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So often do we revere the beauty of nature just by looking at the clouds, the sunset, or even the pattering of rain. But nothing can compare to the elegance of the timeless nautilus shell which is also commonly referred to as the living fossil.
What makes the nautilus shell so special?
The nautilus is a type of cephalopod or mollusk that has existed for over 500 million years. Unlike its distant cousins like the squids and octopi, the nautilus’ soft body is covered by a hard, external shell that protects it from predators. Because of the hard cover, it is believed that the nautilus can live up to 20 years in the deepest parts of the ocean.
The nautilus shell is compartmentalized and can be divided to as many as 30 chambers. As the shell grows, the nautilus then moves its body forward into the newest and largest chamber. At the same time, the shell also puts up a wall to seal off the smaller and older chambers, which become gas chambers that help the animal float when needed.
What amazes marine biologists and perhaps mathematicians is the fact that once you look at the cross section of the nautilus shell, you will be able to get a glimpse of the growth cycle of the animal. With that, you can clearly see how the series of chambers is arranged in a precise way known as the Golden Ratio spiral based on the Fibonacci sequence or the sacred geometry.
This is considered sacred because it exists in a variety of things in nature, just like the shape of hurricanes, the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and even the shape of our galaxy – all of which are organized according to this pattern.
Symbolic Representations of the Nautilus Shell
- Perfection and Beauty: The golden ratio has always been associated with perfection and natural beauty. The nautilus shell takes all that and adds more with its usually iridescent properties, making it a powerful symbol of beauty and elegance.
- Strength: Many objects traditionally considered pretty are quite fragile, but not the nautilus. Its immense beauty is paired with strength and resilience, as a nautilus shell can withstand the ocean’s extremely high pressures. Marine biologists note that this particular shell can dive beyond 2,500 feet under the surface without imploding.
- Spiritual Growth: As a symbol, the nautilus shell is used as a metaphor for an individual’s spiritual growth. The way the nautilus moves forward into new chambers as soon as a bigger one becomes available is highly symbolic of humanity’s quest to expand its knowledge, leave outdated beliefs behind, and grow into more beautiful creatures. A nautilus knows not to return to old, smaller chambers because they no longer fit in there. It mirrors how we as humans are not supposed to crave the way things were, because we no longer belong in the past. We must always look forward and move on to better things that will serve our purpose better.
- Creation and Movement: For the entirety of its life, the nautilus creates new space for itself. This is the perfect symbolism for holding on to one’s creativity and ability to create new space for one’s whole life. It is a beautiful reminder that we can always create something to make our lives here on Earth worth something.
Nature has a way of reminding us of what we are capable of doing with the life we have been blessed with. The nautilus and its shell form one such reminder of life’s blessing. Note, though, that you can make use of the nautilus shell symbol without collecting actual shells, since the latter are much better kept in nature.