A blog post I wrote for a alternative medicine site:
Lithotherapy is the practice of using the energy from healing stones such as quartz, amethysts or opals to improve wellbeing. The name itself comes from the Greek words ‘lithos’ (stone) and ‘therapeia’ (care). Lithotherapy uses the healing qualities of certain stones to balance mind, body and spirit.
This post will learn a little more about one of the most versatile of these healing stones – the amethyst.
Historical uses of healing stones
For millennia, cultures worldwide have attempted to harness the powers of healing stones and crystals.
Egyptian doctors often placed stones on the bodies of their patients to address particular maladies.
The Ancient Greeks would grind down crystals with a pestle and mortar, mixing them with water and herbs into potent elixirs. Many believed that powdered rose-quartz, the gemstone of the goddess Aphrodite, could be used as a love potion.
The Chinese used elixirs of jade, cinnabar, hematite and other minerals to promote longevity of life.
Celtic druids would drop gemstones into their water jugs to infuse the liquid with the vibrations of the crystals. The druids believed that these vibrations had the power to ward off evil spirits, whilst others had faith in their ability to enhance fertility and improve crop harvests.
The Aztecs preferred to fashion them into intricate jewels which they would then rest on particular parts of the body, according to the ailment that they were treating.
Chinese doctors later developed this idea. They would sharpen the tips of their healing stones and apply them with pressure to the patient. This practice was an early precursor of acupuncture.
Medieval physicians in ancient Britain believed in focussing on the various colours of healing stones when treating particular ailments. They used rubies to treat heart and chest pains – red being the colour of blood. Green emerald was used to treat liver complaints as its colour was similar to that of bile.
Lithotherapy itself was first developed into an official branch of homeopathy in 1965 in France.
The story of the Amethyst
Amethyst gets its name from Greek mythology.
Legend has it that, Dionysis (the Greek god of wine), was insulted by a mere mortal. He vowed that he would exact retribution for the slight on the next mortal that crossed his path. He summoned two tigers with razor-sharp claws and fierce, fiery eyes to aid him in his revenge. Shortly afterwards, Dionysis spied Amethyst, a beautiful young girl on her way to lay flowers at the shrine of the Goddess Diana. As the tigers leapt forward, Diana turned the young maiden into a statue of brilliant white quartz to protect her from the savage beasts. When Dionysus saw the beauty of the statue, he wept tears of wine, overcome with the shame of what he had been about to do. These tears stained the quartz a deep purple colour, creating the gem with which we are so familiar today.
Throughout history, the colour purple has been associated with royalty and wealth. Queen Elizabeth I herself actually passed a law forbidding anyone but close members of the royal family and their households wearing it!
Deep purple amethysts are also a dazzling feature of the British Crown Jewels
The colour was especially revered in the Byzantine Empire. Its rulers wore flowing purple robes and signed their edicts in purple ink, and their children were described as being “born in the purple.”
Despite the god of wine playing such a part in the myth of Amethyst, the Greek word ‘amethystos’ literally translates to ‘not drunk’. Wine goblets in ancient Greece were often fashioned from amethyst in the belief that it might prevent the drinker from becoming overly intoxicated.
The gemstone still symbolizes sobriety, piety and humility. Because of this, amethyst frequently features in the ornamentation of the Catholic Church.
The crystal is often referred to as ‘the Bishop’s stone’ and it is still used in the ornate rings of Catholic bishops.
Amethyst is a great ‘all purpose’ crystal and regularly used by spiritual healers. As well as enhancing spiritual awareness on a cerebral level, it also promotes the more visceral, physical side of the healing process by boosting hormone production and strengthening the immune system.
It is used to soothe anxiety and alleviate stress, providing a deep sense of peace and contentment. It can also be employed as a meditation aid, its calming properties helping to reduce the intrusive noise of the quotidian. Crystal healers believe that amethyst allows the user to experience a sense of serenity. During meditation, the crystal will develop its intuitive potential and help clarify the mind.
People will often place an amethyst under their pillow when they go to bed at night as the stone helps with restorative sleep habits. The proximity of the crystal enables the physical body to recharge. It is also believed to cleanse the spiritual aura and providing a shield against negative energy.
Leonardo da Vinci himself believed that the stone had the power to ‘dispel evil thoughts and sharpen the intelligence’.
How it works
The crystal itself aligns the Crown Chakra. The Crown Chakra takes its name from its position at the very top of the head. It is the seventh of the chakras, and it is associated with the colour purple. Once this Chakra is aligned, one can focus on removing or healing any blockages that prevent the feeling of bliss.
The Crown Chakra is the point at which the physical body, the universe and the soul meet. During meditation, the amethyst helps calibrate the physical, mental and emotional bodies. This equilibrum makes a connection to the spiritual body easier.
One can also keep a small piece of the crystal in a pocket as a touchstone. It can be rubbed several times a day in order to release uplifting, positive energy. It is particularly effective when worn as a piece of jewellery such as a bracelet or necklace. Wearing an amethyst bracelet on the left wrist will accentuate your spiritual levels. Many believe that the stone can help you to foresee the future and amethyst jewellry is often worn by clairvoyants.
Amethysts often grow in ‘clusters’. Clusters describe crystals that are crowded together on a common matrix.
Where no matrix is present, they will naturally bridge together, forming a striking looking stone. These clusters naturally foster a sense of community and, when positioned in the corner of a room, create harmony and displace negativity.
Clusters are often used in the healing process as they are particularly good at activating the properties of other crystals. They help disparate single crystals to act in unison. The resulting energy is much greater than the sum of its individual parts.
The uneven face of a cluster is particularly effective in creating a constant flow of metaphysical energy. When tidying, it is recommended to place several clusters into the nooks and crannies around a room. These are the places energy can easily become trapped and inert.
All crystals need to be ‘recharged’ regularly, and amethsyt is no exception
Crystal healers advise that amethyst should be recharged under the light of a full moon. Direct sunlight has the capacity to fade the colour and ultimately dull the stone’s energy.
You can also recharge amethyst by placing it beside a large, unpolished cluster or a geode. This technique will actually cleanse and restore energy to any crystal used for healing, mediation or spiritual protection.
As well as being mined in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina, amethyst can also be found in Zambia, Namibia and several other African counties.
In South America it is found in larger sizes but the smaller gems from Africa are more popular as they usually have deeper and more vivid colours.