Crystals of Ancient Egypt
The properties of certain crystals have been well-documented since ancient times. Much of what we know about crystals comes from the ancient Egyptians, who had a rich tradition of using them in both the healing arts and everyday life. While it sounds exotic and even a bit romantic, the crystals that were most often used in ancient Egypt are actually some of the most commonly known and widely-used today.
Carnelian was mined in Egypt itself, and was used to make amulets, beads and figurines. Thought to be highly protective, it was commonly paired with turquoise and lapis, because the three of them together were thought to enhance the properties of each stone. Carnelian was associated with the sun god Ra, and it carried the energy of fire. It was often given to children to wear, as it was thought to be able to protect them from bumps, scrapes and bruises.
Lapis was highly prized in ancient Egypt, and unlike Carnelian it was a precious stone that was reserved for royalty. Perhaps that’s where it gets its reputation as being the “queen” of crystals! Lapis was most often used as inlay for jewelry and amulets. Its gold-flecked indigo colour was thought to be a representation of the heavens, and the Egyptians associated it with the Divine realms. Many statues of the gods depict them with eyes made out lapis and it was often ground into pigment to be worn as eyeshadow by the upper classes. It’s no wonder that today we think of it as the quintessential third eye stone!
Although this bright green crystal is only starting to become popular today, its use goes all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, who associated it with their god Osiris. Osiris was the god of transformation, regeneration and the underworld, and was almost always depicted with a green face. The story goes that after he was killed by his jealous brother Seth, his wife Isis brought him back to life again and he transcended death to become immortal. Malachite had a close association with the Osiris story, and was thought to assist in underworld journeys. Today we use malachite for much the same reason: to help us release old, stuck patterns and transform them through deep soul-journeys in the underworld of our subconscious minds. Malachite is the “traveller’s stone” for a reason!
The Egyptians regarded turquoise as being a highly protective stone, like carnelian. It was associated with Hathor--who was the goddess of beauty, love and the arts--and turquoise mines were dedicated to her. It was relatively rare even in ancient Egypt, so it was worn mainly by royalty and the upper classes. Today we associate turquoise with serenity and communication, and that has its roots in ancient Egypt: used in jewelry, it was thought to make the wearer more beautiful and pleasing! Most of the mines the Egyptians used were depleted in ancient times, so our modern turquoise comes primarily from Central Asia and has a slightly different look and feel than the stones the Egyptians would have recognized.
Do you use any of these crystals in your spiritual practice? Did you know about their ancient roots?
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Photo credit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/Y_EA54460
- Meghan Sandor