Friday, December 16, 2011

Cowrie shells and the unknown!

Cowrie shells play an intimate role in west African society as it is often referred to as a source of divination since they play a part on the rituals and beliefs of many religions in the region.

The general pattern followed is that a number of shells are cast upon the ground after the practitioner invokes and saluted Orishas - a spirit. The pattern of the then cast shells are interpreted to convey a message.

In the recent past, out of curiosity I've gone and sat down with a couple of readers in the vicinity of Ouaga, one an elderly woman who is called by one and all as "Tanti" (Aunty) and the other an old man who lives in a mud hut a few km away in a little village.

The messages conveyed have been quite interesting to hear - and let me tell you that in both instances my decision to go see them were made on the spot, leaving no time for my guide to fill anyone up with any details about me.

Of the two however, the old man has impressed me the most nt only for the telling but for what he can do. Twice he's demonstrated something which I have absolutely no idea how he does it, even though I have tried to keep a close eye upon the ensuring events.

The first 'wonder' was when he fashioned a ring out of a piece of string, wrapped it up in a ball of paper and lit it up. Allowing it to burn for a few minutes he then extracted a metal ring from the burnt paper - and I have no idea how he did it.

On the second occasion he stuffed an empty tin with cotton waste, closed it and asked me to place my hand upon the lid and to speak out what my wish was.

I did, thinking out aloud what I needed. Taking my hand away he then opened the lid to now reveal it full of a black powder and absolutely no trace of the cotton. Having taken a smidgen of the powder out, he re closed the tin and tapped it twice, opening it to now revel the cotton back and the powder gone!

The readings themselves have been amazingly accurate, indicating the present and the future to come. Depended on the latter, the practitioner offers various ways of enhancing ones future or protecting against it, not that much different to how a someone with a similar practice would do so in SL.

All in all, I have to put this down in the list of things I dont know how they happen!


  1. Didn't know about the divination aspect of Cowrie shells - fascinating. Did a project on many types of sea shells years back and remember being tickled to learn that cowrie shells used to be used as currency.

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