A garden snail named Archie, owned by Carl Branhorn of Pott Row, England, covered a 13 inch course in 2 minutes at the 1995 World Snail Racing Championships, held in Longhan, England.
August invites luxuriating in sunshine, surf and open vistas. Sunshine and surf are available all year round but during August they have a particular allure. Without a concern for time, or thought about responsibility, children and adults fling themselves into waves that lift and drop with exhilarating regularity. Open vistas include the vast expanse of ocean that stretches in all directions for miles or, depending on locality, grassy plains receding to the horizon, the sky sometimes blue, sometimes white with wispy clouds twisting and turning as they race across infinite space. Or, given ample opportunity during moments of supreme relaxation, we observe the distance a snail covers on its daily outing. We watch for a long time, fascinated by the exceedingly slow pace at which this creature proceeds across even the most treacherous terrain.
In Africa and Central America the snail is a lunar and fertility symbol as it periodically shows or hides its horns like the Moon and whose spiraling shell signifies processes of cyclical continuity.
The snail has one speed and that suffices for all of its encounters. We may wonder at its ability to survive in spite of what seems like a tremendous impediment. Any concern is wasted when the creature itself has no capacity for such disquiet. For a snail, what is, is, and the open vista from one end of the garden to the other is one moment followed by another—if that. As I watch the snail progress one tiny fraction of distance at a time, I loose all sense of judgment and am completely satisfied to partake in this journey without thought of outcome, each fraction devoured by the infinite.
In August the minutest movement can contain an entire world of action. And no movement at all can find one delirious from the rush. Evidence of our own infinite nature descends upon us like a night mist that settles into every pore permeating layer upon layer, dissolving form and merging matter with energy, that is energy; energy within energy within energy. The snail and I are one simply being within the boundless openness of the absolute.
August entitles us to freedom—Self expression, uninhibited by rules or patterns. The planet feels lighter as we give up attachment to the many ‘things’ that we tend to think are necessary for existence here. Somehow what that is has multiplied by dozens since our introduction to life here-dividing us and separating us even further from reality. We flounder, that far away from home.
I met a tree last night that spoke of many ancient things. So deep went its words that I lost all sense of identity with daily experience. Plunged instead into dimensionless infinity, suspended in unending, fathomless stillness. A great whoosh—wind, and leaves brush against startled skin. There is no ‘turning back’. Laughter rolls across the landscape.
Like the Fool of the Major Arcana I leap into emptiness unencumbered by beliefs.
The hypnotic effect of heat waves and the brilliant light of the summer Sun. Drowsy we sleep, surrendering to a need to relax deeply. All the muscles let go and the skeletal structure rests without anything to do. In the bright white of August I experience nothing. Nothing is seen but everything is realized. The snail has disappeared. It cannot abide the heat. Eventually when everything succumbs to the blazing Sun, what remains?
August hangs about, thank goodness, like a lazy, satisfied lion after a fine meal, occupied by nothing other than the pressing of it’s coat by a well directed tongue going over and over that same stretch of fur until it is thoroughly soaked. When the task is complete, the big shaggy head finds a perfect resting place upon those big, idle paws. We all slumber, the beast dreams; that it has a life and purpose within it whilst a giant purr envelops time and space. And once again the breath is the only thing left to accompany the silence.
August is a month of supremacy and the will to express or roar with awareness. No sense hiding any longer the gift that serves us all and is so easily given and equally received. The Sun of the Major Arcana shows a child, exuberant, astride a white horse with the Sun shining down brilliantly upon a colorful landscape. It is the joy of Being the Self and the warmth that spreads throughout the environment when we share that true nature. Love flows. Enjoy the open vista of the heart.
Love is a fruit in season at all times, and in reach of every hand.
An interesting book, loaned to me by a friend who is a literary connoisseur, is The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. The journey of a woman immobilized by a rare virus and with little entertainment save the comings and goings of a snail in her violet pot. Snails have 2,642 teeth on their tongue.