The Lore and Lure of Crystals, Part 1

For thousands of years, crystals, minerals, and gems have been employed to enhance emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing. History documents numerous instances of stones meaning similar things in different cultures, even where there was no interaction between these societies, and no opportunity for crossover.

The first historical references to the use of crystals are from the ancient Sumerians (c. 4500 – c. 2000 BC), who utilized crystals in magical formulas.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that stones could be used for protection and to ensure good health. Many placed crystals over their hearts to attract love, and wore crystal-laden crowns upon their heads to stimulate enlightenment and awaken their Third Eye. They also buried their dead with quartz placed upon the forehead, to help guide the departed soul safely to the afterlife.

The Egyptians also employed crystals cosmetically: ground up, powdered Galena (lead ore) became the eye shadow known as kohl. Malachite was similarly used. Green stones were included in ancient Egyptian burials to replace the heart of the deceased. (These were used in similar fashion during the later Meso-American cultures.)

Galena with Calcite
The people of ancient Greece attributed many properties to crystals; the word ‘crystal’ itself comes from the Greek word for ice (“krustullos”), because it was believed that clear quartz was frozen water that had become permanently solid. Amethyst (which in Greek means “not drunken”) was worn as an amulet to prevent drunkenness and hangovers. Hematite (“blood” in Greek) is an iron ore that was associated with Aries, the Greek god of war: before battle, soldiers would rub it over their bodies in order to make themselves invulnerable.

In ancient Rome, talismans and amulets made of crystal were commonplace. They were considered helpful to enhancing health, attracting wealth, and providing protection in battle.

Crystals and gemstones are mentioned throughout the Bible, the Koran, and in many other religious texts. The word chrysolite is mentioned several times in the Bible. It is listed in the Book of Exodus as among the gemstones set in the breastplate of Aaron the High Priest (which was itself the origin of birthstones). It was also used to combat night terrors and purge evil spirits.

Modern scholars believe that chrysolite refers to the mineral olivine, which in gemology is known as peridot. The most important ancient deposits of peridot were on the volcanic island of Zabargad (St. John) in the Red Sea. It was mined for over 3,500 years, and it has been speculated that Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were peridot gemstones from Zabargad.

The Bible says that the New Jerusalem’s “brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone.”

According to the Koran, the 4th Heaven is composed of carbuncle (garnet).

In Hinduism, the wish-fulfilling Kalpataru Tree is made entirely of precious stone. The use of healing crystals is documented in the Hindu Vedas, which discuss each stone’s healing abilities. Sapphires are believed to promote mental balance, clarity, and astuteness; jasper is thought to balance the base chakras, as well as attracting harmony and sexual vitality. Aryuvedic medicine considers crystals valuable for restoring emotional and metaphysical balance. The Sanskrit word for diamond, vajra, is also the name of the Hindu divinity Indra’s thunderbolt, and diamonds are likewise associated with thunder.

The House of Whitley mineral and crystal collections are a treasure trove for those in tune with nature and their surroundings. These wonders represent a spectacular selection of naturally formed pieces in a variety of unusual shapes and sizes, and can be enjoyed in their natural formations, as framed art pieces, and beautifully imagined accessories.