I want to talk about carnelian. Carnelian was one of the first stones to ever be worn, along with bones and shells. With a 7 on the mohs scale of hardness, this stone was durable for everyday wear and ideal for carving imagery, talismans and today, elaborate cabochon jewelry. But, as it was one the first stones to be worn, it has an interesting history.
Today, we associate the crystal with confidence, courage, manifestation, motivation, direction, and acting. We associate it with health of the physical body, vitality, and life-force. The latter interpretations are most interesting to me.
Because before red was associated with the divine masculine, it was associated with female goddesses and feminine energy. That was because of women’s monthly menstruation cycles, and the idea that through that monthly cycle, women could create life and give birth.
There was a lot more focus and respect on feminine deities in long ancient times, before it shifted to the idea of a masculine God with Abrahamic religions. These feminine deities were associated with the most power and respect, so often times peoples would choose the easy to find, bright reddish orange stone of carnelian to carve talismans and jewels to represent these deities and ideals. I would highly recommend this lecture by L’ecole Sschool of Jewelry Arts for an interesting segment on carnelian as talismans.
Nowadays, our understanding of gender is much more complex and dynamic, and there are all sorts of ways to interpret masculine and feminine strength, or to take out gender all together. But it still stands that carnelian has been good for power and motivation and life-force energy for millennia.
While it may not be considered a precious stone in jewelry today, it is a wonderful stone to work with spirituality and artistically.
Personally, I have used carnelian pyramids and tumbled stones in rituals and spell work for motivation, physical energy when I feel sluggish, and job-related spells. But with this ancient interpretation, my understanding of it has become richer, and I have a few fun facts to point out.