Rituals - The therapeutic power of gem
by Ritu Khanna
Of carmine red colour, a ruby is the sacred stone of the Burmese, who compare it to a human soul about to
enter the precincts of the Buddha. They believe that its color changes
graduallycolorless to yellow, green, blue, red when ripe. It also
changes color in the presence of poison or with the deteriorated health
of the wearer, or when trouble threatens. A ruby influences the wearer
very strongly for good or evil and wards off bad dreams. It is associated
with divine power, love, dignity, royalty and peace. Do not wear at night
or during summer, and avoid constant use as it is very hot. Wear in ring,
bracelet or brooch, on the left side. It is recommended for actors, children,
teachers, and in matters of love. It is believed to heal eye trouble,
meningitis, anaemia, fever, digestive disorders, low blood pressure and
heart diseases. Ground to powder, it helps in snake bites and bleeding.
Substitutes: garnet, sunstone, spinel and agate.
A variety of corundum, deep azure blue in color, a blue sapphire is a sacred stone for the Hindus and is consecrated to their gods. It is dedicated to Indra, the god of thunder. The Buddhists believe it reconciles man and God. It changes color if the wearer is unfaithful. A blue sapphire prevents fear, and helps overcome depression . It influences financial matters and is associated with prosperity. The stone is very cold and should never be worn alone, but with a red coral or copper ring.
But, be careful: discontinue wearing if it does not suit you; its effect is evident within 24 hours. It should always be worn on the right hand. It is recommended for lovers, bankers, those in finance and speculators. A blue sapphire is believed to cure allergy, cancer, jaundice, hair loss, biliousness, poliomyelitis, anaemia, arthritis, old age-related diseases, ulcers, chronic fever, epilepsy and prevents excessive sweating. Dipped in cold water, it can be used for eye trouble. It can also be used in powdered form or taken orally with honey or garlic juice. Substitutes: blue zircon, amethyst, lapis lazuli, blue garnet and blue spinel.
Found in the shell of a pearl oyster, it has a brilliant lustre, with varying tints. It is said that a dark pearl is presided over by Lord Vishnu, one that resembles the moon by Indra, the king of the Hindu pantheon, the yellow pearl by Varuna, the god of wind, and a pearl with the brilliance of Agni, the fire god.
A pearl's beauty depends on the health of its wearer. An unblemished pearl brings wealth, vitality and a long life, as it protects against enemies and accidents. A pearl is associated with peace, purity, innocence and chastity. It has a soothing effect. It should be worn on the right hand. Cultured pearls have only 25 per cent efficacy. A black-specked pearl is very inauspicious. A pearl is believed to cure myopia, breathing disorders, tuberculosis, menstrual disorders, cerebral thrombosis, indigestion, heart diseases and blood pressure. It can be crushed to powder and dissolved in water or wine. Take orally in case of calcium deficiency (especially recommended for pregnant women). Substitutes: moonstone and white sapphire.
The skeleton-like deposit of the coral polyp, composed of calcium secreted from seawater, a coral is also found in white and yellow colors. It changes color as a warning of the ill health of its wearer. A coral protects against evil spirits and averts accidents. It is associated with marital happiness and courage. Should be removed at night. It is recommended for brides. It is believed to cure blood disorders, arthritis, blisters, bronchitis, backaches, chickenpox, color blindness, constipation, cramps, common cold, cataract, ear diseases, diabetes, foot trouble, fever, gallstones, gout, hay fever, hiccoughs, hernia, jaundice, malaria, measles, mumps, piles, toothaches, and prevent miscarriages.
Of a light yellow color, an unblemished stone gives the wearer good health, wisdom, wealth and fame. A yellow sapphire is a protection against evil spirits and is associated with peace of mind and friendship. It is especially recommended for girls who want an early marriage. It is believed to cure allergy, anaemia, appendicitis, arthritis, backaches, bladder trouble, cholera, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes (wear with red coral), eczema, gallstones, ulcers, hernia, influenza, car sickness, sunstroke, tuberculosis and typhoid. Substitutes: yellow quartz and citrine.
Available in many colors, a cinnamon stone is said to belong to the zircon family. Generally of honey or red color; when colorless, it resembles a diamond. A cinnamon stone protects against enemies and is associated with health and wealth. It is recommended for soldiers. It is believed to cure leprosy and leukaemia.
Of a rich green color, an emerald is a variety of the beryl. It was venerated by the Romans who believed in its overwhelming presence, saying that a serpent becomes blind if it looked at an emerald. It changes color in the presence of false friends or witnesses; it also registers the intensity of love (turning pale when love is waning). An emerald has the power to predict events when placed under the tongue. It protects against evil spirits and has a cooling effect. It is associated with faith, friendship, love, kindness and nature. It is recommended for pregnant women and for travellers as it protects against dangers on land or water. It is to be worn at religious ceremonies. It is believed to cure eye and ear troubles, asthma, hair loss, digestive disorders, hay fever, heart diseases, insomnia, leucoderma, hernia, menstrual disorders, neuralgia, typhoid, and prevent miscarriages. Substitutes: aquamarine, turquoise, peridot, green agate and jade.
A very powerful stone, this is a variety of quartz that belongs to the chrysoberyl family. It has opalescent reflections from within. It has a shining band inside which moves when the stone is turned. A cat's eye helps the intellect and protects against hurdles and delays. It is said to bring quick results and is associated with energy and stamina. A black dot in the stone can prove fatal for the wearer. It is recommended for pregnant women, and those involved in litigation. It is believed to cure coughs, piles, indigestion, eye ailments and headaches. Substitute: tiger's eye.
Usually colorless (though yellow, green, black, brown, rose and blue diamonds are available), a diamond consists of pure carbon. It is said to be of four kinds: Brahmin (colorless, no blemish), Kshatriya (slight red hue), Vaishya (yellow) and Shudra (black). A flawed diamond is considered very unlucky by the Hindus. The stone loses its brilliance with the deteriorating health of its wearer. A diamond helps to improve concentration, promotes spirituality and protects against evil forces. It is associated with wisdom, courage, purity, innocence, repentance, forgiveness and joy. Losing a diamond is considered very unlucky. It should preferably be gifted to the wearer, not purchased. and worn on the left side of the body. It is recommended for those seeking constancy in marriage and for sleepwalkers. It is believed to cure diseases of the bladder and heart, leucoderma and insanity. Its ash can be used for treating tuberculosis, diabetes, anaemia and swellings. Dipped in water and wine, it forms an elixir that treats gout, jaundice and apoplexy. Substitutes: white topaz, zircon, tourmaline and quartz.
Let us take a quick inventory. Number of gems (precious and semi, and this includes some that do not, strictly speaking, fall into the category of stones like, say, a red coral): 84 Number of astrologers (professional and non) practising gem therapy: Prospering, proliferating...almost as many as the ubiquitous cable television dealer Number of gem sellers: In abundance and growing... Number of people wearing gems: Well, just look around you.
Students, brides, businessmen-wearers of gems have transcended all barriers of age and attitude. Gems are worn for success, health, wealth, early marriage, peace of mind. Men who earlier felt uncomfortable wearing engagement rings or wedding bands are now happily wearing all kinds of stones set in various metals. So are the tough and the timid; the romantic and the realist; the superstitious and the scientific Total: Beyond numbers, calculations and comprehension So what does that mean? A Return to the Stone Age? Not really.
To begin with, wearing a jewel for its therapeutic value is not a new idea. One of the world's most famous diamonds, the Koh-i-noor, is said to be blessed with special charms. It is believed that the water in which it is placed can cure all diseases. A ruler once refused what could be called a king's ransom in exchange for the glittering stone because he firmly believed that his and his family's fortunes were inextricably linked with the gem. The conviction that an occult sympathy exists between a stone and its wearer has percolated down the ages.
Pythagoras found the inner self in the soul of the stone; Theosophical Society founder Helena Blavatsky believed in their inexplicable powers. Cramp rings, made from the king of England's Good Friday offerings of gold, were worn in the Middle Ages to heal cramps and rheumatism. The Greeks believed that an opal granted prophetic powers to its wearer.
And though its beauty alone makes it a joy forever (who can remain unmoved while looking at the many-splendoured Cartierdesigned jewels adorning Elizabeth Taylor?), there are many facets to each gemincluding the magical and the mystical. Magic, in fact, was the original reason for wearing jewellery. It was felt that spirits, good and evil, could be propitiated with the help of a suitable stone.
As for its mystical attributesholding your 'lucky' stone between finger and thumb, and gazing at it in a quiet meditative state of mind can help in your spiritual development. There is magic, mystery, beauty and spirituality in these stones. And there is more. There is the precious power to heal, to solve problems, to give the wearer the hope of a better life.
"I never believed in gem therapy, till results proved otherwise," says Abhai Shanker, 33. He had seen people wearing jewels for healing purposes, especially yellow sapphires, but he had not taken it seriously, till about a year ago when he faced work-related problems. An astrologer friend told him to wear a pukhraj, yellow sapphire, set in gold, on the index finger of his right hand. "Yes, it helped," he declares gratefully.
"Within 15 to 20 days of wearing it, things became smoother for me." On his friend's advice, he took to wearing a red coral on the third finger of his right hand (helps clear obstacles), a pearl set in silver (to check his temper) and an emerald on a gold chain (for wealth). He even tried wearing a diamond, but found it had a negative effect on him. Shanker has readily invested over Rs 20,000 on this therapy: "It's been worth it," he says unhesitatingly.
It has also been worthwhile for Ravineet Ahluwalia, 27, who has been wearing a pearl ring set in silver for over three years. "An astrologer told me to wear a pearl of four-and-a-half carats to help control my temper," she elaborates. It works so well, Ahluwalia testifies, that when she deliberately set aside her ring for just a few days, there was a "major clash". Encouraged by the results, and also by the fact that "everyone seems to be wearing iteven Juhi Chawla and a lot of television actresses", she now plans to wear a yellow sapphire or topaz ring.
And Vivek Mittal, 21, had worn a red coral in anticipation. He had been told that his Mangal, Mars would be weak in 1997-98. Each stone seems to be blessed with special remedial properties, each carries a hallmark of approval sealed on it by grateful wearers.
They tell us that an agate, a lucky stone for farmers and gardeners, gives its wearer a long life; an amethyst, the traditional gem for lovers, helps relieve stress and tension; a lapis lazuli is useful for insomnia, skin problems, blood disorders and fevers. A fluorite is a repairer and a healer that strengthens the bone tissue; a tourmaline is known as the confidence stone for it helps dispel fear and negativities. Then there is the kidney stone for, as its name implies, healing stones; a sangemareyam set in copper for piles; a lodestone for blood pressure; a white coral for diabetes; a necklace of garnets for joint pains and arthritis; and so on.
This brings us to the obvious queries: Does wearing a suitable stone really change the course of your life? And how? Gem therapy does work and it is definitely effective, states Vinay Aditya who teaches and writes on astrology: "It has a very subtle therapeutic effect. But I feel the subtler you get, the more powerful is the effect." The efficacy of this treatment is linked primarily with colour. The reason is straightforward: "Every gem has a particular color," says Aditya. "The role of color is to repulse other colors and attract the same one.
For example, wearing an emerald would correct any imbalance of the color green in your body." He also compares this with a treatment of naturopathy where water kept in a colored container is consumed. The color of the stones and the vibrations of their rays are said to cure many ailments. If red rays are absent in your body, you are susceptible to diseases of the blood (anaemia, fever). These can be cured by wearing the gems (ruby, red coral) of a red planet (Jupiter, Mars). When the gem touches your body, it injects red rays.
This view of using color to balance planetary influences is endorsed by Reiki teacher Nita Bhasin. If the recommended gem is not available, or is too expensive, Bhasin suggests tying a thread of the color of the stone on your wrist. It should first be purified by soaking in a mixture of Ganga jal, holy water of the Ganges, milk, honey, curd and rice. "It is very, very effective," she confirms. "My husband and I have both tried it."
Bhasin has also tried elixir oils, which, she explains, are similar to aromotherapy oils: "The skin absorbs the oil and helps the body open up to the healing vibrations of the stone." "You can put the stones directly in the oilbe careful to avoid any contamination from dust," she informs. "Charge this oil under a pyramid shape or in a triangle made by three crystals." The user can then place three or four drops under his tongue. "Using a gem elixir requires you to be in a calm and relaxed state. Stop at once if you feel ill," warns Bhasin. She is also trying to combine the healing powers of Reiki and gems. "It is all mainly self-taught," she admits, "but yes, I do think that gem therapy works."
Astrologer Vinay Aditya concurs. "My personal experience corroborates it," he says. A blue sapphire is considered the strongest stone and, when Aditya wore it, he not only met with an accident, he also had a conflict with his wife and experienced one week of "extreme tension". He promptly sent the stone back to the gem dealer in Jaipur. "It took one year to reach him even though I had sent it by insured post," notes Aditya, undisguised wonder in his voice. There is no explanation for this, save "the Neelam is a stone for Saturn, a planet that does not deny, but often delays".
He has also worn an emerald on the advice of a tarot card reader. "I was writing a book on astrology and the flow of words was not coming. It became much easier when I wore the ring, it helped remove obstructions." "Even if you look at a gem as a psychological prop, I do not mind recommending it," he concludes.
Those who have studied minerals, the elements, planetary movements, vibrations, and more, affirm that gems are endowed with special properties. It could be because of the effect of the rays, the color, the touch, or the wearer's conviction that stones can heal where medicines have failed. "Yes, your health improves by wearing a certain gem," concedes Dr Bindu Kumar Purohit, a Jodhpur-based remedial astrologer in Rajasthan, India. Dr Purohit has learnt this traditional art from his grandfather, the Rajguru of Sirohi in Rajasthan.
"It is quite logical," he continues. "The mind is affected by four thingssound, color, form and smell." These four can be easily brought to work to give a jewel its healing capabilities. Sound is represented by mantra; color by the stones; forms, yantra or instruments; and smell, rituals. Dr Purohit notes that the Vedas also prescribed three methods: mantra, mani (gems) and medicine to control the harmful effects of the planets:
"The stones we wear help restore imbalances, if any. When the nine planets are balanced, your astrological chart is normal." He gives the example of the moonstone. Its crystalline atomic structure attracts the moon's rays, and, being related to water, can help cure mental and gastric problems. "So if someone came to me with a child suffering from lactose intolerance, I would automatically suggest he wear a moonstone since the moon's effect on the body has been disrupted," says Dr Purohit.
Firm in his belief that "gems, biochemical salts and herbs can be applied to mitigate cosmic malignity", he feels that the gems worn for therapeutic reasons should be first consecrated. "A level of faith is also a must," he adds, for only then can positive waves be generated. "Also, be very careful. Consult a reputed astrologer, study the weight of the stone, its color. Do not just go by what is written in books. The prescription must be 100 per cent accurate." You need expert guidance to choose the form, the finger, the jewel. But if an accurate diagnosis is the work of an astrologer, then it falls on the gem dealer to provide a genuine stone.
S.N. Goyal likens an astrologer to a doctor, and a gem seller to a chemist. Goyalor Bhaiyaji as he is called by his customershas a jewellery store, Johri Jaipur Wala, in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India. His family runs a wholesale gems business in the Indian city of Jaipur. Goyal has a straightforward and, what he calls, an invaluable formula for ratan vigyan or the science of gems:
The right prescription + A genuine stone = A hundred per cent solution to the prevention of all future problems.
"The demand for jewels that can cure diseases and solve problems is increasing," notes Goyal, who, incidentally, wears a yellow sapphire ring to help him "because my Jupiter is weak and I just could not take any immediate decisions, I was forever double-minded". Giving substance to the old belief that a chemist is himself part-doctor, Goyal talks about certain stones and their corresponding cures, observing that a pearl is the single jewel that is most in demand for it brings the wearer peace of mind.
A blue sapphire is the most powerful and its effects, adverse or otherwise, can be felt within 24 hours of wear. Goyal's clientele comprises "all kinds of people, rich and poor, but mainly the middle class". Budget dictating, an emerald can be substituted by an onyx, a pearl by a moonstone, and so on. These gems are weighed in rattis (a small ratti is 121 mg, a large one, 181 mg; a carat is 200 mg).
The healing strength of a stone is in proportion to its value and size. "Do not, however, expect immediate results," cautions Goyal. "This is not like a lottery ticket. It is dependent on many factors: correct calculations, the genuineness of the stones and so on. I would advise the wearer to get the jewel verified at the Government of India laboratory in Paharganj, Delhi, India. That would leave no scope for fraud."
But yes, as a retailer of stones, fully convinced that a gem is nature's gift to man, Goyal gets more happiness in selling them for their healing propensities than for their beauty. Jewels can be sold for purposes both therapeutic or aesthetic, but, as Gurmit Singh, director, Indian Institute of Gemology in Delhi, points out: "There is no scientific evidence of the remedial powers of stones. There is no proof yet of the connection between planets and healing," he reiterates.
Wearing gems for purposes other than aesthetic is an ancient phenomenon, but the science of gemology is itself not very old, explains Singh. The establishment of the Gem Institute of America and the Gem Association in the UK during the last 100 years have helped the study of this subject. In India, however, jewels are still looked upon primarily for purposes of trade, not astrological, he adds. Singh agrees that "different stones are worn at different times by people from different parts of the world" for healing.
In India the navratans (the nine jewels mentioned earlier) are most in demand. And they could, and often do work, because it is, after all, "a matter of belief, the psychological factor at play, an example of the power of the mind". People come to him asking about the effectiveness of this therapy, and Singh informs them about the importance of checking the quality of the gem they are wearing:
"I don't tell them not to wear it, but I do make them aware of the possibility of them being cheated." "As a gemologist I do not believe in the therapeutic powers of gems," he emphasizes. "Personally, I have given it a try, but nothing special happened. I guess I just don't believe in it from the heart." It is not only the many manifestations of stones that are believed to be blessed with remedial properties.
Crystals, rudraakshas (medicinal beads), yantras, even mandalas, are all said to have special powers that can change the course of your life. Each belief has its own adherents, for faith is considered essential to getting results in the healing process. Quite simply, the body responds to what its heart and soul dictate. So gem therapy is said to work, almost miraculously, when the body, mind and spirit are in harmony.
Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, who has researched many ancient world civilisations, including the Wiccan, does not believe in wearing stones for remedial reasons. "I would not prescribe gems in the astrological sense," she says. But yes, if you consider the possibility of stones in the sense of earth power, of the fact that they come from the earth and can be attuned to the elements, then she agrees that they are endowed with healing properties.
In the Wiccan tradition, it is the crystal, with its colorless, reflective and sparkling splendour, that is considered a healer. "A rock quartz has piezoelectric power," explains Chakraverti, and that helps balance your auric fields. It also works on the nervous system, hence it is considered especially beneficial for all nerve-oriented diseases. A properly made and correctly worn and looked after rudraaksha mala can also help.
"A rudraaksha is a divine, mystical and medicinal bead," says K.T. Shubhakaran, a collector who has a deep interest in the subject. "It definitely works as a healer," he asserts, "but the beads have to be selected very carefully." They can then help cure fainting fits, epileptic attacks, hypertension, blood pressure, and, in some cases, cancer. A rudraaksha could have 1 to 36 lines or faces (mukhs), and each bead of each face has a different function. Each has certain powers, radiating energy, both positive and negative. Unlike the usual notion that a mala should comprise 108 beads, here the belief is that the more the number of beads, the better its results.
"Material prospects also improve," adds Shubhakaran. "But remember that destiny plays a very important role. Let us do our part and leave the rest to the Divine." That brings us back to the body-mind-spirit conundrum. There are crystals, beads, stones, of different weights, sizes, colors and sparkle. You could wear a particular gem primarily for its therapeutic value. That it also happens to be beautiful to look at, would just be a bonus.
But choose with care and expertise. Then wear in good faith. And, who knows, the stars may favor you and help you attain all your heart's desires. Who can then say that these stones are not forever?
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