Sunday, October 28, 2007

gems: a symbolic inquiry

We could in some way judge the height of her place and the greatness of its glory if we could remember the precious stones and the virtues of the gems - indeed if we could even remember their names - she so wondrously described which the Lord has named when He showed them to her.
--from The Life of Marie D'Oignies (1177-1213) by Jaques Vitry

image, above: saturn swallowing the stone substituted for jupiter

At last Rhea, his wife, in order to save Jupiter, her sixth child substituted for him a rock enveloped in swaddling clothes--which Saturn, ignorant of the deception practiced upon him, immediately swallowed. Jupiter was concealed on the island of Crete until he attained manhood, when he forced his father to disgorge the five children he had eaten. The stone swallowed by Saturn in lieu of his youngest son was placed by Jupiter at Delphi, where it was held in great veneration and was daily anointed.
--from The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928), Manly P. Hall

image, above: the pythagorean signet ring

The number five was peculiarly associated by the Pythagoreans with the art of healing, and the pentagram, or five-pointed star, was to them the symbol of health. The above figure represents a magical ring set with a talismanic gem bearing the pentalpha, or star formed by five different positions of the Greek Alpha. On this subject Mackey writes: "The disciples of Pythagoras, who were indeed its real inventors, placed within each of its interior angles one of the letters of the Greek word ΥΓΕΙΑ, or the Latin one SALUS, both of which signify health; and thus it was made the talisman of health. They placed it at the beginning of their epistles as a greeting to invoke a secure health to their correspondent. But its use was not confined to the disciples of Pythagoras. As a talisman, it was employed all over the East as a charm to resist evil spirits.
--from The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928), Manly P. Hall

image, above: the 5 wounds of christ

At first, the Cross was a sign only. When formed of gold or silver, the five wounds of Christ were signified by a ruby or carbuncle at each extremity, and one in the centre. It was not till the sixth century that the Cross became a CRUCIFIX, no longer an emblem, but an image.
--"Sacred and Legendary Art" (1848), Anna Jameson

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