Indigenous Caribbean Network

A thorough training in the art of the Seashell Reading divination of the Caney Circle is only available to official behike trainees who have joined our training program. That said I will share here a partial explanation of the Caney Circle seashell divination. I want to stress to you that this is absolutely by no means a complete description of our divination technique and does not represent training of any kind. This is a very incomplete description and you should NOT attempt to practice the divination based on this information. 

If you have them, set up the sacred semies of Yoka Hu and Ata Bey as well as the COA oval that represents the uterus of Ata Bey somewhere in the general vicinity of the stone hoop:

Ata Bey

Yoka Hu in his manifestation as a living entity

Yoka Hu in his manifestation as a dormant entity

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Make sure that your circle of pebbles is at least 1 1/2 foot in diameter and leave it empty inside. The empty space inside the circle of stones is the space where the main work will take place.

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Aside from the altar items, the other basic materials used in the procedure include:

1.) ten seashells, one inch long each, whose shape is a miniature version of a typical conch.

2.) one bivalve shell, two to three inch wide (such as a clam or oyster) that is dark in color

3.) one bivalve shell, two to three inch wide (such as a clam or oyster) that is white in color

4.) one smaller bivalve shell, one inch wide (such as a clam or oyster)

5.) twenty wooden counting rods crafted from thin food skewers

These counter rods do not  have to be as intricate as the ones pictured here. They can just be a set of twenty plain thin wooden dowels.

6.) two plain clay bowls

7.) one clay container dedicated to the balanced duality of the male and the female energies

8.) one clay container dedicated to the owl energy of introspective perception

9.) one pointer rod crafted from a one foot to one and a half foot long skewer stick

As in the case of the counter rods this pointer stick does not have to be as intricate as the one pictured above. It can be just a long thin dowel.

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Once the circle of stones altar has been set down the bohitiu sits on the north side of the altar and the client sits on the south side.

Once they are sitting facing each other the bohitiu  leads the client through the three purification ceremony; water purification, tabonuko smudge purification and prayer purification.

For the water purification the bohitiu fills the clay "balanced duality" vessel and the clay "introspective perception owl" vessel with water. Then he or she pours a little bit of water from the "balanced duality" vessel and the "introspective perception owl" into one of the plain clay bowls and hands it to the client. The bohitiu then pours another little bit of water from the "balanced duality" vessel and the "introspective perception owl" vessel into the other plain clay bowl and keeps that bowl for his or her own use. The bohitiu leads the client in the water purification ceremony using those two plain clay bowls. Then he or she

leads the client in the smudge and the prayer purification ceremonies.

After the three purification ceremonies the bohitiu sings the song of Atabey, then the song of Yokahu and then the song of the four directions. Then he or she has the option of singing his or her own personal power song.

The bohitiu then blesses a cigar or tobacco-filled pipe over the smoke of the tabonuko and smokes it, offering puffs of smoke to the four directions and to the earth and to the sky.

Before beginning the procedure the bohitiu asks the client to explain his or her question or problem. The bohitiu listens carefully to the words of the client and discusses the issue, asking questions for clarification of the problem.

After they discuss the problem the bohitiu hands the client a container or pouch filled with the ten conical shells and the three bivalve shells. The bohitiu instructs the client to hold the container close to his or her chest and focus the most fundamental element of his or her intention and the essence of his or her questions onto the shells. The bohitiu then takes back the shell container and takes out the three bivalves.

The bohitiu takes those three shells in his or her hands and holds them in his or her cupped hands shaking them. After shaking the shells the bohitiu tosses them carefully into the center of  the circle and looks at the pattern in which they fall.

If the smaller bivalve shell falls in a position that is closer to the dark-colored bivalve than the white bivalve the subsequent reading will be interpreted exactly as those other shells initially presents.

If the smaller bivalve shell falls in a position that is closer to the white bivalve shell it is considered "negative" and then the reading of the subsequent shell casting is read opposite to the way those other shells initially present.

The bohitiu now takes the three bivalve shells out of the circle of stones.

Once the decision has been made on how the subsequent reading is going to be interpreted (positive or negative) the bohitiu takes the ten conical seashells in his or her hands and cups them inside the hands and shakes them praying for the shells to provide accurate responses.

Then the bohitiu tosses the shells into the middle of the circle of pebbles and inspects carefully the positions in which each one of them falls.

The bohitiu must image each individual conical shell to exist within its own personal little medicine wheel with a north, a south, an east, and a west around it.

The bohitiu interprets the reading based on how many of the conical pointer shells are pointing to each of the directions within their own personal medicine wheel.

The way that these conical shells are capable of pointing is by interpreting the long pointy end of the object as an indicator.

Each seashell exists inside its own personal medicine wheel with a north, south, east and west around it.

Each seashell will be pointing in one of the four directions inside its personal circle. Image an arrow at the end of the pointy projection of the shell. That arrow is the pointer that indicates what direction the shell is pointing to.

If the shell is not pointing exactly in the direction of one of the four points of the compass as in the case of the image above, if it is pointing to a space in the circle between cardinal points then the bohitiu must interpret it to be pointing to the cardinal point just before that space reading the circle to move in a clockwise direction. For example, if one reads the circle above as moving in a clockwise direction then the shell is pointing to the space right after the cardinal point of the east. This space right after the cardinal point of the east is also interpreted as being east. So the image above shows a shell pointing east. Please see below how all of the possible readings can be interpreted:

This image above represents a shell pointing to the space of the circle right after the cardinal point of the south so this shell is still considered to be pointing south. It is interpreted to be pointing to the south quadrant.

The image above is interpreted as pointing to the west quadrant because it is pointing to the space of the circle right after the cardinal point of the west.

The image above represents a shell pointing to the north quadrant, therefore north.

The image above represents a shell pointing east.

At this point the bohitiu can use his or her pointer rod and focus specifically on one seashell at a time to figure out what direction each individual shell is pointing to.

When the bohitiu is inspecting the layout he or she must first count the number of shells that are pointing to the south. That number must be interpreted by gathering the equivalent number of counting rods and either sticking them into the ground at the south of the altar or simply placing them at the south of the altar. For example, if the bohitiu counts six shells pointing to the south quadrant in their own little personal medicine wheel circles, he or she must gather up six counting rods and place them at the south of the altar. Then the bohitiu must count how many shells are pointing to the west quadrant in their own personal circles, and he or she must gather up the equivalent number of counting rods and place them at the west of the altar. At this point the layout will look like this:After placing the two counting rods at the west of the altar the bohitiu must count how many shells are pointing to the north quadrant inside their own little personal circles and place the equivalent number of counting rods at the north of the altar, lets say, one. Finally the bohitiu must count how many shells are pointing to the east quadrant and place the equivalent number of rods at the east of the altar, one more. So in this particular reading there are six in the south, two in the west, one in the north and one in the east.

Occasionally a shell will fall in such a way that it is actually pointing exactly in the direction of one of the cardinal points such as the image below:

This does not happen very often but it does happen. Any shell pointing exactly in the direction of one of the four cardinal points must be counted as a "double". This means that this shell must be represented by two counting rods. In the case of the current reading if the shell facing east is actually facing straight east then two rods are placed in the east representing that shell instead of just one. This means that, although there are only ten seashells in the circle, there will be eleven counting rods up because the seashell pointing straight east is counted twice. The layout will look like the image below:

This is what shells pointing in the exact directions of the cardinal points look like:

Once the number of shells pointing to each one of the four sacred cardinal points of the compass are assessed and the counter rods are counted and placed in the proper positions around the altar, the bohitiu begins to interpret what each number means. In other words, the bohitiu must analyze how many counter rods are in the south, how many are in the west, how many are in the north and how many are in the east, and what those numbers mean.

The meaning of these numbers is laid out in the explanation texts. The explanation texts specifically describe what each number means. These are the explanation texts:

Look at the south of the altar and count the number of counter rods that are there.

The chart above describes how to read the number of counters in the south:

1 counter indicates innocence

2 counters indicate open mindedness

3 counters indicate naivety

4 counters indicate lack of wisdom

5 counters indicate ignorance (lack of knowledge)

6 counters indicate recklessness 

7 counters indicate trusting

8 counters indicate impulsiveness

9 counters indicate lack of awareness

10 counters indicate something happening inadvertently

Look at the west of the altar and count the number of counter rods that are there.

The chart above describes how to read the number of counters in the west:

1 counter indicates insight

2 counters indicate intuition

3 counters indicate self-understanding

4 counters indicate inquisitiveness

5 counters indicate a sense of magic

6 counters indicate a sense of the occult

7 counters indicate secretiveness

8 counters indicate protectiveness

9 counters indicate a sense of prophecy

10 counters indicate shamanic quality

Look at the north of the altar and count the number of counter rods that are there.

The chart above describes how to read the number of counters in the north:

1 counter indicates wisdom

2 counters indicate experience

3 counters indicate hurt

4 counters indicate long-suffering

5 counters indicate stoic

6 counters indicate closed mind

7 counters indicate curiosity

8 counters indicate responsibility

9 counters indicate protectiveness

10 counters indicate paternalism

Look at the east of the altar and count the number of counter rods that are there.

The chart above describes how to read the number of counters in the east:

1 counter indicates illumination

2 counters indicate enlightenment

3 counters indicate wakefulness

4 counters indicate the quality of seeing far

5 counters indicate gratitude

6 counters indicate arrogance

7 counters indicate superiority

8 counters indicate the quality of being extroverted

9 counters indicate loudness

10 counters indicate explosiveness

To begin the interpretation the bohitiu first assesses what the result of the initial three-bivalve casting was. If the result of that casting was positive the bohitiu must read all the numbers just as they are presented. In other words: six in the south must be read as "recklessness" just as it appears on the explanation texts. But if the initial three-bivalve casting came up negative then the subsequent numbers must be interpreted as the opposite of the meaning found in the explanation texts. In other words: six in the south must be read as "carefulness" and "deliberate action" instead of the "recklessness" that appears on the explanation texts.

In this example case we will assume that the three-bivalve casting came up positive so all of the numbers are going to be read exactly as they are described in the explanation texts.

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The bohitiu begins with the south. He or she counts how many counter rods are in the south of the altar (6) and notes the number down on a slip of paper. Then the bohitiu counts the number of counter rods in the west (2) and notes the number down on the paper. Then he or she counts the rods in the north (1) and notes that down. Finally he or she counts the rods in the east (2) and notes that down.

Then the bohitiu interprets the meaning of each number:

Since the three-bivalve casting was positive all those numbers should be read exactly as they are described in the explanation texts.

Six in the south is described as "recklessness" in the explanation texts. This could be interpreted to mean that the client has been reckless in the way that he handled the issue the last time that he dealt with it.

Two in the west is described as "intuition" in the explanation texts. This could be interpreted to mean that although the client has been prone to some reckless, he has a unique understanding of his own inner self.

One in the north is described as "wisdom" in the explanation texts. It could be interpreted to mean that the client has sought the wisdom of his relatives and associates to deal with the issue. Perhaps that search for wisdom in others did not work out so well and the client should attempt to seek wisdom in his own self.

Two in the east is described as "enlightenment" in the explanation texts. This could be the aha moment that the client is waiting for. It could mean that this moment of clarity is just around the corner.

Once a round of divination is finished and the bohitiu has written down all the notes necessary, he or she has the option of carrying out a second round. The bohitiu gathers up all of the counting rods and all of the shells. He or she clears out the sacred space in the circle of pebbles.

The bohitiu carries out the procedure all over again just as was done the first time. 

 

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