Seashells are a powerful magical tool. For many years, folk magic practitioners did not have access to fancy tools and stones from around the globe -- they had to work with what they were able to find or forage in nature. Traditionally, shells serve as bowls for holding sage or incense during smoke cleansing, as a means of divination, and much more. Some spells focus specifically on the magical properties of the shells themselves.
Using Shells for the Element of Water
In some traditional forms of witchcraft, it is common to represent all four elements in your circle or on your altar. Seashells are perfect here. Any kind of shell can be used, from lion paw shells to big, vibrantly pink conches.
To use them, begin at the north or eastern portion of your circle or altar. Moving clockwise, set down the representation of each element at its corresponding direction: Something related to Earth to the north, Air to the east, Fire to the south, and the seashell to the west. Introduce each element to your circle, and thank them as you do this.
For practitioners who focus on the element of Water or sea magic, shells are a wonderful altar decoration. They can also stand in for many different tools. Lion paw or abalone shells are beautiful offering and incense bowls, for example, while the long, pointed shells of auger snails are good for directing ocean power.
Seashells for Protection
Yemaya is an orisha of women, motherhood, love, and healing. While she began as a river deity, after the African diaspora, she became associated with the ocean in Cuba and Brazil.
As a protector and ruler of motherhood, Yemaya can help you guard your family. Begin by clearing an area in your home or garden. In the middle, place a blue candle dressed with a few drops of Yemaya oil. Around this, place a ring of seashells. You will also need a glass of water, a piece of paper, a pen, blue or white cloth pouch, and small shells to place in it. (Cowrie shells are good for this. Tiger cowries are larger, but may also fit.)
Write your name and your date of birth on the paper seven times, as well as the names and birthdates of the members of your household. On the reverse side, write down your request for protection.
Place the cowrie shells in front of the candle, then light the wick. As the candle burns, say...
Yemaya, orisha of love, protector of women and guardian of mothers and children.
Please protect all those who reside here.
Guard the mothers and grandmothers. Protect the young.
Let all who live within these walls grow up healthy, strong, and with love.
Let the candle burn completely. If you have to leave it alone, snuff it and relight it when you come back. When it is done, dispose of the remnants near your front door. Place the petition paper in the cloth pouch along with seven of the cowries. (If you use tiger cowries, you may only be able to fit one.) Thank Yemaya, and hang the pouch over your front door. If you like, you may also repeat this for your back door, or other doors in your home.
When you are finished, take an offering to the ocean. Cane molasses, white roses, melon, or pineapple are all good choices. Put them in the water, giving your thanks for Yemaya's help.
An Emotional Cleansing Bath
Water is the element of the emotions, and sea salt is a powerful energy cleanser. When you combine them, you create a tool that can help you clear and release negative emotions. This allows you to heal any wounds that they have left behind, so you can move on with life.
Start by filling a tub with warm, fresh water. Place seashells around the edge of the bath, like a conch at each corner, or a handful of smaller shells. Add a generous handful of sea salt to the water, and stir it counterclockwise with your dominant hand.
Before you step in, ask the element of Water and the power of the ocean to cleanse your mind and body. Close your eyes, and visualize this energy entering the bath water. When you are ready, step in to the bath and sit down. Fully immerse yourself, allowing the water to cover you from head to toe. Feel the sea's energy holding and covering you, washing away your tears and pain. When you are ready, exit the bath. If possible, dispose of the water by taking it outside, and throwing it away over your shoulder toward the sun.
You may keep the shells on your altar, near your bed, or by your other magical tools to keep everything energetically cleansed.
Seashells are rich with symbolism. They represent water, the source of life, and the cleansing power of the sea. They stand for the emotions, feminine power, and protection. These are only a few of the spells that involve shells -- work with them, hold them, and see where their power guides you.