Aside from escargot and The Neverending Story’s iconic racing snail, you may be wondering why this slow, slithering creature resides on the list of potential tattoo art.
The ancient Aztecs viewed the little snail as a sacred symbol of the cyclical nature, or circle, of life, evident in the circular swirl of the snail’s shell.
The Aztec lunar deity Tecciztecatl is often depicted with a snail on his back, referencing the moon’s sinking into the ocean at dawn. Similarly, the god Quetzalcoatl wears a spiral snail shell on his chest, which was believed to contain all the mysteries of reincarnation and secrets of the gods.
Quite impressive for a creature commonly considered little more than a nuisance in the garden, no? The Aztecs weren’t alone in their snail reverence; the ancient Greeks also believed the snail to be a symbol of fertility, and a helpful omen for when to harvest the crops. Early Christians were seemingly the only people with a disregard for the snail, declaring it a representation of the deadly sin of sloth.
The snail may be slow, taking its time in getting where it needs to be, but it’s far from shiftless. Moving at a steady pace and hardly deterred from its chosen path, the snail is the perfect tattoo totem for those who prefer the scenic route in life. Inked with Darwinian precision or cartoonish fun, the snail can also be rendered in the more unusual but dramatic Aztec style.
In neither a hurry nor eager to engage in tedious competition, those who appreciate this hard-shelled but slow-moving animal are sure to reap the benefits many of us spend a lifetime pursuing.