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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Cancer: Pearl And Moonstone

[Legends Of Gems]  [Diamonds And Zirconia]  [Color In Gems]  [Birthstones] 
[Aquarius Gems]  [Pisces Gems]  [Aries Gems]  [Taurus Gems]  [Gemini Gems]  [Cancer Gems]  [Leo Gems]  [Virgo Gems]  [Libra Gems]  [Scorpio Gems]  [Saggitarius Gems]  [Capricorn Gems] 

( Orginally published November 1937 )



The pearl, like the coral, is the product of animal life, but it is nevertheless a gem. Through the ages it has been revered as one of the most beautiful of precious stones. It is one stone mentioned by the ancients which cannot be confused with any other, as was the sapphire with lapis lazuli, and jade with other translucent green stones.

Among Eastern peoples the pearl was the gem of purity and was believed capable of preserving the integrity of the wearer. It was especially the emblem of maiden purity. Because of the pearl's origin in water, it was supposed to offer special protection to those whose work kept them in the sea, especially divers who risked encounters with sharks and devilfish.

In Oriental countries powdered pearls, were mixed with water and taken internally in the belief that they would cure stomach ailments. Much doubt has been cast on the story of Cleopatra's dissolving her pearls in acid and drinking the potion, inasmuch as an acid strong enough to dissolve the mineral content would be fatal to human life. In earlv Roman writings mention is to be found of powdered pearl and water as a cure for lunacy.

Unfortunately the legend that pearls connoted tears gained much headway during the middle ages, probably because of the belief that they caused pain to the oysters producing them. Some people claimed that the pearl was unlucky only for those whose astral gem it was not, and others held that it was unlucky only as an engagement gem, as it meant torrents of tears. As time went on, the idea of tears lost credence or was transferred to the opal, though also with the reservation that the Libra person would find the opal a lucky stone. Of late years the pearl seems to have overcome this unfortunate belief, as it is often chosen as an engagement present or for wedding anniversary gifts.

A legend which is still current is that pearls may themselves become ill and die if kept too long from the warmth of the human body; that they lose luster if the owner is ill. This tradition has given rise to tales of jewelers advising owners to remove their pearls from safety-deposit boxes and to wear the gems at stated times in order that their luster may be preserved.

Today, even in a most material world, the pearl symbolizes high refinement. Next to the amethyst, the pearl has the highest vibration among gems, perhaps the highest spiritual vibration of all. Thus it is said that one must. be truly a cultured person to wear pearls. The pearl's vibration is not for the coarse, the gross, the materialistic; and when such a person obtains the gem for its pecuniary value only, trouble is likely to follow. In that way does the pearl avenge itself by making the wearer miserable.

The moonstone is a bluish stone which looks like a beam of moonlight on calm water. It must be cut cabochon to show this, light, as a. flat surface would not reveal the beam. Many so-called moonstones have a cloudy white or milky appearance, but lack the ray of blue moonlight which characterizes the true stone. This strange moonlike ray is caused by the reflection of light from different planes of cleavage in the stone, and moves as the angle of light varies.

From earliest times Oriental peoples considered this beam as evidence of a living spirit within the stone, and regarded it as a potent emblem of good fortune.

The Indians of North America believed that the stones were washed up on the shore when the sun and the moon reached a certain position in relation to each other, a position which occurred about every twenty-one years. Thus arose the saying, "once in a blue moon." The aborigines treasured this stone in life, and buried it with their dead as an amulet they would need in the after life. Their graves often yield such amulets.

The moonstone was believed to have special powers to protect travelers by sea and to preserve its wearers against watery ailments, such as dropsy. Even today Basques consider this stone to have power to cure epilepsy, when worn as an amulet or taken medicinally as a powder.

Primitive peoples believe that carrying a moonstone in the mouth will aid memory and that it will cure consumption and kidney troubles. Worn as an amulet, it is supposed to cure nervousness and to make the wearer serene and placid. By some people the moonstone is considered to bring success in love, especially if given to the loved one during the moon's increasing light. It has been held to be the stone of reconciliation, to be exchanged after quarrels.

An old legend holds that the moonstone may serve as a means of foretelling the future. If the person who is undecided about a certain course of action will hold a moonstone in his mouth and concentrate on the matter to be settled, a solution will suggest itself to him. If the attempt is made in the time of the waning moon, his decision is certain to be the right one.

Since the moon's waxing and waning was one of the earliest astronomical phenomena to be noted by the ancients, it is natural that they attributed variations in their beliefs to this cause. Among many peoples the supposition persisted that the curative powers of the moonstone were stronger during the waxing of the moon's light, and that the gift of foresight and foretelling the future was greater as the moon's light waned.



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