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Pyrite History and Beliefs

The name “pyrite” is after the Greek “pyr” meaning “fire.” This name was given because pyrite can be used to create the sparks needed for starting a fire if it is struck against metal or another hard material. Pyrite has a nickname that has become famous – “Fool’s Gold.” The name fool’s gold comes from when novice gold prospectors mistook tiny pieces of pyrite for gold when panning for it during old mining days.

Like so many ubiquitous minerals, pyrite – with its attractive gold glow – has been used in religious practices as well as ornamentation from man’s earliest days. In particular, the Incas of Peru as well as the Aztecs of southern Mexico were known to use large slabs of polished pyrite for mirrors as well as for the practice of divination.

The medicine people of many Native American peoples in North America also used pyrite for divination as well as for healing tools and in amulets. Widespread belief in pyrite’s magic power is attested to by its presence in the attire and miscellaneous objects that medicine people were known to have used.

Before the 1800’s, pyrite was highly favored as a decorative stone. Its hard nature holds sharp edges and fine shapes for many years. Rosettes, shoe buckles, rings, snuff boxes and other personal ornaments were carved from pyrite. Pyrite’s biggest use occurred during World War II. Sulfur was in demand as a strategic chemical and North American native sulfur mines were drying up.

 

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Lapis Lazuli History and Beliefs

Let’s know some more about Lapis Lazuli history and beliefs. Love the color of that amazing crystal!

Lapis lazuli, often referred to as just ‘lapis’, has been used as a gemstone for thousands of years. It has been mined from Afghanistan since the early 7th millennium BC, and it was discovered in ancient burial sites throughout the Caucasus, the Mehrgarh and even as far as the Republic of Mauritania. The funeral mask for the ancient Egyptian pharaoh ‘King Tut’ was even discovered to have been decorated with lapis lazuli.

This historical stone has a name closely associated with its intense color. Its name was derived from the Latin word ‘lapis’ meaning ‘stone’, and from the Arabic and Persian word ‘lazaward’. ‘Lazaward” was the Persian name for lapis stone, as well as the name of its mining location. In other parts of the world, words for ‘blue’ were named after the color of lapis, including the English word ‘azure’; Italian ‘azzurro’; Polish ‘azur’; Spanish ‘azur’ and Romanian ‘azuriu’. Today, lapis lazuli is still considered to be one of the most important opaque blue gemstones available.

In ancient Persia and pre-Columbian America, Lapis Lazuli was a symbol of the starry night, and a favorite stone of the Islamic Orient for protection from the evil eye. Lapis was much used in Greek and Roman times as an ornamental stone, and in medieval Europe, Lapis Lazuli, resembling the blue of the heavens, was believed to counteract the wiles of the spirits of darkness and procure the aid and favor of the spirits of light and wisdom.

At the end of the Middle Ages, lapis lazuli began to be exported to Europe, where it was ground into powder and made into ultramarine, the finest and most expensive of all blue pigments. It was used by the most important artists of the Renaissance and Baroque, including Masaccio, Perugino, Titian and Vermeer, and was often reserved for the clothing of the central figure of the painting, especially the Virgin Mary.

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Labradorite History and Beliefs

Labradorite is a gemstone that was named after Labrador in Canada, where it was found on the Isle of Paul. First described by Moravian missionaries working among the Inuit in the late eighteenth century. It was the Moravians who saw the potential of the brightly colored local rock and who, in 1771, introduced it to Europe, sending labradorite specimens and geological information to the Moravian Mission secretary in London.

Although labradorite may have been ‘discovered’ by Europeans, the natives of Labrador — the Eskimo Inuit who lived on the coast and the Native American Innu who lived inland — had long attributed mystical qualities to labradorite because of its captivating play of beautiful colors. It was believed that the “Mighty Being” pounded on the labradorite to make him travel up to the sky. This then made the inhabitants call it “firestone” or “fire rock”.

The legend says that while an Inuit warrior was wondering along the coast, he saw that some of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) had been trapped in the rocks along the shore, with the swing of his mighty spear, he freed these lights. The Inuit also believed that the spirits of their dead ancestors could be seen in the Aurora Borealis.

Traditionally, labradorite is a gemstone regarded to pull good fortune. If worn as a pendant, its wearer is said to have a healthy body and a good fortune in his relationship.

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Amazonite History and Beliefs

Once again let’s talk about gemstones… amazonite history and beliefs. Love the colors of this specific gem and according its history it has a strong connection with women!

It is widely believed that Amazonite is named after the Amazonian women warriors. According to legend, the ‘Amazons’ would gift green ‘amazonite’ stones to all of the men that would come to visit them.

There is also a belief that Amazonite was named after the River Amazon. However, it is unlikely that the River Amazon was rich in Amazonite, as whilst Amazonite does occur in Brazil, it has never been discovered in the vicinity of the great river.

Amazonite stone has been in use for thousands of years, and the way the Egyptians used it makes us aware of its importance in ancient times. The ancient Egyptians made beautiful jewelry and ornamental pieces from this stone.

Amazonite is also called the Stone of Courage and the Stone of Truth.

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Amber: The Myth of Phaethon

As you already may have noticed (!) I love stories and myths about gemstones. Today I decided to present one of the myths connected with amber, the myth of Phaethon. I do not work with amber, eventhough I love this stone! I know some of you do work (Heyme’s Baltic Amber).

Phaet(h)on, ( Greek: “Shining” or “Radiant”) in Greek mythology, the son of Helios, the sun god, and a woman or nymph variously identified as Clymene, Prote, or Rhode. The most influential extant version of the story, found in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Books I–II, seems to echo the plot of Euripides’ Phaethon, now partially known from papyrus discoveries.

According to the myth Phaethon convinced his father Helios, to let him drive the sun chariot across the sky for a day. Phaethon’s travels started off okay, but it did not take long for the wild horses pulling the chariot to realize that they were being driven by an inexperienced hand, and so they bolted and Phaethon could not control them. As they drove too far away from the Earth, the Earth became very cold. Then they went too close to the earth and turned much of Africa into a desert.

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“Phaethon driving the sun-chariot” by Nicolas Bertin (1720).

In order to save the entire Earth from burning, Zeus had no choice but to strike Phaethon down with one of his lightning bolts. Phaethon’s body fell dead into the Eridanus River.

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“The Fall of Phaethon” by Peter Paul Rubens (1605).

His three sisters, the Heliades, came to the river and wept day and night for their dead brother. Wasting away on the riverbank, their bodies eventually took root and became covered with bark. Their arms became branches and the three sisters turned into poplar trees. Their tears, however, continued to flow, and as they hardened in the sun, they turned into amber.

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  • First image is : The Fall of Phaethon is a painting by the Flemish master Peter Paul Ruben

 

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Jasper History and Beliefs

The name ‘jasper’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘spotted stone’, referring to its typical multicolored, striped, spotted or flamed appearance. Jasper can form in virtually any color. It is usually considered a chalcedony, but some scientists classify jasper as a separate type because of its distinctive grainy structure.

Historically, Jasper is traceable to all ancient peoples and civilizations. Worn by shamans, priests and kings, it was considered sacred and a powerful protection stone, for both the physical world and in the spiritual realm. Amulets of Jasper were carved by the Egyptians with symbols and inscriptions from the Book of the Dead and buried with mummified remains for safe passage in the after life. It was highly utilized in many cultures for engraving cylinder seals, signet rings, and special talismans depicting astrological and religious images. To the medieval world and the Native Americans, Jasper was “the rain bringer” and highly regarded as a stone for dowsing.

Generally, jasper is considered to be the ‘supreme nurturer’ stone. It helps its wearer through tough times and brings tranquility and feelings of well-being to those who wear it for its power. It is also a stone of protection and is able to absorb negative energy. Physically, jasper is said to re-energize the body and alleviate symptoms of prolonged illness.IMG_4672b

In antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages, people believed that the cosmos was reflected in gemstones. Jasper is assigned to the planets Mars and Pluto. The healing powers of gems remains a controversial issue, but gems have been used by healers, shamans and medicine men for centuries. Whether these healing properties are based on faith, fact or the placebo effect, it truly doesn’t matter if it helps those who are in need.

There are so many varieties of Jasper. That’s what is amazing with this specific stone. I love spider jasper and red jasper.

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Agate History and Beliefs

Agate is a variety of silica, chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks and can be common in certain metamorphic rocks.

Agate is one of the most common materials used in the art of hardstone carving, and has been recovered at a number of ancient sites, indicating its widespread use in the ancient world; for example, archaeological recovery at the Knossos site on Crete illustrates its role in Bronze Age Minoan culture. The famous ancient Egyptian scarabs are made of agate. Agates come in many forms and colors and are among the earliest stones used for healing and bringing good luck.

Agates have been used in history to make both ornamental objects and practical items, including brooches, paper knives, inkstands, and seals. In addition, they have been useful for making mortars and pestles to crush and mix chemicals.

The stone was given its name by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and naturalist, who discovered the stone along the shore line of the river Achates (Greek: Aχάτης) in present-day Sicily, sometime between the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Colorful agates and other chalcedonies were obtained over 3,000 years ago from the Achates River, now called Dirillo.

It was the stone of warriors in ancient times. According to Greek mythology, Orpheus was wearing a talisman agate when descended to the underworld. Another legend tells that the eagles are carrying crystals Agate to the nests in order to protect their offspring from the bites of snakes. For these ancient peoples wore agate amulets to protect from poisonous bites snakes, spiders and scorpions.

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So, it seems that we should wear an agate talisman when going camping or trekking!!!

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Aventurine History and Beliefs

The name comes from the Italian word ventura meaning “accidental”, “by chance” and refers to a story told by a glassmaker in Murano Italy (near Venice) during the 1700s. This glassmaker accidentally drops copper filings into molten glass creating a new kind of gemstone, completely by chance. The art of producing this man made gem was almost lost until 1827. Another Venetian glassmaker named Bibiglia spent several painstaking months of trial and error trying to replicate the formula. Today, the formula he successfully revived is still kept secret.

So, in the beginning Aventurine is not describing a natural gemstone or crystal, but a man-made glass with reflective copper inclusions. Probably the first time a man-made material is identified and given a name before it is used to scientifically describe a natural stone. This man-made Aventurine is sold today under the name Goldstone.

Many of the crystals that now carry the nIMG_6885aame Aventurine are actually a part of our very ancient history. Tools and beads made from Aventurine Quartz (usually green) have been found in many archeological digs. Crudely carved artifacts found in the Omo Valley of Ethiopia are close to 2.5 million years old. Aventurine Feldspar (aka Sunstone) has been utilized for thousands of years in a number of cultures to honor and capture the power of the Sun.

Green Aventurine is known as the “Stone of Opportunity,” thought to be the luckiest of all crystals, especially in manifesting prosperity and wealth, or for increasing favor in competitions or games of chance. Its winning energy makes it a great ally for boosting one’s chances in any situation – a first date, tax audit, even landing a promotion. One needs only to be near it to derive its benefits.

This beautiful stone, however, is not merely an attractor of luck, but one that aligns conditions so “opportunity” is inevitable. Green Aventurine releases old patterns, habits and disappointments so new growth can take place. It brings optimism and a zest for life, allowing one to move forward with confidence and to embrace change. It enhances one’s creativity and motivation, and encourages perseverance in maneuvering life’s obstacles. It also reinforces one’s decisiveness and amplifies leadership qualities, injecting a sense of humor and openness to the ideas of others.

Whether or not you believe in the metaphysical powers of various gemstones or that of aventurine in particular, it is hard to argue with the clear beauty of this crystal.

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Onyx History and Beliefs

The Greek mythological literature is full of fascinating tales which even in our time attracts the young and old alike. One such interesting story explains the appearance of Onyx on this earth. This story is associated with the Greek Godess, Venus. One day Venus was asleep when a mischievous cupid/Eros cut her fingernails and flew away leaving the finger clips scattered on the ground. Latter by the design of the god, these fingernails were transformed into stone that came to be known to the world as onyx. The name draws its origin from the word, onyx which in Greek language means fingernails or claw.

The myth that for this gemstone originaIMG_4604ated from the body part of Venus, known for alluring beauty, justifies the stone’s fine texture and lustrous black color. Onyx has been used for jewelry and adornment for centuries.  As early as the Second Dynasty (2890-2686 B.C.), Egyptians used onyx to make bowls and other items.  The use of onyx was uncovered in the art of Minoan Crete, most notably from archaeological finds from Knossos.  The Greeks and Romans used it as bases and handles for gold items, as well as for seals and stone inlay work.

Like other black stones, the black onyx gemstone is a grounding stone, believed to keep a person firmly grounded to reality, and protecting him from internal imbalances and outward negative energies. Besides balancing excessive passion and excitement, the black onyx stone is also thought to neutralize negative emotions and mental stresses, and stave off external negativity at the same time. Because black onyx was believed to be a potent protective stone and one that instilled courage, warriors often carried the stone into battle, sometimes engraved with the head of Mars or the hero Hercules.

A stone derived from a goddess!!!

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Carnelian: History and Beliefs

The more common term “carnelian” is a 16th-century corruption of the 14th-century word “cornelian”. Cornelian, cognate with similar words in several romance languages comes from the Mediaeval Latin corneolus, itself derived from the latin word cornum, the cornel cherry, whose translucent red fruits resemble the stone. The Oxford English Dictionary calls “carnelian” a peIMG_2475rversion of “cornelian”, by subsequent analogy with the Latin word caro, carnis, flesh.

Carnelian has a long history. Over 4500 years ago, Sumerian and Egyptian craftsmen were making jewelry set with the stone. Ancient Romans and Greeks also valued the stone, which they used for intaglios. Carnelian has also been popular for signet rings. While in Egypt, Napoleon picked up an octagonal carnelian on the battlefield, and returned from Egypt with this stone, wearing it all the time, and then leaving it to his nephew.

German poet philosopher Goethe (1749-1832) wrote of the carnelian:

Carnelian is a talisman,
It brings good luck to child and man;

If resting on an onyx ground,
A sacred kiss imprint when found.

It drives away all evil things;
To thee and thine protection brings.
The name of Allah, king of kings,

If graven on this stone, indeed,
Will move to love and doughty deed.
From such a gem a woman gains
Sweet hope and comfort in her pains.