Cowrie Shell and Divination

The 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. Throughout Africa, South and North America, the cowrie symbolized the power of destiny and prosperity. The cowrie shell is an African female symbol. Worn around the hips, it is believed to increase fertility.

The Cowrie shell is a natural biological curio that has been held in high repute as a Magical charm since the earliest days of human life.

Because it has a unique vulva-like appearance and comes from the ocean, it is a sacred symbol of the Love Goddesses and Sea Goddesses of various cultures. There are hundreds of species of COWRIE, with shells of differing size, pattern, and colour. The most common is the GOLD RING COWRIE. Over the ages, gold ring cowrie have been traded as money, used in systems of divination, and worn as protective amulets. They are also used in magic spells to symbolize the genitalia of a specific woman, both in love work and in enemy work. We make no spiritual claims for cowrie shell, and sell as a lovely, genuine zoological Curio only.

Cowrie Shell and Divination

Divination is an indispensable part of Santeria. Those who follow the traditions of Santeria rely on the advice and guidance that they receive from the Orishas, as well as from their departed ancestors to help them make decisions and work through difficult times. Unlike fortune telling, divination is a sacred ritual that incorporates sanctified tools in its practice.

These rituals require intensive training and follow extremely specific procedures.


Very few men and women have the spiritual energy to become a specialist in divination. Priests and priestesses, known as Olorichas, work for years to hone their skills to be able to communicate with the spirits to obtain answers to questions or guidance regarding specific situations.

Many centuries ago, cowrie shells became a popular tool in divination ceremonies. These sacred shells are said to be the doorway through which we can access the world of the ancestors, the world that holds infinite knowledge and wisdom and a timeless view we cannot otherwise tap into.

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 shells were tossed onto a table, grass mat, sacred cloth or wooden board and then interpreted based on how they fell. The shaman or priest would infer meanings based on the grouping, position, and inclination of the shells. Throwing cowrie shells has long been a practice in insight, and one that is rich in history and tribal tradition.