Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

13.5 Mysticism and Minerals


13.5: Mysticism and Minerals

From time immemorial, human eyes have been captivated by the color and sparkle of gemstones, and we‘ve come to invest some with mystical, magical powers. To put my cards on the table, I don‘t put much stock in mysticism. Still, it‘s fascinating stuff, especially when viewed from a cultural or historical angle, which is the perspective I encourage taking in exploring this activity with kids. To get you started, here‘s just a brief sampling of some classic gems and a couple beliefs associated with each:

Amethyst: Amethyst is supposed to ward off evil thoughts and drunkenness and, so doing, induce a sober mind. The Chinese ground it to cure bouts of bad dreams.

Aquamarine: Called 'the sailor‘s gem', aquamarine was believed to have originated in a mermaid‘s jewelry box and provides safe passage on stormy seas. It was also thought to make soldiers invincible and to bring pure love.

Diamond: Diamond has long been valued and has been viewed as a symbol of wisdom and enlightenment, self-confidence and power. While Greeks believed it protected against poisons, Hindus believed a flawed stone could invite misfortune.

Emerald: Emeralds were believed to restore failing eyesight. Related to this, they were also believed to provide clairvoyance, or an ability to see into the future.

Garnet: Garnets were thought to protect against depression and to deter liver disease and problems with blood circulation, perhaps because of their blood-red color.

Opal: Opal was considered an unlucky stone in Europe and was even believed to have caused The Plague. By contrast, it‘s a stone of eternal hope in Asia.

Ruby: Rubies were once thought to counteract poison and the plague and, rubbed on the skin, were supposed to restore youth and vitality.

Sapphire: Sapphire has been considered a powerful protective stone. Some thought rays reflected from it could kill poisonous creatures. Persians believed the Earth itself rested on a giant sapphire that reflected the blue of heaven into our sky.

Topaz: Once thought to be a cure for bad moods and madness, topaz has also been thought to bestow wisdom and to help ascertain the truth.

To guide your kids to more info about a greater variety of gems, you can find any number of books in New Age sections of a bookstore or library, like Peschek-Böhmer and Schreiber‘s Healing Crystals & Gemstones: From Amethyst to Zircon. Check also Foa‘s Pockets Gemstones. This handy, inexpensive pocketbook has two pages each devoted to 27 different gems. For each, it includes a small box entitled 'Myth & Magic' with two or three beliefs about that particular gemstone through the ages. See also Knuth‘s Gems in Myth, Legend, & Lore or Kunz‘s The Curious Lore of Precious Stones.

Let your kids pick gems of special interest to them, and have them explore associated myths and legends and supposed mystical powers each stone possesses. But don‘t end there. Have them compare what modern science has to say about their gemstones. Or let them test a gem‘s power for themselves. For instance, it‘s said an emerald will melt the eyes of any snake that gazes upon it. Have an emerald? Have a young boy with a snake in your group? I see potential for an experiment!

Note: Kids who give a presentation or write an article can use this activity toward earning their Communication badge simultaneously (Activities 7.1 and 7.2).