Thursday, May 01, 2008

April Birthstone

As a geologist, I am fascinated by minerals and gems and I have a collection of spheres and eggs carved from various stones. I bought some nice spheres from an internet company called Mystic Gems and I’m now on their list to receive their newsletter.

I was working on something else for Musings today when I got their most recent newsletter which included an article about April birthstones. The article is so interesting that I am putting it on the blog, and there is a link to Mystic Gems at the bottom of the article.

April Birthstones, Traditional, Spiritual and Mystical - by Tammarah Davis, Gemologist

While April's diamond is deservedly the stone of everlasting love, the Opal from ancient Rome and a millennia beyond of Tibetan tradition is a fascinating mystical alternative. Sapphire and Amber arise from the religious realm as breastplate stones of the High Priest and as Zodiac stones for Taurus. Of these Opal brings the most varied beliefs. From the Tibetan tradition Opal is believed to help overcome challenges of one's birth month.

Opal - the name opal is derived from the Greek Opallos, meaning "to see a change (of color)." It is an amorphous mineral which can be of almost any color but most commonly white and green shades, and exhibits beautiful internal color play. Opal has been believed to strengthen faithfulness and loyalty in regards to business relationships, personal affiliations, and love. Some believe that it holds the energies to help one seem invisible in situations that the person does not want to be noticed. Native American Indians and Australian aboriginal shaman believed opal held the power to invoke visions and used it during ceremonies referred to as vision quests (Native American Indians) and "dreamtime" (Australian aborigines).

Opal has a curious darker side though. There is a superstition and belief by some that opals are bad luck to those that wear or carry them except for those whose birthstone it is. It started out being carried and highly prized by the Romans, second only to the emerald. As the centuries passed, more and more magical properties were attributed to the opal. By the 11th century opals were believed to be the stone of thieves, spies, and robbers (attributed with the magical ability to make the wearer invisible to others).

It was likely the Medieval Europeans who gave opal its "bad name" though. They equated the stone to the "Evil Eye" because of its likeness to the eyes of creatures that were feared and / or considered evil, such as cats, toads, snakes, and other reptiles and amphibians. But it was during the 18th and 19th centuries when the opal truly fell from grace as it became associated with disease, pestilence, famine, and the crumbling of empires and monarchies. There are still some areas that these superstitions run strong but there are very few if any stories to support these beliefs of the malign properties of opal.

Amber is the 7th stone of the Breastplate of the High Priest, and is a zodiac stone for month beginning on Apr 21. Actually a fossilized resin rather than a true mineral, amber is relatively soft and malleable. Strictly speaking, Baltic Amber is the only true Amber although Dominican Amber (retinite) and Copal (much younger resin) are also generically accepted as Amber. Amber has been used to trap and transform negative energies into positive energies. It is also been used as a symbol for the renewal of marriage vows. It is said to aid in choice, helping one to choose or allow them to be chosen. It is believed to be a pseudonym of the biblical "jacinth", and thus the seventh breastplate stone.

Turquoise is also from the zodiac month of April 21. It has a pale green-blue color and waxy luster, and can change colors when in contact with human oils. Turquoise has been referred to as a "stone of communication". It has been used to help speakers communicate their thoughts and ideas more clearly and precisely. It has been given to loved ones to help facilitate open and honest communications, while still allowing for those thoughts and ideas to be expressed in the most helpful and concise manner. Turquoise is also used as protection by those engaged in astral travel or going on a vision quest. It helps to provide a link between the unconscious and the conscious, helping to act as a protective mechanism during meditation work. The name turquoise is from the French expression Pierre tourques or Turkish stone, and originated in the thirteenth century.

Here is a link to Mystic Gems for you mineral lovers -

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