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The history of crystal divination

The history of crystal divination

Of mighty force my mystic science shows… this potent stone, by sages old extolled. Restless Adamant [quartz] is right called, for that it bends the powers who rule the sky…with influence bland, it soothes the soul to rest. And rouses pleasant thoughts in the human breast.

 Orpheus on Gems: The Lithika

Crystals are not just a new age fad. They have been used as oracles since time immemorial and many crystal divinatory meanings go way back into antiquity. Their reflective qualities act as mirrors to reveal the pathway of your soul and they link you to that part of yourself that is all-seeing and all-knowing. Once you are aligned to this, crystal wisdom enhances every aspect of your life.

The art of scrying

The art of scrying

I was delighted to be asked to create a crystal oracle pack. I wanted the pack to be something special that would access soul guidance as well as answer more mundane questions and give healing. I was fortunate to have a young photographer, Michael Ilias, working with me who encapsulated their essence in his shots. The stunning photographs in The Crystal Wisdom Healing Oracle help you develop your own intuition, expanding and anchoring your awareness. Each card has a self understanding insight and a divinatory meaning to assist you in navigating your life following your soul’s path as well as a healing application. In a sense, they are a crystal initiation.

I’d been researching the history of crystal divination for my Masters degree. I’d tracked the practice of scrying back over seven thousand years but it is probably much older as the pouches of stones, polished crystal mirrors and spheres buried with their owners in prehistory attest. When you gaze into a crystal your rational mind no longer operates and intuition kicks in. When you cast crystals, random chance apparently takes over but synchronicity is at work. But the easiest way of all is to use a crystal card pack. This means that you can tune into some of the newer – and more expensive – high vibration crystals as well as tried and tested old favourites. And, as an extra benefit, you can lay the cards on your body for healing.

The magical crystal past

Eight and a half thousand years ago a young shaman was laid to rest on a bed of red hematite at Bad Dürrenberg, her magical grave goods beside her. They included numerous bones, thirty one tiny flint blades which she kept in a crane’s bone box, and a carefully fashioned stone ball that, I would suggest, could be rolled rather like a dice.

Bad Durrenberg grave

the grave goods
The Bad Dürrenberg grave and the grave goods

Artist’s impression of the young shaman

Artist’s impression of the young shaman

Five thousand years ago in Mesopotamia a woman was respectfully interred with twelve pebbles beside her, her only grave goods. In a land where pebbles are extremely rare these were collected from two hundred miles away. It is tempting to think, along with the professor who uncovered the grave, that these pebbles had a specific purpose: divination. Many similar discoveries have been made but most archaeologists tend to overlook ‘mere pebbles’ so their significance has not been realised.

Early Mesopotamian sources mention an ‘elmeshu stone’ (often translated as diamond, quite possibly clear quartz) stone that functioned as an oracle, which makes the following few lines in an ancient Assyrian private letter rather intriguing:

To my father say, thus saith Elmeshu: Shamash and Marduk fill with well-being the days of my father perpetually. My father, be thou well, flourish; the God that preserves my father direct my father’s source of grace.

‘Elmeshu’ is usually interpreted by archaeologists as a ‘woman’ but as Shamash (the Sun) and Marduk (Jupiter) are gods of good fortune, perhaps they, through the stone, have been consulted as to the future of the writer’s father.

In the ancient world, crystals were regarded not just as a receptacle for the gods but as the gods themselves. In the ancient Egyptian Songs of Isis and Nephthys, the two goddesses address their brother Osiris: ‘your hair is of lapis lazuli… your vertebrae are made of turquoise.’ The ancient Egyptians, whilst poetic in utterance, were also literal.  In their view, the god in the heavens is made of lapis lazuli, and the stone carries the qualities of the god on earth.

Isis and Nepthys watch over their brother Osiris

Isis and Nepthys watch over their brother Osiris

TurquoiseLapis Lazuli

Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli

It is no wonder, therefore, that crystals such as Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise have traditionally been used to ascertain the will of the gods. That is, they were used for divination. Crystals have always been a part of magic and transformation. Oral tradition tells us that crystal talismans were used not only ascertain but also to influence the future. From Babylonian times, many crystals were astrological in nature, intrinsically linked to the planets and zodiac. They were part of a complex system of forecasting and petitioning favour from the gods which passed down through the ages. Crystal divination is found throughout the Old Testament and in many other sources.

In the wonderful crystal odyssey that is the Lithica, a fourth century Orphic poem describing in great detail the properties of crystals and the initiation steps needed to become a crystal worker, a magical black stone sphere is described. According to Helenus, a Trojan soothsayer, this sphere foretold the downfall of his city. The tale describes in graphic detail how he fasts for twenty-one days, tenderly wraps the sphere in soft garments and makes offerings to it until through the magic of his prayers ‘a living soul warmed the precious substance.’ Sadly the news that the communicator had to offer was not good and the city fell.

Egyptian wisdom

Flint knives

Flint knives

In the ancient Egyptian story King Cheops and the Magicians, the king, builder of the Great Pyramid, had long sought for hidden chambers in a temple of the wisdom god Thoth – keeper of the Akashic Record. Cheop’s son suggested he seek out a magician named Djedi. Asked if he knew the location of the chambers, the magician replied, “no, but the answer will be found in a basket of flint in a room named ‘investigator’ in Heliopolis.” Heliopolis is the sun or the self. This is profound piece of oracular wisdom that could be interpreted as the answer having to be sought in the inner, not the outer, world.

As far back as the 6th century BCE the Ratnapariksa of Buddhabhatta tells us that the emerald gives knowledge of the future. Many different crystals have been turned to for guidance. He set out the virtues of stones, many of which have remained unchanged since that time. Diamond then, as now, indicated enduring love. His list was reproduced in the eighth century C.E. Achametis which shows the enduring nature of the tradition.

The latter includes interpretations of a king’s dream of crystal crowns. Such a dream usually portended increased power and success but the colour and character of the crystal were significant. If the gems were red carbuncles or rubies, it portended great joy and good fortune and indicated that the king would be even more feared by his enemies. Blue crystals however were a bad omen, foreshadowing the loss of part of the kingdom. Leek green stones indicated that the king would gain a reputation throughout the world, ‘both by his good faith and by the greatness of his kingdom’.

Before tea leaves

When Pliny the Elder, the 1st century Roman geographer, wrote his treatise on stones his intention was to ridicule the beliefs of his time concerning crystals. However, he inadvertently told us just how widespread and wide ranging those beliefs were. He calls it a ‘dreadful lie’ that an Anachitis, the Stone of Necessity, could call up water spirits to act as an oracle for the future, for instance.

Pliny the Elder

Pliny the Elder

But hydromancy, divination through water, and lithomancy, divination by crystals, had long been part of the mantic arts. And belief in the power of stones continued well into the Middle Ages. The magician Henry Cornelius Agrippa tells us ‘the stone Anachitis makes the images of the gods appear. The stone Ennectis, put under them that dream, causeth oracles.’

Crystals were cast onto board, used as a kind of dice, or held to invoke assistance of the spirits. A beautiful rock crystal dodecahedron with symbols on each of its facets was found in an ancient Greek cave. It could be rolled to give an answer and many of the ‘board games’ and crystals found in early graves could well be oracles, as could the polished rock crystal mirrors. Examples of Egyptian icosahedra (20 sided) forms include: three “made of steatite or faience, inscribed with Greek letters” in Cairo and Paris museums, “four polyhedra from Egypt with Greek letters made of faience, serpentine, steatite, or calcite” housed in the British Museum, “a faience icosahedron inscribed with Greek letters” sold on the art market, and a rock crystal icosahedron “inscribed with Latin letters and Roman numerals” at the Louvre.

 

Egyptian: a different god is shown on each face.

Crystal balls were consulted throughout history.Crystal balls

Dr John Dee, policy consultant to Queen Elizabeth the First paid Edward Kelly £50 a year (an enormous amount in those days) to scry with a crystal ball or ‘shewestone’ and Dee’s diaries are full of references to this ‘big, bright clere and glorious’ egg-shaped stone which was accompanied by angels and their messages. Dee also owned a smoky quartz ball. I handled one of his shewstones, which was in private hands, many years ago and can attest that it retained its powers!

Dee’s mirror and crystal ball at British Museum

Dee’s mirror and crystal ball at British Museum

Dr John Dee, contemporary engraving

Dr John Dee, contemporary engraving

The English politician and antiquarian Horace Walpole writes of Dee’s ‘magic speculum’ a highly polished black mirror half an inch in thickness and seven and a quarter inches in diameter which sounds like obsidian and which is said to have been a Mayan Obsidian Mirror. These items are now in the British Museum. Such things seem to have been commonplace. In the 16th century James Thomson wrote ‘one great amusement of our household was in a huge crystal magic globe to spy as you turned it all things that do pass upon this Ant-Hill Earth.’

The Breastplate of the High Priest

Breastplate of the High Priest Breastplate of the High Priest1But we can go back much further in history than this to explore crystal divination. In Exodus 28, 15-30 we are told by Moses that: ‘the people come to me to enquire of God’ (18:15). This was by means of the Breastplate fashioned for his brother Aaron which had twelve crystals set within it. Hearsay evidence about the use of the Breastplate as an oracle comes from Josephus, the Roman historian, writing many years later:

The call to prophesyFrom the stones which the High Priest wore (these were sardonyxes and I hold it superfluous to describe their nature, since it is known to all), there emanated a light… which was worn on the right shoulder instead of a clasp emitting a radiance sufficient to give light even to those far away, although the stone previously lacked this splendour. And certainly, this in itself merits the wonder of all those who do not, out of contempt for religion, allow themselves to be led away by a pretence of wisdom.  However, I am about to relate something still more wonderful, namely that God announced victory by means of the twelve stones worn by the High Priest on his breast.

The breastplate contained the Urim and Thumin and the Bible also relates their use as an oracle. Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis says the Talmud describes it as functioning ‘as a kind of ouija board with messages being spelled out for the High Priest.’ However, translation difficulties make it impossible to establish exactly which stones were in the breastplate.

The call to prophesy

When the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel had his call to prophesy, it involved crystal and astrological imagery:

As I looked a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, .. gleaming amber [also translated as ‘awesome crystal]. In the middle of it .. four living creatures… As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle…   [the fixed cross of astrology]

… I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction, their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl… over the heads of the living creatures there was… a dome, shining like crystal… When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty… Above the dome [was] a throne, in appearance like sapphire… Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendour all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. [Ezekiel 1]

This is the famous ‘chariot of fire’ that so many people today interpret as a spaceship coming down to land. Powered by crystals perhaps?

chariot of fire chariot of fire 1

A horoscope set out in stones

My own personal favourite account of a crystal oracle is the board used by the Pharaoh Nectanebo to foretell the birth of Alexander the Great. Nectanebo is not exactly a disinterested observer. Later in the story he disguises himself as Ammon and impregnates Olympias after prophesying that she would be visited by the god in the night. But it was the means by which Nectanebo cast the synastry (interaction) between the Queen and her husband that caught my attention:

He placed his hand in a fold of his garment and took out an extraordinary little writing tablet, constructed from gold, ivory, ebony and silver, and engraved with three zones. On the first circle were the thirty-six decans, on the second the twelve signs of the zodiac, and on the inner one the Sun and Moon. He put it on a chair. Then he opened a small ivory box, revealing the seven stars and the ascendant made of eight precious stones, which lit up the pictured miniature heaven. The Sun was of crystal, the Moon of diamond, the Mars of haemetite, the Mercury of emerald, the Jupiter of air-stone, the Venus of sapphire, the Saturn of orphite (Serpentine) and the pointer of white marble.

The Alexander Romance

 

The Alexander Romance

Similar boards have indeed been found and the association between crystals and the zodiac goes way back to Mesopotamia (see dissertation on www.judyhall.co.uk).

When scrying was respectable

In the 19th century Sir John Aubrey gave an eye witness account of a scrying ball in use with the blessing of the church for at least two hundred years:

… a miller had it and he did work great cures with it (if curable), and in the Beryl they did see, either the receipt in writing, or else the herb. [A minister had it] the spirits or angels would appear openly, and because the miller (who was his familiar friend) one day happened to see them, he gave him the aforesaid Beryl… Afterwards this Beryl came into somebody’s hand in London who did tell strange things by it; insomuch that at last he was questioned for it, and it was taken away by authority (it was about 1645). This Beryl is a perfect sphere, the diameter of it I guess to be something more than an inch; it is set in a ring, or circle, of silver, resembling the meredian of a globe; the stem of it is about ten inches high, all gilt. At the four quarters of it are the names of four angels, viz: Uriel, Raphael, Michael, Gabriel.”

John Aubrey, “Miscellanies,” London, 1890.Sir John Aubrey

An esteemed clergyman and president of a Victorian psychical research society Andrew Lang recorded the following story at the beginning of the 20th century:

“I had given a crystal ball to a young lady, Miss Baillie, who had scarcely any success with it. She lent it to Miss Leslie, who saw a large, square, old-fashioned, red sofa, covered with muslin (which she afterward found in the next country-house she visited). Miss Baillie’s brother laughed at these experiments but took the ball into his study, and came back looking ‘gey gash.’ He admitted that he had seen a vision -somebody he knew, under a lamp. He said he would discover during the week whether he saw right or not. This was at 5.30 on a Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday Mr Baillie was at a dance in a town 40 miles from his house, and met a Miss Preston. ‘On Sunday,’ he said, ‘about half-past five, you were sitting under a standard lamp, in a dress I never saw you wear, a blue blouse with lace over the shoulders, pouring out tea for a man in blue serge, whose back was towards me, so that I only saw the tip of his moustache.’ ‘Why, the blinds must have been up,’ said Miss Preston. ‘I was at Dulby.’

The Mormon Seer Stone

This from Wikipedia: Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism and the Latter Day Saint movement, used magical stones (referred to in Mormonism as “seer stones”) for various purposes. Scrying through magical stones was a common practice in Smith’s early 19th century New England, and was practiced by several respected leaders at the time. During his life he had at least three separate stones that were obtained through various means (one of which he recovered by looking into a neighbor’s seer stone and seeing the location). These stones were initially used in various treasure digging endeavors. Later, Smith used two stones called the Urim and Thummim, two clear stones in a bow that resembled spectacles, in his 1829 translation of the Book of Mormon from the Golden Plates (although much of the translation was actually done using one of the stones that he obtained earlier in life). Though Smith initially used his stones to see hidden thingstheir use later evolved into a revelatory catalyst. Smith and others claimed that God communicated to them through these stones. Two stones, believed to be Urim and Thummims but referred to as “interpreters” are mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Smith claimed to have discovered these ancient scrying rocks by aid of an angel along with the Golden Plates.

John Smiths

John Smith’s show stone

Are oracles still relevant today?

I would answer a resounding yes to this question. My work with crystals has shown me that they are eager to help us forge a new way forward, a path of expanded awareness that takes us beyond the everyday into the multidimensions of consciousness. They show us what is necessary to bring a new understanding into play, to create a ‘new age.’ I call this the path of the soul.

So? What can crystal scrying do for you?

The oracle speaks for your soul. Each card has replies slanted towards self understanding and divination and a healing insight. The answers encompass fortunate and seemingly less fortunate possibilities. But the cards do not judge which is which. It’s best to let your own intuitive guidance point to what is relevant to you. The crystal oracle connects directly to your heart. Crystal wisdom can only work for you if you are prepared to let go of the past, incorporate the oracle’s advice into every aspect your life and expand your awareness into the amazing mysteries of soul and higher consciousness that await you. The best way to use the cards is to meditate with them, keep them under your pillow and above all, live the life you meant to be.

Case history

I’ve just had a cataract operation that was, to quote the surgeon, ‘complicated’. I could barely see, required further operations on it, and my other eye needed doing. I had to cancel all my workshops. The future looked bleak. So I turned to the Crystal Wisdom Oracle and pulled a card:

Rainbow Mayanite: the rainbow bridge

Rainbow Mayanite

Rainbow Mayanite

Iridescent Rainbow Mayanite bridges the many dimensions of this world and the rest of creation. It has made its presence known to heal unconditionally and assist the shift to a new level of consciousness: literally a new age.        

Vibration: exceptionally high

Chakra: Higher crown. Recalibrates all to optimum functioning

Timing: Aquarius

Soul path: becoming a rainbow bridge between the worlds

Self-understanding: You are a leader for the ascension of our planet. When you raise your vibrations the whole benefits. De-energise old patterns. Release karmic encrustations and toxic dross absorbed from others, or the environment, from your etheric body – the crystal assists. Go within to find your rainbow-treasure house. Raise your consciousness to build new, supportive structures at every level and move into a new age.

Divination: You are a herald of a new age. Recognise how your soul is manoeuvring you onto your true pathway and how apparently detrimental situations offer soul gifts. Re-examine projects in the making and let go those not for your highest good or that of others. You see things from both sides. Always speak truth no matter what the cost but be tactful. You have natural healing ability, focus it wisely.

Crystal wisdom healing oracle