Gemstone History and Properties
Carnelian is a form of chalcedony, a name given to gemstones which are composed of many tiny Quartz crystals interlaced in a translucent mesh. Quartz, the crystalline form of oxidized silicon, is in fact the most abundant mineral on earth and includes many of the most popular gemstones in use today. It is relatively sturdy at 7 on the Mohs scale, yet is still softer than many other gemstones. Quartz gemstones normally occur in two growth forms. The first is a single, cohesive and usually transparent crystal like in the case of Amethyst and Citrine. The second is a mesh of tiny crystals known as a cryptocrystalline structure, like in the case of Agate or Jasper.
Aside from their structure, Quartz gemstones are also divided by the plethora of colors they exhibit. A colorless quartz is sometimes called Rock Crystal while a yellow one would usually be called a Citrine. In in the case of Gem Therapy, these different colors also dictate which planet the stone belongs to with colorless being associated with Venus, green with Mercury, red with Mars, yellow with Jupiter and purple with Saturn.
The Carnelian, also known as Sard, gets its name from the Latin word carnis (flesh), due to its color being similar to that of flesh and muscle. It was an extremely popular gemstone in antiquity, rivaling Lapis Lazuli in popularity, and among the earliest gems used by man. As a testament to its popularity, the Odem mentioned in the bible as the first stone in the breastplate of the high priest was most likely a carnelian, and it figures prominently among bronze age archeological finds from Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan to Varna in Bulgaria.
Legendary properties and historical uses
Unlike many other gemstones that were restricted to one major source in antiquity, Carnelian was quite widespread with the most important sources being Sardinia which supplied the Roman Empire and Yemen which supplied Persia and the Arab world. For more than 5000 years the Carnelian was used mainly for two purposes – as a gemstone for jewelry and as one of the main materials for signets and seals.
During the bronze age Carnelian was often made into cylinder seals, and in ancient Egypt Carnelian rings were used by engineers as marks of distinction. During the Roman era, it became the most popular stone for the engraved signet rings worn by the nobility. In fact, such a signet ring was often the only piece of jewelry socially acceptable for Roman men to wear, and was especially popular among military officers. One of the reasons for this popularity was the association of Carnelian with Mars, the Roman god of war and protector of soldiers.
During the middle ages, surviving engraved gemstones from the Roman period were considered magical as the engraving method was lost during that time, and some even believed that the images on the stones formed naturally and that such stones were especially powerful talismans.
With a history as rich as that of the Carnelian, one might expect the uses and legends surrounding the stone to be very diverse, yet in reality they are remarkably similar and remained relatively consistent throughout the ages. The main power attributed to the Carnelian was the ability to increase the bravery and physical strength of its owner, thus ensuring victory in battle. This was due to its red color being similar both to that of flesh and muscle and to the red planet Mars and the war deities connected with it.
With such symbolism, it is no surprise that Carnelian was often used as a talisman for warriors and kings seeking military success, and it was even embedded into the scabbards and hilts of weapons in an attempt to make them more effective in combat. In addition, Carnelian was also believed to stop bleeding and aid in healing ulcers and wounds, cure fevers and cleanse the blood of infections.
Carnelian, also known as Akik or Aqeeq, also holds special significance in Islam, as it is believed to be the first stone to recognize Mohammad as the prophet of Allah. It is also believed that a ring with Carnelian worn on the ring finger will make a persons prayers a hundred times more potent, and even today rings containing real Yemeni Carnelian are sought after across the Muslim world from Morocco to Afghanistan.
The stone according to Hindu belief
In Hindu belief certain gemstones are connected to certain planetary deities, and these gemstones are able to transmit the energies associated with these deities to a person wearing them, allowing him to enjoy the benefits of those energies in the process.
According to Hindu belief, the Carnelian is a representation of the energy of Mars, the god Mangala, on earth. The god Mangala, who physically manifests as the planet Mars, is considered to be the general of the planets.
In Hindu\Vedic Astrology, Mars represents our actions, strength and courage, together with our aggression and sexual drive.
According to vedic astrology, a Carnelian can be suitable for a person if Mars is well positioned in his natal chart, and is especially recommend if its placement is weak as that is an indicator for family problems and mental diseases. If however the position of Mars is harmful, the use of Carnelian is considered extremely dangerous and is highly discouraged.
Among the properties ascribed to a Carnelian when it suits a person, are the ability to improve his self-control and reduce his temper, as well as to improve his relationship with siblings and friends. In addition, it is said that the red coral helps to improve health and fitness, improve strength, endurance and muscle function, and treat various inflammations and blood diseases.
If however, the Carnelian proves unsuitable, it is said that it will cause bad luck, arguments and fights, accidents and injuries, assaults and theft. In extreme cases it is even said to cause death.
According to Hindu belief, if one wishes to gain the blessing of Mars, they should wear a high quality, eye clean Carnelian that is set in jewelry made of one of the following metals: copper, red gold or silver. The jewelry has to be made in such a way that the coral will be in contact with the skin, hence earrings are unsuitable. If the red coral is set in a ring, the ring must be worn on the ring finger of the right hand for right handed people or the left for left handed people and women.
Before wearing such a talisman for the first time, it must be washed in fresh milk and afterwards washed again in Ganges water (or any other holy water). The talisman must be worn for the first time on a Tuesday falling close to the full moon, in the first hour after sunrise.
Personal experience – Carnelian
After years of experience with gemstones both as a therapist and a patient, it became clear that every gemstone type has certain effects typical of this stone which can both assist in selecting the right gemstone and in identifying side effects due to unsuitable gemstone type or size.
In my personal experience, the Carnelian has a moderate stimulating effect. Among the positive effects observed were improvements in physical strength and endurance, increased muscle gain and sex drive, improvements in impulse control and levels of aggression, and noticeably faster healing of injuries and wounds. In addition positive effects were noted in regards to relationships and communication with others in general and with siblings and friends in particular.
In cases of incompatibility and excess, the side effects observed included emotional instability and hypersensitivity, frequent arguments and misunderstandings, heightened aggression, sleep problems, hypertension and muscle spasms.
Please note that the more profound effects mentioned were only observed after prolonged use of the stone.