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An excerpt from Speaking with Nature

Banana Slug (by Llyn)
Imagine strolling on a mossy trail in a dense, wet forest. You breathe in the freshly scented air, rich in oxygen and negative ions. It is springtime in the rain forest. Everything is green and flowing and blooming.

Seeming to walk with you on the lush and sopping trail, moving so slowly that you barely see it move at all, is a small, plump snail-like creature with no shell. Of the countless nature beings I live with in the Hoh River Valley, the Banana Slug is a prolific and intriguing presence.

Why are Banana Slugs called Banana Slugs? The skin of a Banana Slug is colored yellow with brown spots, like the casing of a ripe banana….

Soft, fleshy, and fragile, the Banana Slug has no protective shell like its snail cousin.

Does slug mirror our underbelly?

The divine feminine knows there is power in being vulnerable. Does this tiny being cause us to bristle because it hints at those parts of us that we deny or conceal? The sensual, sensitive aspects of the sacred feminine are still something many of us hide as well as hide from….

How do we honor Banana Slug medicine and touch back into tactile earthiness? One way is to learn from young children who love to lie on the grass gazing up at clouds and stars, run through summer downpours, and squish mud between their toes. The simple, sensual explorations that occupy healthy youngsters signal a hearty connection with body and the Earth. These kids are in touch….

Spirit and body are inseparable. We are also one with our planet’s body. Touch is innate to who we are and how we know self, and world. Banana Slug suggests we get back in touch, with each other and the Earth.

Banana Slugs are vital to the decomposition of plants and spread seeds and spores across the forest floor. They are also amazingly sentient. Come to Slug with malice, and it retracts and plays dead. Speak in a soothing tone, and this fellow being may lift its head and turn to look at you. Chatting with Banana Slugs can make me weep.

Life would take a different spin if we also hugged the land like trusting and tender slugs, who appear happy to be in their bodies here on Earth. The unguarded Banana Slug freely shares her deep feminine teachings: “Remember the sensual, and the power of little.”

Practice
Banana Slug wisdom tells us to get back in touch and empower the small. Think on tiny aspects that largely impact your life in a positive way right now. Envision and appreciate these. Give energy to the little. Open your heart and senses and see how alive the small makes you feel. Remember little Banana Slug who is what it is and does what it does, nourishing and seeding the Earth despite the killing fields of cut forests all around. Throughout all, meek and wise Banana Slug encourages: “Stay simple and in touch. You and I, we are just enough.”


Earthworm (by Sandra)
There is a quadrant of our garden that does not support the growth of much plant life…. We have consulted with many landscapers to examine the soil in this quadrant of our garden, for something in the chemical makeup must have changed to go from supporting many plants to only sustaining the very hardy. The issues seem to be beyond water.

I believe the issue is that the soil has become so hardened in this area by minerals and drought that the only solution is to bring in an army of earthworms.

Earthworms are tube-shaped, segmented, hermaphrodites — each individual carries both male and female organs. They are both blind and deaf, but their skin is covered in cells that allow them to taste the soil and sense light and dark. Earthworms live in soil, burrowing themselves into various levels, naturally allowing oxygen to get in, which is beneficial for plant growth. They take leaves, leftover food, and anything they are able to decompose and turn it into fertilizer. They breathe through their skin and have five sets of double hearts in segments that are close to their head….

There is such a weaving of mystery in creation, and we often miss the magic of how each and every creature in the web of life serves a role in creating, maintaining, and sustaining life. All in the web of life has something vital to share in creating a healthy earth garden. All life is interdependent on other life-forms.

Every acre of well-cultivated land contains up to half a ton of thriving microorganisms, not to mention up to a ton of earthworms. The earthworms create a ton of castings that are essential for the health of the soil, nurturing it with much needed nutrients that promote healthy plant growth. The mucus that the earthworms produce along with the castings promotes the growth of helpful bacteria and fungi.

Use your imagination to leave your ordinary life behind and take a journey with me into the world of the earthworm and the gift of its life. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a rich and fertile garden. As you examine the soil you are led to the small life-forms that are the tenders of the soil. Using your invisible senses notice how microorganisms built the soil, but nature’s true tiller of the soil is Earthworm. Observe how these blind small beings are powerful diggers and earthmovers, capable of burrowing down as deep as fifteen feet. Watch as they force air through tunnels as they move. Experience amazement at how as they burrow they aerate the soil, mix up the soil, break down clumps, and bury stones. Watch as they carry down leaves and other organic matter, while others bring nutrients and humus to the topsoil. Earthworms cannot live without enormous amounts of decaying organic matter. Return to your ordinary awareness with a sense of gratitude for how earthworms create healthy soil that supports the growth of food that sustains us.

We often judge the importance of the role of a person or a nature being. We tend to compare the power of life-forms based on their size and how colorful and loud they are. Llyn reminds us to honor and to acknowledge the power of small.

When you honor the small beings who are so vital to life you start to let go of your judgments and comparisons. You can, without judgment, tune in to yourself and acknowledge the gifts that you personally contribute to the web of life. And in doing so, you feel on a cellular level that you are enough.

Practice
As you go about your day, notice the people who you meet who are in service to the community and to the planet who do not need any acknowledgment. Honor the power of anonymity while doing your spiritual work and your practices on behalf of all of life.

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Sandra Ingerman, M.A., is a renowned shamanic teacher who gives workshops internationally on shamanic journeying, healing, and soul retrieval. An award-winning author of 10 books, including Awakening to the Spirit World and Soul Retrieval, she lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Llyn Roberts, M.A., is an acclaimed teacher of healing and shamanism who facilitates sacred journeys to work with indigenous people throughout the world. She teaches at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, and at Esalen in Big Sur, California. The award-winning author of several books, including Shamanic Reiki and Shapeshifting into Higher Consciousness, she lives near the Hoh Rain Forest in Washington State.

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