Bones of the Ocean – The Shell Oracle

Thokoza, I greet you old ones!

In my Mpande – or mystical school – of Thokoza, the “bones” we use to do our readings or “Bhula”, are shells (amagobolondo). In other Mpande’s you may find a variety of “Bones” such as specific animal bones (amathambo), dice, coins, keys, domino’s or any object that the Ancestors have shown you to add.

The Ocean is our mother. All life came from her waters. She circles the earth and birth mountains. Deep in her body live many of our relatives – fish, shellfish, crabs, dolphins, whales, sharks…… From the largest whale to the tiniest tiny critter.  Many carry shells on their backs and live in them. These are grown and built over time, inside the ocean, and absorb all the energy and power of the sea and the life of that creature.

sea shellsWhen we collect shells as medicine or for oracles (bhula) we must understand their origin and the memories of the ocean mother they carry. Water touches everything and is in all things, so we can access all information through water and especially the power of the oceans.

Each one has a unique shape purpose and message.

Bless them with ocean water and dream into their memory and messages.

When we collect any shells, bone or any medicines – plant, stones, soil , water etc, it is important that we do so with prayer and respect, offering snuff (fine tobacco)  in exchange, asking permission.

When you collect your “Bones”, sit with each one, smudge them or clean with smoke from Imphepo, and ask the ancestors to reveal to you the life of this creature and the message it carries. Im my Mpande, we use specific shells for specific meanings, such as the large “Cowrie” to show an ancestor, pointed shells to indicate something that needs urgent attention or an “attack”, round black shells for altars, “Umsamo” or “Ukhamaba”, beer pots. The ancestors may show you various shells and meanings so pay attention.

when we “read” the bones, I always say – the bones read us – the form an energy pattern of what  is going on in our life, and with that show us the ceremony or resolution that we can utilise, to help us shift the scenario and open up new outcomes.


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