|Garnet Earrings in progress, Jan. 2012|
There have been times when I’ve felt in perfect tune with the earth, in tune with the rhythm of seasons, in balance with the universe we perceive. Naturally, as a pragmatic and skeptical Virgo, I often questioned my own experience, striving to keep honest and truthful any connection I claimed with the Cosmos. Now, about 8 months away from my 60th birthday, I smile at my earnestness, and I’m grateful for the time I had to study gemstones and to ponder how my energy was affected by working with them. It was a way to connect with people, to pay attention to what I felt, and to be open to the wonderful artists I met, many of them healers.
|Garnet and Mystic Topaz, 2011|
So, today I’ve been thinking about the stone for January, and I’ve settled on the notion that what we are all looking for when we look for our “birthstone,” is a talisman.
In ancient times, the idea behind stones being connected to the time of year you were born, had to do with how planetary emanations impacted the earth, and their corresponding gemstones. This in turn would amplify the zodiacal influence upon the natives of a particular constellation, both good and bad. The concept of birth stones, then, according to the geologist, Thelma Isaacs, can be traced to the 1st century A.D. when it was believed that the twelve stones in the breast plate worn by a high priest corresponded to the 12 months of the year and the 12 zodiacal signs. (She cites, in her book, Gemstones, Crystals & Healing, the name Josephus, but doesn’t identify him any further). Later, in the 18th century, the therapeutic power of gemstones became more important– as people had been treating illness with the extract of powdered gemstones, or seeking their vibrations in the ancient world.
From the 15th-20th century, here are the stones that have been associated with January, by various peoples and cultures:
20th Century – Garnet
Dr. Isaacs also researched the stones that were historically identified with the High Priest, Aaron, and compiled five different lists. I copy them here because I find them very interesting. The order of the stones shifts, so it is difficult to say whether they correlate to the months of the year or to the 12 signs of the Zodiac (of course, we are only talking about the Western Zodiac, not the Eastern, based on the Lunar Year– but more about that later).
|From the Smithsonian Gallery, 2011|
Foundation Stones in the Revelation: Jasper, Sapphire, Chalcedony, Emerald, Sardonyx, Sardius, Chrysolite, Beryl, Topaz, Chrysoprase, Jacinth, Amethyst.
King James Bible: Sardius, Topaz, Carbuncle, Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond, Ligure, Agate, Amethyst, Beryl, Onyx, Jasper.
Correction to the Bible: Carnelian, Chrysolite, Emerald, Ruby, Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, Sapphire, Agate, Amethyst, Topaz, Beryl, Jasper.
George Kunz (1913): Red Jasper, Light Green Serpentine, Green Feldspar (Microcline)
Richardson/Huett (1980): Sard, Agate, Chrysolite, Garnet, Amethyst, Jasper, Onyx, Beryl, Emerald, Topaz, Sapphire, Diamond.
|Smithsonian Gallery, 2011|
Finally, author Corinne Heline published her views about the meaning of stones, linking the properties of gems, stones, and metals with particular colors and Western astrology (Healing and Regeneration Through Color, 1975):
Aries– Ruby, Bloodstone, Red Jasper. Metal: Iron. Color: Red.
Taurus– Golden Topaz, Coral, Emerald. Metal: Copper. Color: Yellow
Gemini– Crystal, Aquamarine, Carbuncle. Metal: Mercury. Color: Violet
Cancer– Emerald, Moonstone. Metal: Silver. Color: Green.
Leo– Ruby, Amber, Sardonyx. Metal: Gold. Color: Orange
Virgo– Pink Jasper, Turquoise, Zircon. Metal: Mercury. Color: Violet.
Libra– Opal, Diamond. Metal: Copper. Color: Yellow.
Scorpio– Agate, Garnet, Topaz. Metal: Iron. Color: Red.
Sagittarius– Amethyst. Metal: Ti. Color: Purple.
Aquarius– Blue Sapphire. Metal: Lead. Color: Indigo.
Pisces– Diamond, Jade. Metal: Tin. Color: Indigo.
|From the Smithsonian Gallery, 2011|
Considering the variation of color attributions and properties of gemstones through the ages, these lists start to look arbitrary, and you can safely assume that some Zodiac signs and months are going to be dissatisfied with the color or the gem chosen for them. Doesn’t it make more sense for people to choose what we feel best signifies something elemental about ourselves?
Yet we are always looking up these bits of information– it’s fun, it’s entertaining. There is a pleasant expectation that some esoteric fount of knowledge will tell us a unique and revealing aspect of our character. And that is the search for a magic, protective, focusing, Talisman. A jewel that will feel just right when we wear it, that will help to assert ourselves, and will be the subject of a joyful exchange with other people.
For January babies, then, let’s celebrate the Garnet, a stone of depth, wonder, and purity, whether pyralspites (red varieties, Pyrope, almandine, spessartine), or ugrandites (uvarorite, grossular, andradite, as well as tsavorite, green varieties). It can be used for protection from outside influences when worn over the third eye. Useful for inspiration, cleansing, purifying. The green garnet is considered a thought purifier, best used in thought projection, and healing others.
Let us also celebrate the Zircon, which is assigned to January in some of the lists above, under its other names, Hyacinth, and Jacinth. Garnet and Zircon do look alike sometimes, even if their chemical composition is different. Both Garnets and Zircons abound in many colors, from dark red, to orange, to green; only Zircons, however, are found in blues and clear colors.
The Zircon was used as a talisman to protect travelers against plague (!), wounds and injuries, and belied to save one from lightning, and induce sleep. Isaacs connects the Zircon with independence, or self-dependence, best used by those of a quiet nature, useful for treating disorders of the lungs.
|Garnet briolettes and Peridot, 2011|
Sources: Thelma Isaacs, PhD, Gemstones, Crystals & Healing, Lorien House, Black Mountain, NC, 3rd printing Feb. 1985. ISBN paper 0-934852-52-9 Hardback 0-934852-97-9
Isaacs often cites the well known writings of Edgar Cayce. In this instance, his publication, Gems and Stones, Virginia Beach, 1967, and she lists the following auhors:
Corinne Heline, Healing and Regeneration Through Color, DeVorss & Co., 1975; George F. Kuntz, The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, Dover Publications, 1913; Richardson/Huett, Spiritual Value of Gemstones, DeVorss & Co., 1989; Stewart C. Nelson, Gemstones of the Seven Rays, Adyar Madras, India, 1939