The Pearl is a miraculous symbol of the healing process. The oyster, living in pure waters, transforms what is not part of itself, that small alien grain of sand, into something entirely different—which lovers of pearls might call divine.
Pearls, the birthstone for the month of June, have captivated the human imagination for thousands of years. They are objects of great beauty and primordial purity. But perhaps more than anything else, pearls have become potent symbols of the healing process. Pearls are built off grains of sand, which get inside the shell of an oyster. The oyster then transforms this grain into a pearl. It performs this process layer by layer, over time, with effort and intentionality, covering the alien grain with nacre.
We can take this process as a metaphor, and consider what it would mean to create pearls in our own life from that which wounds us. In fact, our fate can be determined by the choices we make around those grains--small and large--once they get under our skin. Ignored, the events that cause trauma as children or adults remain within us. The grains of trauma have the potential to become monsters in the center of labyrinths, pulling energy away from life giving activities. Worked with, covered over with the nacre of acceptance, forgiveness and love, the grains become objects of beauty. They become in our own psyche numinous experiences that bring insight into the depths of humanity.
The lore of pearls from around the world is extensive, and suggests additional nuanced meaning to the pearl. In the Far East there are stories of how oysters would rise up, their shells open, to receive the precious rain. The Chinese believed that pearls tumbled from the mouths of dragons. Dragons symbolize the primordial power of the elements, particularly the clouds, sky, thunder and lightning. This suggests that the pearl itself has primordial power within its folds of nacre.
The Romans echoed this sentiment when they described pearls as the "dews of heaven" that would tumble into the sea. Favored by the goddess of love, Venus, pearls were often dissolved in a chalice of wine--which was offered to one's lover to assure successful love. Pearls have long been recognized for their medicinal values, particularly for ailments of the heart. Religious and royal symbolism around pearls spans east to west.
The crowns of kings were often covered in gold and pearls. Sometimes the omniscient third eye of the Buddha is depicted as a pearl. John the Apostle wrote that the gates of New Jerusalem are covered wtih colossal pearls. Pearls were considered a Christian symbol of the purity of Mary or the soul within the body.
The spherical shape of the pearl in itself is also significant. The planets, the sun—perhaps even the cosmos itself—like the pearl, is spherical. The shape represents completeness. Pearls, even in their form, are a metaphor illustrating how even what is most difficult in life can end in a state of great beauty.