There are beaches and then there are beaches…today’s vision of a beach is the type which features sand as the main star and naturally as best supporting actor…stones. Stones and shells. I’ve not been to a beach in ages.
Luckily a bag of shells, as supplied by Em, in addition to a potter around the local neighbourhood with my aforementioned intrepid guide, to find the best hangouts for stones means that I can recreate a part of a classic beach scene from my very own adopted living room.
The scallop shell is my favourite ex body part of a marine creature. In myth it is synonymous as the vehicle of choice for Aphrodite when she decided to beach herself on mainland Earth. But shellving my beach motif for a minute, to include a bit of old school folk-lore musing and divining something about Greek mythology; Aphrodite also has such diverse symbols as: goats, rose quartz, Venus, the ocean, artichokes and the colours of violet and silver. The word Aphrodite is derived from the Greek word for foam, which gives rise to foam arisen, the only way for a classy shell to travel.
Many cultures derive different things from the sea shell, in India they are a symbol of fertility, in China they represent good fortune, especially in the after life and in Christianity they represent baptism. For me they represent nostalgic days on the English East coast, with its tasteless brightly coloured wind breaks and interestingly coloured sea.
I did mention rocks in the title and the closest I can get to a God of rocks is Bethel, a middle eastern God of mysterious origins who was associated with the veneration of sacred stones. Although references to a Biblical town on the West Bank are also in the mix for the name Bethel, I decided to explore further and as usual a quick dive into etymology reveals that Beth-el means House of God, Beth is also the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and was borrowed by the Greeks for the letter Beta, interestingly.
The point of which he finally gets around to – if there even was a point other than the enjoyment of exploring antiquity – after a rabbit trail around the wondrous (and fun) world of learning, is time. Rocks and shells speak to me of time, antiquity, eons and ages, the witnesses of so much, or so little depending on your point of view. So holding such geological and natural marvels of history in my hands, turning them over and feeling their textures seems to give a physical meaning and presence to my thoughts for today that perhaps transcends the usual depths of my mind’s wanderings.