As discussed in previous blogs almost all modern medicines we use today had their origins in the flora and fauna used by our forebears to “cure what ailed them”. This is equally true of crystals – which have been used as a healing and wellbeing tool for millennia. Today, I’d like to take you on a quick tour of those ancient civilizations and look at what crystals meant to them. As an avid history buff, I am a firm believer of how much we can learn from our ancestors and when it comes to crystals, the answer does appear to be – quite a lot!
As long as man has stood upright, crystals and gemstones have truly fascinated them and there has been a deep attraction to these beautiful stones as well as being seen as a way of warding off evil and protecting the wearer from danger and illness. It is impossible to determine exactly what, when and how, man first began using crystals and gemstones, but archaeologists have found talismans and amulets that date back to the earliest recorded human history. Carved Woolly Mammoth Ivory Beads have been excavated from a grave site in Sungir, Russia and date back some 60,000 years (Upper Paleolithic Period). Included in these graves were also beads made from shells and fossilized shark’s teeth.
The oldest recorded amulets found to date, can be dated back some 30,000 years. Amber beads have been discovered in Great Britain from over 10,000 years ago, right at the end of the last ice-age. If we consider the immense distances early man had to travel to reach Great Britain at that time, we start to gain some perspective into the importance of these gems to them, that they brought them with them on their travels. A popular stone for early man was Jet and jet beads, bracelets and necklaces have been uncovered in Paleolithic gravesites in Switzerland and Belgium.
New Grange Tombs – Ireland
When we consider that early man has been mining such substances as Malachite, in the Sinai, since 4,000BCE we begin to see the importance of these minerals to the early nomads of earth. Jade has been mined in China since the Stone Age (Between 8700BCE and 2000BCE). Also, NewGrange, a prehistoric monument in Ireland, built around 3200BCE and predating Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids, was constructed of white quartz cobblestones.
Even the fabled lost ancient civilizations of Atlantis and Lemuria were said to be reliant on the power of crystals. The Atlanteans, in particular were said to have used the power of the crystals to create forcefields around their world to defend themselves from enemies, however it was the misuse of this power that is said to have destroyed the world of Atlantis and sent it plunging beneath the ocean.
We find the first written reference to crystal use, in the writings from Ancient Sumer, (Modern Day, ancient Southern Iraq, later known as Mesopotamia). The Sumerians used crystals in their concoctions of “magic formulas”.
The Ancient Egyptians were noted for their extensive crystal use. They used turquoise, carnelian, emeralds, lapis lazuli and clear quartz in their jewellery. In addition to this their funerary amulets were also made from these same gems. Crystals were used by the Egyptians for protection and health. For example, Chrysolite (known as topaz and perodite) were used as a deterrent to nightmares and to ward off evil spirits.
The Egyptians also liked to use crystals as part of their “makeup” regime. Galena (Lead Ore) was ground into a powder (known as Kohl) and used to shade Egyptians eyes. Powdered Rose Quartz was believed to prevent wrinkles and was extensively used. Malachite was also used as an eye shadow and any “green” stones which signified the heart of the dead person were included with the mummified body in the burial chamber. They would often place a quartz crystal and other gemstones on the forehead of a deceased family member, believing the energy and spirit of the gems would guide their family member in the afterlife.
Egyptian dancers were big users of crystals placing carnelian and ruby crystals in their navels to enhance their sex appeal, whilst Pharaohs, like Cleopatra, placed crushed Lapis Lazuli on their eyes to enhance awareness. Amethyst was also used to stimulate the “third eye” chakra and aid enlightenment.
Perhaps the Greeks, more than any other civilization brought us the world of crystals as we know it today. They believed crystals were extremely powerful and gave us many of the words we use for crystals, today.
Crystal, in ancient Greek, literally means “ice”. This is because the Greeks believed clear quartz was actually frozen water, so solid that it would never unfreeze.
Amethyst means “not drunken” and was worn as an amulet to prevent drunkenness and hangovers.
Hematite comes from the Greek word for blood, because of its red colour when it oxidises. Because Hematite is an iron ore and the Greeks associated iron with Aries, the God of War, soldiers would rub Hematite all over their bodies before battle to protect themselves.
Greek sailors were known to wear a variety of crystal amulets to protect them from the terrors of sea travel and the many mythical monsters that they believed lived under the oceans.
The crystal that was most prevalent and important in ancient Chinese culture was undoubtedly, Jade. Jade was highly valued and even some Chinese written characters represent Jade beads. Many musical instruments, in the form of gongs and chimes were made from Jade and Chinese Emperors were often known to be buried in armour made from Jade.
Jade was also recognised as a healing stone by the Chinese. It was believed to be particularly effective for the kidneys and kidney related diseases.
Maori Koru Pendant
The South, Central and North American Native Peoples (Mayans, Aztecs, Inca’s and Native Americans) all used and valued crystals deeply. They also recognised jade as a kidney healing stone as well as using it for funeral masks. The Inca people believed that Rhodochrosite contained the blood of their dead ancestors and the Aztecs made their weapons from Obsidian.
In the South Pacific, Jade (or Greenstone, as it is known in New Zealand) is sacred to the local culture. Maori make greenstone pendants which represent the spirits of their ancestors and pass these down the male lineage, through the generations, considering them to be bearers of good fortune. It is also used extensively by Pacific peoples in weaponry, such as the pictured “mere”.
Religion and Crystals:
Breastplate of Aaron
All manner of human religions has, at one time or another, considered crystals to be powerful, sacred and part of their religious practices. Crystals and gemstones are repeatedly mention in the Bible and the Koran. The whole concept of “birthstones” actually traces its origin back to a Biblical text in Exodus and the breastplate of Aaron (The High Priest’s Breastplate.)
The 4th Heaven mentioned in the Koran is composed of carbuncle (Garnet)
In Jainism, the Kalpa Sultra speaks of Harinegamesi, the divine commander of the foot soldiers who seized fourteen precious stones, cleansed them of their lesser qualities and retained only their finest qualities to aid his transformations.
The Kalpa Tree in Hinduism, which represents an offering to the Gods is made entirely of precious stone.
In Buddhism, there was said to be a diamond throne situated near the tree of knowledge, on which Buddha is believed to have reposed. A 6th Century Buddhist treatise ranks all gemstones according to caste, with diamonds being the King of Gemstones.
Modern Day Crystal Healing Roots:
During the Renaissance, in Europe, a number of “medical” treatises emerged promoting the use of precious and semi-precious stones for the treatment of certain ailments. The use of these stones, allied with herbal remedies were said to aid recovery and provide strength and protection to the wearer. During this period, it was decreed that because of “original sin” crystals could be inhabited by demons and therefore they needed to be sanctified and cleansed by the clergy, before wearing.
In the early Seventeenth Century, Thomas Nicols declared in his treatise “Faithful Lapidary” that gems, as inanimate objects, could not possibly possess the healing effects claimed by many and the use of crystals in Europe dropped off dramatically.
The Era of “New Thought” and the Rebirth of Crystal Healing:
The middle of the nineteenth century saw a massive spiritual movement known as “New Thought” take hold across Europe and the Americas. The “New Thought” movement, with its fascination and emphasis on the power of thought, vibration, spiritualism, the occult, and energy movement saw a resurgence in the use of crystals as healing talismans. Many of the practices we see re-emerging right through to the current day owe their roots to the traditional native beliefs we have discussed earlier but rely much more on modern science and the belief that everything is energy and crystals and gemstones, like some other materials are magnificent conductors of energy.
Crystal belief and therapies now cross all religious and cultural boundaries and in many cases are seen as a part of the “holistic” approach to wellbeing. Even many modern doctors incorporate crystals and other holistic methods, such as meditation into their diagnoses and therapies. Many books, such as Healing Crystals, Gemstone Healing and many more by Michael Gienger, as well as popular spiritual magazines have served to bring the concept of crystal healing to a whole new generation.
Although there are many physicians who adopt this “holistic” approach to health and wellbeing, there are many more who openly scoff at the concept. For long periods of the twentieth century the whole idea of natural healing was an anathema to Western Medicine and was actually banned in many countries. Slowly, as science progresses and recognises many of the aspects of “new thought” teaching as being reality, we are seeing a paradigm shift as it applies to health and alternative medicine but still the major pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma) are vehemently opposed to this movement and would prefer us to douse ourselves in their chemical concoctions, often with disastrous side-effects and addictive qualities (witness the current Opioid crisis in the USA).
Ultimately, crystals can only form a part of an overall wellness regime that includes: diet, sleep, exercise, meditation, natural remedies and yes, modern medical care. All these things should work together in harmony to achieve a balanced, healthy, and happy human being.
We hope you have enjoyed our foray into crystals over the past few weeks. We hope, if nothing else, we have opened your thought processes to looking at alternative options for achieving the wealth, health and fulfilling life each of you was born to enjoy – remember what I said a few articles back:
IT IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT TO BE HAPPY AND YOU SHOULD ACCEPT NOTHING LESS.
That concludes our series on crystals and next week we will dive into something equally as fascinating, exciting and important – SELF LOVE and no, I’m not talking about narcissism or arrogance here, I’m talking about loving, respecting and believing in yourself as a uniquely talented human being and fellow traveller in this amazing journey of life. You won’t want to miss this series.
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Till Next Time I’m Sending: Peace and Light