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Mainly found pocketed within rugged geodes, the Amethyst not only catches the eye, but has also been considered to be a special gem throughout the centuries. The amethyst has always been treasured and exalted for its alluring violet hue and naturally formed clusters.
The name Amethyst is derived from the ancient greek word 'Amethystos', which, when broken apart, translates to ‘not drunk’ or ‘to be in one’s right state of mind’. Many ancient Greeks believed that if they wore the crystal while drinking, they would be able to maintain sobriety and be immune to the intoxicating effects of alcohol. The belief behind this special power came from a myth about a maiden who was on her way to offer prayers at the Temple of Diana. During her journey, she was intercepted by the God of Wine who was drunk with rage and ready to harm the next being that got in his way. Goddess Diana then appeared moments before the God of Wine could cause any harm, and she turned the maiden into a quartz crystal in order to protect her.
As the God of Wine sobered up, he felt guilt-ridden about his drunken rage and poured his remaining grapes over the crystal in remorse, thus dyeing the quartz with a beautiful violet hue. The story goes that when the God of Wine did this, the crystal was infused with the power to calm hearts and cool heads, or, as the name implies, prevent drunkenness.
Throughout history, people have embraced this ancient myth by either shaping wine glasses out of the precious gem or keeping the crystal close when a clear head is required. In Medieval Europe, the stone was worn by priests who wanted to keep themselves collected as they tended to their congregations, or by soldiers who needed to maintain their senses especially during the heated fury of battle. Archeologists have also discovered small animal carvings made from amethysts. They were most likely used by the Ancient Egyptians as a talisman to complement their sacred practices and to protect them from the unseen worlds.
The third eye is associated with the colour violet, so many modern day spiritual and metaphysical practitioners use the amethyst in practices that help to open or enhance the third eye. People have also been known to sleep with the crystal, as they believe that the amethyst helps to open a gateway into the metaphysical world, thus facilitating lucid dreams and vivid recollections upon waking.
In Chinese culture, the colour purple is traditionally associated with royalty, so amethyst jewellery has been used to adorn the royals. Followers of the Chinese art of Feng Shui also believe that the stone brings luck, health and wealth, therefore amethyst geode caves are especially popular among Feng Shui believers. Depending on the size, amethyst geode caves with “auspicious” shapes can even be sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
There is no doubt that the amethyst is one of the more revered and coveted gemstones whose popularity has not waned over the centuries, whether in Eastern or Western culture.