The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems, by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, , at sacred-texts.com
Period—The Twins, Castor and Pollux—The Argonauts—King Solomon's Pillars—Maia—Ovid and Wedding of Mary Queen of Scots—Gemini Number—Characteristics—Agates and their Virtues—Orpheus—Chrysoprase—Alexander the Great—Virtues of the Stone.
Gemini, the Zodiacal House of the Twins, is occupied by the Sun from the 22nd of May until the 21st of June approximately, and is ruled by the planet Mercury. In the earliest Zodiacs this House was symbolised by two kids, for which the Greeks substituted twin children, the sons of Jupiter, represented by two bright stars, Castor and Pollux.
Gemini is also symbolised by two Pillars joined at the top and base (♊), which is a diagrammatic representation of the Twins seated side by side with embracing arms. Castor was killed in battle, and Pollux, overwhelmed at his loss, entreated Jupiter to restore his brother to life, or make them both immortal. As a reward for this great affection, and in recognition of their noble deeds when
on earth, Jupiter translated the two brothers, thus forming the Constellation Gemini in the heavens. It was believed that among other achievements they cleared the neighbouring seas of pirates, and when the Argonauts were in distress from a violent tempest, two lambent flames descended from the clouds and settled upon the heads of Castor and Pollux, a calm immediately ensuing.
From these circumstances they were regarded as protectors of navigation, it being inferred that whenever both stars were visible it was a harbinger of fine weather, the appearance of one star only signifying storms and tempests.
It may be noted that as a rule the seas are calm when the Sun is in Gemini, and it was at this period of the year that the forty days’ rain of the Deluge ceased.
The symbol of the two Pillars joined at the top and base, already referred to, were also believed to typify the two pillars set up by King Solomon in the porch of the Temple, which were quite distinct and apart from the building itself and were not for any structural purpose, their use being entirely symbolical.
One was named "Jachin," meaning "He will establish," and the other "Boaz," signifying "In Him is strength"; also they denoted the union of Intellect and Intuition.
The symbols of the Twins and Pillars are shown in No. 3 of the coloured Frontispiece.
Amongst the Romans the month of May was sacred to Maia the goddess of Sterility, and this month was, therefore, considered by them a most unfavourable time for marriages. Ovid in his Fasti tells us that—
This last sentence (in its original Latin) was affixed to the gates of Holyrood Palace after the wedding of Mary Queen of Scots to Bothwell on the 15th of May, 1567. Another old writer says that the day of the week on which the 14th of May falls is not only unlucky for marriage in this unfortunate month, but that throughout the remainder of the year that particular day will bring ill-luck to those who marry on it; and another old proverb runs: "May never was ye month of love." Even now it is stated fewer marriages take place in this month than in any other.
The fortunate number of the Gemini type is 5, which was considered to have peculiar virtues as a Talisman by the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks
because it unites the first even and odd numbers 2 and 3. It was often inscribed over doors to keep out evil spirits. In connection with this, it is interesting to note that in Roman ceremonies of marriage it was usual to light five tapers and to admit the guests by five; Jewish history records a frequent use of this number, five gifts to the priests, five things only to be eaten in camp. Joseph gave five suits of raiment to Benjamin, and presented only five of his brothers to Pharaoh. David took five pebbles when he went to fight Goliath, and Joshua hanged five kings on five trees; further, every important measurement of the Tabernacle was five or a multiple of five; also there were five wise and five foolish virgins. In the Mohammedan religion there are five articles of belief, namely in Allah, in the Prophets, in Angels, the Day of Judgment, and Predestination.
In Astrology there are five principal aspects of the planets which rule the good, or bad fortunes of the subject; also in Masonry the grand scheme is five points of fellowship, also five brethren can hold a fellow-craft's lodge. The fifth son of Jacob, Issachar, represents Gemini, and, in naming him, Leah expresses the leading qualities of the symbol—that is, reward and recompense which its mental qualities bring.
The subjects born during this period are invariably of an intellectual disposition, and when well-educated their ideals and aspirations are high, with an intense desire to do useful work. When inclined to religion they favour the intellectual and idealistic. In family life they are very loyal and faithful, helping their relations however undeserving. Though generous to their families or when prompted by personal influence, these subjects are not lavish in their expenditure. Being fond of money and ingenious in their schemes and methods of making it, they like to secure a good return for money spent and their natural shrewdness enables them to get the better of their fellows. They have a quick comprehension of human nature which assists them in their schemes, enabling them to weigh up any one they may be dealing with, and consequently to get the best of a bargain. Their success, or otherwise, will depend to a great extent on the positions occupied and the aspects in relation to each other of the Moon and planets at the time of their birth.
Under harmonious circumstances they possess keen judgment, quick wit, ability in artistic directions, and the faculty of acquiring knowledge without much apparent effort, their capabilities carrying them to the highest mental attainments
but, when ill-balanced, they sink to the extreme of clever trickery and fraud.
Their characteristics are often contradictory. Being peculiarly undecided in their dispositions and invariably of two minds, the constant influx of new ideas causes much innate restlessness, the realisation of their plans seldom coming up to anticipations. Owing to the antagonism between their feelings and their reason, they are seldom able to concentrate on any one thing for any length of time, thus they start many schemes and enterprises which they abandon before completion. In consequence, Intuition and its forces, (as opposed to Impulse and individual inclination,) strain and perplex the versatile mind of this type, making them capricious and irritable, although their anger is easily appeased. They are highly strung, vivacious, restless, and fond of change and variety in their friends and associates, having great dislike to monotonous work and ever seeking fresh outlets for their effervescence.
In argument, from their facility of expression and dual nature, they are the most difficult of opponents to overcome. Many of our most clever advocates and solicitors have been born during this period, and as illustrative of the duality of this House, it produces, when favourably aspected,
the best physicians, authors, orators, actors, schoolmasters, journalists, merchants, accountants, secretaries, and linguists; also our smartest detectives; but when the worst side of their character is developed, the subjects of this House become the craftiest of law-breakers. The cleverest of criminals come from this type, ranging from fraudulent company promoters to thieves and pickpockets.
Gemini rules the arms, shoulders, and hands; and ailments such as sprains and displacements attack Gemini subjects in their limbs. The lungs, too, are sometimes afflicted, generally through defections in breathing; also a tendency to rheumatic and gouty pains in those portions of the body ruled by this sign, and when Mercury, the ruling planet, is badly aspected, digestive trouble, nervous ailments, and imperfect action of the liver are indicated.
In marriage and business relations those born during the Gemini period will agree best with Aries, Leo, Libra, and Aquarius characters, and it is a curious fact that in the lives of those born whilst the Sun occupies the House of the Twins, nearly all important events, fortunate or unfortunate, happen twice, and incidents in the career are repeated in a similar way.
The fortunate stones of this House are all varieties of Agates and the Chrysoprase.
The Agate.—The Agate is a variety of quartz found in different colours, often with alternate layers of red and white known as "ribbon" Agate, also of a milky white. The latter can be artificially coloured and, in consequence, is obtainable in bright greens and blues as well as in various tones of greyish purple.
The Moss or Tree Agate is a variety ornamented by Nature in a most remarkable manner with lines, spots, and frequently with natural objects taking the distinct forms of ferns, trees, clouds, and moss, giving a very mysterious effect to the stone. In the days of the Romans this variety was held in high repute as possessing both medicinal and talismanic virtues, it being claimed that the wonderful markings formed in this stone indicated that it had been specially singled out by the Creator to receive wondrous occult power. According to Orpheus, "If thou wear a piece of Tree Agate upon thine hand the Immortal Gods shall be well pleased with thee; if the same be tied to the harness of thy oxen when ploughing, or about the ploughman's sturdy arm, wheat-crowned Ceres shall descend from heaven with full lap upon thy furrows."
The Moss Agate was also considered good for
the sight and was used by physicians for palettes on which they ground down the ingredients used in making up lotions and ointments.
The vegetable representations in the Tree Agates are supposed to have been produced by particles of metallic substances, such as iron and magnesium; the name Mocha Stone, sometimes used to indicate this variety, is derived from Mocha in Arabia, where it was found.
In the British Museum there is a striking specimen of Moss Agate representing a likeness of the poet Chaucer; and the Strawberry Hill Collection has another with a portrait of Voltaire, and a third showing the profile of a woman. There are also numerous varieties of Agate dependent upon the arrangement of the layers; sometimes the stone shows parallel lines of light and dark tints, when it is called banded or ribbon Agate. When the colours are very sharp and defined it becomes Onyx Agate, and when the stripes converge towards the centre of the stone it is known as Eye Agate; whilst another variety showing many colours becomes Rainbow or Iris Agate.
According to Mr. Streeter, Agates in their natural state are formed in the cavities of rocks, and it is conjectured that when the rocks were in a fluid state the Agates were formed by the escape
of gas or steam. These cavities were afterwards filled with some mineral substance, such as silica, held in solution and deposited on the interior walls of these receptacles, forming a kind of geode.
In addition to the Moss or Tree Agate, the Greeks and Romans had great faith in the talismanic and medicinal virtues of all other Agates, wearing them to avert sickness, regarding them particularly as an antidote to the bite of an Asp, if taken powdered in wine, or as an infallible cure for the sting of a Scorpion if tied over the wound. They also brought success in love and friendship, great gain, and the favours of the great, if strung on a hair taken from a lion's mane.
Pliny was a great believer in the virtues of the Agate, and writes that storms may be averted by burning these stones; whilst Camillo Leonardo, in addition to their power to avert lightning and tempest, says they bring strength, vigour, and great success to their wearers. Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes, ascribes the escape of Æneas from all his perils to the virtue of an Agate Talisman which he always carried with him.
Although these stones eventually ceased to be in much demand for signets amongst the Romans, they never lost their popularity as Talismans, and were in great request, not only amongst the
[paragraph continues] Latin races, but also among the Persians and peoples of the Orient, amongst whom it was universally believed to confer eloquence, to enlighten the mind, to allay fevers, also to bring luck in connection with wills and legacies, to sharpen the sight, aid in the discovery of treasure, and make its wearer amiable and agreeable.
Amongst Mohammedans it was believed to cure insanity if taken powdered in apple juice. In Elizabethan days our forefathers had great faith in its talismanic virtues, the Queen having amongst her jewels a large oval Agate engraved with scenes representing Vulcan at his forge with Venus looking on. This jewel was presented to her by Archbishop Parker, and was accompanied by a parchment giving in Latin a long list of its properties, concluding to the effect that as long as Her Majesty possessed this jewel she would ever have a trusty friend.
Agates of all kinds were much esteemed by the Greeks, particularly those specimens in which could be traced resemblances to natural objects. The following verse poetically describes its many qualities:
The Chrysoprase.—The Chrysoprase, like the Agate, is a variety of quartz and takes its name from two Greek words meaning "golden leek," in reference to its colour, which varies from an opaque yellowish green to a very light dirty white-green. The colour has a tendency to fade from long exposure to the light and sun, but can be restored if the stone is dipped in a solution of nitrate of nickel.
The finest specimens come from Silesia, and when the stone was in demand it used to be customary to close the mines for every two years out of three.
According to Albertus Magnus, a Chrysoprase formed the Amulet of Alexander the Great, and Chrysoprase was much used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for signet rings and cameos; and also by the Egyptians, who set it with lapis lazuli.
The virtues attributed to the Chrysoprase were that it imparted cheerfulness, making the heart glad by removing uneasiness, protecting its wearers from evil dreams and the assaults of demons.
It also bestowed all kinds of blessings on its owner, giving assiduity in good works, and taking away all greedy and covetous desires, bringing success in new enterprises, and true and faithful
friends: and it was also worn as an Amulet against rheumatism and gout.
The Agates and Chrysoprase stones will not, however, be fortunate for those born during the time that the Sun occupies the Houses of Virgo and Pisces.