Gem Lore: Amethyst

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One of the stones I use most frequently in my jewelry is amethyst. Aside from being the birthstone for February, it’s very popular, being both beautiful and affordable. And the rich purples contrast beautifully with the antiqued copper I like to use.  But even outside of jewelry-making, I just love the stone.  And one reason for that is the stories and lore associated with it.

In one story, the Greek god Dionysus (the god of wine and revelry), is taken with a beautiful girl called Amethyst and pursues her (yes, lots of myths start this way).  She wants nothing to do with him, wanting to stay chaste, but he chases after her anyway.  Amethyst calls out for the virgin goddess Artemis to help her, and Artemis changes her into a white crystal at Dionysus’ feet.  Dionysus, feeling somewhat chastised, pours out his wine cup over the stone as an offering, coloring the crystal purple.

In another story, Dionysus is insulted by a mortal, and in his drunken state, swears that he’ll slay the next mortal who crosses his path.  He creates two fierce tigers to do his bidding, but the next mortal who crosses his path is an innocent, beautiful girl, who is on her way to pay tribute to Artemis.  Artemis spares the girl from being torn to pieces by changing her into a crystal statue. Dionysus, feeling terrible remorse at his foolish actions, weeps tears of wine, staining the crystal of the statue.

Collectors' Amethyst GobletAnd in yet another story, the goddess Rhea gives Dionysus an amethyst stone to protect him from the wine-drinker’s madness--in other words, from drunkenness. It became a common practice to place an amethyst in a wine-cup to protect the drinker from becoming too drunk, and even to carve wine-cups from the stone.

The ancient Egyptians loved amethyst as well, and also believed it to be an antidote for drunkenness.  It’s been found in Egyptian tombs, and Cleopatra wore an amethyst ring that was rumored to have brought her the love of Mark Anthony. Egyptian soldiers wore amethyst for courage and protection in battle, and it was one of the stones that was said to decorate the Mesektet Boat, which Ra rode each night through the Underworld.

In Christianity, amethyst is mentioned in the Bible as one of the stones that decorates the breastplate of the high priest in Exodus, and it’s the foundation stone of New Jerusalem in Revelations.

Currently, amethyst is very popular among those who practice crystal healing.  It’s thought to be a purifying stone, and is used to encourage peace, calm and clarity.

Amethyst is a gemstone that’s been as popular throughout history as it is today.  It’s identified with so many stories and traditions; this is by no means an exhaustive listing of the stories that have sprung up around this beautiful gemstone.  

What qualities or stories do you associate with amethyst?

 

Comments

Love Amethyst!

I've been loving amethyst and other types of purple jewelry lately. It's so great to get to learn a little background about the gem.

Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

I love purple stones, too, Susan, and I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Amethyst has more stories about it than just about any other stone as far as I know, and they're all so fascinating. Thanks so much for taking a look here!

What a great post! I myself

What a great post! I myself love amethysts but I had no idea it had such myths. I've been thinking of trying crysts and keeping them in my bag. It's nice to meet you!

Thank you, Leslie!

I'm glad you liked the post! I like to carry a chunk of amethyst around with me, too; there's just something soothing about it. Just make sure you don't leave it where it's too warm or in direct sunlight -- that can bleach out the color. Nice to meet you, too!

Interesting!

What an interesting post! My husband (and my BIL) are collectors and lovers of crystals, will have to ask them if they know this :) Thanks for sharing.

I'm glad you liked the post,

I'm glad you liked the post, Alex! Thanks for stopping by to take a look!

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