I am not sure what has drawn my eye to them this year, these slugs that camouflage themselves amongst leaves, against stone. But three times now, at least, their particular shape and pattern have caught my attention in a needle-in-a-haystack, Walter Wick I SPY sort of way—there! and there! and there! In April, in July…and this week, oddly in winter.
Slug is a mollusk of the class Gastropoda in which the shell is reduced to an internal plate or is completely absent. Slugs belonging to the subclass Pulmonata have soft, slimy bodies and are generally restricted to moist habitats on land. They are transgender, hermaphroditic with both male and female sex organs. Various species can eat algae, animal feces, carrion, centipedes, fungi, green plants, insects, lichens, worms, and other slugs. Many slugs consume several times their own body weight each day.
Most online resources about slugs veer immediately to their infringement in our gardens, and the varied ways to control this perceived pest with toxic chemicals and torture devices. But some will mention slug’s mystical qualities, how it was revered by the ancient Aztecs, how Native Americans relied on its healing qualities. Slug medicine, actually, can be quite powerful, much like the slug itself, which moves around without benefit of feet or shell.
Slug medicine includes symbolic communication, a deep connection to the moon, the ability to leave behind that which is does not need, the capacity for self-protection, the example of a life lived slowly and simply, and encouragement to see the world of spirit and shadow. According to StarStuffs Animal Totems:
Slug teaches to smoothly move in your surroundings. He shows the art of pacing oneself and focusing on the goal along with determination, strength and persistence. He shows how to move in a slow and steady pace by grounding in attitudes and principles all the while taking small steps toward the goal. Slug teaches the power of letting go of what is not needed. Letting go of harmful thoughts, ideals and emotions, this is how to move forward! It is time to “leave it behind.” He also teaches navigational abilities and agility in the dark, unknown and all that is hidden with confidence. Heightened sensitivity to vibrations, the ability to see with clarity and the tactics of reservation and withdrawal when needed. Slug will show when to move and times to rest. There is great power in this timing.
Perhaps that is the message, then? To “pay attention to your perceptions and senses,” as StarStuffs explains, “for they will aid you in the direction you should be going. Slow down and enjoy the moment.”