Curious Lore of Precious Stones - notes, part 3
This is a continuation of parts 1 and 2.
I feel like I'll need to say this again, so don't eat rocks.
Religious Uses of Precious Stones, Pagan, Hebrew, and Christian.
As I'm sure you know, stones have been used for religious purposes as well as magical. The earliest written record we have suggesting this is The Book of the Dead, an ancient Egyptian funerary manual from roughly 1550 BCE. One example from this manual is:
Chapter of the buckle of carnelian which is put on the neck of the deceased.
The blood of Isis, the virtue of Isis; the magic power of Isis, the magic power of the Eye are protecting this the Great one; they prevent any wrong being done to him.
This chapter is said on a buckle of carnelian dipped into the juice of ankhama, inlaid into the substance of the sycamore-wood and put on the neck of the deceased.
Whoever has this chapter read to him, the virtue of Isis protects him; Horus, the son of Isis, rejoices in seeing him, and no way is barred to him, unfailingly.
Babylonian stories included trees which grew precious stones.
It produces samtu-stones as fruit; Its boughs hang with them, glorious to behold; The crown of it produces lapis-lazuli; Its fruit is costly to gaze upon.
In fact, several mythical cities are described as being almost completely made of precious stones. Among those mentioned are the Islands of the Blessed and Kusavati.
Instructions for creating a ring are described in the book:
One of the oldest and perhaps the most interesting talismanic jewel is that known as the naoratna or nararatna, the “nine-gem” jewel. It is mentioned in the old Hindu ratnaçastras, or treatises on gems, for example, in the Nararatnaparîkshâ, where it is described as follows:
Manner of composing the setting of a ring:
In the centre - The Sun - The Ruby
To the East - Venus - The Diamond
To the Southeast - The Moon - The Pearl
To the South - Mars - The Coral
To the Southwest - Râhu - The Jacinth
To the West - Saturn - The Sapphire
To the Northeast - Jupiter - The Topaz
To the North - The descending node - The Cat’s-eye
To the Northwest - Mercury - The Emerald
Such is the planetary setting.
From this description we learn that the jewel was designed to combine all the powerful astrological influences. The gems chosen to correspond with the various heavenly bodies, and with the aspects known as the ascending and descending nodes, differ in some cases from those selected in the West. For instance, the emerald is here assigned to Mercury, whereas in Western tradition this stone was usually the representative of Venus, although it is sometimes associated with Mercury also. On the other hand, the diamond is dedicated to Venus, instead of to the Sun as in the Western world.
Bloodstone's red spots are thought to symbolize the blood of Jesus Christ. In fact, there have been stones carved in such a way that the red spot appear to be droplets of blood falling from Christ's body.
Another stone with a connection to Christianity is the chiastolite, which has a naturally occurring cross-like pattern. This stone is thought to stop bleeding (if worn to touch the skin), to increase milk production, to cure fevers (when hung around the neck), and to keep evil spirits out of the wearer's neighborhood.
Christianity assigns meanings to stones based on their colors. From the book:
White is regarded as the first of the canonical colors, and as emblematic of purity, innocence, virginity, faith, life, and light. For this reason it is used in the ceremonies of Easter and Christmas, as in those of the Circumcision and Epiphany of Our Lord. As the color of virginity it is especially appropriate for the festival of the Virgin Mary, and as that of faith not sealed with blood, for the festivals of the saints who were not martyred. The heavenly host of angels and saints wear white robes, and in pictures of the Assumption of the Virgin she is frequently clad in white. Red is used at the feasts of the Exaltation and Invention of the Cross, at Pentecost, and at the Feast of Martyrs. It suggests and symbolizes suffering and martyrdom for the faith, and the supreme274 sacrifice of Christ upon the Cross. Divine love and majesty are also typified by this color. Blue is an emblem of the celestial regions and of the celestial virtues. Nevertheless, as this is not one of the five canonical colors, it is not employed for the decoration of churches or for ecclesiastical vestments. In Christian art, however, the Virgin and the saints and angels are often robed in blue. Yellow of a golden hue is emblematic of God’s goodness and of faith and good works, but it is not a canonical color. A dull yellow, however, has the opposite signification, and is a type of treachery and envy. Hence Judas is garbed in yellow of a dull hue, and heretics wore garments of this shade when they were condemned to the stake. Green is the canonical color for use on Sundays, week-days, and ordinary festivals. Hope and joy and the bright promises of youth are signified by green. Violet, another canonical color, is appropriate for use on Septuagesima and Quinquagesima Sundays, during Lent, and on Advent Sunday. The chastening and purifying effects of suffering find expression in this color. Black, also a canonical color, is a symbol of death and of the mourning and sorrow inspired by death. Therefore it is only used in the Church on Good Friday, to symbolize the sorrow and despair of the Christian community at the death of Christ, a sorrow soon to be turned to joy by His glorious resurrection.
I think that's about all I can manage this week. Next week I'll have another section of notes. Once I'm done with the entire book, I'll post a list I'm working on that has each crystal and its use/meaning based on this particular book, so look out for that!