Thursday, 21 August 2008

Snail Water



I LIKE SNAILS. They take their houses with them gypsy-fashion and move at an unhurried pace not dissimilar to my urgency-lacking Rima-drift. I met this spiral-shelled fellow yesterday, making his way round a rain filled ash bucket outside our house. We stopped to chat for a bit and I watched him as he moved slowly down a half submerged piece of slate into the water and back up the other side of the bucket, his eye stalks poking out and in all the while.
The unending rain-rain-day-after-day weather at the moment is probably much more up his street than mine. Everyone is fed up with it. I don't remember what the sun looks like. We've even had mudslides on the road out of the village. When will it end?
I am feeling rather snailish at the moment, slow and sliding through puddles.

Gypsies, incidentally, call snails "earthy-horses" or "cattle" because they have horns, and a snail shell given as a love token by a gypsy girl can stir up an unbridled desire in her intended.
In England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland snails were used as divinatory devices by studying their trails in the hopes of finding there in the slime the initial of your spouse-to-be.
They were also used in cures for warts, the ague (malaria), gout, coughs and earache.
Here below is a recipie for Snail-Water, to treat venereal disease. The photograph is taken from the simply wonderful Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret - a museum in London Bridge which is reached by a narrow winding staircase up to wooden beamed attic of drying herbs and Jars of Things, terrifying operating implements and skeletons, folk medicines and blood stained wooden operating tables. A treat indeed and well worth a visit.




Snail! snail!
Come out of your hole,
Or else I'll beat you
As black as coal.

Snail! snail!
Put out your horns
I'll give you bread
and barleycorns.

An old nursery rhyme.

26 comments:

paula said...

I went to watch Shakespeare's 'Much ado about nothing' at an outdoor theatre, in the pouring rain yesterday evening, it was fabulous! x x

Flying Colors said...

What an incredible site you have here. This is a find! I came over through "Silent Dreamer".
Congratulations on your award! Your work is stunning and amazing.
I just linked your blog to mine if that is OK with you?
Have a great day :)

laughingwolf said...

another lovely post, rima...

i told my older daughter about your place, she promised to visit

ElvaUndine said...

How did you find all this out? What a charming subject.

Rima said...

Jessica... I am a folklore geek! That's how :)

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Scottish snails are much more colorful than their Californian cousins, who are dowdy in comparison. Herb garret sounds right up my alley! I'm not so sure about presenting Snail Water to someone, though since the advent of antibiotics there isn't much demand for venereal disease cures. Snails are used in Chinese herbal poultices for injuries, haven't tried it though.....

Pat said...

Since I worked many years as a nurse I love museums such as the one you described. Early medicinal formulas are so fascinating...six gallons of garden snails and three of earthworms...oh my!

I enjoy snails as long as they are not in my garden cutting down my basil plants. :)

Bimbimbie said...

I'm fond of snails and can't resist picking up their abandoned homes to take back to mine. The fifth of your smaller photos looks like a piece of jewelry*!*

BT said...

Lovely post, Rima. Love the little poem. As a gardener, I'm not too keen on snails! The little ones like in your pictures look cute, but cause havoc on our veg plot!

Gina
x

herhimnbryn said...

That snail's shell(home)is gorgeous. Thankyou for the link. How I love quirky english museums.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Ooh, the museum sounds like such a treat! Perfectly wonderful for a dark day in autumn, I would think. Your little snail is quite the handsome fellow. It's always so fascinating for me to think of all the wee lives being lived all around the outside of my house here in the trees. Right now, for us, it's spiders. Big, colorful ones that spin the most intriqing webs this time of year.

Webradio said...

Hello !

Il est SUPER ton blog ! On se croirait dans un monastère...

Texas Travelers said...

A great blog.
I like it a lot.

I have added you to my "Check-it-Out - Favorites" Side-bar Blog-roll.

There is some great art here.
Thanks for sharing.

Troy and Martha

Lisa Evans said...

Great post Rima! I found baby snails the other night : )

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a lovely looking blog you have! I love snails too and your photos are stunning, very geometric. Your words are very interestign too, I didn't realise that gypsies used snails as love tokens....

AT THE PICKLED HUTCH said...

Hi Rima,
We don't have rain here in SF, just our usual overcast, damp summer. I have to confess I do love it.
That museum sounds a bit macabre and very intriguing. But the recipe for the cure sounds horrible. The little snail you featured is one of the more beautiful ones. Ours are plain janes and pale in comparison over here. Thanks for the meander.
Lisa & Alfie

Ciara said...

Oh what beautiful photos Rima, that last one is like a painting.
Yes, as you know, we're having a soggy old time of it here too. I'm hoping for a brighter September...

Vita said...

I love snails too:) drew a couple of them recently..when we were little we collected them on lilac bushes, and made kingdoms for them out of bark. and then had raced them, and the striped ones were agiants yellow ones...I miss the snails, theren't any in NYC:(

tlc illustration said...

We don't have much in the way of snails around here, but we more than make up for it in magnificent, ubiquitous slugs! (my bane in the garden).

The Snail water - were they to drink that? (gallons and gallons of it?) between the earthworms and wormwood, I can't imagine it'd be at all palatable...

Sara Morante said...

What i love about this blog is that i feel like opening an old illustrated book; an antique treaty.. After reading this post, i really find snails so fascinants.. By the way, do you have WIFI up there, in the highlands? ;)

mama p said...

Oh, sigh...I miss the rain SO very much. I am sorry you are sick of it, but in the drought I live in that snail (and its gorgeous spiral) is a most welcome sight!! Lovely photo :)

Doolallysally said...

Hi Rima, this is the most beautiful blog I have ever seen, what a delight! Thank you :)

willow said...

Stunning snail pix, Rima. I love this post!!

3ster said...

Nice photos!! :)
And the postcards are a marvellous inspiration, Rima!

bellsandthistles said...

lovely photos!

I so love snails ... I used to keep some as pets (long story) and they are such great little creatures.

Curious Art said...

Lovely lovely photos & lore. Though that rhyme is a bit creepy-- sounds like an unhealthy relationship, all threats & coaxing!

I'm a gardener but in our climate snails are not a huge problem, so I can retain my soft spot for their beauty. Then again I think grasshoppers are beautiful too, but they'd better not show up in my garden!

Have you seen Ellis Nadler's Eye Snail? If you don't know his work you should!

snadler.blogspot.com/2008/08/eye-snail.html