Gemstone: Amethyst

An amethyst cluster

An amethyst cluster

I think that if anyone doubts whether or not crystals have an energy, all they need to do is sit with some amethyst.  I honestly don’t know what it is about this stone, but cultures across the world have stories of its properties.  In Western culture alone, it’s been held as one of the five cardinal gems (along with diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire) and was said to protect crops against tempests and locusts, bring good fortune in war and in the hunt, drive out evil spirits and inspire the intellect. A little study of the works of Pliny reveals that this gemstone, if worn round the neck on a cord made from dog’s hair, affords protection against snakebite. Later, Hieronymus reported that eagles placed an amethyst in their nest in order to protect their young from the selfsame danger. Hildegard von Bingen taught that amethyst combated insect bites and beautified the skin. Outside of these medical uses, amethyst was also popularly esteemed as a stone of friendship. And since it was thought to put the wearer in a chaste frame of mind and symbolise trust and piety, the amethyst came to occupy a very prominent position in the ornaments of the Catholic clergy over the centuries. It was the stone of bishops and cardinals; we find it in prelates’ crosses and in the so-called Papal Ring (Italian, 15th century) in the Jewellery Museum in Pforzheim.

The name by which we now know purple quartz comes from the Greek word “amethystos” which may be translated as “not drunken” (a-, “not” + methustos, “intoxicated”). According to a 16th century French poem, Dionysus, the god of intoxication, of wine, and grapes was pursuing a maiden named Amethystos, who refused his affections. Amethystos prayed to the gods to remain chaste, a prayer which the goddess Artemis answered, transforming her into a white stone. Humbled by Amethystos’s desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone as an offering, dyeing the crystals purple.  Other variations of the story include that Dionysus had been insulted by a mortal and swore to slay the next mortal who crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wrath. The mortal turned out to be a beautiful young woman, Amethystos, who was on her way to pay tribute to Artemis. Her life was spared by Artemis, who transformed the maiden into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears then stained the quartz purple.  While this myth and variations are not found in extant classical sources, there is a mention in Nonnus of Panopolis’s Dionysiaca that tells of the titan Rhea presenting Dionysus with an amethyst stone to preserve the wine-drinker’s sanity.

A deep purple amethyst cluster

Scientifically, amethyst’s purple color has been found to result from substitution by irradiation of trivalent iron (Fe3+) for silicon in the structure of quartz, in the presence of trace elements of large ionic radius.  To a certain extent, the amethyst color can naturally result from displacement of transition elements (such as manganese) even if the iron concentration is low. Natural amethyst causes light beams to split into two violets: a reddish violet and bluish violet.  If the stone is heated, it will permanently turn yellow-orange, yellow-brown, or dark brownish and may resemble citrine,  When partially heated, amethyst can result in ametrine. Amethyst can fade in tone if overexposed to light sources and can be artificially darkened with adequate irradiation.  The purples in amethyst are often of very variable intensity with the colors often laid out in stripes parallel to the final faces of the crystal. Gem cutters strive to place the color in a way that makes the tone of the finished gem homogeneous. Often, the fact that sometimes only a thin surface layer of violet color is present in the stone or that the color is not homogeneous makes for a difficult cutting.

Tumbled amethyst stones.

Tumbled amethyst stones.

Melody’s Love is in the Earth says that amethyst “is a ‘stone of spirituality and contentment'” that aids in the “transmutation of lower energies into higher frequencies on both the spiritual and ethereal levels” and represents the principles of complete metamorphosis.  It helps to clear the aura and to stabilize or change any dysfunctional energy.  As such, “it bestows stability, strength, invigoration, and the perfect peace that was present prior to birth.”  All these are excellent qualities that facilitate meditation, so one might consider using the stone as a focal point to a mediation or envision it “opening and activating the crown chakra” and envisioning its calm, peaceful energies entering your aura and helping you maintain the meditative state.  It is also a good stone to work with regarding decision making, as it will bring a serenity and composure that will help one make more fair decisions and enhance one’s managing responsibilities.  It’s soothing, tranquilizing influence also encourages a flexibility in decision making that might not have been attainable otherwise, and can encourage a creativity necessary to effective compromise and problem solving.

Amethyst’s energies also enhance cooperation between ones intellectual, physical, and emotional bodies as well as between the physical and spiritual worlds, so it is a good stone to help emphasize the “as above, so below” energies of magic and to enforce a working on one body having an effect on the others.  “Consciously holding the amethyst allows one to activate the energy to produce realignment of the energy bodies, while providing for stimulus to rectify disassociation between the aspects of cause and effect.”  It’s reintegration of cause and effect happens by amethyst’s energies providing insight into the portion of the actualized self that must be ‘remodeled’ to ease the changes that one must take to approach an ultimate state of perfection.

Amethyst also aids in assimilating new ideas:  “by carrying, wearing, or using amethyst, one can remember and apply the myriad ways that can be used to overcome any stationary areas within one’s physical form, intellectual activities, emotional attitudes, and states of consciousness.”  I believe that this ability to assimilate ideas helps with its usefulness in debating.  While much of this is because of its ability to coordinate the intellectual, physical, and emotional selves, I think its use in debate is also because the coordination makes concept understanding easier, faster, and more total.  When introduced to a new concept, amethyst helps you to see it completely and identify areas that need strengthening.

Of course, amethyst helps to “encourage and support sobriety” which makes it “an excellent stone for one who is attempting to find freedom from addictive personalities, either that of one’s self or another.”  Physically, “it has been used in the treatment of hearing disorders, to strengthen the skeletal system, and reinforce one’s posture” as well as “to stimulate both the sympathetic nervous system and the endocrine glands to proper and precise performance.”  It is also “quite useful in the treatment of disorders of the nervous system, digestive tract, heart, stomach, skin, and teeth” and can “help cellular disorders to re-adjust and re-align in order to eliminate distressful conditions.”  It has also “been used in the treatment of insomnia and to ameliorate pain from headaches and other disorders.”

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