Last winter, a snail moved in with us, and she taught me an important lessons about Tantra and life.
I called her Schnecki. Schnecki, my little Tantric snail 🐌
She just sat in my organic salad, so tiny she was even hard to see. She was one without house – in German we call them “naked snails”. In English you would call them slugs, but naked snail sounds so much cooler.
She was a baby snail, only about as long as the fingernail of my pinky finger.
It was winter outside, she probably came from a warm greenhouse. I researched that if I put her outside, she would freeze to death.
So one thing was clear: she would stay with us during winter, until it was warm enough to release her into nature again.
So we got her a terrarium and created the most beautiful little snail landscape, recreating where she would live outside – with moss, earth and tree barks to sleep under (yes she had her little sleeping spot where she always went to). Every day, she got an abundance of food – fresh salad, cucumber, apples.
Thankfully, I have a partner who doesn’t think I’m crazy but supports me. Okay maybe he does, but he still loves me.
So you might think: okay Silja, but what does this snail have to do with Tantra?
Most people associate Tantra with temple nights and sex.
Well, that’s the thing about sex and Tantra. Tantra formed as a counter spiritual philosophy / practice to most Yogic traditions – which saw the path of spiritual enlightenment as one of restriction and asceticism.
Their philosophy was that the more you strip yourself of material possessions, sexual pleasures, everything that can “distract you”, the closer you come to the divine, and the more enlightened you become.
And Tantra said: every experience is spiritual. You can be human and enjoy life and its pleasures and find spiritual experiences and enlightenment amidst of that.
And what Tantra also said is: sex is also a pathway to enlightenment.
And then out of all the things that make up traditional Tantra, people heard just that: oh, sex! It’s about sex.
This just shows how truly in need this world is of soul-touching, connecting sex. It’s like when you’re hungry and all you see and hear is chocolate cake.
So back to Schnecki 🐌 She was really happy. She slimed around her space, ate and slept and had a good time.
And she grew. And grew. And grew. She grew so big, she was literally the biggest “naked snail” I have ever seen. Huge. And slimy.
And maybe you already notice your feelings and body reactions when I say that?
Maybe there’s disgust or you create this distance when I tell you this. Something like: ew, a big slimy slug (which sadly is the most common reaction to this little animal).
And that is exactly what this snail taught me.
She freed me of this conditioning. She taught me the Tantric lesson of seeing the divine in everything.
Can you see the divine in your partner?
And can you see it in the slug in your salad?
Because before her, I would have never wanted to touch “those slugs”. I have always deeply respected all animals and would never hurt any, no matter what it was. But seeing big slugs was definitely something I didn’t find so beautiful, and I didn’t want to touch.
But not with Schnecki. Because I saw her every day, I witnessed her slow metamorphosis. She was really cute when she was small and tiny. I even found something like love for this little snail and the way she went about her day.
And this love didn’t stop when she was huge and slimy (yes, true slimy love it was).
I could see her absolute divine perfection in this form.
I enjoyed letting her slime over my hand. Such a sensual experience.
When I was a child, I wanted to become a snail researcher. But even then, like most people I liked the ones with house, but not the ones without.
I suddenly felt pain for the conditioning I was raised with – to fear certain animals, to feel disgust or distance for some creatures. I felt sorry that I had ever judged slugs as “disgusting”.
I felt pain that whenever I researched something about “naked snails”, articles about how to get rid of them, how to kill them came up.
I released all my conditioning of distance, disgust or not finding her beautiful.
Not only for her species, but it opened me up to all the wonderful little creatures that we are taught to fear, or feel disgust about, or not see as something beautiful or special. Like slugs, flies, moths, many insects.
I guess my conditioning was already quite “small”, in the sense that I already had deep respect even for animals I didn’t find necessarily beautiful or that I didn’t want to touch. I would have still always helped them. And I had never understood why people don’t like rats or pigeons.
But through her, I was able to let go of that last bit of judgement – and it felt so freeing. With liberating that judgement, I liberated a distance that I had created towards the creation of this world.
And instead, I felt an even deeper connection. I came closer to the divine creation and energy flowing through this world.
Schnecki taught me that everything is absolutely perfectly beautiful and divine.
That she is a perfectly beautiful divine creature just as a cat is. That through her, the same God / divine / creative energy flows than through everything else in this world.
And I realized how much we place on the looks. Everyone can love a cat and find her beautiful. Doesn’t take much for that.
But what about all the animals and beings you were taught to disgust or despise? The ones that do not fit your conditioned beauty standards?
Can you free yourself of these illusions?
Do you love animals, because they can love you back? Because they look cute and beautiful? Or can you love them, just for being an expression of divine nature?
It’s so interesting that these slugs for example are the reason beautiful flowers and plants grow. They make earth fertile and beautiful.
They play a huge important role in our ecosystem. While cats and dogs do not. In fact, breeding them destroys our ecosystem. They need huge ressources of other animals without giving back to nature, like all other wild or meat eating animals do.
Yes, they comfort and soothe us. But that’s the thing. You need them.
Nature doesn’t. She needs slugs.
I think many people love animals from an egoic place: looks cute, shows me love – so I feel love too. Very few truly love unconditionally, from a soul place. A soul love doesn’t love more because something looks or acts a certain way.
A soul love just loves.
PS: If you wondered what happened to Schnecki, I gave her back to nature on a beautiful spring day. She grew dear to my heart, but I knew I had to let her go. So she slimed into freedom as the biggest, fattest slug the world has ever seen – having eaten an abundance of food every day instead of fasting like all other slugs.