We all have experienced the allure of gems. We love their colors, shapes, and textures. We tingle with delight when are given a gift of gemstone jewelry. We swarm museums to gaze at them encased in glass and surrounded by security guards. We relish tales of gems rumored to have plagued their owners with peril, misery, and death. We wonder in amazement about the origins of the mysterious South American crystal skulls said to have been used in acient Andean magic. Whether you believe or not in the power of stones, we are fascinated and enchanted by them. There is something about gems we cannot deny!
The relationship between man and stone is a very old one. Gems were used for tools, ritual items, and used for healing. "Throughout the ages, humans have relied on stones to ensure conception, ease childbirth, guard personal safety and health, and to protect the dead" (Cunningham 2). Gemstones have also been long associated with the world of magick and Witchcraft. Witches put gems in charm bags for healing, use them as talismans to protect from danger, glue them to tree branches to make wands, place them on their altars for meditation, scry for visions in them, make gemstone pendulums for divination, and use them in candle magick to boost the power of their spellwork. These are just a few of the many uses we witches use for gemstones. (I will get to those later)
I use gemstones because they are gifts of Earth, the Great Goddess. Our magick is based in Earth energies and working with them helps us focus our intent, our magickal goal, whatever it is. Earth created these gemstones! Amazing to think so, huh? I mean, the colors are so rich they almost seem unreal. They feel cool in our hands or warm to the touch. They give a sense of peace or they can make us feel so energized we start to smile and giggle. They seem to encase worlds complete with forests, oceans, clouds, or even roads. We feel ourselves sinking into a different realm with each sparkle, each facet of light that twinkles as we turn the stone in the sunlight or by the glow of a candle flame.
We use certain stones that pertain to specific intents in our magick and/or spellwork. There are many books available on the subject. Some are good and as we know, some are bad. Some of these "bad" books talk about how stones are good for healing the spleen curing bad eyesight. For example, one author credits carnelian as being able to "treat problems of the spleen, pancreas, kidneys and gall bladder" (Toder 110). I think this is dangerous to tell people who are looking for cures in stones that are not there. Many mystical and new age healers claim that stones are great for curing many diseases and many forgo medical treatment because of it. "As far as crystal healers are concerned, stones can do it all" (Walker 58). In this sense, this is not the best way, at least in my opinion, for stones' power to be utilized. In addition, some books talk about how stones disappear on their own, can tap into alien energies, and can send would-be robbers running from you should you be wearing a stone in a mugging attempt. Stones have their power and gifts but giving potential attackers the heebie-geebies and curing ills such as cancer is not one of their attributes. I feel these claims cheapen Earth's gifts by giving them qualities that are not there and that mask their true beauty and finery.
When we hold a piece of white, shimmery moonstone, we may feel different things. We may feel how cool it is in our palm. We may reflect on its color; the shimmery, softly glittery white and cream shades swirling about. As we turn the stone, look at the way the light shines in the stone. See how the feldspar schiller causes a "flash of light" to dance across its surface. Maybe a slight cat's eye effect can be seen. How do you feel while holding the stone? Do you feel calm, peace, energized? Do you feel the feminine energies of the Goddess? Or does it simply remind you of the Moon in the night sky? Essentially, all of these things could be correct. Whatever energies or feelings you have are right for you at that moment. Maybe you feel just the stone, its weight and nothing more. That is okay too. I personally believe that stones are pieces of Earth that we connect with and how we connect may vary from person to person.
The books on gemstone magick are varied and vast. Many of these books have different defintions and uses listed for certain stones. For example, in Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic, the author states that moonstone "is receptive and love-drawing. Wear or carry a moonstone to bring a love into your life" (Cunningham 114). In The Secrets of Crystals, the author claims that the same stone "Serves as an emotional stabilizer teaching one not to react emotionally but to allow the higher self to control emotions" (Toder 194). These are two very different views on moonstone, so the question is, who is right and better yet, how do they know this is so? Maybe the answer lies in my original thesis that we react and connect differently to stones. We, as individuals, have our own views about what stone is better for our spellwork. Some say lapis is a good psychism stone and others say amethyst is best. Some say they are both fine for that purpose. I prefer amethyst because I feel more focused than with lapis.
I think gemstone magick is very personal because we each connect with the stones in our own way and they connect with us in their own way. I think the gemstone books should only be viewed as guides and not a rule book. The definitions and uses are to be interpreted as you see fit. For example, tiger eye and carnelian are both very protective stones. You may find that tiger eye is better than say carnelian and over time you may feel tiger eye is the more appropriate choice. Again, the books are good to start out with in order to get a feel for the intent of the stones but you can find what works best for you on your own after a while. The written knowledge can serve to help form your own personal knowledge.
In Witchcraft, there are no major rules or dogma for magick. As long as we do not manipulate or bring harm where none is due, we can do the magick in our own personal style. Some witches use an athame to cast a circle, I use a wand. Some have their altars set on the North or the East, mine is on the South because I am ruled by Fire because I am an Aries. Some have a Goddess and a God in their magickal workings and rites, I only have the Goddess. And some use onyx for defensive magick and sometimes they'll use jet. Whatever works, works. And the same goes for gemstone magick.
In my next article, I will discuss the various stones for magickal purposes. That is going to be fun!
Cunningham, Scott. Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1999.
Toder, Shani. The Secret of Crystals. Israel: Stone Age, 2003
Walker, Barbara. The Book of Sacred Stones. San Francisco: Harper, 1989.