History and Lore of Smoky Quartz
Smoky quartz is the National Gem of Scotland and has been considered a sacred stone there for a long time, a belief dating back to the Druids. The stone is the birthstone for Scorpios. Smoky quartz is one of the rare brown gemstones. Other rare brown gemstones are topaz, black beryl and brown corundum.
Smoky quartz has been used widely since ancient times because it is so easy to cut as a gem and equally as easy to shape for ornaments and other practical applications. Smoky quartz was popular for making snuff bottles in China, and was also popular in ancient times with the Romans, who used the stone for carving intaglio seals. The Sumerians cut and engraved various quartz stones as cylinder seals and used them later as ring seals. As the Sumerians invented writing, quartz is probably one of the first gem stone materials to be written on, and also to be used as a stamp to make a written impression in clay. Some thousands of years ago, the Egyptians made beads, scarab figures, and other jewelry from many of the quartz stones (including the transparent amethyst, prize of the quartz family).
There are many examples in various museums throughout the world, of carved quartz stones that were popular in Greece and Rome. These sometimes show the upper half of the body of a man with a hand upraised, pronouncing judgment. Sometimes just the head and shoulders of the man are shown, but always with the hand raised. These pieces are said to have been especially good to have around at the time, during a lawsuit. In the 14th century, it was common for the quartz crystal to be engraved with the image of a man in armor holding a bow and arrow. The stone supposedly guarded the wearer and the place where it was situated.
Quartz crystal has been used in religious and shamanistic systems for thousands of years. Quartz was long thought by ancients to be solidified water or ice. Because of its connection with water, the stone has been utilized to magically create rain in many parts of the Pacific, including Australia and New Guinea.
Contemporary Wiccans wear quartz, often combined with silver, during Full Moon rituals. Because quartz is also a goddess symbol, the crystal spheres are often placed on the altar during lunar rituals. The crystal’s icy cold temperatures represent the sea. Two quartz crystals are also placed on Wiccan altars to represent the God and Goddess- the two primal, creative powers of the universe. Some may place a natural crystal there to represent the God, and a sphere for the goddess.
In Shamanistic terms, the quartz crystal is the shaman, and the shaman is the crystal. There is no difference between the two. Because of this, it is the perfect tool of the shaman and is utilized in rituals throughout the world. It is a common component of shaman’s power bags or medicine bundles. In shamanic healing sessions, as well as home treatments, crystals are rubbed onto the afflicted part of the body to remove disease. The crystal can be placed on a painful part of the body and left there to rebalance bodily conditions and to remove blockages of energies, which many say result in illness.
Traditionally, quartz was utilized in the Eleusinian mysteries to produce the sacred fire by concentrating the heat of the Sun to ignite wood chips. Quartz was also common among North American Indians in rite and spell, and ceremonial wands topped with quartz crystals have been found in Southern California. Cherokee shamans, acknowledging the crystal’s power, kept it wrapped in buckskin when not in use. At regular intervals it would be “fed” deer’s blood.
Quartz has been long thought to be lucky for foresters and gardeners. Mystically, it is symbolic of the spirit and intellect of human beings. Throughout history, in the British Isles, crystals spheres of an inch in diameter were mounted in silver and worn as amulets against illness.