Amethyst is a variety of quartz which gets its color from irradiated iron and other minerals. It typically grows in clusters of 6-sided prisms of hues from light violet to deep purple. They have been used in jewelry since ancient Egypt and were particularly popular for intaglio, and they were once considered as rare and valuable as emeralds and sapphires until large deposits of volcanic geodes were found in Brazil. By the modern era, though, it has been found as far and wide as South Korea, Australia, and Canada. According to the American Gem Society, it is the birthstone for February.
The Greek name, améthystos, literally means "not intoxicated," due to the Greek and Roman belief that amethyst can prevent drunkenness. For this reason, they wore amulets of amethyst and made wine cups from amethyst. To this point, the titan Rhea presents the god Dionysus with amethyst to help him keep his sanity in Dionysiaca.
Medieval Europeans, however, believed that amethyst could help with healing and helped preserve soldiers on the battlefield. It was also considered a symbol of royalty, though this may be due to its purple hue. At one time, it was practice for a lady to present it to her knight or a wife to her husband, in the shape of a heart and set in silver, to bring happiness and heavenly blessing on the couple.
According to The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, Amethyst is connected to the sign of Pisces, and according to Tropical Gemstones by Carol Clark, Tibetans consider Amethyst sacred to the Buddha and make prayer beads from it.
Episcopal rings are usually set with amethyst, giving it the title "the Bishop's stone." Amethyst was once a common material for rosaries, believing the stone material would help calm the mind of the rosary's user. It is also the stone of St. Valentine. Amethyst also appears in Exodus 28:19 & 39:12 as one of the stones on the breastplate of a priest, where it is refered to as "‘achlâmâh" which might mean "dream stone."
Possible correspondences: Alcohol and alcoholism (esp. the prevention of), beauty, Buddha, Buddhist beliefs, calm, chivalry, Christian beliefs, clarity of thought, Dionysus, dreams, drunkenness (esp. the prevention of), Egypt, Greece, health, Judaic beliefs, love, luck in battle, piousness, Rhea, Rome, royalty, sacredness, surviving war, Tibet, wine, world, volcanos.
Agate was named by Theophrastus after he discovered the stone along the shore of the Archates in the 4th century BCE, but was in use long before then, seen in hard stone carvings as much as 3,000 years old. It's a crysptocrystalline silica formed in the cavities of volcanic rock. (Cryptocrystalline means that the crystals are so very small that their structure can only be seen in a very thin slice, under a microscope, and with a specific light.) Its hardness and chemical resistance make it appropriate for industrial use and even mortars and pestles, but its innate beauty has had it used in jewelry, ornamentation, and art.
According to The Book of Talismans, Amulets, and Zodiacal Gems by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, agate is beneficial to the sign of Gemini, and Greeks and Romans wore it as a talisman and believed that it could help cure the poison of an asp or scorpion. It was also believed that burning the stone could avert storms and wearing them could increase strength, success, and vigor. Additionally, it has been believed to prevent fever, bring luck in the form of inheritance, bring enlightenment, and make the wearer more amiable.
Agate also appears in Exodus 28 & 39 as a stone on the breastplate of a priest. According to Philippine Folklore Stories by Mabel Cook Cole, agate beads are highly valued by Tinguian women and are rarely sold.
Possible Correspondence: Brazil, connections, enlightenment, financial success, fire, friendship, Gemini, good disposition, Greece, health, heat, inheritance, lions, the Philippines, Rome, sacredness, strength, success, time, venom and anti-venom, volcanoes, water, wealth, weather.
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