View Full Version : Casting cowrie shells

28-12-2004, 17:16
Has any one ever tried this one before?
Any info on it would be greatly appreciated(sp?).

29-12-2004, 00:52
I have a book that touches on this subject. it involved using 3 small cowrie shells [inscribed with a character] on a tambourine-like structure called a tympana. it is divided into sections and each section represents some aspect of perhaps pagan ritual and celebration, and combines a number of symbols, all of which give a diferent meaning depending on what shell lands on it.

29-12-2004, 01:37
i am so glad you asked this magi! i love to talk and learn about old traditional methods of divination. :D

while intuition is really important in all methods of divination, i believe there is much to be learned from the old ways too. ;)

the back side of the cowrie is called the 'eye'.
the side with the opening is called the 'mouth'.

the size of the shells have meaning too. the larger shells are considered 'males', smaller are 'females'.

i assume even the colorations, and marking variations have traditional meanings, but i am not familiar with any of those.

if you are casting with two shells, and they both show the eye, this is said to be good luck. if you were asking a yes/no question, this means 'yes'.

if both show the mouth, there could be problems. if you were asking a yes/no question, this would mean no.

if one side shows the mouth and one the eye, things are in the process of changing. you may need to ask again later.

as vilyariel mentioned, casting may also be done on a marked off surface, such as a bowl, drum or cloth, with the areas the shells fall in having specific meanings.

29-12-2004, 02:02
MM ~ I've yet to work with cowrie shells, but I'd suggest searching out sources from the African diaspora - Santeria, Vodun, even American Hoodoo. BB, Stella

29-12-2004, 05:49
I've read about the Santeria method and it seemes it's based on the binary system, but the dirrections were not verry clear on how the divination was done.

29-12-2004, 06:22
I found a little bit online under these: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=divination+oracle+cowrie
This gives you connections to several sites that describe how to use cowrie shells for divination, but I didn't check to see how extensive it was. I do know that African Yoruba divination involves cowries, and there are a whole lot of others. Several books are out that cover it, "Sixteen Cowries" is one of the titles.

I picked up a book for $5 at Half Price Books two years ago on cowrie divination (which you can also use seeds for) but it's packed away somewhere. It was more a numerical progression, but it explained the entire thing. If you're interested I'd part with it for what I paid & postage.

I found an Amazon picture of the book I have: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0380781328/102-9671393-1277757?v=glance
It's about an inch thick, tradeback (softcover) and in good shape. It made for an interesting read. There were charts in the back of the book to help with the divination side.

29-12-2004, 17:49
Once my wallet recovers from the holidays I may have to take you up on your offer. would you take a money order?

30-12-2004, 02:27
MM ~ It's called Ifa, try a search on that. I've read that to REALLY do it properly you have to use it as part of the religious practice, know hundreds of Orisha myths by rote. But there are simple methods of casting, I think Ray Buckland gives one in his encyclopedia of fortune telling. Also, the round sides of the shells are cut so that they can lay flat - and so they LOOK like eyes! BB, Stella

30-12-2004, 03:50
I brought up the subject of divination with cowrie shells ages back in this thread: Of Tarot, Dilogun, and incarnated beings (http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=14096). The thread itself got totally side-tracked on a different subject than what I started, but in this thread I quoted and briefly discussed a Dilogun (cowrie shells thrower) practitioner, who has an interesting site on the subject, Erik K. Lerner.

31-12-2004, 02:46
MM ~ Excellent, he said it with much more clarity than I! In the most basic sense, when casting cowrie shells properly, one is communicating with the Orishas. When reading Tarot, well, ask ten readers and you'll get thirteen answers...BB, Stella