Myths and Legends
We are so used to thinking of minerals as materials used in modern industry and science, we tend to forget that in the past many people believed they had a wide range of magical, mystical and medicinal properties. Some of thes beliefs were remarkably accurate, others simply bizarre.
The future told in quartz
For thousands of years, people have made up extraordinary stories about minerals and gemstones. As a result, traditions and legends involving magic, astrology, alchemy and religious symbolism abound. The crystal ball in which clairvoyants saw the future was made of quartz. Certain minerals, it was claimed, could make their owners immune to poisoning. Some gemstones were believed to calm fevers, cure hangovers and make warriors invincible. Alchemists even claimed they could take ordinary metals and turn them into gold or silver.
Meanwhile, astrologers were busy trying to establish links between gemstones and each of the 12 signs of the zodiac. They believed that gemstones, like humans, were born under the influence of the planets.
In days gone by, minerals and gemstones were believed to have healing properties that were every bit as curative as those of plants. Sometimes, scientific evidence supported the theories - Epsom salts, for example, really do clear out the digestive system. But other ancient ideas, such as the belief that if you swallowed ground amethysts it could prevent a hangover, turned out to be 'old wives' tales', and probably caused more internal bodily damage than clear heads.
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