Folktales tell of many horrifying animals, but a snail?
L is for Lou Carcolh.
This mythological creature from southwest France is a mixture of a serpent and a mollusk…kind of like a giant snail, but way creepier. Lou Carcolh has many mile-long tentacles covered in hair and slime that can reach for vast distances. Thus, the beast rarely had to leave its underground cave, as the tentacles could capture its prey without being seen. It’s huge, gaping mouth swallows humans whole.
I’ve never thought much about snails and their place in mythology. Most scholars seem to lump discussion of them with sea creatures, though snails are found in dry lands as well. Hope Werness reports that different cultures interpret the creature differently – some as a symbol of fertility, and some as a symbol of sloth. But I’m not sure this particular French beast fits into either of those categories.
If I had to hazard a guess, Lou Carcolh represents the primordial ooze (the antithesis to Culture with a capital C). Cave dwelling, open mouthed, interested only in eating – it literally oozes slime, leaving a wake of destruction. The Id in its pure form. Man must overcome this creature to prove his Manhood (with a capital M).
But, of course, I could be mistaken. I haven’t run across any reputable stories that go along with the Lou Carcolh, so let me know if you find one!
Hope B. Werness. The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art. (2006)
The legend of Drac comes from the small town of Beaucaire, France, which is located on the Rhone River. The myth was written in Frederic Mistral’s Poèmes du Rhône (1897).
Drac is an invisible, winged sea serpent (water dragon), who emerged from the depths of the Rhone to hunt on land, killing thousands of men in the thirteenth century.
The myth tells of a young flower peddler who was abducted by Drac in 1250. Instead of killing the girl, Drac took her to live with him in the Rhone and help raise his son for seven years. At the end of seven years, the woman returned to Beaucaire, but she had the ability to see Drac when he came upon land. (How she was able to do this is a point of contention amongst folklorists.) She was able to warn the other citizens of his presence, which upset Drac. To keep his identity hidden, Drac ripped out the woman’s eye.
The citizens of France sent armies to hunt the dangerous beast, but Drac eluded them, killing many soldiers in the process. While Drac has since died of natural causes, the citizens of Beaucaire still remember the story of the beast and hold a festival in June where an effigy of Drac is constructed and paraded through town. (You can add this festival to my “bucket list,” by the way!)
Note: I don’t know where this artwork came from. I found it though a search which led me to this site: http://webhome.idirect.com/~korak/info.htm. Whether the artwork is the author’s or not, I cannot tell, but I found it stunning.
“Drac.” All About Dragons.