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In Search of the Slug Sublime
by Carolion

In various spiritual healing traditions the phenomenon of spirit helpers, such as angels, ancestors and devas, is well known. Shamans work with beings known as Power Animals (also Power Plants, Power Machines – but that’s another article). You may have guessed already but here’s an important fact: the power animal of Portland, Oregon is the Slug. Take away the slugs and Portland would never be the same. People trip on them, slip on them; gardeners grimace and feed them beer, hoping to get them drunk and drowned in one shot. One brave man I encountered on an airplane spoke enthusiastically about eating slugs. (Was it just a story told to get a rise out of the airline personnel and other non-Portlanders, I wonder, or does he really eat them…)

A mystery beast, a stellar visitor, a something we-know-not-quite-what, slugs are to Portland what tigers are to Bengal. Imagine my surprise one day when, during my shamanic training with Michael Harner, I journeyed for an assignment and was given information — even a myth — about slugs. When I followed up the journey by rattling and dancing to honor this creature, I was rewarded in ordinary reality with three days of slugs crawling up my windows, in my doors — slug-slimed glass and slugs on floors. And believe it or not, I was delighted. A little horrified, too, but hey, relieved that the power I was dealing with was not certain other insects who shall go unnamed.

Time went on, the slug-fest abated, things were back to normal. After a while I left my little house on SE 72nd St. and moved into a cozy little trailer situated in Eden (that’s what I call the huge backyard organic garden where the trailer is parked.) Now here’s where it gets juicy. See, I love Portland, and Portland, I think, loves me. Want to know how I know that? Slugs. In particular, the little guy who came to be known as my “Homing Slug.” For several weeks during winter one year, I had nocturnal visits — punctual ones at that — from a slimy little buddy. He got in somewhere near the toilet, then I’d wake up right around 2 a.m. to use same, turn on the light, and there he’d be, waving his little feelers at me. Lucky for him I turned on the light first! So, I’d pick him up in a bit of plastic wrap and put him out on the stoop in the rain. Fine way to treat a guest, I know — but he’d always be back two or three nights later, we’d go through the same routine.

I was always filled with inspiration following his visits, and would often be up thinking and writing for hours. Some of you, at this point, may be wondering about me. After all, common wisdom dictates that the sight of a slug calls for beer, the bottom of a shoe, some nasty poison, or even a pot filled with simmering water and herbs. So how is it that I get inspired? Who knows? Power Animals can do that.

At any rate, I’m going to share a bit of slug literature with the few readers who may have stuck with this article to its slimy end. It so happens that this little poem was gifted to me by Spirit several years before I moved to Portland, before I’d really gotten in touch with anything but the “yuck!” slug vibe. It just appeared at the end of my pen one day, much as my little Homing Slug appeared on schedule in the trailer in Eden. Those of you who find you like slug literature may wish to try reading this aloud. Choral reading with cosmic slime sound effects is lovely, too. I’m sure there’s at least one dance routine — costume, makeup, the works — that goes with this poem. One non-slug friend of mine, Sid Francis, is a masterful reciter. Perhaps one day we’ll schedule an All-Slug talent show or poetry reading to show him off. Enough preliminaries!

In Search of the Slug Sublime

If you follow the trails of glittering slime laid out in the night so late,
over the lettuces, over the beans, and over the cool grey slate --
over dew-damp grass you'll see soft bodies glide,
slathers of slithering slugs with no guide
but the yearning to merge at the end of time
with the joy of the Slug Sublime.
Over the nights and under the days,
sluggishly humming their hymns of praise,
they slide to the rhythm of slippery rhymes
in search of the Slug Sublime.