In ancient times, and even within many cultures today, certain gemstones were thought to possess powers of protection, prevent ill health, even aid in healing; some were worn by the bearer to ward off dangerous pandemics or even something as simple as preventing or curing the dreaded hangover.
In ancient Rome, the purple-colored gem known as the amethyst was believed when worn by someone would be less likely to become inebriated and or aid one the next day in preventing a wine produced hangover.
A talisman or amulet isn’t always a gemstone, it could also be an animal’s tooth or fang, most any object, a lucky penny and you are of course familiar with the rabbit’s foot for good luck or good fortune—not such good fortune for the rabbit!
I have many friends and family members who wear the “Italian Horn” or pepper around their necks as an amulet against the evil eye or someone wishing you ill-fortune. The Irish have the shamrock and the blarney stone, the Jewish faith has the Alef Lamed Daled—I think you get the picture.
In uncertain times, not unlike what we are presently going through now, entire populations would wear amulets or talisman and such things to protect against ills, diseases, negative energies (evil eye), so why not a world pandemic?
It was also believed that powdered sapphire added to milk would cure pestilence poison; personally, I would rather drink that ancient remedy than a shot of bleach or a household cleaner.
Diamonds were worn to keep away night spirits, the way a diamond sparkles even at night is a testament to this theory. It was also worn for good luck and happiness.
The ocean blue aquamarine gemstone was believed to have healing and medicinal powers. In powdered form, it was used as an antidote against poison. Besides the aquamarine, the bloodstone is also my birthstone. My grandfather had presented me a bloodstone ring at my sixteenth birthday; it was not until years later I learned the significance of that gift. In ancient lore and apparently in my grandfather’s lifetime, the bloodstone was considered a powerful and magical stone thought to cause thunder and lightning and protect the wearer from all kinds of dangers and breakdown all barriers and open doors before him or her. The most significant description of the stone is the myth that during the crucifixion of Jesus, the bloodstone was created by his blood dripping on to an ordinary jasper stone.
Myths, legends and even wives’ tales passed down from generation to generation about wearing talismans or amulets (charms) in all cultures and countries on this planet, it all defies scientific proof, yet many are still worn to this day. In the world of precious and semi-precious gems, it wasn’t always the beauty or brilliance—the bloodstone is a good example—not the most beautiful gemstone on Earth, but the belief of wearing it for a specific reason to protect one or their loved ones says it all. The predominately red gemstone known as the garnet was widely used during the Middle Ages to protect against the black (bubonic) plague. So, how could it hurt wearing a garnet today along with a germ defying mask and gloves?
I’m not saying that amulets are the cure for what ails you, but it’s a fact that they existed and still are used today by cultures that swear by them.
What I am about to say may offend some of you, I don’t believe most people wear religious medals for “luck,” yet I do know many folks who wear them and are not… let’s say regular churchgoers, and there are many who wear them not as “magic” and who are very religious but they are meant to be used to request extra blessings or provoke more devotion. What any person believes in is a two-way street and open to debate; my intention is not to start a controversy about your religious beliefs. I’m just stating that millions wear them and that’s a fact!
That said, atheists may want to skip the rest of this article if you are easily offended.
A perfect example of an amulet in current society would be religious medals, worn by millions of churchgoers, would be the Saint Cristopher medal, traditionally given to a newborn or young child for protection. My shop sells many religious medals especially during the major church holidays, my most popular medals are St. Christopher and St. Florian (protector of firefighters) and Saint Jude (for lost causes), and the list of Saints seems endless. So many requests I never heard of—and me a former altar boy! I usually interact with the ones purchasing them and hear the reasons they wear them or present them as gifts, their stories are heartbreaking, miraculous and many of the reasons are lessons in life.
So, believe what you will. Wear your garnets or diamonds to keep you safe, or don’t, but please adhere to what the medical experts say!
And for those who are interested… Saint Benedict is the protector against sickness and plagues.
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith Marco’s island jeweler since 1994 he welcomes your comments about all that glitters. Website: www.harborgoldsmith.com.