Gemstone History and Properties
Certain gemstones are not a product of geological processes beneath the earth, but instead come from living animals and plants. Such gemstones are called organic due to their origins, and include pearls that originate in mollusks, coral, which as the name suggests comes from the skeleton of living corals, and amber, which is a very old and hardened form of tree sap.
Corals are marine animals, closely related to jellyfish, that at first glance look a lot like colorful underwater plants. Some of these corals possess a skeleton which serves a purpose similar to a tree trunk, and in certain species that skeleton is very dense and can be polished into a beautiful gemstone. The skeleton of these corals, just like our own bones, is made mostly calcium which is deposited in the form of Aragonite, the orthorhombic form of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Aragonite is relatively soft, at just 3.5-4 on the Mohs scale, and as such Coral is considered to be a very delicate and fragile gemstone.
Just like other gemstones, various colors of coral are classified astrologically as corresponding to different planets, with red (precious) coral being the main gemstone of Mars, white coral is normally considered a secondary gemstone for the Moon and black coral sometimes attributed to Saturn or Rahu.
Unlike most gemstones who had their main source in the east in ancient times, the red coral which is also known as the precious coral was first discovered in the Mediterranean with the main historical source being around Sicily. The proximity of its source to early civilizations such as ancient Egypt and Babylon, together with its relative softness and attractive color, turned the red coral into one of the earliest gemstones used by man. The red color which is reminiscent of blood of flesh made the red coral almost universally associated with the planet Mars and with various war gods, which made it a sought after talisman for warriors.
Legendary properties and historical uses
While being extremely popular in the west for thousands of years due to both availability and relative softness and ease of crafting, the red coral spread to the east en-masse only during the Hellenic period. Even so, it quickly became one of the most popular and admired of gemstones in the east, being used just like in the west to adorn various jewelry and even in the weapons of the nobility.
One of the main beliefs surrounding the red coral was its ability to protect its owner from injuries and various threats, due to its distinct color and its association to various war deities. These associations also made it extremely popular as a child protection amulet in Italy, Sicily and other parts of the Mediterranean, where it was first discovered snagged on the nets of local fishermen. In other parts of the world it was mostly used as a talisman for warriors and soldiers as it was believed it would protect them on the battlefield. It was also often embedded in weapons due to the belief that this would make the weapon more effective and “bloodthirsty”.
Surprisingly, the red coral also became a popular talisman among women, as it was believed that it would protect them from widowhood. It was also thought to aid in regulating the pain and bleeding of the menstrual cycle. In various nomadic and cavalry cultures from Hungary to Tibet, the red coral was incorporated together with turquoise in amulets that were used as protection from riding accidents and as bringers of good luck. Such talismans also appeared, seemingly independently, among the nomadic plains Indians starting at the end of the 18th century and still continue to be a major influence on their jewelry design even today.
Among the medicinal properties attributed to red coral were the ability to stop bleeding, heal wounds, strengthen muscles and cleanse the blood. It was also believed to cure fever and to induce courage and strength in its owners.
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 red coral 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 red coral 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 a red coral is considered extremely dangerous and is highly discouraged.
Among the properties ascribed to a red coral 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.
In one of the ancient Hindu texts (Garuda Purana, Chapter 80) it is said that “A well-polished, bright coral with rich, soothing dark-red colors and without flaws is considered most auspicious. It possesses power to increase the riches and wheat supplies of its wearer and also removes obstacles and dangers.”
If however, the red coral 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, blemish free red coral 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.
Aside from the red coral, several secondary gemstones are also associated with Mars: carnelian, red jasper and fire opal.
Personal experience – Red Coral
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 red coral has a strong 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 and muscle spasms. In severe cases it could even induce paranoia and hallucinations.
Please note that the more profound effects mentioned were only observed after prolonged use of the stone.