Curious Lore of Precious Stones, notes, part 7
Parts one, two, three, four, five, and six.
On the Therapeutic Use of Precious and Semi-Precious Stones
DON'T EAT ROCKS. This is an old book talking about even older methods. We have advanced so much in even just the past hundred years. Trust your doctors. None of this is a replacement for medical or psychological advice. If you want to use some of these tips along with modern medicine, please do so (as long as you're not eating the rocks), but never try to replace modern medicine with outdated ideas. It would be like using Windows 98 even though we're way over here in 2021. Except like, worse. I'll get off my soapbox now. ...Don't eat rocks.
Some of the earliest evidence we have of stones being used medically comes from Egypt. Interestingly, it seems that the physical components of the stones were originally considered, but later developments lead to believing the stones would work for certain ailments based on color, engraving, etc.
From the text:
The Ebers Papyrus, for instance, recommends the use of certain astringent substances, such as lapis-lazuli, as ingredients of eye-salves, and hematite, an iron oxide, was used for checking hemorrhages and for reducing inflammations. Little by little, however, superstition associated certain special virtues with the color and quality of precious stones, and their virtues were thought to be greatly enhanced by engraving on them the image of some god, or of some object symbolizing certain of the activities of nature.
(Don't put rocks in your eyes, either, please.)
Later, astrology entered the mix so that people believed an engraving on a therapeutic stone would be most effective if carved during certain days and times depending on how the planets were positioned.
The distinction in these methods seems to be how the stone is applied to the patient. The more "magical" method worked by being worn as a talisman, which the more "scientific" method consisted of reducing the necessary stone into a powder, dissolving it in liquid, and having the patient drink it.
One important factor when choosing a stone for its healing properties was color.
Red stones were used for hemorrhaging (blood is red) and inflammation (the skin turns reddish when inflamed).
Yellow stones were used for jaundice.
Green stones were used for the eyes (the logic being that eyes rest easily in fields of greenery).
Blue stones, the color of the heavens, were used to "counteract the wiles of the spirits of darkness and procure the aid and favor of the spirits of light and wisdom."
Purple stones, most notably the amethyst, were used to combat drunkenness, probably because the color resembles the color of wine.
Another factor, at least in old Hindu lapidaries, was the condition of the stone. A new, perfect stone would cure just about anything. An old, damaged stone was considered worthless in this regard, if not detrimental. The type of stone doesn't seem to matter here.
The effectiveness of the stones could also be determined by how they were worn. From the text:
Some believed that when precious stones were worn to relieve or prevent disease, it was important that the different stones should be worn on different parts of the body. According to one authority, the jacinth should be worn on the neck; the diamond, on the left arm; the sapphire, on the ring-finger; the emerald, or the jacinth, on the index-finger; and the ruby or turquoise, on either the index-finger or the little finger. There is, however, little reason to assume that these rules were generally known and observed.
The book then lists a few specific types of stones and explains how they were used medicinally.
- antidote for poison
- oddly enough, was also considered to be poisonous
- used for bladder diseases, but only in desperate cases
- protection from plague and pestilence
- cure for insanity
- An Austrian nobleman, who for a long time had not been able to sleep without having terrible dreams, was immediately cured by wearing a small diamond set in gold on his arm, so that the stone came in contact with his skin.
- antidote for poison
- good against demonic possession
- if worn on the neck, supposedly cured epiilepsy
- rests and relieves the eyes
- A certain cure for dysentery also was to wear an emerald suspended so that it touched the abdomen and to place another emerald in the mouth.
- hung around children's necks to prevent epilepsy
- Hermes Trismegistus says the emerald cures ophthalmia and hemorrhages.
- appetite stimulant
- cures gastric troubles if laid on the stomach
- used for diseases of the kidneys
- When reduced to a powder of the size of rice grains it strengthened the lungs, the heart, and the vocal organs, and prolonged life, more especially if gold and silver were added to the jade powder. Another, and certainly a pleasanter way of absorbing this precious mineral, was to drink what was enthusiastically called the “divine liquor of jade.” To concoct this elixir equal parts of jade, rice, and dew-water were put into a copper pot and boiled, the resultant liquid being carefully filtered. This mixture was said to strengthen the muscles and make them supple, to harden the bones, to calm the mind, to enrich the flesh, and to purify the blood. Whoever took it for a long space of time ceased to suffer from either heat or cold and no longer felt either hunger or thirst.
- cure for diseases of the eye
- remedy for flatulence
- cure for diseases of the eye
- treats dimness of vision
- cure for plague sores
- stops hemmorhaging
- stops nosebleeds
That is the end of this book!!! I hope you all have enjoyed my notes and maybe found a few useful tidbits along the way. =) I don't know what the next project will be yet, but my goal is to keep updating every Sunday, so let's see what we find! Stay safe!