Snail shells are the exoskeletons of snails. These shells have three distinct layers and are composed mostly of calcium carbonate with only a small quantity of protein--no more than 2 percent. These shells, unlike typical animal structures, are not made up of cells. These snail shells are gathered humanly in Colorado from snails that leave them behind. Styles, colors, sizes and shapes all vary and if purchasing online, one will be chosen at random.
The use of snail shells in ritual and spellwork is fairly common across magical traditions, as well as in the creation of charms, hex bags, and others. In our practice, as well as others, these shells are used in protective magic and in the creation of protective charms (like bags, bottles, and cords like the Witch’s Ladder). They can be used whole or ground into a powder to add a protective element to any magical working, particularly if the intention is to strengthen protection around yourself or your home. Beyond protective magic, snail shells also have applications in manifesting personal growth, patience, prosperity and good luck. There is also a connectedness between that spirit and other spirit elements, including the spirit of the specific snail that it came from, the archetypal spirit of the snail, the needs and intentions which the snail spirit can bring aid to, and the various messages and knowledge that the snail can bring as an ally.
Unlike crabs and other similar animals, a snail grows its shell over time and does not outgrow and trade their shells during their lives. They grow them, increasing their size as they get older and larger. This means that the snail’s connection to its shell is strong. Thus, the snail’s shell always bears a connection to death, as a snail cannot live without its shell so when we find these shells, it means that the snails that inhabited them have died. This is an important point to keep in mind not just as we work with the spirit of the snail and the snail shell, but as we collect them. While it can be exciting to find a large collection of snail shells for our work, we should remember that each one represents a life—however small it may be, and that is why we put a lot of thought, energy, and care into the collection and cleaning of these shells.