Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Metaphysical Properties of Ammonites and Ammolite

Do fossils have metaphysical properties?

Fossils are neglected in modern stone books but they are a potent union of the mineral and animal kingdoms. Metaphysical properties can be drawn both from their geology and biology and many were used for spiritual reasons historically.

What is an ammonite?

The Ammonoidea or ammonites (“am-uh-nights”) are an extinct group of shelled cephalopods that lived ~400 to ~65 million years ago. The name may specifically refer to one branch of them, the Ammonitida, that lived ~200 to ~65 million years ago. Their living relatives include the octopus, squid, and nautilus.

Ammonites lived in an external chambered shell, usually in the shape of a coiled spiral. Depending on the species, it could also be straight, partially bent, or corkscrewed. Their body was in the last and largest chamber. As they grew they added progressively bigger compartments to the mouth of their shell, walling off the old ones.

This chambered shell is called a phragmacone (“frah-muh-cone”), from the Greek phragmo, “fence, enclosure, partition”, + konos, “cone”. A thin organ called a siphuncle (“sigh-fung-kuhl”) connected each segment to the body chamber like a strand of beads. The word comes from the Latin sīphunculus, meaning “a little siphon”. They used this tube to maintain their buoyancy, regulating the mixture of water and gas in each compartment through their blood.

Ammonites may be found with a small curved shell called an aptychus (“ap-tea-cus”) or a symmetrically mirrored pair of them. The word comes from the Greek aptychon, “a folding panel with two parts”. There is debate among scientists if they were part of their jaw, a protective cover like the hood of a nautilus, or both. While ammonite shells were grown from aragonite, the aptychus was made from calcite. Although they are chemically related, calcite is more durable so many were preserved on their own, washed away from their shells. They were misidentified historically as a species of clam.

Although an incredible number of shells are preserved, very little soft tissue was fossilized. Therefore no one knows what an ammonite looked like exactly. Although their shells resemble a nautilus, their teeth are similar to the octopus and squid. So a spiral shelled animal with eight to ten tentacles is the best deduction.

What symbolism did ammonites have in antiquity?

The word ammonite references a historic name for the fossil. The first century CE Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder called them hammonis cornu, meaning “the horns of Ammon”. Ammon is the Latinized version of the name Amun, the ancient Egyptian god of creation, later interpreted as a form of Zeus by the Greeks. Amun was depicted as a ram, a man with the head or horns of a ram, or a ram headed sphinx. Pliny states:

The horns of Ammon [“ammonite”] is reckoned among the most sacred gems of Aethiopia [“the upper region of the Nile”]; it is of a golden color, like a ram's horn in shape, and ensures prophetic dreams, it is said.”

Do the historical lapidaries mention ammonites?

Many historical gem books include stones found in animals. Some actually come from living creatures like bezoars, mineral concretions produced in the digestive tract, while others have proven to be fossils. Most period “toadstones”, allegedly from the head of a toad, are instead teeth from the extinct fish species Lepidotes.

Likewise some scholars believe the legendary draconites, found in the head of a snake or dragon, could be an actual stone. Something with a resemblance, like the toadstone. Ammonites are a strong candidate since some draconites were described as displaying a serpent pattern. Depending on the text, it protected the wearer from poisons, venomous creatures, or adversaries.

Ammonites actually have a long association with serpents. According to English legend, the 7th century Saint Hilda of Whitby turned an infestation of snakes to stone to allow for the construction of an abbey. These petrified “snakestones” are ammonites. Sometimes artists would carve or paint a head on them, to produce pious souvenirs. English fossil hunters during the early 19th century called ammonites cornemonius, a corruption of their Latin name hammonis cornu.

Ammonites were used in folk medicine across Europe for snake bites, fertility, and birthing pains. In 18th century Germany and England they were added to water as “drakestones” (“dragonstone”) or “crampstones” to treat livestock.

What do ammonites mean in some Native American traditions?

To the Niitsitapi nation (“Blackfoot”), portions of ammonites, baculites, and other fossils are iniskim, meaning “buffalo stone, buffalo calling stone”. Baculites are a variety of ammonite with only a slightly bent shell. Fossil ammonites often come apart, breaking down into their individual chambers. Those with sutures become lobed, roughly resembling an animal, traditionally a buffalo. According to legend the first iniskim revealed itself during a famine to a young woman. It taught her the songs and ceremonies required to call the buffalo to be hunted. They reveal their presence by chirping like a bird and are associated with abundance, good luck, and healing.

What do ammonites represent in Hinduism?

Stones can have a special relationship to the divine in Hinduism, like the egg shaped linga of Shiva and the rounded black shaligram shila or salagram shila of Vishnu. Shila/Sila means “stone” in Sanskrit, shaligram/saligram is a regional name of Vishnu, and shalagram/salagram refers to a location where they are found. In Hindu thought God takes on different forms for the benefit of humanity. Vishnu is the divine as preserver. He is typically depicted as blue skinned, carrying a mace, lotus, conch shell, and a discus like weapon called a chakra.

The shila or salagram is a fossil concretion from the Gandaki River in Nepal, often with prominent ammonites. They are typically black in color but pyrite inclusions may make them golden. The fossil patterns are believed to represent sacred symbols like the attributes of Vishnu, especially his chakra. In mythology Vishnu transformed into vajra kita, aquatic worms as hard as diamonds, to carve them. An interpretation of the snake like ammonites found inside. The stones are traditionally used for devotion.

What do they mean in Chinese culture?

Some feng shui practitioners recommend ammonite and ammolite, an iridescent ammonite shell used as a gemstone, as wealth cures. Ammolite may be known by the trade name “kirin stone”, after the mythical Chinese composite animal, more commonly spelled qilin or ch'i-lin. They symbolize non-violence, virtue, and longevity. The iridescence of ammolite is said to resemble their fiery scales.

19th century English texts say the Chinese call ammonites the "kosmos stone", for its resemblance to their symbol for the cosmos.  They mean its comma-like shape resembles the black and white sections of the taijitu (“yin and yang symbol”), especially as a pair.  The spiral of an ammonite is believed to draw in chi (“spiritual energy”) and radiate it out, promoting abundance, health, and well being.

The Hidden Virtues of Ammonite

The metaphysical properties of a fossil are revealed in its geology, cultural associations, and effect on the chakra system:

1. Fossil: Because of their literal connection to the past, fossils support longevity, memory, and past life recall. They are also used to contact spirit guides, honor ancestors, or connect to ancient sources of knowledge. Ammonites are especially well suited for past life work since they are used as an index fossil. They help date the rock layers in which they are found because of their wide distribution, large numbers, and specific time span.

Ammonites only lived in the last chamber of their shell, using their phragmacone to stay afloat. Sometimes we are so focused on the future or the past, including our past lives, we neglect today. Use ammonites to regain perspective on the present, to integrate information about the past or potential future, or reorient after altered states of consciousness like shamanic journeying.

2. Shell: Because they come from the ocean, shells are connected to the Moon, water, and qualities culturally associated with the feminine like intuition, emotions, and the unconscious. Because ammonites are fossilized shells, they help transform the emotional past, releasing dysfunctional family patterns, childhood trauma, or suppressed feelings. Lunar materials are also associated with sleep, dreams, and techniques like lucid dreaming. This is especially true for ammonites since they were used historically for prophetic dreams.

3. Home: Both shells and materials ruled by the Moon symbolize the home. A lot of ammonite terminology is domestic: their shell is a phragmacone, Greek, “a cone of fences”, each chamber is a camera, Latin “a vaulted room”, and the dividers between them are septa, Latin, “walls”. Because of this architectural connection, ammonites are used for the spiritual protection of a house. Since the animal moved from chamber to chamber as it grew, walling off the old ones, they support individuals selling a home, in the process of moving, or adjusting to a new location.

4. Spiral: Both ammonite and nautilus shells are commonly used to illustrate the golden spiral, a growth pattern based on the Fibonnaci sequence with a ratio of 1.618. Unfortunately research suggests this is only rarely true. The nautilus is a logarithmic spiral but its average ratio is 1.33. Because these numbers are close, the inner chambers resemble the golden spiral but the outer ones deviate from it. While an individual shell may be a golden spiral, it is not true for all of them.

The 17th century Swiss mathematician Jakob Bernoulli called the logarithmic spiral the spira mirabilis (Latin, “miraculous spiral”) because of its importance for living things. It allows shells to grow larger, without having to change their shape. Bernoulli wrote:

... since our spira mirabilis [“miraculous spiral”, ie. logarithmic spiral] remains, amid all changes, most persistently itself, and exactly the same as ever, it may be used as a symbol, either of fortitude and constancy in adversity, or, of the human body; which after all its changes, even after death, will be restored to its exact and perfect self...”

Ammonites are associated with change, resiliency, and overcoming obstacles. Like the labyrinth, the spiral represents the journey of life, death and rebirth, and repeated cycles like the seasons and movement of celestial bodies. The spiral shell of the ammonite literally represents their life, created as they added chambers to the open end of their shell. Cross sections of an ammonite are popular wedding gifts because they represent a journey and two parts coming together to make a whole.

5. Animal Totems: An octopus in a nautilus shell that looks like a ram, snake, dragon, or buffalo. Rarely does one fossil have so many animal relationships. Ammonites can be used to connect spiritually to any of these medicines or animal totems in general.

6. Abundance: Ammonites represent abundance in several cultures. The Zeus and horn connection even suggests the cornucopia (Latin, “horn of plenty”). One variety of ammonites is named after it. When he was an infant, Zeus was hidden in a cave from his tyrannical father Cronus. A goat named Amalthea nursed him. When he accidentally broke off one of her horns, it became a symbol of divine generosity, overflowing with food and drink.

7. Aligning the Chakras: Energy follows the structure of a material, producing a similar effect within us. An ammonite shell is a series of chambers, connected together by the siphuncle tube, which regulated the balance of water and gas in each section. The chakra system is very similar. In the original Hindu and Buddhist models, spiritual energy flows through the subtle body along channels called nadi (Sanskrit, “flow, river, conduit”). The body has three main nadi, one in the spinal column and two that wrap around it. The chakras occur where they intersect.

Because of this structural similarity, ammonite and nautilus fossils are used to adjust the flow of energy in the nadi, aligning the chakras. In most nautilus species the siphuncle tube is centrally located. In most ammonite species, it is found along the bottom of the chambers instead. This suggests that a nautilus is better suited for the central nadi and an ammonite the side channels, although either can be used. They can even be combined to balance the entire system. However the snake symbolism of ammonites associates them with kundalini, which is produced in the central channel by joining together the energies of the side ones.

8. Balancing the Chakras: In many spiritual traditions clockwise motion is used to open and counter clockwise is used to close. Clockwise vs. counterclockwise is always a matter of perspective. On one side of an ammonite, moving from the mouth to the center of the shell is clockwise, on the other side, counterclockwise. From the center to the mouth instead is reversed. A chakra that is too open or too closed is out of balance. Running energy through an ammonite in a specific direction can help regulate a chakra: out or clockwise to help open, in or counterclockwise to help close.

9. Healing Properties: Ammonites were used historically for fertility, pregnancy, and birth in both people and animals. Fossils in general are related to Saturn, astrologically oriented healers recommend them for parts of the body ruled by it like the legs, bones, joints, teeth, skin, and hair. Because they come from the ocean, ammonites are also linked to the Moon, which rules the breasts, stomach, digestive system, and womb.

Healers who use the modern chakra system instead associate fossils with the Root Chakra. Because most ammonites are brown, reddish orange, to golden yellow in color, they connect to the Root (brown and red), Second (orange), Third (yellow), and Crown (gold) Chakras. They support parts of the body below the heart and the top of the head.

This article is part of a series for Enter the Earth, located in Asheville, North Carolina.  To find some incredible ammonites, check out both their retail and online stores:

1 Page Avenue
Suite 125
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 350-9222

Online Store: http://www.entertheearth.com/

On Ebay: http://stores.ebay.com/entertheearthinc
On Etsy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/EnterTheEarth

The spiritual use of stones is one tool among many for helping us with our problems. This information is not intended to replace the care of your doctor or mental health professional.

© 2012, C. L. Matthews

To recognize the difference between an ammonite and a fossilized nautilus shell, read Ammonite vs. Nautilus.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ammonite vs. Fossilized Nautilus

How do you distinguish between an ammonite and a fossilized nautilus?

Both the ammonite and nautilus are members of the cephalopod family, whose living members include the octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. The ammonites are extinct, having lived from the Devonian to the Cretaceous eras (~400 to ~65 million years ago). The nautiluses first appeared during the late Cambrian era (~500 million years ago) and some species still remain today.

Examine the siphuncle tube in the shell:

Both ammonites and nautiluses lived in an external chambered shell, usually in the shape of a coiled spiral. Depending on the species, it could also be straight, partially bent, or corkscrewed. Their body was in the last and largest chamber. As they grew they added progressively bigger compartments to the open end of their shell, walling off the old ones.

This chambered shell is called a phragmacone (“frah-muh-cone”), from the Greek phragmo, “fence, enclosure, partition”, + konos, "cone".  A thin organ called a siphuncle (“sigh-fung-kuhl”) connected each segment to the body chamber like a strand of beads. The word comes from the Latin sīphunculus, meaning “a little siphon”. They used this tube to maintain their buoyancy, regulating the mixture of water and gas in each compartment through their blood.

A: Nautilus: In most nautilus species the siphuncle passes through the middle of each chamber. It may be visible when cut in a cross section.

B: Ammonite: In most ammonite species the siphuncle is found near the bottom of each chamber, along the inside surface of the outer edge of the shell. It may be visible when cut in a cross section and in polished but uncut specimens.

C: Nautilus vs. Ammonite: The siphuncle is in the middle of each chamber in a nautilus and the bottom in an ammonite. There are species exceptions for both animals. Early nautiluses had the siphuncle at the bottom of the chamber and one branch of ammonites, the Clymeniida, had them in the middle.

Examine the septa and sutures of the shell:

The chamber walls in both animals are called septa, pronounced “sep-tuh” from the Latin saeptus, meaning “enclosure, fence, wall”. If the shell has been broken, exposed to the elements, or polished, patterns may be visible on the surface where the septa connected to the outer shell. These are called sutures, pronounced “sue-tchers”, from the Latin sutura, meaning “a seam”.

A: Nautilus: A nautilus has a thicker shell and its septa are concave, curving away from the mouth of the shell when cut in a cross section. Its sutures are a simple rounded line.

B: Ammonite: An ammonite has a thinner shell and its septa are convex, curving towards the mouth of the shell when cut in a cross section. Some species had folded septa, producing intricate leaf like sutures. These distort their convex orientation.

C: Nautilus vs. Ammonite: Nautilus sutures are concave, ammonite sutures are convex. Complex sutures may not appear convex. Simple sutures are found in both nautiluses and ammonites, complex sutures are only found in ammonites.

This article is part of a series for Enter the Earth, located in Asheville, North Carolina.  To find both ammonites and fossilized nautiluses, check out their retail and online stores:

1 Page Avenue
Suite 125
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 350-9222

Online Store: http://www.entertheearth.com/
On Ebay: http://stores.ebay.com/entertheearthinc
On Etsy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/EnterTheEarth

© 2012, C. L. Matthews

To read about the metaphysical properties of ammonites, see: The Metaphysical Properties of Ammonites and Ammolite

Where Do the Metaphysical Properties of Minerals Come From?

[Many of amethyst's metaphysical properties are derived from its etymology, the origin of its name.] 

Where do the metaphysical properties of minerals come from?

Sources typically list the metaphysical properties of a mineral without explaining their origin. Knowing how to reverse engineer them is a useful skill, especially when looking for a specific need not listed.

How were they discovered historically?

Gemstones were once popular medicinal, spiritual, and symbolic tools in the West. People thought their metaphysical properties, known historically as virtues, powers, or true meanings, were encoded by God in their shape, color, or physical qualities like electromagnetism. This concept was known as the doctrine of signatures during the 16th century, especially in herbalism. The 17th century herbalist Robert Turner wrote:

God hath imprinted upon the Plants, Herbs, and Flowers, as it were in Hieroglyphicks [hieroglyphs], the very Signature [“mark, sign”] of their Vertues [virtues, ie “properties”].”

The ability to read hieroglyphs was lost from late antiquity until the early 19th century. During the Renaissance scholars thought each image was a symbol instead, used by Egyptian priests to conceal spiritual knowledge. The natural world was interpreted the same way. God had produced two important texts, the Bible and the book of nature. While the printing press made the Bible available to all, the wisdom in nature needed to be deciphered.

A: Resemblance: Because of ideas like the doctrine of signatures and the book of nature, metaphysical properties were often derived from resemblance. For example, the red color of minerals like carnelian, bloodstone, and ground hematite associated them with blood.

B: Astrology: The stars and planets were believed to transmit a spiritual force, giving gemstones their properties by infusing them with energy. Specific minerals were associated with each planet, taking on their qualities. For example, copper and green to blue gemstones were associated with Venus and used for abundance, love, and fertility. They healed parts of the body ruled by it.

C: The Bible: The Bible has two lists of precious stones: the breastplate of the High Priest in the Book of Exodus and the building materials of New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation. Stones were associated with individual Jewish tribes and Christian apostles. For example, aquamarine was given the traits of Saint Thomas like public speaking, learning, and safe travel over water.

D: Etymology: Metaphysical properties often came from a mineral's name, including its trade names and equivalents in other languages. For example, amethyst comes from the Greek amethystos, “not intoxicating”. Cups carved from it were believed to prevent drunkenness in antiquity. The Hebrew name for amethyst is achlamah, from the root chalam, meaning “to sleep, dream”, “to be young, healthy, strong”, or “to recover”. Amethyst's associations with sobriety, dreams, and healing all come from its etymology, the origin of its name.

How are they discovered today?

Metaphysical properties are still determined using methods like resemblance, astrology, and etymology. Traditional Biblical meanings are rarely encountered. New techniques also exist, like finding meaning in the chemistry, shape, and color of a mineral.

F: Religion, Mythology, Folklore: Sacred texts, mythology, or gem folklore may be used as references. For example, Shiva lingas are sacred to the Hindu deity Shiva, who represents beneficial destruction. Their metaphysical properties of purification, healing, and spiritual development come from Hindu beliefs.

G: Chemical Composition: Metaphysical properties may be derived from the mineral's role in the human body, medicine, and industry. For example, fluorite comes from the Latin fluor, meaning “to flow”. It is used as a flux in smelting, to remove impurities in melted metals. Its associations with purification and restoring the flow of thoughts, feelings, and energy are derived from its industrial use. Because fluorite is related to fluoride, books often recommended it for healing the teeth.

H: Crystal Shape: Spiritual energy is believed to follow the crystal structure of a mineral. For example, “Herkimer Diamonds”, a variety of quartz from Herkimer County, New York, are associated with attunement, helping individuals acclimatize to new places, people, or states of consciousness. “Herkimer Diamonds” typically have points at both ends. Their metaphysical properties are derived from this double termination, suggesting a balance between two things.

I: Modern Chakra Colors: Most metaphysical properties have a surprisingly simple origin. They are qualities of the chakra that correspond to the mineral in color. The theory of the chakras comes from Hinduism and Buddhism. Spiritual energy flows through the subtle body along channels called nadi (Sanskrit, nāḍi,“flow, river, conduit”). The body has three main nadi, one in the spinal column and two that wrap around it. A crossroad of energy called a chakra (Sanskrit, cakra, “wheel, circle, turning”) is produced where they intersect, traditionally depicted as a spoked wheel or lotus flower.

Texts describing the chakras were first translated into English in the early 20th century. Since then their exact number, location, and associations have varied between sources. A rainbow colored version has become fairly standard in the metaphysical community, with some variation:

Crown Chakra = White or purple.
Third Eye = Dark blue or purple.
Throat Chakra = Light or dark blue.
Heart Chakra = Green or green and pink.
Navel Chakra = Yellow
Second Chakra = Orange
Root Chakra – Red or black.

While the positions are traditional, the color scheme is contemporary. It only comes from the late 1960's/early 1970's in the writings of Christopher Hills. However almost all contemporary stone books are based on it. Minerals are given the qualities of their correspondingly colored chakra and they are believed to heal body parts near it. For example, kunzite is the pink variety of the mineral spodumene. It is used for love, emotional healing, and stress relief, all traits of the heart chakra.

© 2012, C. L. Matthews
[Image Source: Public domain, Wikipedia Commons]

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Metaphysical Properties of Goldstone (Aventurine Glass)

[Goldstone glass]

What is goldstone?

Often mistaken as a mineral, goldstone is actually a glittering man made glass. It is typically reddish brown with coppery flecks but also comes in green, blue, and purple, with more silvery specks. The other varieties are named after it, like green goldstone, blue goldstone, etc. Goldstone was known historically as aventurine glass, from its Italian name avventurina, “accidental”, from the root avventura meaning “by luck, chance, or risk”. The name may refer to the random nature of its spangles or the difficulty in producing it.

In gem folklore, it was first produced accidentally. The legend has many variations. A monk, or factory worker, randomly knocked copper shavings into molten glass, alchemists discovered it during their attempts to produce gold, or monks practicing alchemy created the secret recipe. This explains its trade names: monk's stone, monkgold, gold flux, and even goldstone itself. Sometimes it is falsely represented as a natural material secretly mined by monks or still hand crafted by them.

When is the earliest documentation for goldstone?

The 17th century Venetian glass maker Vincenzo Miotti is credited with the invention of goldstone, although some believe it existed in antiquity. The island of Murano, part of Venice, has been a center of glass making in Italy for centuries. As a major trade good, glass artists were discouraged from leaving and their techniques were safely guarded. Goldstone was especially prized by the Chinese, who called it jinxing boli, “gold star glass”. It remained a trade secret until the process was disclosed during the early 19th century.

The word aventurine was later applied in geology to minerals that resemble the glass, most notably glittering varieties of included quartz. Green aventurine is a quartz colored by small pieces of fuchsite, a green mica colored by chromium. Confusingly both aventurine feldspar and goldstone may be known as sunstone.

How is goldstone made?

Glass is produced by melting silica (SiO2), made from ground quartz or quartz sand, with other chemical ingredients. The specific recipe depends on the application. When making goldstone, copper salts are added. While the glass slowly cools in a low oxygen environment, the copper transforms into a purely metallic state, producing the shiny flecks. Each is actually a microscopic copper (Cu) crystal suspended in the glass, triangular or hexagonal in shape. The other varieties use different coloring agents: chromium oxide (Cr2O3) for the green, cobalt (Co) compounds for the blue, and manganese (Mn) for the purple. The highest quality goldstone, with the most consistent color and flecks, is at the heart of each batch and must be chipped out.


Does glass have metaphysical properties?

There is debate today in the metaphysical community whether glass has energetic qualities. Some popular stones are naturally occurring glass: obsidian, tektites like Moldavite, created by meteor impacts, and fulgurites, produced by lighting strikes. Historically man made glass was used spiritually. Ancient Egyptian amulets were made both of gemstones and substitutes like glass and faience, a ceramic made from silica, rather than clay. Both materials are essentially melted quartz. These alternatives were luxury goods and often given the same names as their mineral equivalents, based on color.

Many people unknowingly work with man made glass. Some materials called “quartz” in the metaphysical market, like crystal singing bowls, are in fact fused quartz, a type of glass produced from high quality stones. "Reconstituted quartz" is the same thing. Trade names like “cherry quartz” may be an actual stone or colored glass.

Like treated and synthetic stones, the use of glass is a matter of personal preference. Natural forms of it are popular, man made kinds were used historically, and many people unknowingly work with it today. Because it forms quickly and lacks a crystal structure, the energy of all glass tends to be more diffused.

What are the metaphysical properties of goldstone?

The hidden virtues of a mineral are revealed in its geology, cultural associations, and effect on the chakra system:

1. Glass: Because it is reflective and forms a transparent barrier, glass represents spiritual protection. Traditional uses from Egyptian amulets to Greek evil eye beads draw on this symbolism. While goldstone is specifically associated with alchemy in gem lore, all glass supports personal transformation. Natural glass like obsidian, tektites, and fulgurites are the product of heavenly or underworld fire. Man made glass was once as magical. Because it allows light to pass through it, glass signifies the flow of spiritual energy between the physical and spiritual realms.

2. Good Fortune: Because of its etymology from the Italian avventura, “by luck, chance, risk”, aventurine glass is associated with abundance, good luck, and games of chance. It can also be translated as “by fortune”, so it is associated with reading future trends, like divination.

3. Adventure: Adventure, venture, and aventurine glass all come from the same Latin word, adventura, “a thing about to happen”. The words are so close, many people mispronounce it as “adventurine” glass. Many of goldstone's contemporary meanings come from this word play. It is recommended for ambition, confidence, and evaluating risk. Also safe travel, trip planning,and enjoying life.

4. Copper: There are ancient associations between copper, the planet Venus, and love goddesses across cultures, from the Egyptian Hathor to Greek Aphrodite. Each of the spangles in goldstone is a microscopic copper crystal that formed as the glass cooled. Goldstone shares the metal's metaphysical properties: attracting abundance, harmonizing relationships, and creativity. Because copper is a good conductor of electricity, it is a popular tool to direct spiritual energy. Goldstone can be used for energy work, physical vitality, and to charge other minerals.

4. Gold: Although it is produced from copper, its golden color and trade names associate it with gold. Gold is the metal of the Sun and goldstone may also be known as sunstone. Like copper, the metaphysical properties of gold are abundance, energy, and creativity.

5. Second Chakra: Most modern stone books derive their metaphysical properties from the mineral's corresponding chakra color. Goldstone's coppery brown connects it to the second or sacral chakra, located on the spine at the level of the pubic bone. It represents water, sexuality, and the unconscious. Use goldstone to transmute heavy emotions, balance pleasure, or become more creative. The second chakra represents the womb, where things develop before being released to the world. Stones connected to it help us develop the things we intend to manifest.

6. Healing Qualities: Where do the healing properties listed for a mineral originate?

A: Chakra: Healers who work with the modern chakra colors recommend goldstone for the second chakra parts of the body: the lower back, the urinary tract, and reproductive system.

B: Planet: Healers who work with astrology instead associate it with Venus or the Sun. Like the second chakra, Venus rules the lower back, urinary tract, and reproductive system but also the neck and throat. The Sun rules healing generally but specifically the heart, spine, and back.

This article is part of a series for Whatever Works Wellness Center, located in Cincinnati, Ohio. To find goldstone, check out their retail location:

7433 Montgomery Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236
(513) 791-9428

For more information about Whatever Works, check out their website and Facebook fan page:

The spiritual use of stones is one tool among many for helping us with our problems. This information is not intended to replace the care of your doctor or mental health professional.

© 2012, C. L. Matthews
[Image Source: Public domain, Wikipedia Commons]

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Metaphysical Properties of Girasol Quartz

[Tumbled Girasol Quartz]


What is girasol quartz?

Girasol ("jir-uh-saul" or "jir-uh-soul") is a clear, milky white, or extremely pale pink variety of quartz.  The word comes from the Italian girasole, “turn towards the Sun”, and originally referred to a milky blue glass first produced in Venice during the Renaissance.  The term in geology describes any mineral that displays the girasol effect: either an internal floating glow that moves with changes in the light, often white, blue, or golden yellow in color, or a haziness produced by scattered light instead.

Varieties of opal, moonstone, and sapphire are the best known examples. Their resemblance to girasol quartz explains some of its other trade names: moon quartz, blue opal quartz, and girasol opal quartz. Unfortunately this also leads to confusion among them, especially girasol opal and girasol quartz.

While girasol refers to several minerals, this optical effect is specifically called adularescence ("adj-uh-luhr-ess-ence") in moonstone.  It comes from the word adularia, after a Swiss location where stones with the effect are found. 

How are girasol quartz and rose quartz related?

Girasol quartz comes from the same mines that produce star rose quartz. It can appear pink, especially on a white surface, sometimes smoky, and may be starred itself. Polished gems can display a star shaped sheen on their surface if they contain fibers of another mineral, typically rutile. Recent research suggests not only the star effect, but the color, cloudiness, and small crystal size of most rose quartz are instead due to a previously unknown variety of pink dumortierite. These fibers are so small, they are only visible with a scanning electron microscope.

These inclusions produce the opalescence and girasol effect in girasol quartz. Star sapphire and girasol sapphire are related in the same way, although rutile is responsible. Because of this connection to star rose quartz, girasol quartz is also known as white rose quartz or white star quartz.

What other materials are called girasol?

An opalescent glass more commonly called opalite may also be sold as girasol. Also milky quartz colored by inclusions of water or rutile. Because rutile contains titanium, titanium quartz is another trade name for that variety. However the girasol quartz mined with star rose quartz does not contain rutile.


The hidden virtues of a mineral are revealed in its geology, cultural associations, and effect on the chakra system:

1. Light: Its milky color and optical phenomena are both produced by light scattering off the microscopic fibers within it. Light is a traditional symbol of spiritual energy. Girasol quartz is a good tool for energy workers using modalities from Reiki to Healing Touch. It helps them tap into the flow of universal energy at the heart of their practice. Girasol quartz also supports those undergoing channeled processes like Light Body and Merkaba Activation, with its connection to light and six rayed stars.

2. Alignment: In regular rose quartz, the pink dumortierite fibers are more randomly distributed. In star rose quartz and girasol quartz, they are aligned along the axes of the crystal. This creates the star and girasol effects when the material is polished into a rounded shape. Like a double terminated crystal, minerals with parallel inclusions are used to align the chakra system, attune to people, places, or new energetic states, and connect to the Divine or individual spiritual beings like angels, ascended masters, and guides. Historically starred gemstones represented the watchful eye of God and were worn for protection, good luck, and psychic development.

3. The Sun: Because of its etymology, from the Italian girasole, “turn towards the Sun”, girasol quartz could be considered a solar mineral. In both Italian and Spanish, girasol also means sunflower. Just as the plant turns to follow the daily path of the sun, the internal glow of the girasol effect moves with the light. The Sun is an ancient symbol of the Divine and reflective materials represent devotion. Girasol quartz can be used for spiritual development, meditation, and psychopomp work, helping the dead transition into the afterlife.

4.  Solar Flares: Its solar name, electric qualities as a form of quartz, and optical effect produced by scattered light reveal that girasol quartz can help the subtle body readjust after phenomena like solar flares.

Its white to pink coloring and blue to golden glow associate it with the chakras above the navel. They are the most likely to be thrown out of balance by electromagnetic events, as shown by their effects in sensitive people: lethargy, fluctuations in energy levels, stomach and digestive issues (Third Chakra), difficulty communicating and thinking (Throat Chakra), irritability, agitated emotions (Heart Chakra), headaches, psychic congestion, and inability to ground (Third Eye and Crown Chakra).

Like New Moon and a solar eclipse, other potentially harsher expressions of solar energy, solar flares can be harnessed for your benefit. Because they draw heavier energies to the surface, use them for purification. Because they over activate certain chakras, use them to balance and align the subtle body.

4. The Moon: Rather than the Sun, most trade names reveal a lunar or water connection instead: Moon quartz, Blue Moon quartz, milk quartz, and pearl quartz. The energy of girasol quartz is soothing, cool, and peaceful. With its frosted appearance and bluish white glow from scattered light, it looks like the Moon. It can be used to harness its energies, set intentions based on its monthly cycle, and connect to lunar spiritual beings. Watery minerals help us develop qualities culturally associated with the feminine like intuition, emotions, and dreams. Since divination is also ruled by the Moon, girasol quartz is good for scrying and keeping tools like Tarot cards cleansed.

5. The Upper Chakras and Beyond: With its white to pink coloring, and white, blue, or yellow glow, girasol quartz bridges the Crown to Third Chakra. Although it is primarily focused on the Crown and Throat Chakras. It helps balance thinking (Crown) and feeling (Heart) and supports their expression (Throat). It is a powerful tool for psychics, mediums, and channelers to maintain their connection (Crown) and accurately pass along their messages (Throat). Some models of the subtle body have an additional eighth chakra above the Crown, called the Soul Star, which represents our connection to the Divine. As a starred white mineral, girasol quartz is especially well suited for it.

Dumortierite, the fibrous mineral responsible for the color and optical effects of star rose quartz and girasol quartz, is typically dark blue.  It is associated with intuition, psychic abilities, and communication.

6. Healing Properities: Because of its lunar connections, astrologically oriented healers recommend it for parts of the body ruled by the Moon: the stomach and digestion, chest and breasts, reproductive system, bodily fluids, emotions, and unconscious mind. Those that use the modern chakra system instead recommend it for parts of the body ruled by the fifth, sixth, and seventh chakras: anything between the throat and top of the head.

This article is part of a series for Enter the Earth, located in Asheville, North Carolina.  To find girasol quartz, check out both their retail and online stores:

1 Page Avenue
Suite 125
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 350-9222

Online Store: http://www.entertheearth.com/
On Ebay: http://stores.ebay.com/entertheearthinc
On Etsy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/EnterTheEarth

To find more information about using girasol quartz and other tools for solar storm mitigation, check out my counterpart Stacie's blog: Solar Storm Mitigation.

The spiritual use of stones is one tool among many for helping us with our problems. This information is not intended to replace the care of your doctor or mental health professional.

© 2012, C. L. Matthews
[Image Source: Enter the Earth]

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mercury Retrograde's Web of Influence (July and August 2012)

[Mercury retrograde's web of influence, its major aspects.]


Why doesn't everyone experience Mercury retrograde the same way?

Not everyone is equally influenced by Mercury retrograde. Because they are ruled by the planet, Gemini and Virgo can be sensitive to its changes generally. Those who are not directly aspected will see the themes around them but not experience them personally.

How will I experience it?

Determining if you will be influenced by a retrograde planet requires some star math, a basic understanding of your chart and transits, or the assistance of an astrologer.

When a planet turns retrograde, it slows to a stop, appears to move backwards, and then slows to a stop again, to correct its direction. These two motionless points are called stations and define the area of its influence. For EST, Mercury stations retrograde at 12' 32” Leo on July 14th, 2012 and stations direct at 1' 23” Leo on August 8th, 2012.

A transit is when the current location of a planet interacts with an element of your natal chart. Those with planets or points from 1º – 12º degrees Leo, or the zodiac signs connected to it by major aspects, will personally experience this Mercury retrograde.

What are some points to consider?

A: What house/houses is Mercury transiting in your natal chart?  This Mercury transit will include its themes.

B: What house does your natal Mercury fall in? All Mercury transits include these themes for you.

C: What aspects is Mercury making to your natal planets?  Those that are strongly placed or aspected tend to do better under a challenging aspect with Mercury, those that are poorly placed or aspected tend to do worse.

There is debate on the correct orb for transits, 3 degrees or less is common. Therefore planets just outside the borders of this retrograde zone may also be influenced. Not all degrees are equal, the station locations (12 and 1 degrees Leo) are the most potent, since the planet slows to a stop on them. Also the tighter the orb, the stronger the experience.

What are the potential aspects for this Mercury?

Each celestial event casts a greater geometric web of influence, touching specific signs differently. This is an extremely general guide, each experience of Mercury retrograde is very personal, depending on the person's natal chart.

~1º – 12º Leo: Conjunction (Yellow)

A conjunction is incredibly strong, blending the energy of the two planets together. Whether this is challenging or not, depends on the two planets involved: Mercury + natal plant. Those with planets or points in early to mid Leo are likely to feel Mercury retrograde strongly.

~1º – 12º Taurus, ~1º – 12º Scorpio: Square (Dark Red).
~1º – 12º Aquarius: Opposition (Light Red)

Historically the square and the opposition are the malefic (“harmful”) or hard aspects. They are disharmonious, producing tension, conflict, or challenges. However, the friction they produce can be harnessed to make adjustments to your life, so they are seen less harshly in contemporary astrology. The opposition can be more easily balanced then the square. Those with planets or points in the early to mid signs of Taurus, Scorpio, and Aquarius are likely to feel Mercury harshly but with the potential for greater change.

~1º – 12º Aries, ~1º – 12º Sagittarius: Trine (Dark Green)
~1º – 12º Gemini, ~1º – 12º Libra: Sextile (Light Green)

Historically the trine and the sextile are the benefic (“helping”) or soft aspects. They are harmonious, producing ease, flow, and opportunity. Because they feel so good, their potential is often wasted, we don't do the work to capitalize on them. The sextile is less prominent than the trine. Those with planets or points in the early to mid signs of Aries, Sagittarius, Gemini, and Libra are likely to feel Mercury more gently but unintentionally waste its blessing.

For more information about this Mercury retrograde, see:

For traditional and modern planetary gemstones used to harmonize its influence, see:

For an introduction to retrograde motion, see:

Mercury Retrograde (July 14-15, 2012 – August 7-8, 2012)

[16th century engraving by Hans Sebald Beham, with Mercury and the two
zodiac signs Virgo and Gemini]

(July 14-15, 2012 – August 7-8, 2012)

The dates for this Mercury retrograde depend on your timezone. It turns retrograde on July 15th GMT but July 14th for EST (Eastern) and PDT (Pacific). It turns direct on August 8th GMT and EST (Eastern) but August 7th for PDT (Pacific).

What happens when a planet goes retrograde?

Retrograde comes from the Latin retrogradus, “to move or step backwards”. A retrograde planet slows to a stop, moves backwards, and then slows to a stop again, to correct its motion. These changes are actually an optical illusion created by differences in the relative orbital speeds of Earth and the other planet involved. Mercury goes retrograde three or four times a year, for approximately three and a half weeks.

Why do we experience retrograde themes beyond these dates?

A retrograde planet not only goes in reverse, it slows to a stop twice, called a station, and remains slower moving. These standing periods, and the extremely slow motion that precede and follow them, are often the strongest part of the retrograde cycle. The dates above are unintentionally deceptive because they only represent the backwards portion. Slow and motionless planets are potent, because they stay at a degree longer than normal, making their aspects stronger.

[Mercury's changing speed in minutes (') for its July 2012 retrograde.
Its speed is a relative indicator of its strength.]

Mercury's average daily speed is 59' 8”, just under 1º. Almost two weeks before it turns backward, it begins to fall below that. The dates around the motionless stations are exceptionally slow. By the middle of the retrograde, the planet has picked up some speed, but is still about 3/5 its average.

How long can we actually experience this retrograde then?

[The triple pass of Mercury through the same part of space.]

June 27th, 2012: Mercury crosses the degree where it will eventually turn direct, 1º Leo 26'. Mercurial themes can already begin, especially when closer to the retrograde station. The planet slows to a stop, before changing direction.

July 14th – July 15th, 2012: Retrograde Station at 12º Leo 33', 2:16 GMT, 7:16 PM EST. Mercury appears to stop, then moves backwards. It stations approximately three days, July 13th – July 15th or July 14th – July 16th.

July 29th, 2012: Mercury's Inferior Conjunction with the Sun. The middle of Mercury retrograde and its fastest speed.

August 7th – August 8th, 2012: Direct Station at 1º Leo 26'. Mercury appears to stop, then corrects its motion. It stations approximately three days, August 6th – August 8th or August 7th – August 9th.

August 22nd, 2012: Mercury crosses the degree where it turned retrograde, 12º Leo 33'. Mercury themes can continue, especially when closer to the direct station. The planet remains slow, after changing direction.


"She [Maia] bare a son [Hermes], of many shifts, blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle rustler, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates."
~Homeric Hymn to Hermes~

Isn't retrograde bad?

Retrograde is a buzz word with lots of fear unnecessarily projected on it. When a planet turns retrograde, it gets close, bright, and makes a loop in the sky. The retrograde planet highlights certain areas of life, just like it appears to circle parts of the sky. A backwards planet is extremely strong, things ruled by it become prominent but experience delay, disorder, or repetition. Ultimately, retrograde motion is corrective, giving us a second chance to look at the affairs of the planet.

What can be expected during Mercury retrograde?

A: THE TRICKSTER: Mercurial spiritual figures like Hermes are associated with knowledge, including the crazy wisdom of the trickster. Tricksters break the rules, usually through theft, playing pranks, or violating boundaries. Their actions can be a form of radical compassion, revealing dysfunction by highlighting, inverting, or amplifying imbalance.

(-) Situations are brought to an extreme to reveal a truth, unresolved business resurfaces, the past returns to be addressed.
(+) Breakthroughs in difficult situations, insight into repeated behavior, a new perspective finally reveals a solution. Humor, play, and encounters with the absurd restore fluidity.

B: THE UNEXPECTED AND THE HIDDEN: Since Mercury is closer to the Sun than Earth, it stays near it in the sky and retrogrades frequently. These traits make seeing the planet difficult, it is usually lost in the glare of the Sun. Many things now associated with Uranus were once qualities of Mercury, because of its unseen and changing nature: the unexpected, hidden, and reversal.

(-) Oddly repeated events, things move in unforeseen ways, complications for new projects, especially if Mercury ruled (related to communication, transportation, the mind, etc.). Things feel fated, inevitably moving towards a specific goal, or need to be repeated to come to a conclusion.
(+) Experiences of synchronicity, research yields previously hidden information, inspiration from esoteric subjects, fields of specialty knowledge, like astrology. Bargains, unusual finds, and the discovery of lost objects.

C: THE EVERYDAY AND SHORT DISTANCE TRAVEL: One reason we experience Mercury retrograde so personally is because the planet rules the everyday, from our neighborhood to our daily routine.

(-) Delay, disorder, or reversal in our daily routine, schedule, and short distance travel. Complications with technology, especially if related to transportation, communication, or machinery with moving parts, including cars.
(+) Random but beneficial encounters with friends, extended family, and business contacts. Shaking things up causes us to focus on life, not on the routine.

D: THE IN-BETWEEN: Mercury begins each retrograde as an evening star, disappears in the glare of the Sun, and reappears as a morning star. Because of this motion, many Mercurial spiritual beings like Hermes are associated with the in-between: travel (between your home and your destination), business (the exchange of goods between people), and communication (the exchange of information between people).

(-) Miscommunication, from spelling errors, missing information, and failed delivery, to misunderstanding. Delay, difficulty, or reversal in agreements, contracts, and purchases, especially if Mercury ruled (related to communication, transportation, the mind, etc.). Many people refrain from signing paperwork, purchasing mechanical things like cars, electronics, appliances, or anything related to communication like computers and telephones.
(+) An adjustment of our personal interactions with others, especially our siblings, extended family, and neighbors. Because many Mercurial spiritual beings are psychopomps in myth, guides to the recently lost, an end to grief, coming to terms with the dead, and remembrance.

D: THE MENTAL REALM: Mercury represents the mind, our thoughts, perception, and ability to process the world around us.

(-) Indecision, forgetfulness, absent mindedness. Confusion, reversal of decisions, and misperception, especially if the subject is Mercury ruled (related to communication, transportation, the mind, etc.).
(+) An adjustment of our thoughts, perceptions, and understanding. While outer communication may be complicated, creativity is high, meditation is deep, and profound ideas can surface, especially insights into the past, complex problems, and the inner workings of our minds.


Learning is like mercury [the liquid metal], one of the most powerful and excellent things in the world in skillful hands; in unskillful, the most mischievous.”
~Alexander Pope~

Where am I most likely to experience Mercury's energy?

Since Mercury is turning retrograde in Leo, we may experience its themes around creativity and the arts, love affairs and sex, children, and sources of pleasure like gifts, hobbies, and games of chance. Those with planets or points in Leo, or the zodiac signs geometrically related to it, are the most likely to be influenced.

What if I must do something Mercury related now?

We are often given advice like “Don’t sign that contract during Mercury retrograde!” Life is rarely that accommodating. If you must do something Mercury related now, honor its repetitive movement by examining it thoroughly. Things may move in an unexpected way in the future, not necessarily badly, when Mercury turns direct.

For those mostly likely influenced by this Mercury retrograde, see:

For traditional and modern planetary gemstones used to harmonize its influence, see:

For an introduction to retrograde motion, see:

© 2012, C. L. Matthews
[Image Source: Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons.  Graphs by C. L. Matthews, 2012.]