Crystals were originally used as talismans, though there is no exact date when they started to be used. Most of the talismans were organic, including mammoth ivory, shell and fossil shark’s teeth. The oldest talismans date back 60,000 years to Upper Paleolithic period, while the oldest recorded amulet made out of Baltic amber are as old as 30,000 years.
Ancient Egyptians used crystals for protection and health, as well as cosmetically. Lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, emerald and clear quartz were used in jewelry as well as grave amulets, while grounded lead ore and malachite was used as eye shadow (kohl). Topaz was used against nightmares and evil spirits. Lapis was made into a poultice and rubbed into the crown of the head to take away all spiritual impurities. Malachite was often used by pharaohs in their headdresses to assist them in ruling wisely, as was used in the form of powder to cure poor eyesight and stimulate inner vision.
India is one of the richest sources of information that we have nowadays about crystals and their healing properties. The tradition of placing crystals on chakras (body energy centers) was thought to have originated in Ancient Indian. India astrological documents dating back to 400 B.C. contain much information about the ability of some crystals to counteract the negative effects of planetary positions.
Crystals were considered to possess great spiritual and emotional powers. Moonstone was thought to be able to arouse love, and onyx was believed to help release one from the ties of love, while ruby was considered the ‘king of precious stones’.
From the old times, jade was widely used in China. It was considered that concentrated essence of love was in jade. Musical instruments, emperor’s burial armors, pendants representing the ancestor spirits – many of these were made using jade. Jade was always regarded as a kidney healing stone and, among other green crystals, is still considered a lucky stone.
Quartz balls represented heart or the essence of dragons, who were thought to possess great powers.
Crystals in the Central, Northern and South Americas were originally used for ceremonial, spiritual, healing and practical purposes.
Mayans used obsidian to make ceremonial knives. Many also believed it to sharpen inner and outer vision. They also used quartz to diagnose and cure many alignments and believed that crystals help the consciousness of our planet.
Ancient Mexicans made mirrors out of pyrite, and some of the Mexican Indian tribes believed that the souls of those who led good life would go into crystals.
Most of the names of the crystals that we use nowadays come from Ancient Greece. ‘Crystal’ comes form the Greek word for ice, as the Ancient Greeks believed that quartz was deeply frozen water. ‘Amethyst’ means ‘not drunken’ because it was used against a hangover. ‘Hematite’ comes from the word for blood, as it turns red when it oxidizes. As hematite was associated with Aries, the god of war, soldiers would rub it over their bodies before the battle. Sailors also wore many amulets to protect them in the sea.
It is known that Vikings widely used crystals in healing and as amulets for protecting and motivating warriors. Moreover, it is even possible that Vikings might have navigated by looking through the crystal called Icelandic spar.
The study of crystal’s healing properties in Europe started with the Renaissance and the 11th century. There were many beliefs connected to the gemstones – some said that they could be possessed by demons and are all corrupted by the original sin of Adam. Many believed that, when handled by a sinner, gemstones lose their virtues. Hence, people would ‘cleanse’ and ‘sanctify’ the crystals before wearing them – the tradition which is still used nowadays among crystal healers.
These days crystal healing is a very popular type of alternative medicine, which gently works on restoring the balance on all three levels – physical, emotional/mental, as well as spiritual., and is said to help restore the sense of well-being and balance. Certain crystals are usually placed on certain parts of the body to help with certain conditions. In many occasions crystals are placed in alignment with chakras (bodily energy centers), and quiet often crystal healers align crystals in a way that each crystal corresponds to the chakra it is aligned to.