Larimar the Dolphin Crystal

New Age beliefs about dolphins are widely held but little studied. From psychedelic art to charming necklaces, dolphins have become ingrained as one of the key iconographic symbols of the New Age movement. I have so many New Age topics I’d like to explore in this blog, though they present a research challenge because most of the information about them online comes from either committed believers or committed skeptics. Very little that has been written about New Age beliefs about dolphins is from a neutral historical approach, which is typical for such a new religion, and it is difficult to trace the evolution of ideas within the movement. As a result, I’m experimenting with a more casual format for these entries, so let me know what you think!

Larimar

Larimar stone

Today I’ll start with beliefs about larimar, or “the dolphin crystal”. I first encountered larimar when I was in St Maarten. I was immediately drawn to the stone because it looks just like the sea. Later I learned that this is where the stone gets its name: one of the men attributed with the discovery of larimar in 1974 named it after his daughter Larissa and el mar, the sea whose appearance it mimicked. The stone’s possible existence had been recorded in 1916 when a priest was denied permission to search for it, as the Ministry of Mining had never heard of the stone. However, it’s not clear that any of these men really “discovered” larimar; apparently, it was known as la piedra azul (the blue stone) by the indigenous people of the Dominican Republic, who believed that it came from the sea. Volcanic activity is largely responsible for the generation of larimar, but the sea did have a role to play in its creation – it was the motion of sediment from the mountains to the sea along the Bahoruco River that gave larimar its distinctive polish. The crystal only appears in the Barahona region of the Dominican Republic but is sold around the world today.

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