The Sacred Sequence of the Lighting Whelk
Updated: Apr 8
From the beginning of human history, the natural world was directly connected to every aspect of culture. There was a deep understanding that everything was connected and some of that understanding was seen in patterns that are created by nature. In nearly every ancient culture it was believed that humans were made up of the elements, earth, wind, water, and fire. Another aspect of the elements in ancient history is the patterns and movement of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the mermaid necklace holds little babies that
display a very important symbol of the natural world. The lighting whelk is the marine snail that creates the mermaid necklace egg case and has a very special spiral that is of spiritual significance not just to indigenous cultures of Florida but of many different cultures around the world.
The Fibonacci sequence is a number and a corresponding ratio that reflects various patterns found in nature, that has been recorded in written history as far back as Sanskrit, the oldest language in the world. This sequence of numbers is as follows 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 and on to infinity. The equation that describes it looks like this: Xn+2= Xn+1 + Xn. Basically, number is the sum of the previous two. the ratio between the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence (1.6180339887498948482...) is frequently called the golden ratio or golden number. This sequence is found in the solar system, the human body, hurricanes, many plant seeds, flower petals, branches, pinecones, pineapples, and many shells such as the Lighting Whelk. This pattern in nature symbolizes evolution and growth of the spirit, and of change and development. One of my favorite quotes is, “The Fibonacci Sequence turns out to be the key to understanding how nature designs... and is... a part of the same ubiquitous music of the spheres that builds harmony into atoms, molecules, crystals, shells, suns and galaxies and makes the Universe sing.” ― Guy Murchie
Not only is the lighting whelk spiral the golden ratio it is also the only gastropod in the Gulf of Mexico to spiral counterclockwise making it open on the left-hand side rather than the right. To indigenous cultures in the past and many current cultures, the clockwise spiral represents the daily path of the sun and imitates the direction of life, from birth (east) toward death (west) where sunset and darkness represent the upper world. The life and death cycle. Because of this, the Lighting Whelk was sacred and used in many rituals as well as many other daily uses in indigenous cultures. The mollusks were consumed for food and the shells were used for spoons, ornaments, pendants, and the larger shells for shovels. The center of the shell is so hard that is was also used to make hammers and gouges. Lighting whelk shells have also been discovered in sacred burial sites around 6000 years old in Kentucky and In East St. Louis, Illinois, a carved, stone figurine showing a woman presenting a lightning whelk shell cup was found at a site where a structure had been burned. So, the next time you are out beach coming or exploring the seas and stumble across a lighting whelk take a minute to reflect on our connection to the natural world, and how special this beautiful gastropod mollusks is. Until the next adventure, stay salty and connected