Cowrie Shell

The mystical Cowrie shell is a small, white and glossy seashell, resembling the female life-giving organ, and is an amulet believed to increase fertility. A beautiful shell that many ancient cultures regarded as a talisman to add vitality to life, and to prolong their lives to the point of immortality.

For thousands of years, they were used as a form of currency, and in Africa, China and India, as well as amongst Native North Americans tribes, such as the Ojibwa and Menomini, they were often listed as one of the best medicines for many ailments, and were used in initiation ceremonies and shamanic rituals.

The ancient Chinese considered the Cowrie sacred, and used them in their ceremonies for the dead as a symbol of resurrection. Cowrie shells were used with rice for stuffing the mouth of the dead. Also the ancient Chinese used them as a form of currency.

For the Indians this sacred shell was brought to them by a hero-God who founded their Grand Medicine Society, and played the role of the intermediary between the Indians and the Great Unknown. It was their symbol of life that was used in their initiation ceremonies where medicine men danced with their medicine bags filled with the sacred Cowries. They believed that no medicine bag was complete without the Cowrie shells.

Cowrie shells were used in the baptismal ceremonies of the Ojibwa who dance with their medicine bags of shells, that cowry shells 2concludes with the medicine man spits out two shells. The ceremonies are intended to play out the drama of the life and death of the candidate.

In the Fiji Islands, a shell of the golden cowry or bulikula, Cypraea aurantium, was drilled at the ends and worn on a string around the neck by chieftains as a badge of rank. The women of Tuvalu use Cowrie and other shells in traditional handicrafts.

The same ideas and connection in these ceremonies by these various cultures seems to prove they are somehow connected or related at sometime in the distant past. These themes of medicine, health, life, death, and resurrection with the Cowrie shell being the main symbol intuitively, tells me that there must be a science behind this mystical shell that is waiting to be discovered.