A Brief History of Crystal Healing
The popularity of crystals has skyrocketed over the past decade with the help of social media trends and celebrity endorsements. According to Google trends, the search term “crystals” has nearly tripled throughout the past 5 years. Within the same time frame, the term “crystal healing” increased 5 times. However, the discussion and use of gemstones for specific purposes or healing has been around a long time.
Before the recent wave of the New Age fascination, the history of crystals and their believed healing properties dates back approximately 6,000 years ago. Sumeria, one of the earliest known civilizations in and around Mesopotamia, mentioned gemstones and their properties in several texts of healing rituals and religion. Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, was depicted carrying a necklace made of lapis lazuli when entering the underworld.
Furthermore, Sumerian jewelers often used carved beads of lapis lazuli and carnelian. The tomb of Puabi, a Sumerian queen, was discovered around 1922. Several carvings, beads, and pieces of jewelry were found made of lapis lazuli and carnelian because they were believed to protect her soul in the afterlife.
While there aren’t as many Sumerian documents that reference the significance of gemstones, there are many more historical records of minerals during ancient Egyptian kingdoms. While some gemstones like malachite were ground into eye makeup powder, many were used in amulets, talismans, and jewelry. They were commonly associated with protection and good health. For instance, peridot was believed to combat nightmares and ward off negative spirits. Lapis Lazuli, which was associated with the goddess Isis, was said to increase consciousness, one’s intuition, and spiritual enlightenment. Other gemstones like turquoise, carnelian, and a variety of jaspers were highly prized and adorned by ancient Egyptians.
ANCIENT GREECE & ROME
The word “crystal” originated from the Greek term krustallos which means “ice”; it was believed that clear quartz was gifted as internal ice from the Gods. Many gemstones that are popular today find their names or associated properties inspired by ancient Greek myths. For example, amethyst is derived from the Greek term for “not drunk”; in the story associated with the stone, a young maiden was turned into amethyst after an encounter with Bacchus, the god of wine. Rose quartz, known as the stone of eternal love, was often mentioned in stories where deities like Aphrodite, Cupid, and Eros would use the stone to renew or restore love.
In ancient Rome, gemstones were commonly crafted into good luck charms, talismans, and jewelry. Romans used certain gemstones to maintain good health, attract wealth, and for protection during battle. Soldiers often wore Tiger’s Eye during battle for protection and strength. Although at the peak of the Roman empire they had access to a large variety of crystals and minerals, carnelian was the most popular choice for jewelry. Other than for protection in battle, many believed carnelian would bring its wearer courage, bravery, and ward off the evil eye.
Many different gemstones have been found in early Chinese tombs such as amethyst and smoky quartz. Crystals were used for a variety of reasons including beautiful jewelry, ceremonial weapons, carvings, and medicinal tools. Amber was believed to soothe one’s circulatory system while turquoise was attributed with relieving several diseases, including eye issues.
However, the most prized mineral in China since Neolithic times is jade. It has been viewed as a symbol of health, good fortune, wisdom, and wealth for several millennia. Prehistoric archaeological sites have found jade carved into beads and tools. Royal members of the Han dynasty were buried in suits made of solid jade plates and gold thread. It was widely believed that the mineral could ward off evil spirits and even bring immortality.
Gemstones have been documented in the earliest Vedic texts, recording their believed ability to heal physical, emotional, and spiritual imbalances. Many semi-precious minerals still prized today have a significance in Hindu mythology. The Kalpataru, the wish-granting tree, is made of multiple gemstones. A variety of crystals are associated with the body parts detailed in the legend of the deity Vala. Pearls, which symbolize Vala’s teeth that fell into the sea, are used to calm one’s mind. Blue sapphires, representing the eyes of Vala, are used for protection during travel and to ward off the evil eye.
The significance of gemstones for healing are still prevalent today in Indian culture. Many are carved into beads for prayer necklaces and mediation. Others use certain crystals believed to provide safety as well as physical and emotional wellness.