Symbolism gives ordinary things a larger dimension - often a spiritual one. Sometimes an object can represent an abstract idea, emotion or belief. Images predate written words by thousands of years and pictures have always conveyed ideas more swiftly than words. Shells are associated with the water symbols as the source of life, and are linked to the Yin, the feminine. In the Maya culture the Conch represents the waters, and ornately carved shells have been excavated from Maya ruins and its image has been found in their hieroglyphs. In addition it is the emblem of Neptune, as well as the god Vishnu, as the lord of the waters.
The conch is also associated with the spiral that represents the great swirling force of whirlwinds and the movements of the heavens and has represented the energy of both the sun and the moon. The spiral is the main manifestation of energy in nature and believed to flow in the form of a spiral. The spiral also represents the circlings of the soul, which eventually return to the center, or truth.
In china shells symbolize a successful journey and good fortune.
Sadly in many populated areas the conch has been over collected. Conchs are the natural enemy of a species of starfish that destroys the coral reef. Seriously struggling for survival themselves, they are also relied upon by other reef creatures. Their old empty shells are often the homes of the red hermit crab Ė the harmless and largest (fist size) hermit crab in the West Indies. So if you pick up an old shell on the beach - make certain it is not a hermit crabs homeÖ They cannot live with out their adopted shell and they do not travel well.
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