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Aquarius: Onyx And Crystal

[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 onyx was one of the earliest stones mentioned in the Bible and appears often in the writings of ancient times. It was believed to have the power to protect the wearer from harm and danger, and thus was used to adorn breastplates of warriors or was worn as an amulet in battle or in adventuring into strange places.

Because of its great variety of patterned lines, this stone suggested to the ancients a mysterious origin, and very early they attributed to it magical influences. Especially among the Greeks and Etruscans, the onyx was cut across the color banding to reveal the shades as well as the pattern. The Romans usually cut the stone in a shallow cone shape so that the lines would show on the sloping sides. Frequently an intaglio was engraved in the solid color chosen for the top layer of the stone, and thus the various colors would be visible in the edges of the design.

When possible, the early lapidaries cut the stone to reveal an eye, as such patterns were considered powerful magic against the evil eye. Later the onyx was a favorite stone to be used for carving figures in relief so that the figure would appear in one shade and the background would be cut away to a darker layer. The Romans believed that the stone had a more powerful influence if carved with certain figures or emblems. The head of Mars or Hercules was often chosen in the assumption that it made the wearer brave and fearless. The onyx, especially the sardonyx, was believed in medieval times to protect the warrior in battle and to preserve the wounded. Also it was thought to aid women in childbirth if worn in a ring or as an amulet. Such an amulet was given by King Ethelred II of England to the abbey church at St. Alban's, and was available to all worshipers in the shrine. The figure of Aesculapius, god of healing, was engraved on the St. Alban's onyx.

From earliest times black onyx was valued for rosaries, as it was believed to restrain the passions, to strengthen the spiritual impulses, and to inspire deep devotion.

Rock crystal, the alternate stone for the sign of Aquarius, was in ancient times considered to be a strange form of water, a frozen dew or fossil ice, because of its transparency. By natives in Australia it was held to have the power of producing rain if certain rites had been performed. The Chinese long believed that if a crystal was held in the mouth, it would satisfy thirst. To the ancient Japanese this stone was the symbol of patience, because of the painstaking labor necessary to produce the crystal ball they held in deep reverence. The clearest crystals, free from "feathers," or the slight flaws which are likely to cloud the texture of this stone, were chosen by the early Egyptians as the stones on which to cut the hieroglyphs of their cartouches, or name plates.

Many peoples have believed that amulets of rock crystal had the power to protect the wearer from the evil eye. Also it was long considered that powdered crystal, stirred into a glass of wine, was a potent cure for many physical ills and melancholia.

From widely separated areas in the United States, Indian tombs have yielded up crystal charms. This stone seems to have been generally accepted among the aborigines as desirable to accompany the dead on their journey into the after life, but it is not known whether they attributed medicinal powers to it. It was highly regarded by the Indians as a stone which assured good hunting and which aided in divining the future.

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