Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stonewise: Amethyst

It's the last Wednesday of February, and so I went looking for additional stones that related to the month, the day of the week or the astrological sign...Amethyst came up a couple times, so Amethyst it is!

Amethyst has such an amazingly rich history that I can't possibly include it all in one blog post...which means I can come back to it later! Yay me! :D

So, here's some of what Ardriana says on this beautiful stone:

Amethyst is a transparent, coarse-grained variety of the silicon oxide mineral of quartz that is valued as a semi-precious gem for its violet color. Amethyst color ranges from a pale lilac to deep black purple, with the most valuable being deep purple. There's a "Color Change" variety that changes from dark purple to dark pink or varying lighter shades of the same. Bi-colored Amethyst is purple and lavender-white (not to be confused with Ametrine, which is Amethyst and Citrine). There's Rutile Amethyst, and Cape or Chevron Amethyst, which has milky white quartz to bold white quartz striations.

The name comes from the Greek, Amethystos, meaning "not drunken". The Hebrew word for Amethyst is Achlemah, meaning, "that which gives pleasant dreams".

Folklore: Connected to the god Dionysus, the Greeks thought it cured drunkeness. The legend of the origin of Amethyst comes from Greek myths. Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal who crossed his bath by creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish. Along came unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Artemis. Artemis turned Amethyst into a statue of pure white crystalline quartz to protect her from the tigers' brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his actions at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god's tears stained the quartz purple, creating the stone we know today.

Magick: Amethyst's nature is peaceful, sleepy, sweet dreaming, sober, noble, quick witted and deeply spiritual. With Amethyst's "anti-intoxicating" quality, it is a good stone to focus on for quelling compulsive passions. The "sacred" quality of Amethyst can focus on a connection with one's spiritual center to calm fears, reduce stress, dispel doubt and negativity.

Wear or carry to make the wearer gentle and amiable. Slip and Amethyst into your Tarot, or Rune bag for heightened intuitive abilities. Slip under your pillow for peaceful sleep and pleasant dreams.

Oh yes, I'll be coming back to Amethyst at a later date...

How I use it in my jewelry...the first bracelet I made was a Sleep Well, which I gave to my best friend. She suffers from migraines, but is allergic to most migraine medicines, so the best she can do is get a shot of a narcotic from her doctor and hope to sleep the headache out. This particular time she had already worn out the shot and was working on pain pills she'd also been given, but still no sleep.

She put on the bracelet and slept 12 hours that night, getting rid of the migraine.

This isn't the original Sleep Well design (strangely I have no pics of it), but the stones are the same.

The Amethysts are a central part to the bracelet, as you cannot have restful sleep without peaceful dreams. I really locked onto the dream warding aspect of Amethyst, and it's the first property I think of concerning the stone.

One of the first bracelets I sold was to an artist friend of mine, who picked the Sleep Well simply because she liked the colors. A month or so later, she came into the gallery, where I sometimes work, to tell me that the day before, she was taking a few minutes break on the couch and found herself thinking of all the things she had yet to do, while gently running her hand over the stones of her bracelet.

She then took the first daytime nap she's had in nearly 15 years. It was gentle and restful and altogether pleasant, which not all daytime naps turn out to be.

I love Amethysts. They're one of those stones I always saw as a cut above the other tumbled stones I collected. They were more precious, like the Garnet and Peridot chips I sometimes found. Later, when new mines were found, I discovered my love of the deep, deep purple Chevron Amethyst, and have quite a few pieces of it. There's so much history, lore and magick associated with Amethyst, it's truly a wonderful stone to have in your collection.

Someday I'll have a show piece, but until then, I'll be more than happy with the pieces I have...which is quite a few. ^^

And now you know a little more about why I do what I do.

Till next time, be well,

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stonewise: Smokey Quartz

Two weeks ago I hit 100 fans on Facebook, and decided to give away a piece of jewelry as a celebration. I started a discussion and asked people to give me 3 stones that represent the element of fire. I even linked to my Fire jewelry to give the answer. I was going to pick randomly from those who gave the right answer.

I got one response.

Needless to say, I've been feeling a bit down about the whole thing. Part of it is Facebook's fault, several of my friends said they never saw the notices...but really, just one response?

Anyroad, for today's Stonewise, I went looking for a motivating stone, and found Smokey Quartz under "Mood Lifting"...then I flipped to the middle of my book, right to the page I needed, and figured it was a good sign that today should be Smokey Quartz day.

Ardriana says: Smokey Quartz is created by irradiation of clear quartz that contains tiny traces of aluminum by synthetic or natural radioactivity. When heated to 400 degrees Celsius, it returns to its clear state and can be changed back and forth indefinitely by alternating irradiation and heating (that's pretty damn cool right there!).

Folklore: In Scotland, this stone was the sacred stone of Druids. Scotland's royal scepter is topped with Smokey Quartz.

Magick: With a gentle, sustaining and stabilizing energy, it is a wonderful stone for grounding. This stone is a cool fire stone, receptive rather than projective in nature, with the uncanny ability to lift one's mood. Helps one sort out a clear direction, one's wants from their needs, the better of several choices.

How do I use it in my jewelry...To be honest, I use a lot of clear and smokey quartz almost as filler. I add it to a design to round it out, to add length, since it compliments so many other stones. This is not to say that I don't think that quartz, smokey or otherwise, is magickal, or useful for a direct purpose. On the contrary, I think these stones are so versatile that I could use them literally for *anything* and they would work.

Smokey quartz was one of the very first stones I collected as a kid. I loved the brown/gold color of it, and that it was still clear. Remember, when I was young, I was all about getting stones that were as perfect as possible. They had to be smooth, and clear, my quartz had to be like ice. I still tend to gravitate to those sorts of pieces, but I have learned the value and beauty in imperfection as well. Inclusions can look like galaxies, or faces, or reflect light in an interesting and beautiful ways.

Agate is called the work horse of the mineral world, because there's just so much of it. But for me, quartz is the baseline. When in doubt, I can always add some to a design, and it just works. If I were stripped of all my other stones, I could use Smokey Quartz in a huge selection of intentions and feel confident that it would be powerful and magickal.

Some of my oldest pieces are Smokey Quartz, and I have some ranging from perfectly clear to just a few wisps of rutile, to heavily occluded and I love them all. Few stones offer as much versatility as Smokey Quartz, and it's a powerful tool in any witch's stone box. I think I'll go put one in my pocket...

And now you know a little more of why I do what I do.

Till next time, be well,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stonewise: Moonstone

Since this month is Valentine's day, I went looking up my index of intentions to see what stones appeared under Love/Desire and Attraction. Since I talked about Red Jasper last week, I focused on what other gems where in the list and saw Moonstone stand out at me.

So let's jump right in and see what Ardriana has to say shall we?

Moonstone is the name attributed to actually two different feldspars that grow together. This stone can be confused with Selenite as well, though Selenite is very soft and can be scratched with a fingernail, while Moonstone is relatively hard. Moonstones are classically white, but can be blue, green, peach, gray (also called Silver, Black or Norwegian Moonstone), creamy yellow or yellow-pink and has a pearly schiller (a bronzelike luster, sometimes with iridescence, occurring on certain minerals) to it. Another related feldspar variety is known as Rainbow Moonstone, in which the sheen is a variety of colors.

Folklore: The Greeks named the stone Aphroselene after two of their goddesses, Aphrodite and Selene. In India, it is sacred to lovers and would confer prophetic powers during the Full Moon. The island of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) has produced some of the most beautiful Moonstone, with the steps of the altar of the Moonstone Temple of Anuradhapura, 100 C.E., that were once faced with mosaics of the gleaming stone. The ruins of this temple still can be seen today, but the mosaics have long since been plundered. Europeans thought that Moonstone could foretell the future during the Dark Moon. Asians thought the shine was that of the good spirit in the stone. The Romans who used it in jewelry from as early as 100 C.E. thought that Moonstone was formed out of moonlight and thus has the power to grant wishes.

Magick: Tradition has held that the schiller in the stone follows the cycles of the moon, brightening at the Full Moon and darkening with the Dark Moon. Thus it used the power of the moon to hypnotize people. Placing it under the tongue stirs ancient memories in the pocessor, or when done by lovers, it awakens passion and helps them divine their future together. This stone influences women's mysteries: conception, creativity, intuition, dreams, psychic ability, natural magick and divination. It draws love and aids in reconciliation. It can be used in dieting, giving birth and to maintain a youthful appearance. Moonstone is a gently protective stone, and is useful when traveling at night, over water and while swimming.

Ok, after all that wonderful info, how do I use it in my jewelry...So, every stone is magickal, but there are some stones that just seem inherently more so, because of how they look, what their name is, or their history is, and Moonstone is one of those for me. It holds a place with Bloodstone as something that's just magickal to have, whether or not you use it for any purpose. When I was younger and just starting my stone collection, I always felt extremely lucky to find a moonstone, even if it was a tiny chip.

It's one of those stones that I could happily include in any of my designs, just to give it that little extra edge of magick...I don't because I would quickly run out of space and Moonstone. >.>
I do, however, use it in my Moon bracelet design (convenient that, no?), to represent the Full Moon in the cycle.

From the middle out: Onyx, Snowflake Obsidian, White Howlite, Moonstone...

This design represents to me the constant cycle of the Moon, the elements, the seasons, it's a reminder that things just have to change and that's ok (I am a creature of deep habits and struggle with this constantly). Lunar energy and imagery are connected to the feminine to me, so I also wear my bracelet as a constant reminder of the magickal sisterhood I share as a Pagan and Witch. And lastly, but certainly not least, it is a reminder of the connection I have with Goddesses that have become my patronesses over the years.

Moonstone was always central to this design, but I struggled with it until I discovered the beautifully marbled Howlite. It remains one of my favorite designs, and the only one in which I made the prototype for myself.

I have three tattoos, and each of them has some connection to lunar imagery: A stag with the triple Moons in his antlers, the Moon phases around my ankle, and a labrys (a double headed battle axe) on my thigh. The labrys is an ancient symbol of the moon, the goddess and of butterflies, which were symbols of transformation and regeneration. Even as a child I thought the Moon was more magickal than the Sun, as she could go into his domain, but he never could enter hers.

Mystical, magickal, beautiful, wonderful...Moonstone holds a special place in my heart, even though I have very few pieces, perhaps it's part of why the stone is so precious to me. In any case, now you know a little bit more of why I do what I do.

Until next time, be well,

Monday, February 8, 2010

If Your Religion... Part 3

So probably another disclaimer is in order before I start on today's post.

If your religion or belief system is not destructive, helps you to be happy and good, and fulfills your spiritual needs, then I'm not really talking to you. I think we can agree that there are a lot of people out there who are hurt by religion, or hurt others because of it, and I would just like them to think a little instead of blindly reacting to the programming they have subject to.

And now on to this month's post...

If your religion keeps you from seeing the're doin' it wrong.

I'm sure all of you have heard of the auto-tune, the program that can make any person sound like a singer...wait, this has a point, I promise...and the somewhat recent rash of spoofs that people have done, like the auto-tune news. Well, one of my favorite things that have popped up is the Symphony of Science which has taken some of the great scientists of our age and set them to auto-tune.

My favorite is "We Are All Connected", which has the line by Carl Sagan,
"The cosmos is also within us
We're made of star stuff
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself"

And this reminded me of the first time I put together the idea that the carbon I am made of was once fused by a giant blue star that lived billions of years ago, and I realized that atomically, I am a descendant of a star.

Talk about a pedigree! I thought that was amazing, blew my mind open! Forget being a queen in a former life, I was once a *star*!

This idea also made me think more about what it really took for me to be here. The unimaginable amount of decisions that it took...I mean, just for a quick Mother's best friend had been dating two men with the same name. One of them she introduced to my Mother, and three months later they were married. If the friend had decided to introduce the other man to my Mother, I could not be here. There are bazillions of moments where if it had gone the other way, I would be someone else.

How is this not miraculous? How is the staggering amount of chance that goes into each and every one of us somehow less a sign of a deity's hand than the idea that we were rolled out of mud and breathed upon?

I think that dismissing the miracle in this way does not only a disservice to the process of life, which is so amazingly complex we still don't fully understand it, but also to the deities seen as creator or creatrix.

I mean, which is the greater sign of an intelligence so vast that the human mind is incapable of comprehending it? A colossal system of fusion that creates matter that eventually, after billions of years, coalesces into a planet that is in *just the right* spot to sustain life as we know it. Or little mud people (thanks Ardriana) that suddenly poofed into existence one day.

I don't know about you, but I am simply awestruck whenever I consciously consider the scope of our universe and our tiny place within it. How fragile our planet is in the scope of the larger system we exist in. Some people say that it's all just chance, and there's no evidence of a cosmic intelligence behind it all. That's fine, but I choose to think that there's *something* out there. What it is, I have no idea, and I'm ok with that too.

My point is, I try to live each day with that awestruck wonder. I let it help inform my decisions on how I interact with others and my environment. I like to think that it helps me be a better person, more likely to kindness rather can not. More likely to patience rather than frustration and irritation. More likely to compassion rather cynicism and distance. Because we are all descendants of stars, and if that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.

Don't miss the miracle in front of you, the one that becomes more complex and amazing as we learn more about our universe.

I choose a different way, and so should you, whatever it may be.

Till next time, be well,

PS, Suggested Viewing, "The Pale Blue Dot" by Carl Sagan. This is an edited version, part of it set to music. I've listened to the full speech, and find this version to encompass the feel of what Sagan was saying.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stonewise: Red Jasper

For the first Stonewise of Feb, I thought I'd go with one of the month's traditional Birthstones, Red Jasper.

Luckily, there are about one bazillion kinds of Jasper and I can milk this topic for a long time. :D

In any case, here's what Ardriana says about this beautiful stone:

All Jasper is mostly made of chalcedony, microcrystalline quartz, in association with other minerals. A favorite gem of the ancient world, the name Jasper can be traced back to Hebrew, Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Latin. Brick red Jasper is considered to be the "mother" of all stones.

Folklore: A 13th Century manual said to engrave the symbol of Mars or the Laurel wreath of Daphne to consecrate the stone perpetually. And 14th century widom said that Jasper carved with a dog, stag or huntsman would lend the power to cure possessions.

Magick: Red Jasper promotes beauty and grace (or the perception of that beauty!). Holds good luck in matter of love and protects one from dangerous desires and whims. A great all-around lucky-in-love stone. Tuck one into a purse before going on a date to attract a love affair or maintain passion. Keep in a desk drawer at work to combat the four o'clock drags.

How I use it in my jewelry...well, the first place I put Red Jasper was in my Desire bracelet that I designed for my Godsister. She was looking for someone for a very specific purpose, and she got him too...from all accounts.

Desire: Red Tiger's Eye, Red Jasper, Garnet, Rose Quartz and Onyx.

I have other ideas on how to use this beautiful stone, but they're still working away in the back of my head.

The first type of Jasper I ever fell for was actually Bloodstone, which has such a wonderful witchy air about it. So it took me a while to discover other sorts of Jasper...but now that have, look out! I want to figure out how to use them all...and I will, someday. :D

I don't have much Red Jasper in my personal collection, but that's because there wasn't much to be found tumbled, at least when I was doing most of my collecting. It got overshadowed by some of its flashier cousins...Bloodstone, Picasso Stone, Brecciated Jasper, Ocean Jasper...I actually have a hard time finding beads of just "plain" Red Jasper, but I keep looking and every once in a while I get lucky.

One of my favorite things about Jasper is actually how smooth it is. There's a silkiness to it that not even quartz has, and I love it. It's great to play with, or use as a worry stone if you're lucky enough to find a big enough piece.

And now you know a little more of how I do what I do.

Until next time, be well,