9 Spiritual Meaning of Seashells (+ Their 8 Spiritual Uses)

Shell on beach

Most of us have memories of picking seashells from a beach as kids. However, shells are much more than attractive trinkets. Seashells have long been a symbol of life, death, and rebirth, that dates right back to Ancient Egyptian times. Read on to find out more about the deeper meaning of seashells and how you can utilize them in your own life.

Spiritual meaning of seashells

Seashells collection

Seashells are revered in cultures around the globe, from Christianity to Buddhism. Their beliefs are very similar in the respect that seashells generally symbolize the safe passage of our souls from this world. Shells are the remnants of a life once lived and symbolize the journey a creature has gone through. When a shell is found on a beach, it is a reminder of the ‘shell’ that is left behind once the soul has left the body. They also symbolize the beauty of life and its many aspects.

The following are everything that seashells symbolize:

1. Protection

Shells are protective vessels that shield vulnerable mollusks from danger. They also contain the protective energy of the ocean. They are the perfect totems to carry around with you to provide confidence and aid you in finding your inner strength. You can also place seashells on your windowsill to protect your home from negative energy.

2. Letting Go

Often when shells are found, they are either slightly chipped, broken, or the color has been worn by the salt in the sea. Seashells remind us that life is never perfect but it is our perseverance that gets us through the challenges we face. The gentle but intense healing energy of seashells will help you to see past your current predicament and move on with your life with courage and determination.

3. Beauty

Seashells are formed in the ocean; a place that has both mystified and empowered people for centuries. Due to the way they are made, each shell is unique which helps us to see the unique beauty in ourselves. Simply holding a shell in your palm and admiring its distinct shape, color, and pattern, is enough to increase acceptance of ourselves and all of our flaws.

4. Change

Seashells represent the journey of life. Mollusks go through multiple hardships and challenges in the deep ocean. Yet they adapt to change and work out how to survive in the harshest of environments.

5. Simplicity

Famous architect and writer Frank Lloyd Wright once described seashells as “greatness with simplicity”. Against all odds, tiny mollusks create their own protective homes and survive the harsh raging seas, which is an incredible achievement if you think about it.

Humans can often overthink things; am I doing this right? What if this goes wrong? Sometimes, we need to get back to basics and remind ourselves of the simple joys in life that really matter to us.

6. Eternity/Immortality

Seashells represent the beauty left behind after death. They are an everlasting reminder of the journey of life and the journey of the soul afterward. For those that believe in reincarnation, shells can also represent the resurrection of a new life. Senegalese burial rituals often involved white seashells as they were believed to guide the soul on its journey to the afterlife.

7. Independence/Self Reliance

Shells are the solid, exoskeletons of soft-bodied mollusks. These vulnerable creatures live in one shell their entire lives, which is made of minerals from their own bodies. Therefore, seashells are a strong symbol of self-reliance. Mollusks make their own life and create their own protective shields to survive, humans can do the same.

8. Feminine energy

Seashells have long been connected with the divine feminine, particularly feminine beauty. When performing any spell work with the Goddess Aphrodite, it is tradition to honor her by offering seashells. Sea scallops are linked with this Goddess as they are heavily associated with beauty, fertility, and love, as well as pearls and oyster shells which are said to represent the hidden beauty of womanhood.

9. Prosperity/Abundance

Seashells have been a religious symbol for coastal dwellers since the beginning of history as they represent the nourishment and abundance that comes from the sea. They have even been used as currency by numerous cultures, particularly cowrie shells.

In Feng Shui, flowing water symbolizes money flowing into the home. Placing seashells around a water fountain is said to protect that money. Similarly, keeping seashells in a basket in your home is believed to bring good luck and prosperity into your life.

Spiritual uses of seashells

Seashells are deeply spiritual objects. Let us look at some of the many spiritual uses of sea shells.

1. Blowing conch shells for attracting positive energy

Conch shell

The conch shell, also known as Shankha, is an integral part of Hindu traditions. A conch shell is blown before any religious ceremony as it is believed to rid a space of negative energies and evil spirits. Due to the unique shape of conch shells, the natural vibrations of the earth are magnified as they enter the curved surface which is what gives them their power.

To blow a conch shell correctly you need to stand with your back erect otherwise the shell with not produce the right sound.

2. Using shells in altars for protection

Shells are often used on pagan altars to represent the element of water. This is always placed on the west side of an altar, with earth at the North, air to the East, and fire to the South. Traditionally, witches invoke all four elements prior to any ritual, as this aids in the protection of your sacred space and also acts as an energy base for any spell work.

The natural cupping shape of many shells makes them great containers for herbs and crystals. You can even store your magic tools alongside seashells to clear any negative energy.

3. Cowrie shells to open third eye chakra & spiritual advice

Tiger Cowrie shells

These sacred shells are said to be the doorway to our ancestors, as they work to open the third eye chakra (our connection with the divine). For this reason, cowrie shells are used in a wide range of divination arts, including astral projection, tarot, and obi divination.

Cowrie shell divination has been used by West African cultures for thousands of years. A 16-cowrie shell set-up is the most widely accepted form of divination (called Erindillogun) however, it can only be performed by initiated priests in the Orisa tradition. Other forms exist that can be performed by anyone.

Cowrie shells have a rounded side and a split side. To seek advice from these shells, simply pick up an odd number of them in your left hand, ask your question, and then throw them gently. If most of the shells land on the closed side, the answer is positive. If most of them land split-side up, the answer is negative.

4. Nautilus shell for grounding & mental clarity

Nautilus shell

Nautilus shells are important symbols in sacred geometry due to their logarithmic spirals. Unlike many other mollusks, the nautilus does not shed its shell. Instead, new chambers are added to the shell as the animal grows. For this reason, nautilus shells are often seen as symbols of growth and renewal.

They are excellent shells to meditate with when you are feeling mentally lost or overwhelmed, as they can help you to find your true purpose and guide you on a spiritual transition to move past life’s challenges.

5. Scallop shell for manifestation

Scallop shell

Scallop shells are excellent additions to your altar or to wear as jewelry for protection during any journey, as they are said to represent travel and movement.

The multiple groves on a scallop shell spread out at the rim yet they all connect at the bottom of the shell. This pattern represents the different spiritual paths that all lead to the same destination – the connection we have with the earth. These shells can help you stay focused on your goals, even when you come across obstacles in your path.

6. Auger shell for masculine energy

Auger shell

Auger shells are shaped like a spear which makes them the perfect shells to represent masculine energy. These shells are said to give you the strength and courage to tackle your issues head-on. They also have an incredibly soothing energy so can help you to achieve mental clarity and trust your intuition.

7. Abalone shell for smudging rituals

The abalone shell is commonly used by Pagans to represent the element of water due to its basin shape and stunning coloring. It is also often used to catch the ash from incense during smudging rituals.

8. Moon rituals using shells

Due to their strong connections to the sea, shells are often used in ‘drawing down the moon’ rituals or full moon rituals. Surround your sacred circle with seashells and call on the power of the moon to help manifest your goals or to help you to let go of something that is no longer serving you.

What does it mean when you dream of seashells?

Dreaming of seashells is usually a positive sign as they represent good luck and growth. Especially if you dream of collecting seashells from a beach.

However, they can also symbolize your desire for protection. Shells are the protective shields used by vulnerable sea creatures to keep them safe from the harsh environment in which they live. So, dreaming of them may symbolize your insecurities. Perhaps you are hiding your true self for fear of judgment, or you are wearing a fake mask of perfection to please everyone around you.

Dreaming of breaking seashells is thought to be a warning that you are losing motivation and not moving forward in your life.


Seashells are nature’s gifts. They withstand the harsh seas and protect their inhabitants from harm. These beautiful creations remind us to constantly move forward in life with strength, courage, and determination, no matter what. In our busy modern lives, shells can also show us the beauty that can be found in simple things, such as family, laughter, and love.

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About the Author
Carla is a writer, author and a practicing Wiccan for the last twenty years and loves anything to do with nature and spirituality! She lives in Cambridge UK, with her two daughters and husband. When she is not working she has a special interest in creative writing, with two novels in progress.
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