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)