Like their Egyptian counterparts, the mystics, magi, prophets and priests of neighboring monotheistic Jewish tribes, who spent generations in thrall to the Egyptians as their slaves, also used quartz crystals and gemstones as a bridge to the Divine.
Although it is little known outside of the circles of those who study Jewish mystical traditions, including the Kabbalah, Jewish religious leaders have a long history of using gemstones and crystals for spiritual purposes - especially for purposes of divination. The ability to communicate with Higher Worlds and receive answers from the Divine is universally associated with the use of quartz crystals, which have been used as a bridge to realms of Spirit since the dawn of human pre-history.
Divine wisdom is associated with the clarity and luminosity of quartz crystals, and shamans, priestesses, high priests and magi have used these sacred stones, along with other gemstones, for purposes of divination and in meditation since time immemorial.
In the book of Exodus, instructions are given by God to Moses for the creation of a magical "breastplate of judgement" for Aaron, Moses' brother, the first high priest of the Israeli nation, composed of the twelve tribes.
The breastplate consisted of a kind of apron, or ephod with an attached rectangular bib woven of gold, blue, scarlet and purple threads of linen, on which were set one dozen precious stones, including quartz crystal, amethyst (the gemstone variety of quartz), and citrine, a golden colored variant of amethyst.
Biblical scholars generally agree that these twelve stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel based upon the words of Exodus:
"And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goeth in unto the holy place for a memorial before the Lord continually," says Exodus 28,29.
Some Biblical commentators have also associated the twelve stones with the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
The breastplate of Aaron, called the "breastplate of judgement", contained a pouch or pocket which was the container for two other precious stones, called Urim and Thummim. Urim and Thummim are taken to mean "lights and perfections", or more loosely, "revelation and truth".
The Book of Samuel mentions three methods of divine communication - dreams, the voice of the prophets, and the Urim and Thummim.
The breastplate of the High Priest was clearly a device employing crystals and gemstones to create a communications bridge to the Divine, and to channel Divine guidance and God's judgement through the High Priest to the people of Israel.
How the device worked is not known, however numerous Biblical stories referring to the breastplate and to Urim and Thummim indicate that these mysterious stones were used in some way for divination.
In special rituals inside the Temple, the High Priest utilized these sacred stones to obtain information from God and thus to pass judgement on those accused of serious crimes against the people, to answer questions regarding strategic issues facing the Israeli people, and possibly to obtain answers to other questions referred to God through the High Priest from time to time.
According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, in Leviticus 8:7-8 we read: "He (Moses) vested the high priest with the strait linen garment, girding him with the girdle, and putting on him the violet tunick, and over it he put the ephod, and binding it with the girdle, he fitted it to the rational, on which was doctrine and truth" (Heb. the Urim and the Thummim). Again in Numbers 27:21: "If anything be to be done, Eleazar the priest shall consult the Lord for him" (Heb. "and he [Eleazar] shall invoke upon him the judgment of Urim before the Lord").[i]
In a Samaritan version of the book of Joshua, "Achan steals a golden image from a heathen temple in Jericho. . .The high-priest's breastplate reveals his guilt, for the stones lose their light and grow dim when his name is pronounced."[ii]
"After the battle with the Philistines during which Jonathan had unwittingly violated the rash oath of his father, Saul, by tasting a little wild honey, the latter consulted the Lord but received no answer (1 Kings 14:41-42.)," continues "The Catholic Encyclopedia".
"Desiring to ascertain the cause of the Divine displeasure, Saul calls together the people in order that the culprit may be revealed and thus addresses the Lord: 'O Lord God of Israel, give a sign, by which we may know, what the meaning is, that thou answerest not thy servant today. If this iniquity be in me, or in my son, Johathan, give a proof (Vulgate da ostensionem = Urim): or if this iniquity be in they people, give holiness (Vulgate da sanctitatem = Thummim). And Jonathan and Saul were taken, and the people escaped. And Saul said: Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken.'. . .From this and various other passages which it would be too long to discuss here (v.g. Deuteronomy 33:8, Hebrews, 1 Samuel 14:36, 1 Samuel 23:6-12 etc.) we gather that the Urim and Thummim were a species of sacred oracle manipulated by the priest in consulting the Divine will, and that they were at times used as a kind of Divine ordeal to discover the guilt or innocence of suspected persons."
Biblical scholars differ on which twelve stones appeared on the breastplate of the High Priest, depending upon which translation of the Bible is being used, however Paul E. Desautels (1920-1991), the curator of minerals at the U. S. National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution), author of The Gem Kingdom, offers the following list, which uses modern gemstone names: carnelian, peridot, emerald, garnet, lapis lazuli, rock crystal, zircon agate, amethyst, citrine, onyx, and jasper.[iii]
Amethyst, The Violet Ray, St. Germain and True Alchemy
The fascination with the breastplate of Aaron has given birth to a rich vein of myth, legend and gemstone lore in Judeo-Christian mystery schools and given rise over the centuries to a deep fascination with the stones of the breastplate, and especially with amethyst, and its golden variety, called citrine.
Amethyst is the gemstone variety of quartz, produced by the presence of iron in hematite or manganese within clear quartz crystal. Amethyst is usually found in geodes uncovered in alluvial rock formations, near the earth's surface. The best sources for high-quality amethyst are in Brazil, Namibia, India, Russia, Mexico, Arizona, and Sri Lanka.
Amethyst occurs in a range of colors, from pale lilac to deep purple. The coloration varies according to the amount of iron captured within the stone during its growth, and, to some extent, the degree of heat present during the crystal's formation.
Amethyst has been popular with royalty, sages, mystics and magicians for centuries. It is said to enhance spirituality, raise the vibrational level of the holder, cleanse the astral, etheric and physical bodies, and produce a peaceful, tranquil state of mind.
Violet quartz, or amethyst, was thought to encourage celibacy and symbolize piety, and so amethyst became very important in the ornamentation of Christian churches and Christian clergy in the Middle Ages. Amethyst, is found on the Pope's Fisherman's Ring, and was used for centuries in the rings of Roman Catholic bishops.
The fascination with crystals and gemstones in medieval times only increased as legends, myths and highly creative interpretations of Biblical stories and ancient wisdom proliferated. In Western Europe, especially during the Middle Ages, gemstones were believed to have miraculous medicinal qualities, and were used in the preparation of powders, mixtures, potions, essences, elixirs and poultices. Gemstones and crystals were held in the hand during meditation to enhance the experience and were used in pendants meant to be kept next to the skin to obtain the healing effects of the sacred stones.
The Church promoted the use of crystals and gemstones for healing purposes, often assigning slightly different properties to the various stones than had authors and healers of the Greco-Roman pagan traditions.
The famous mystic and healer Abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) devoted a great deal of effort to detailing the healing properties of gemstones and the practice of lithotherapy (healing with stones) in her book Physica, which was extremely popular and respected in her society.[iv]
According to Hildegard, who subscribed to the five element theory we discussed earlier, gemstones are formed through the action of the two primary elements of fire and water, and possess spiritual and medicinal powers derived from these elements - God's first tools for fabricating the Universe and the foundation of all that exists in material Creation.
Nor were the uses of gems and crystals limited to meditation and healing. Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to dissipate evil thoughts and quicken the intelligence.[v] Obviously, for Leonardo, amethyst was thought to have assisted the High Priest in performance of his duties as God's channel and interpreter of the Divine Oracle, as one of the stones on Aaron's breastplate.
Medieval and Renaissance diviners used crystal balls for divination of events in other places and times, enabling them to foretell the future through the use of these sacred stones. Diviners also used crystal balls to peer across oceans and mountain ranges to spy upon the activities of those in distant lands, in an eerie precursor of modern day "distance viewing" techniques used in experiments conducted by the Russian KGB and American CIA during the twentieth century Cold War.
From the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and into modern times, alchemists in the Western mystery school traditions used quartz crystals, especially amethysts, as powerful amplifiers, modulators and projectors of focused thought-forms and cosmic energy, although, like the Hindu rishis, they favored precious gems over semi-precious stones for their workings.
Fairy wands and wizards' staffs, such as that of Tolkein's Gandalf the Gray, are reflections of this archetype.
The name of the legendary 18th century alchemist, mystic, diplomat and spiritual counselor Count de St. Germain is almost synonymous with precious gemstones.
Count St. Germain's friend Prince Karl von Hesse, described the Count as "one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived, the friend of humanity, whose heart was concerned only with the happiness of others."
The modern mystics of the famed Theosophical movement say this of the Master Mage: "Intimate and counselor of Kings and Princes, nemesis of deceptive ministers, Rosicrucian, Mason, accredited Messenger of the Masters of Wisdom -- the Count de St. Germain worked in Europe for more than a century, faithfully performing the difficult task which had been entrusted to him."[vi]
St. Germain was believed to counsel royalty in favor of reform during his sojourns in Paris prior to the French revolution, and to act as a high-level diplomat attempting to further the cause of peace and justice throughout Europe during his time.
Famed as a musical composer, painter, connoisseur of precious gems, art critic, and alchemist, it is said that St. Germain awed Casanova when he took a silver coin from the adventurer and returned it to him a few moments later transformed into pure gold.
St. Germain often regaled royal gatherings and nobility of many nations with stories of his adventures in ancient Chaldea and amazed onlookers with detailed knowledge of the Egyptian Mystery School Traditions unknown to the most advanced Western researchers of the Occult at that time. Either St. Germain had detailed knowledge of his past lives, a gift granted only to the most advanced Adepts, or he had indeed attained the Elixir of Life, the philosopher's stone.
St. Germain is known to have manifested a continuous supply of extremely high quality gemstones, which he was fond of offering as gifts to nobility at dinner parties around Europe. Speculation abounded that St. Germain had simply apported these precious gems out of thin air, by some mysterious alchemical or spiritual process known only to him.
Saints and mystics both East and West have been known to perform miracles from time to time, such as Jesus' multiplication of the loaves and fishes, to demonstrate spiritual laws to humankind. However there may be another, deeper significance to St. Germain's propensity to distribute gemstones to his acquaintances.
Perhaps these gemstones were spiritual tools, designed to enhance the spiritual practice of Initiates, to introduce subtle energies helpful to spiritual development into the lives of neophytes and unbelievers, and to heal infirmities of the body, mind and soul. That would be consistent with the esoteric philosophy of alchemy, which was much more about spiritual attainment than attainment of material wealth and power.
Although St. Germain is known to have worked with large-scale laboratory experiments in what would now be recognized as research that could be called "proto-chemistry", or chemistry prior to the systematic science we know today, the Western mystery school tradition emphasizes his place as a mystic and spiritual Master Teacher.
The alchemical quest for the philosopher's stone must be understood symbolically. Many of the laboratory experiments done by alchemists had elaborate symbolic meanings, and consisted of mystic ritual practices designed to focus the mind, concentrate the life force energy, purify the mind, and arouse the Spirit of the practitioner, as much as to gain mastery over the elements of nature.
The fabled "Philosopher's Stone" symbolizes the most important object to be attained - a transcendent goal, a Higher Purpose, known among alchemists as The Great Work, which is the transmutation of the lower animal nature of the human personality structure into the Higher Mind of Unity Consciousness known to mystics, saints and sages from time immemorial in Mystery School traditions of both the East and West.
This lower nature, the personality we exhibit at birth, is the lead that we must transform into gold. The personality must be subordinated to the "Higher Self" and the stone is the spiritual tool, the secret alchemical technology that will carry us to the goal of accomplishing The Great Work. The stone is both the spiritual path and the inner state that corresponds to the spiritual goal. Entering into that inner state is the path, and the path is the goal.
In a certain sense, we cannot transform our personalities into the Divine Higher Self, but we can replace the role of the personality as the dominant channel for expression of our life force energies, our thoughts, words and deeds, with the Higher Self, by learning to subordinate our egoistic personality structures to the Higher Mind, Higher Wisdom and Higher Purpose that exist in Unity Consciousness, the state of Oneness with All That Is which was known and taught by Jesus the Christ, by Buddha Gautama, by the Yogic Masters, and by other Adepts around the world throughout history.
In other words, we can replace the lower mind with the Higher Mind, molecule by molecule, as it were, and in this arduous self-transformation, we can perform the alchemical miracle of transmutation, turning the lead of our imperfect personalities into the gold of Divine Wisdom and Love.
How can one replace one's personality with the Higher Self? By what means can one tune into the Higher Mind and how can one surrender the domination of the egoistic personality in one's life? Some have sought to do so by extreme discipline, asceticism, penance, and a vast variety of rituals, meditation practices, mantras, yoga postures, and occult breathing techniques.
What exactly is the Philosopher's Stone? How can The Great Work be accomplished? That is the question alchemy asks, and seeks to answer through spiritual practice and experimentation.
Without going into too much detail, it is sufficient for our purposes to note that the true Philosopher's Stone is quite simply an energy, the energy of compassion, or unconditional love, according to the testimony of the Mystic Masters of both East and West.[vii]
"The veritable Philosopher's Stone is love, divine love," says the Twentieth Century Bulgarian Spiritual Master Omraam Mikhaïl Aïvanhov, "and when man finds that love and manifests it correctly, he is capable of transforming all the impure, raw materials within him into a noble, luminous matter."[viii]
To Initiates, alchemy is understood to be the Western European equivalent of Indian yogic practice, designed to purify the student of all base emotions, thoughts and desires, and to transform the physical, emotional, mental and light bodies of the student into pure gold. Alchemy and yoga are both forms of energy medicine -- paths to Ascension taught by the Masters of the Mystery Schools of the West and of the East.
In all these Myster Schools strict discipline is maintained. The disciple must understand and learn to command the system by which his organism processes Universal Life Force Energy, the Mercury of the alchemists, and in this way the vast transformation of the rational mind into Higher Mind could be successfully completed.
"The question, therefore, is not to do away with love, or to repress or inhibit it," explains Omraam Mikhaïl Aïvanhov, "but to find the means and methods by which to manifest it properly. Love is an energy which takes its source at a very high level; it is of the same essence as the sun, and man's task is to receive that energy and allow it to circulate within him before sending it back to heaven from whence it came. We read in The Emerald Tablet [of Thoth], 'It doth ascend gently from Earth to Heaven. Again it doth descend to Earth, and uniteth in itself the force from things superior and things inferior. . .This thing is the Strength of all Strengths.' So this is the normal route followed by this force: from Heaven to Earth and from Earth to heaven. But as, in most human beings, the route is closed, blocked up by impurities, this force is turned aside and goes underground where it nourishes demons."
These demons of course are our own negative emotions, thoughtforms, and patterns of behavior such as pride, greed, fear, anger, lust, jealousy, and laziness.
"Try to understand this:" Omraam says, " Initiates make no effort to prevent that energy from pouring into them. . .This torrent is Christ himself, who said, 'I am the way, and the truth and the life.' When layers and layers of impurities have accumulated in man because of his passion and excesses, this energy cannot return to its source, so it soaks down into the earth and is lost. But if a man is pure and totally in control of himself, if he is firmly anchored in God, the force that flows into him ceaselessly from above is not lost; it is free to complete the circuit and follow the path that takes it back to the heights from which it came."
"The misfortune of human beings is that they have never understood that the energy of love was not made simply to give them pleasure," Omraam continues, "but that it can be used to awaken certain dormant faculties within them, which were designed for a psychic and spiritual work of supreme importance. And this work consists precisely in turning these energies back to heaven. In doing this you will be applying the principle of Hermes Trismegistus [author of The Emerald Tablet of Thoth], 'You will separate the fine from the coarse, gently, and with great skill.'"
These remarks of Omraam refer to the disciple's task: to utilize discernment and spiritual practices to recognize the coarse or negative qualities of the personality, and also the fine, or positive qualities of the Higher Self, and to refine and purify the body, the mind, and the heart so that the fiery Universal Life Force energy, the Mercury of the alchemists, can be unleashed from where it is blocked up, in the lowest chakra located near the perineum, identified with the Earth, and flow freely up the spine to return to Heaven.
This is why The Great Work can only be accomplished by arduous spiritual practices and good works leading to arousal of the serpent energy of the kundalini, which when it rises from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, confers a state of Unity Consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness, Christ Consciousness or Krishna Consciousness upon the newly crowned Adept.
Heliodor Gemstone Activates Heart & Crown Chakras
The golden glow of an Adept's aura was said to be the mark of those who achieved the final goal, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the many elaborate paintings of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and assorted apostles, saints and disciples found throughout Europe from the Middle Ages to the present feature prominent golden halos around the heads of those who have achieved spiritual enlightenment.
It is certainly interesting to students of alchemy, yoga and crystal healing that the alchemical tool par excellence is known as "The Philosopher's Stone", and that gemstones and crystals have been used as tools to enhance meditation, spiritual rituals and spiritual practice in both Eastern and Western mystery school traditions for aeons of time. This cannot be a mere coincidence, and certainly is a subject for deep reflection and further study by any serious student of sacred stones and spirituality.
Today's spiritual seekers all over the world make use of gemstones and quartz crystals in a wide variety of spiritual technologies, using quartz crystals for healing, in meditation, to facilitate communication with Spirit Guides and Ascended Master Teachers, to cleanse and energize living spaces and workspaces, as tools to focus concentrated will and mental energy to manifest desired outcomes in life, as tools to access libraries of ancient wisdom teachings from lost civilizations, and as doorways to extraterrestrial destinations.
In the pantheon of modern day New Age Guides and Teachers, the Count de Saint Germain is called "The World Teacher" and "The Master of the Violet Ray" and is thought to communicate mind-to-mind with many, many students around the world. There is thought to be a large contingent of his students alive today in the United States, the center of modern Empire, just as Paris was the center of European Empire at the time of St. Germain.
Many New Age students of St. Germain utilize crystals and gemstones in their spiritual practice, for healing and in meditation, in a modern alchemical quest for Higher Self, Higher Mind and Higher Purpose. Modern New Age practice encompasses a belief in the theory of karma and reincarnation. The belief in reincarnation has its roots in the Hindu and Egyptian Mystery School traditions, and is fundamental to the Greek Mystery School Tradition of the pre-Socratic philosophers, as we have already discovered. New Age students of the Ancient Wisdom Teachings often utilize crystals and gemstones, along with meditation techniques, Reiki and past life regression therapy to access memories of past lives, and to release the detrimental patterns of behavior, negative emotions and outmoded mental maps of the world imprinted in our cells, our hearts, our minds and our karma from traumas experienced aeons ago.
Many of these modern acolytes of the Great Alchemist utilize crystals and gemstones thought to resonate with the energy vibration of the Violet Ray, which is said to be used under the guidance of St. Germain for purification and to raise the kundalini energy in a quest for Unity Consciousness. Such crystals and gems include especially amethyst, that violet colored form of quartz once so favored by the Pope and Bishops of the Catholic Church.
It is fair to say that the explosion of modern scientific interest in quartz crystals for use in modern computer, communication and laser technologies is paralleled by an explosion of spiritual interest in crystals by individuals of every religious tradition and spiritual persuasion.
Just what is it about quartz crystals that makes them so useful to spiritual seekers? Before we review some of the many techniques that utilize quartz crystals for spiritual and healing purposes, it is useful to take a very close look at the structure, composition and sacred geometry of quartz crystals. This gives the crystal lover a detailed mental map of the crystalline world, and increases the user's affinity with these powerful spirit helpers. And this is the topic of our next chapter.
READ NEXT CHAPTER: Chapter 6: The Structure and Sacred Geometry of Quartz Crystals