Semi-precious stones: the uses of amethyst in lithotherapy

stones

Litho therapy is the practice of using the energy from healing stones such as quartz, amethysts or opals to improve well-being. The name itself comes from the Greek words ‘lithos’ (stone) and ‘therapeia’ (care). It works by using the healing powers of natural stones to balance mind, body and spirit. The practice of using stones for healing dates back to prehistoric times. The Atlanteans, the Egyptians, the people of Ancient China and Tibet and the Druids of Ancient Britain and France were all aware of the benefits that could be found in the realm of minerals. They had myriad uses; some would ingest them as powders or potions whilst others would craft them into natural stone jewellery such as pendants, bracelets or necklaces. They would often be used in ritual ceremonies and festivals. Some believed in the power of such stones to ward off evil spirits whilst others had faith in their power to enhance fertility and improve crop harvests. The Egyptian doctors were the first to place such stones on the bodies of their patients to address particular maladies. They also studied the way in which the vivid colours of different stones could be used in the healing process. The Ancient Greeks preferred to grind them down with a pestle and mortar, mixing them with water and herbs into potent elixirs. Some Greeks believed that powdered rose-quartz, the gemstone of the goddess Aphrodite, could be used as a love potion. The ancient Chinese also used elixirs of jade, cinnabar, hematite and other minerals to promote longevity of life. Ancient Celtic druids would drop gemstones into their water jugs in order that the liquid could be infused with the vibrations of the crystals. The Aztecs preferred to fashion them into intricate jewels which they would then rest on particular parts of the body, according to the ailment that they were treating. This technique was later developed by the Chinese who would sharpen the tips of such stones and apply them with pressure to the patient, an early precursor of the acupuncture technique that is still widely used today. Medieval physicians in Ancient Britain believed in using the various colours of healing stones to treat particular maladies. Rubies would be used to treat heart and chest pains, being the colour of blood, whilst green emerald was used to treat the liver as its colour was similar to that of bile. Litho therapy itself was first developed into an official branch of homeopathy in 1965 in France.

The history

Before examining some singular healing properties that the stone provides it might be instructive to learn a little of the legend behind the colourful crystal. Its origin is found in a Greek myth. Having been insulted by a mere mortal, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, vowed that he would exact retribution for the sight on the next mortal that crossed his path. In a rage, Dionysus summoned two tigers with razor sharp claws and fierce, fiery eyes to aid him in his revenge. The first mortal that he saw was amethyst, a beautiful young girl on her way to lay flowers at the shrine of the Goddess Diana. As the tigers leapt forward, Diana turned the young maiden into a statue of brilliant white quartz to protect her from the savage beasts. When Dionysus saw the beauty of the statue, he wept tears of wine, overcome with the shame of what he had been about to do. These tears stained the quartz a deep purple colour, creating the gem with which we are so familiar today. The striking colour of the crystal has seen it in great demand over the ages. Throughout history the colour purple has been associated with royalty and wealth, so much so that Queen Elizabeth herself actually passed a law forbidding anyone but close members of the royal family and their households wearing it! Such gems feature in the British crown jewels and were also prized by Catherine the Great and imperial classes of Egypt, Rome and Persia among other dignitaries.

Religious significance

Despite Dionysus featuring so prominently in the Greek myth the word ‘amethystos’ literally translates to ‘not drunken’. The crystal was often used to fashion wine goblets in Ancient Greece in the belief that it might prevent the drinker becoming overly intoxicated. The gemstone still symbolizes sobriety and, over the years, it has also come to represent piety and humility which is why it features so frequently in the ornamentation of the Catholic Church. It is often referred to as ‘the Bishop’s stone’ and it is used in the rings of Catholic bishops to this day. It is believed by many religions to represent spiritual wisdom, which is why the stone is so frequently used in lithotherapy.

Use in healing

It is a great ‘all-purpose’ crystal. It is very valuable to spiritual healers as it is one of the most versatile stones that they use in their therapy. Not only can it enhance spiritual awareness on a cerebral level, it also promotes the more visceral, physical side of the healing process, boosting hormone production and strengthening the immune system. Leonardo da Vinci himself once wrote of the power that the stone had to ‘dispel evil thoughts and sharpen the intelligence’. It is used to soothe anxiety and alleviate stress, providing a deep sense of peace and contentment. It can be used to aid the meditation process as its calming properties help to reduce the background noise of the quotidian, allowing one to experience a sense of serenity. During the meditation, the crystal will develop its intuitive potential and help clarify the mind. People will often place an amethyst under their pillow when they go to bed at night as the stone will help with restorative sleep habits and allow the physical body to recharge. It believed to also cleanse the spiritual aura, providing a shield to guard against negative energy.

How it works

The crystal itself works by helping you achieve a state of tranquillity in your Crown Chakra. Your Crown Chakra is so called as it is at the very top of your head. It is the seventh of the chakras and its colour is purple. Once this Chakra is undisturbed, one is able to focus on alleviating and healing any blockages that preclude you from feeling bliss. The Crown Chakra is place at which the physical body, the universe and the soul meet. The fact that the stone calibrates the physical, mental and emotional bodies facilitates connection to the spiritual body when placed on the Crown Chakra during meditation. One can also keep a small piece in a pocket as a touchstone. It can be rubbed several times a day in order to benefit from the uplifting, positive energy. It is particularly effective when worn as a piece of natural stone jewellery such as a bracelet or necklace. Wearing a such bracelet on the left wrist will not only accentuate your spiritual levels but can also help one to foresee future events as it develops a deeper connection with clairvoyance and clairaudience. Amethysts can also be found in ‘clusters’ – crystals that are crowded together on a common matrix. Where no matrix is present, they will naturally bridge together forming a striking looking stone. These clusters naturally foster a sense of community and, when positioned in the corner of a room, serve to create harmony and displace negativity. They are often used in the healing process as, when they are placed on the body, they are particularly good at activating the properties of other crystals. They enable each to act harmoniously as one and the energy created is, therefore, much greater than the sum of the individual parts. The uneven face of a cluster is particularly effective when it comes to creating a constant flow of metaphysical energy. If you do regular tidying and clearing of a home or office space, then it is recommended to place them in the nooks and crannies around the room where energy can so easily become trapped and inert. Unsurprisingly, when you consider the myriad benefits that this stone can provide, you will understand why it needs to be ‘recharged’ regularly. It is recommended to recharge the stone under the light of a full moon as direct sunlight has the capacity to fade the colour if it is left out for too long. You can also recharge the crystal by placing it beside a geode, a technique that will actually cleanse and restore energy to any crystal that is used for healing, mediation or spiritual protection. As well as being mined in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina, these minerals can also be located in Zambia, Namibia and several other African countries. In South America it is found in larger sizes but the smaller gems from Africa usually have deeper and more vivid colours.

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