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Meaning and Use of Cowrie Shells

By Lilith Dorsey

This is a story of a simple shell that is used as money, a tribute, and a way to know the future. Some historians believe the Cowrie shell was one of the first systems of money used, and it’s importance is wide reaching. Fertility, ease of use, and blessings of all kinds 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 and Hoodoo.

Been All Around the World….

In Ancient Egypt Cowrie shells were prized as great magickal 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.

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