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The meaning of the Cowrie Shell

Rouxmia Bougas Bohemian Boho Chic Meanings Symbols


This is a tale of a little shell that is used as money, a compliment and a way to gaze into the future.
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The popular cowrie shell has many uses and meanings. It has shown up in the form of money, jewelry, and religious accessories in almost every part of the world. Found in the islands of the Indian Ocean, the cowrie shell soon gained popularity throughout much of ancient Africa. Many historians believe the Cowrie shell was one of the first systems of money used.

Fertility, ease of use, and many blessings can be found in this little package. These are the prized treasures of our ancestors, and we can still benefit from them today. Cowries are used everywhere from Ancient Egypt to New Orleans Voodoo.

Spiritually, according to African legend, if you are attracted to cowrie shells you could be family to an ocean spirit of wealth and earth. It also represents Goddess protection which is very powerful and connected with the strength of the ocean. Throughout Africa, and South and North America, the cowrie symbolized the power of destiny and prosperity. Thought of as the mouth of Orsisas, it also is believed to have taught stories of humility and respect.

Been All Around the World….



In Ancient Egypt, cowrie shells were valued as great magical tools. Certain cultures believe that the magic comes from its resemblance to a half-open eye. Other groups see a similarity between the Cowrie and female genitalia, and consequently they have become symbolic of fertility. The age old issue of love walking hand in hand with money comes to light again. Mesolithic jewelry in Scotland features Cowrie shells, according to Jane McIntosh in Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe. Clearly their powerful importance goes back thousands of years.

From the deep down under the sea…


The shell from the watery depths is actually part of a tropical marine mollusk. It forms spiral shapes evoking its own natural magic in a simple yet complex way. In Africa the cowrie shell was the species most widely used for financial exchange.
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There is a connection between the cowrie shell and a mother goddess called “Mote,” whose description seems to evoke the divinity Mami Wata. During ritual Mami Wata appears as the primal feminine, both powerful and strong. These shells come from the ancient depths of the waters of Mother Earth and bless us with their sacred gifts.

Find the Future


In New Orleans Voodoo the shells are often used for offering, blessing, and healing. Anyone wishing to connect with their energy can simply put one in their pocket or wallet to attract insight and financial success. Cowries can also be thrown into a moving body of water such as a river or ocean while a wish is being made. There are obviously many other uses and associations for Cowrie shells.

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