It was once said that the earth had an aura, brilliant with pulsing colour and energy and the Fall of Man shattered the aura and it fell to earth crystallising deep within the earth crust and formed the gemstones we mine today. Now I cannot take responsibility for the accuracy of this tale, but even the most unromantic gemmologist can’t help but describe gemstones with terminology such as ‘life’ and ‘energy’. It is impossible not be in awe of the dull lifeless mineral dug up from within the earth, magically transforming into a rainbow in your hand with just the act of polishing. The rarity, variety and unique optical properties of gemstones has played a key part in them being attributed mystical, healing and therapeutic powers.
But with Halloween approaching let’s focus on some of the more fantastical stories of magic, mystery and peculiar powers of gemstones.
The Lee Penny – the amulet to cure disease – especially in cattle!
This magical amulet is documented as being obtained as part of the ransom from a wealthy Moorish Emir, captured during the Crusades. Sir Symon Locard took the amulet as part of the ransom payment from the Emir’s mother who told of its healing powers. Returning to Lee Castle in 1330, Sir Symon gave the amulet to his heirs. The heart shaped deep red gemstone has been set into an old silver coin and it has thus become the Lee-Penny. It is believed to have mystical healing powers, first noted in the healing of cattle! The Penny must be dangled from a chain, dipped into water three times, then swirled in the water and importantly no words must be spoken and no payment taken. The cattle that drink the water will be cured of all infectious diseases. News of this miracle cure travelled, and in the reign of Charles I, the people of Newcastle took loan of the Penny for a deposit of £6000 to cure the plague affecting the population. The Penny was so effective they asked to buy it, but the Laird of Lee would not part with the heirloom.
Can Gemstones Predict the Future?
If a ruby is worn and it changes colour, this could be a warning that a misfortune is about to befall you! A gentleman called Wolfgangus Gabelschwerus describes his personal experience of a ruby changing its colour:
“On the fifth of December, 1600, as I was going with my beloved wife Catherina from Stuttgard to Cabina, I noticed that a very fine ruby, which I wore in a ring given to me by Catherina, lost repeatedly its colour, assuming a sombre blackish hue. This lasted over several days. I drew the ring from my finger and placed in in a casket. I warned my wife that some evil followed her or me and truly I was not deceived, for within a few days she was taken mortally sick. After her death the ruby resumed its normal colour and brilliance”.
In the Middle Ages Sapphires were used as a ‘testing’ stone for married women. If she wore the stone and it lost its colour it would signify the wife’s infidelity. It has also been said that an emerald may change it colour to denote an unfaithful partner or deception! Aquamarine was used for fortune telling, by suspending it over a bowl of water with letters around the edge. The aquamarine would spell out answers, much like a middle ages Ouija board!
Can a gemstone protect you from evil this Halloween?
The healing and protective qualities of gemstones are widely remarked upon and attributed to traditions from many cultures. Some of the more entertaining and obscure include: Pearl divers wearing pearls to ward off sharks, and Cat’s eye should be worn by rulers and politicians as it warns or dangers and troubles. Jet used therapeutically can be of help with flatulence, indigestion, epilepsy and temper! Malachite can prevent your child from having nightmares and Amethyst protects you from drunkenness. Opals have been said to have teleportation powers and may suddenly disappear only to reappear weeks later.
Magician’s rings called the “ring of strength” contained 7 gemstones set in a circle; ruby, emerald, selenite, amethyst, onyx, turquoise and agate with the centre stone being the magicians birthstone. Philadelphus tells us “Wear it and fear no man, for thou wilt be invincible as Achilles”. Today you can buy modern Egyptian Magic Kali rings, which have 9 stones attributed to the nine planetary forces, which can apparently bring you everything you dream of from wealth, success and power!
So this Halloween will gemstones really become omens of evil, that may bestow the wearer with ill luck, ill health or supernatural powers? Ignore them at your peril (insert evil laugh)!!!