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A Guide to Shell: Meaning, Properties and Everyday Uses

Written by: Jessica Kramer



Time to read 5 min



Seashells have captivated humans since the dawn of civilization, treasured for their intricate beauty, symbolic meaning, and versatile applications. Found across the world's oceans and shores, they come in a dazzling array of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. 

Formed by mollusks and other sea creatures as protective armor and shelter, shells demonstrate remarkable strength and resilience. Made up of calcium carbonate, their hard outer surfaces are able to withstand the crashing waves and rocky reefs of their marine environment. At the same time, they display delicate, smooth inner layers with iridescent hues. 

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, shells offer many benefits when incorporated into our lives. Keeping them in your home is thought to promote relaxation, intuition, imagination and sensitivity. They are also used to amplify sound, leading to their use in music, ceremonies and healing rituals across cultures. From jewelry to decorations, shells can add beauty and symbolic meaning to our living spaces. Their one-of-a-kind textures and patterns provide creative inspiration as well. Connecting with them allows us to stay grounded while tapping into our inner wisdom.

Meaning and Symbolism

Shells have held deep symbolic meaning across cultures for thousands of years. Their delicate spirals and natural symmetry have made them powerful emblems of spiritual growth and the evolution of life.

In many cultures, they represent birth, fertility, and femininity. This stems from their connection to water and the ocean, which are associated with creation and birth. Shells emerging from the sea evoke images of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility, arising from the waves.

Different types of shells also carry their own symbolic meanings. Cowrie shells are seen as fertility charms and symbols of womanhood in African and Asian cultures. In Buddhism, the conch shell signifies contemplation and alertness, and is believed to have scared, energizing vibrations.

Across the Mediterranean and in Greek and Roman mythologies, scallop shells symbolized the dangerous voyage of life, and divine protection for travelers. They represented pilgrimages, saintly journeys, baptism, and feminine deities like Venus.

In many indigenous cultures, such as in Native American and Aboriginal Australian traditions, shells and spiral motifs represent eternity, unity, and the continuous cycle of life and rebirth. They are featured heavily in cultural rituals and decorations as sacred offerings and adornments.

With their delicate natural beauty and myriad symbolic associations, they have continued to inspire spirituality, contemplation, and our connection to the ebbs and flows of life across human history.


Healing Properties

The Shell stone is believed to have potent healing energies for both physical and emotional wellbeing. 

Physical Healing

  • May strengthen bones and joints, providing relief for arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint pain. The minerals in the shell are thought to support bone density.
  • Gentle exfoliation - Crushed shells can be used as an exfoliant to smooth and soften skin. The coarse texture helps scrub away dead skin cells.

Emotional Healing 

  • Calming and soothing - Holding them emits a peaceful energy that can relieve anxiety, anger, and irritation. It brings stability during times of stress.
  • Enhances creativity - The spiral shape represents infinite creative potential. Shells inspire artistic expression, boost imagination, and unlock intuitive insights.
  • Promotes emotional sensitivity - The flowing, watery nature of shell's energy allows us to get in touch with our feelings, enhancing emotional intelligence.

Everyday Uses

Shells can be incorporated into daily life in various decorative and practical ways. Their natural beauty makes them ideal for home decor accents.

  • Display shells in glass bowls or vases for a touch of ocean ambience. Hang them on strands to make lovely wind chimes that create soothing sounds. Glue assorted shells onto mirrors or frames for nature-inspired wall art.
  • Turn them into jewelry like pendants, necklaces, rings or bracelets. Let their organic shapes and textures shine by keeping the designs simple and elegant. Choose shells that complement different outfits or moods.
  • Create mosaic artwork out of small pieces, using additional materials like glass, stones or pebbles as desired. Make picture frames with shells glued onto the borders for a coastal vibe. Decorate boxes, vases or trays with shells for pretty storage options with a seaside twist.

By making shells a part of our living spaces and accessories, we can tap into their energy and enjoy their calming presence every day.

Group of Shells


Shells have been used as protective amulets and talismans throughout history. Their naturally gorgeous spirals are believed to absorb negative energy and strengthen one's aura. Different shells carry unique protective qualities:

  • Cowrie shells shield against the evil eye and envy. Carry one in your pocket or place them by your doorway to create an invisible barrier. The dark gloss and eye-like shape scares away ill-wishing and repels bad intentions.
  • Scallop shells safeguard travelers and symbolize divine protection. Keep one in your car, handbag or suitcase for a sheltered journey. The radial lines represent paths converging under heavenly grace.
  • Nautilus shells ward off negativity with their perfect golden ratio spiral. Their exceptional math deflects electromagnetic stress, clears mind clutter and diffuses arguments. Gaze into its hypnotic depths to unwind mental blocks.

Regularly cleanse them under running water to refresh their protective powers. Charge them in sunlight or moonlight to revitalize their energy. Trust in their enduring guardianship to deflect life's negative forces. They absorb darkness so you can dwell in light.

Cleansing and Recharging Shells

Shells can absorb negative or stagnant energies over time, so it's important to regularly cleanse and recharge them to maintain their natural healing vibrancy. There are a few simple yet effective methods:

  • Salt Water or Sea Water: Soak them in a bowl of salt water or, if possible, sea water overnight or for at least a few hours. The salt will help draw out and neutralize built-up energies. Rinse well afterwards.
  • Moonlight: Place them outside or on a windowsill overnight under the light of the Full or New moon. The lunar cycles will gently recharge and align the shell's innate power.
  • Sound: Hold them near the speaker of a crystal singing bowl, gong, bell, or chanting music to clear stagnant vibrations with uplifting tones. About 5-10 minutes of sonic cleansing should revitalize its structure.
  • Smudging: Lightly wave an ignited smudge stick or palo santo stick around them, allowing the smoke to chase away unwanted energies. Sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are common smudging herbs. 

To maintain shells energy, keep them in a soft pouch or natural fabric when not in use, avoiding prolonged direct sunlight or high heat. Handling them mindfully and with conscious intention will also preserve healing qualities. 



Shells are truly remarkable gifts from the sea that have served humanity across cultures for millennia. Their beauty, versatility and healing energies make them a powerful addition to one's home, body and spirit.

Throughout this article we explored shells' unique symbolic meanings, physical and emotional healing properties, as well as their protective qualities and practical everyday uses. Seashells can purify spaces, amplify intentions, calm the mind and strengthen the body. Their soothing natural beauty and connection to water evoke serenity and flow. 

Whether using them as adornments, incorporating them into rituals, displaying them in your home, or simply admiring their graceful forms, these marvelous creations from the sea offer a tangible way to harness the restorative power of water. Allow them to wash over you with their gifts of peace, perspective and spiritual connection. Discover your own relationship with shells and welcome their healing medicine into your life.