Excerpted from The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems
by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt (1922)
From remotest times, back even to the birth of humanity, Precious Stones and Talismans have been held in high estimation by all nations; the former, primarily because of their beauty, and the latter on account of their virtues, as transmitters of good luck and to avert misfortune. The association of Gems with power, civil and religious, has ever been noticeable; and to the fascination of antiquity may be added the allurement of mystery. Moreover, of the many and varied signs of wealth and luxury, jewels have played a most important part in the lives of the great, not only on account of their beauty but because they contained in a small compass the equivalent to a large sum of money and in times of danger could easily be concealed and carried from place to place.
As tokens or symbols they conveyed joy and confidence to their owners, and were thought to give warning of coming events, inspiring courage and faith in the fearful, and the romances and tragedies in which they have played a part, together with their marked influence on the lives of individuals and nations, intensifies our interest in them so that it is little wonder that faith in the mysterious properties ascribed to them should have survived the growth of ages and still find so many believers in all countries. The philosophers of thousands of years ago, understanding their suitability as a medium for the transmission of astral forces and vibrations, invested them with much importance, attributing to them spiritual as well as material powers, special characteristics and medicinal and curative qualities.
In all probability gems had their origin in the very remote period of the Earth's history when it was still in a molten state subject to deluge and fire, before its solidification made it possible for vegetation to appear, and the translucent lustre of certain gems is due to the action of the floods which preceded the fiery volcanic period. The colouring which forms their greatest fascination is due to various metallic oxides in combination with oxygen which in varying quantities gives red,blue, yellow, or green colourings, as shown by the Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, and Amethyst.
It is most difficult to determine with any certainty in what country Precious Stones were first worn as ornaments, but the consensus of opinion seems to point to India, as far as recognised history is concerned, as their birthplace, for every rare and beautiful production of Nature, Gems and Pearls are associated with the East.
The earliest records of humanity do not, however, stop with known histories, for traces of man's love for gems are found in the discoveries of travellers and the traditions of South America, evidence proving an inheritance from past civilisations of great antiquity. There is an innate attraction to the marvellous in mankind, the imagination leading us to endow the rare and precious with peculiar qualities, particularly when the source of its beauty and rarity is not readily perceptible. It is akin to the extraordinary magnetic influence which one person may exercise over another without any tangible evidence of super-physical powers, or the mysterious attraction which the Magnet exercises over Iron, and establishes the inference that other minerals may be similarly endowed with properties at present unrecognised by our ordinary physical senses.
Modern research confirms the old teaching that the Universe was created from the four elements, Fire, Air, Water, Earth, in the order given, each growing as it were from its predecessor and all animated in turn by the Word breathed upon them at the Creation; this force, or energy, permeates all existing things from man, who is the highest of apparent physical manifestations down through the animal and vegetable kingdoms to the mineral, in which this energy, by reason of its very slow atomic changes, is least obvious. This Force manifests in the form of vibrations moving in waves through every composite part of the physical world, and, according to the condition of its medium, helping and giving power when in harmony, and thwarting or nullifying action when under unfavourable conditions. To this Force, or Etheric influence, is due the law of Evolution, or progress, which operates in every department of the Universe, not being confined to any one kingdom, but harmonising each with the other, being naturally most powerful in man whose evolution is the highest, and forms the medium through which man can act on the lower kingdoms and receive desired vibrations from them. We may thus interpret Plato's statement "that gems owe their origins to the stars" as an etheric influence acting on the auriferous matter which forms their composition.
The origin of Talismans and Amulets is lost in the obscurity of the ages, but as far back as we can trace human records they are to be found; the terms Talisman and Amulet have become from indiscriminate use to be considered synonymous, but in his notes to the Archaeological Journal, the Rev. C. W. King says:
The meaning of these two words is entirely distinct. Talisman being the conception in the Arabic tongue of the Greek, meaning the influence of a planet, or the Zodiac, upon the person born under the same. A Talisman in olden times was, therefore, by its very nature a sigil, or symbolic figure, whether engraved in stone or metal, or drawn upon parchment or paper, and was worn both to procure love and to avert danger from its possessor. The latter purpose alone was the object of the Amulet, its Latin signification being to do away with, or baffle, its root being Amalior. Pliny cites the word as the country-folk name for the Cyclamen which ought to be planted in every human home, because where it is grown poisonous drugs have no power to harm, on which account they call it the flower, Amuletum.
Labels: amulets, talismans, gems
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