quit? And, then, there you were in my comment-replies with your encouraging words. <3

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  4. Beautiful post. Here is another quotation from Red-Robed Priestess about priestess. Thought you might resonate, priestess!
    “..they found messages everywhere: the pattern of birds’ wings, the way a stick fell or a leaf rode the current of a stream. They gazed into wells and skies. And because they were paying attention, the earth, the water, and skies, animals and birds yielded secrets.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Molly I love what you write and this wild snail festival is absolutely delightful!

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  6. Thanks, Molly, for this wonderful post, And I mean wonder-filled post! Dianne Skafte’s book is one of my favorites, too. In fact, it was one of two books that inspired me to write _The World is Your Oracle_. My friend Rue Hass in her book _This is Where I Stand_, says the same thing in a more contemporary way: “The wonderful thing about using the world as my oracle is that I become acutely aware of my presence in it, and my nelationship to everything. Everything comes alive!”

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  7. Yes! I think of your phrase, “the world is your oracle” often, actually, when I spot those connections in the world. I will have to look for This is Where I Stand. I haven’t heard of that one!

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