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!
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.
The marine associations of larimar have been retained but transformed by the New Age interpretation of the gemstone’s supernatural power. In the late 20th century, crystal healing became a popular facet of New Age religion. While opinions vary widely given the recent growth of the practice and the individualistic nature of New Age spirituality, crystals are believed to have healing properties that depend on the characteristics of each stone. Those who wish to tap into the crystals’ healing powers act on a combination of pre-conceived ideas about stones’ inherent particularities and a belief that the precise use of the stone must be determined through an ongoing, intensely personal relationship with it. Sometimes stones are physically laid on parts of the body they are believed to have the most influence over, and sometimes they are used as a focal point of meditation.
So, what are the characteristics of larimar according to believers? Larimar is of course linked to the sea, which brings with it a whole host of New Age associations. These include feminine energy, the wisdom of Atlantis, calmness and depth of mind, and dolphins. All of these traits are commonly found together in New Age ideas about the ocean, so it is unsurprising that they coalesce in larimar. Some New Agers believe that the “discovery” of larimar fulfilled Edgar Cayce’s prophecy about the discovery of a Caribbean blue stone that was a relic from Atlantis. A clairvoyant from Kentucky, Cayce gained reluctant fame for psychic healings and metaphysical teachings. His ideas about Atlantis formed the basis of many New Age beliefs about the lost city. Interestingly, larimar is associated with healing the throat, and Cayce’s chronic inability to speak was treated by regular hypnosis throughout his lifetime. However, the standard reason given for larimar’s relationship with the throat is its blue colour, which is associated with the throat chakra in New Age beliefs.
Other than throat healing, larimar presides primarily over mental health. Its attractive appearance, reminiscent of the calm lapping of waves against the shore, evokes the association between the Caribbean and relaxation that is particularly common for North Americans who may idealize the Caribbean as an accessible tropical paradise. Serenity and tranquility are the two words that crop up again and again in descriptions of larimar’s power. The sea’s hidden depths become a metaphorical plane for tapping into the practitioner’s own emotional roots, calling to mind the phrase “still waters run deep”. Its frequent white accents make it a bridge between water and sky, enhancing its ethereal associations, and its volcanic origins coupled with its cool “water energy” reinforce the idea that larimar is a stone that balances dualities and calms the mind.
It is larimar’s alleged Atlantean connections that bring dolphins into the picture. The origins of New Age ideas about dolphins and Atlantis will be the subject of future posts, but in a nutshell, dolphins are commonly believed to communicate telepathically with humans, imparting wisdom from the lost underwater city, outer space, or some combination thereof. Larimar’s influence over the throat extends to verbal communication, and meditation with larimar is said to enhance the practitioner’s ability to receive the messages dolphins send forth with their vibrations. For example, Ryelle Eterna of the website Crystal Rock Star writes:
Recently, I went on a night walk wearing a larimar bracelet. I set a mental intention with my larimar in hopes of seeing a dolphin along the water channel where they sometimes frequent. Amazingly, within five minutes, a dolphin surfaced and was swimming down the channel along side me as I walked. It was definitely a magical experience, considering this was my first attempt at connecting larimar with dolphin energy. If you don’t live by a body of water, that’s ok. Some of my healer friends have mentioned they will envision dolphins in their meditations or dreams while working with larimar.
Believers like Eterna write of the long-term journeys they undertake to discover dolphins’ wisdom, using larimar as a cornerstone of their efforts. Whether this stems from a belief in Cayce’s claim that the blue stone of the Caribbean comes from the Golden Age of Atlantis, or from a more abstract link based on larimar’s aquatic appearance, the stone is commonly sold with promises that it will enhance the users’ relationship with dolphins. A deepening of the relationship with the divine feminine, one of the core aspects of New Age religion, is usually mentioned in conjunction with these psychic marine associations. This idea may draw on the popularly perceived affinity of dolphins for pregnant women whose unborn children they can detect with echolocation. More broadly, it relates to the idea that women are more closely tied to the sea than men, the roots of which lie in many folkloric traditions across the world (although this is not universally the case, as is sometimes claimed).
My own larimar necklace is my personal favourite. I don’t often wear any jewellery, but when I do it is usually that necklace I bought in St Maarten. It often makes an appearance on special occasions, such as the day I handed in my undergraduate dissertation. It was only in the course of research for this blog that I discovered its association with my favourite marine mammals. Whatever the properties of larimar, supernatural or otherwise, it is a stone that helps bring peace to many who wear it.