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Shelling back in time

12th April, 2017 Miscellaneous

The present was an egg laid by the past that had the future inside its shell.  [Zora Neale Hurston]


Image c. Pinterest

‘I’ve got a cottage you can have’, said a man I barely knew. Which was how I found myself on a misty Waterloo Station early one morning stepping into a first class train compartment. The old fashioned luxurious kind – it was the mid eighties. When a chauffeur met us at Salisbury, doffed his cap and said, ‘Good morning m’lord,’ it was just like being in a novel.

One that quickly became Gothic horror as the Earl and I toured his run down country estate. Bats, rats, rotting fungus, crumbling balustrades, ivy, ancient chapel, lost church font. It had it all.  But then he pulled back a dilapidated wooden door and we stepped into paradise. A fantastical realm. A ruined shell grotto. Much abused. The roof mostly gone. Columns of shells cascading down the walls, sliding to the floor. Many of its treasures lying crushed on the ground with a few crystal clusters sparkling from the walls in the glow as he lit yet another cigarette. So sad.

Picturesque but derelict Hard hat territory

Not a promising start. Picturesque but derelict. Hard hat territory. The grotto as it was. Image

But suddenly I was transported. Warmth. Candle light. Well-bred laughter. The clinking of glasses. Music tinkling in the background. The gentle bubbling of spring water beneath our feet. Beautiful people. Elegantly dressed. Partying without a care in the world. All around me walls scintillating and shining, the shells and crystals whole and wondrous. A magical underwater grotto. And, in a corner, a middle aged behatted lady secreting the most gorgeous crystal in her handbag. She’d quietly worked it loose as she smiled benignly at her helpless hosts.

The glory days. St Giles as it used to be.

The glory days. St Giles as it used to be.

Then I blinked and the vision was gone. Later, when I knew the Earl better, I saw photographs of a party exactly like the one I’d seen. And identified the kleptomaniac. A right royal figure. But, meanwhile, I had come home. I’d found the cottage I’d always dreamed of living in. And I’d learned the power that shells have to take you back into the past. I lived close by for a quarter of a century and drew on the healing power of those shells and crystals in my work. Now I use them to draw out the last remnants of ancient karmic patterning from the aura and karmic blueprint – and have Gillian McBriar in Ireland to thank for properly introducing me to their extraordinarily subtle powers. We’ve also used them in psychic development workshops to ‘hear’ past, present and future.


Image c.
Suppliers of ethically collected shells.

St Giles rose again, was rebirthed and rejuvenated. It owes much to shell-power.

‘The grotto was built in the grounds of St Giles House, the family seat of the Earls of Shaftesbury. It dates from the early 1750s, and was built by John Castles (d. 1757) of Marylebone in London. Unlike some other grottoes, this one is free-standing rather than built into a rock face or hill slope, and is built over a springhead in the grounds. It is now safely roofed once more and even though it is not quite ordinary-looking from the outside, nothing prepares you for the fantastical realm within.

The grotto comprises an entranceway leading to a central room – the inner chamber – with tiled floor and a fireplace. This is flanked on either side by a curving side passage.

The main room is described in the Shell Guide to Dorset by Michael Pitt-Rivers (1966) as ‘an attempt at an underwater room rather than just a shell room’, and you certainly get the sense of being in some mysterious and magical undersea kingdom. The decoration comprises shells of all sorts of kinds, sizes and colours – huge conches are fixed to the walls as well as tiny jewel-like bivalves – and the marine effect is heightened by the clever way corals and sparkling mineral crystals, such as quartz, have been incorporated in the decor, as well as the way the shells have been attached to branches to mimic life in a coral garden.’

Conservation work underway inglenookery

Conservation work underway. Images c. and

spab scholars and fellows

The fantasmagorical undersea world revealed once more.

The grotto has now been lovingly – and immaculately – restored by the present Earl of Shaftesbury. You could even get married in there. Its healing power can work its magic once more. Do take a look at the video on inglenookery. The grotto and its shells are featured from 2:10 onwards. Gorgeous pics and a detailed description of the restored grotto  and the story of the conservation:

Shell healing is well worth investigating. I intend to do a workshop to explore the metaphysical properties in depth and will report back to the members’ community in due course. They have such a profound connection with sacred geometry and the structure of the universe. There must be more to discover.

The spiral in a snail’s shell is the same mathematically as the spiral in the Milky Way galaxy, and it’s also the same mathematically as the spirals in our DNA. It’s the same ratio that you’ll find in very basic music that transcends cultures all over the world. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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