Saturday, May 16, 2015

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Medieval Legends and Symbolism of Precious Stones


Evax, king of Arabia, sent to Nero, the emperor of Rome, a book which he had written concerning the nature of stones, telling their kinds, their names, their colors, in what lands they are found, and the virtues that they have. Many of their virtues are hidden, but others are well known. Doctors who know the powers of gems find them of great aid in their medicines. No wise man can doubt that God has placed great virtue in stones, as He has in herbs.


The diamond is as clear as crystal, but it has also the aspect of steel. It is found in India. Such great hardness it has that neither with iron nor with fire can it be cut, but if it is soaked in the hot blood of a goat, a man can work it on the anvil with a hammer. The sharp splinters which are broken off are used to cut other gems. This stone is no bigger than a hazel-nut. In Arabia there is a kind of diamond, not so hard, which can be cut without goat's blood. It is not so beautiful nor so valuable as the other, although it is larger. A third species comes from Cypress, and a fourth from Greece. Each one has the power of attracting iron. Enchanters use this stone in their enchantments. It gives to the man who carries it strength and virtue; it protects him from bad dreams, from phantoms, from all poisons, and from all hates and discord; it cures madmen, and defends a man against his enemies. It should be set in gold or in silver, and worn upon the left arm.


Sapphire is fit for the fingers of kings; it is resplendent and like the sky when free from clouds; there is no other stone which has greater virtue or beauty. Men call it Syrtites because it is found in the sand of Libya near the Syrtes. The best is that which is found in Turkey, for this is not translucent. It is of such great virtue that it is by right called the gem of all gems. It comforts the body and keeps its members whole; it overcomes envy and treachery, and it drives away fear. It frees a man from prison and looses heavy fetters; it is good for effecting reconciliation, and is better than any other stone for seeing in the water the signs which reveal things hitherto not known. As medicine it is valuable because it cools an internal fever; if a person dissolves it in milk it will cure bad diseases. It is good for the eyes, and for headache, and for disease of the tongue. He who carries it must be chaste.


The amethyst has a purple color, or sometimes is like violet or like drops of wine or like a rose. Some there are which turn almost white, others are like red wine mixed with water. From India it comes; it is easy to work, and it prevents intoxication. It would be precious if it were not so abundant, but it is commonplace since there is so much of it. There are five kinds.


Geratite is black. It is of such a nature that if a man opens his mouth and puts the stone under his tongue he will divine what another person thinks of him, and can win any woman's devotion. This stone can be tried as follows: let a man anoint himself with milk and honey, go out into the sunshine where insects swarm, and if he has the stone in his mouth the insects will not attack him; if he removes the stone they will at once sting him.


Chelidonius is a stone which one finds in the stomach of a swallow. It is not very beautiful, but it surpasses all the beautiful stones in usefulness. It is of ten sorts and of two colors—black and red. The red is good for the frenzy which seizes people who are moon-struck; it restores their sanity to madmen and cures those who are pining away. He who carries this stone will be a good orator and will be much beloved. One must carry it wrapped in linen cloth and suspended under the left arm. The black, if worn in the same way, aids a man to accomplish important things he has undertaken; it is also a help against the threats and rages of kings and princes. The water in which it is washed is helpful to diseased eyes. If wrapped in linen cloth of saffron tint, it drives away fever and restrains the humors which injure the body.


Coral is a stone which grows in the sea like a tree. It is green there where it grows, but when it is exposed to the air it hardens and becomes red. It is like a bush hardly half a foot high. It is very good to carry about, as say the authors Zoroaster and Metrodorus, for it protects one from lightning and tempest, and if one scatters it on vines or among olive trees, or upon a seeded field, it will be a protection from hail and other storms. It makes fruits multiply, it drives away phantoms, it gives a good beginning and a prosperous conclusion.


Heliotrope is of such a nature that if one puts it in a basin of water opposite the sun, it makes the sun become red and creates an eclipse. In a little while it makes the water boil up over the basin's edge, and fall like a shower of rain. He who wears this can prophesy many things. It gives a man praise and good health, it stanches the flow of blood, it overcomes poison and treachery. Any one who takes the herb called heliotrope and binds the two together with the proper incantation can walk where he pleases and no one will see him. This stone comes from Ethiopia, from Cypress, and from Africa. It is very much like the emerald, but has red spots.


The pearl is found in a shell, and it is called unio (union), because it is always found alone. The wise say that the oyster shells are open at certain times, and they receive the dew of heaven; the morning dews become white and clear pearls, while the evening dews are obscure. The young shells produce clearer pearls than the old ones do. The more dew the shells receive, the larger is the pearl, but no one is ever more than half an ounce in weight. If there is thunder when the dew is received, then the pearls perish. They grow in India and in Great Britain.


Pantheros is of various colors,—black, red, green, gray, purple, and rose color. All these shades appear in combination. Whoever sees it in the morning will not be defeated in battle, that day, nor in any other undertaking. In India there is a beast, of divers colors, called the panther, of whom other beasts are afraid, and this stone is named after him.

Symbolism of the Carbuncle

The carbuncle is red, and surpasses the wonders of all other stones. The books tell us that the gentle carbuncle, fine and clear, is the lord of all stones, the gem of all gems, and has the virtue of precious stones, above all. It is of such superiority, that when he who wears it comes among people, all accord him honor and grace, and rejoice in his coming. The books tell us that the beasts who drink of the stream where carbuncles have been washed, are cured of their malady; and the wretched who in good faith look at this stone are comforted and forget their adversity. By the virtue which God has sent, it soothes the eyes, comforts the heart and the body, and gives man lordship more than do those stones which are larger. Carbuncles are found in Libya in the river of paradise. The book of Moses says that God commanded that the carbuncle should be first in the second row of twelve stones. By night and by day it illumines all, and restores and lightens the heart. Sunlight does not take away any of its great and joy-giving color. Moses tells us that it signifies Jesus Christ, who came into the world to lighten our darkness, and Saint John, speaking of the coming of Jesus Christ, said He is the true Light who gives light to all men and to all the world. Isaiah the prophet said of Him that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light. Saint John did not find the carbuncle among the foundations of the celestial kingdom of Jerusalem, for all who desire to behold the carbuncle and the clearness of the true sun must turn to the true light of Jesus Christ.

Symbolism of the Twelve Stones

Twelve stones there are in this world which have great significance. I shall not fail briefly to say what each one signifies. Red jasper signifies love; the green, faith; the white, sweetness. Sapphire means that he who has faith shall reign together with God. Chalcedony, which is the color of fire, shows who will be neighbors with God. Emerald signifies the faith which the Christians have in Him; sardonyx, chastity and humility among the saints; sardius, the sorrows which they had on earth for their love of God; chrysolite, the life celestial that they have after the life terrestrial; beryl, purification, which the saints pronounce to the people. Topaz signifies to us the crown of holy life; chrysoprase, the reward which holy men will hold very dear; and jacinth is a sign of the light which the saints have from the Creator. Amethyst shows the martyrdom which God suffered.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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