History and Lore of Amethyst
Amethyst has been a prized gem for centuries. It is the birthstone for Pisces and the month of February, and the gemstone for the 6th anniversary of marriage. The stone is included in royal collections all over the world, from ancient Egypt to the British crown jewels. The Smithsonian has an amethyst that weighs 400 pounds! Ancient civilizations prized the stone more than many gems, which today, enjoy more recognition and value, including the Sapphire and the Ruby. In olden times, Amethyst saw its place in the Christian church, worn on Bishops’ rings. The royal purple color used to symbolize Christ. Saint Valentine was thought to wear a ring set with an antique Amethyst carved with an image of Cupid. The stone is also a symbol of Saint Matthias. There are a number of Biblical references to the amethyst. It was also one of the twelve precious stones in the high priest Aaron’s breastplate. The twelfth foundation of the Holy City was built of amethyst. For some time, true amethyst was valued equally with the diamond. Then great finds in South America and elsewhere made it more plentiful. As its rarity decreased, so did its price.
According to Greek mythology, Amethyst was a young virgin who became the object of wrath of the Greek God Dionysus after he became intoxicated with red wine. When Amethyst cried out to Goddess Diana for help, she immediately turned the girl into a white, shimmering stone (quartz). When Dionysus realized what had happened and felt remorse for his actions, his tears dripped into his goblet of red wine. The goblet overturned, and the red wine spilled all over the white rock, saturating it until it became the purple quartz that is now known as Amethyst.
The name amethyst derives from the ancient Greek word amethustos, meaning sober. It was said that an amethyst could prevent the bearer from becoming excessively drunk and also instills a sober and serious mind. It was believed that if a person drank from a cup or goblet made entirely of amethyst, he or she would not get drunk at all. In Greek mythology, amethyst was rock crystal dyed purple by the tears of Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. Ancient Egyptians used the stone as the representative of the zodiac sign of the goat. The goat was considered the enemy of vines and vineyards, and therefore the antidote of wine.
Amethyst has been thought to have many attributes throughout history, and all of them are good. The stone was thought to control evil thoughts, quicken intelligence, make a shrewd man in business, preserve soldiers from battle wounds, aid the warrior to victory, help the hunter in search of his game, protect the wearer from contagious diseases, and put demons to flight if the figure of a bear is inscribed on the jewel. Amethyst was known as a gem that would bring forth the highest, purest aspirations of human kind. Chastity, sobriety, and control over one’s thoughts were all attributes heightened by wearing the stone. The gem would guard against the anger of passion, and the violent or base nature of its wearer. The stone encouraged calm, bravery, and contemplation.
Amethyst has religious connotations, as well. It was one of the twelve stones that adorned the breastplate of the high priest Aaron (Exodus 39). Amethyst later has stood for the tribe of Dan, one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Apostle Matthias and the Guardian Angel Adnachiel spirit are associated with Amethyst, as well. During the Middle Ages, Amethyst stood for piety and celibacy and was therefore worn by members of the Catholic Church clergy and was used to adorn crosses.
During the Renaissance, Amethyst has stood for humility and modesty. Throughout the ages, powerful and rich monarchs have used Amethyst as a symbol of royalty, and some Amethysts even decorate the British Crown Jewels. Rumor has it that Amethyst was a personal favorite of Queen Catherine the Great of Russia.
Historically, the stone was believed to assist prophecy and visions and to bring riches and powers to its owners. It has always been associated with the civil and religious classes that have ruled human cultures. In the Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui, the amethyst enhances the wealth corner focusing on the giving and receiving of material wealth. At the highest level, amethyst bestows the spiritual understanding required to reach the state of bliss. It is associated with the crown chakra at the top of the head where divine essence enters. It is a good stone to solve discord, suggested for children and warring relatives. In Renaissance magic, an amethyst engraved with the image of a bear was worn as a protective amulet. In Graeco-Roman times, rings of amethyst set in bronze were worn as charms against evil, and magical cups carved from amethyst banished sorrow and evil from all who drank.