When all is said and done, everything in the universe is energy. Even a seemingly dead old rock emanates its own energy! There is not a single thing I have studied that lacks this powerful ability to affect change in our bodies, our minds, and, yes, even the very spirit that dwells within us.
In reading the centuries-old text Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine, I learned about the use of various gemstones to affect healings. It seemed hard to believe. This book piqued my interest and, wanting to know more, I began investigating the origins and ancient uses of gemstones, how we use gemstones today, and how their particular qualities can affect our body, mind, and spirit.
While a small number of holistic practitioners and individuals have experienced the healing effect of gemstones, they are mostly associated with the New Age movement that “spread through the occult and metaphysical religious communities in the 1970s and ʾ80s.”
New Age practices are unrelated to Christianity or the Bible, so the fact that they come up at all in the writings of Hildegard of Bingen—a Catholic nun from the 12th century—made it ever more important to me to study gemstones from her perspective.
Who Was Hildegard of Bingen (aka Saint Hildegard of Bingen)?
Taken to a Benedictine abbey as a small child in Germany, Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179) went on to become the female superior to a community of nuns, yet she was also a writer, composer, philosopher, visionary, mystic, and the founder of scientific natural history in Germany.
In her book Physica, Bingen chronicles the healing powers of stones. Her findings led her to credit gemstones with healing energies that were forged in the earth from water, fire, or a combination of the two. She writes that each stone has its own particular healing energy and a certain divine blessing from God. I was particularly intrigued by her assessment of the sapphire, which she advises for individuals who are dull of mind. Once moistened with saliva, the sapphire is said to expel harmful juices that affect the intellect. Once I learned of this, my thoughts naturally turned to the many people for whom this remedy is much needed. Even I at times would qualify! (Smile) But all joking aside, let’s find out more about the power of these precious stones.
Humans have used precious and semiprecious gemstones for mental, physical, and spiritual healing for thousands of years. The website Legends of America explains that gemstones were utilized for healing along with “traditional medical practices, crystals and other stones…to cure ailments, protect against illness, disease, and injury; to provide mental balance and stability, and for spiritual purposes.”
Ancient Sumerians, Romans, and Egyptians were some of the earliest cultures to use gemstones, but they were prized by ancient civilizations around the world:
“In Greece, stones have been utilized in various ways so extensively that some of the mineral names are of Greek origin. In fact, the word crystal comes from the Greek word for ice, as the ancients regarded crystal as pure water that had frozen so deeply that it would always remain solid.”
“In India, crystals have long been seen as valuable for healing emotional and metaphysical imbalances.”
“Stones and crystals were also used in Asia, with the Chinese incorporating crystal in various healing sessions including acupuncture with crystal-tipped needles. Jade has been highly valued in China since ancient times, known to have been used since before 3,000 BC.”
Some Gemstones Recommended by Hildegard Bingen
Scholar and research Valarie Wright has compiled a partial list of stones attributed to St. Hildegard’s collection as well as some of the specific ailments for which Hildegard said they could be used:
- Emerald: for headaches.
- Onyx: for stomach ailments and spleen diseases.
- Agate or chalcedony: as a remedy against fever and to calm irrational tempers.
- Sapphire: for gout and eye pain.
- Jasper: for
- Amethyst: to combat insect bites and beautify the skin.
- Agate quartz: to restore emotional balance and harmony and increase practicality.
- Quartz crystal: for the heart, stomach upset, and abdominal pain.
What to Look for When Selecting Your Gemstones
In doing the research for this article, I encountered a resource that may help you get started on your gemstone journey: Gemisphere.com. This vendor features high-quality natural gemstones. I spoke at length with the general manager, Christopher Dean, and learned that they offer a complete range of information and services to their customers. They focus on the importance of quality and shape, and their therapeutic gems are available in necklaces and other additional sphere-shaped products (the sphere shape is important, as you’ll learn below).
Key #1: Quality
If you are in the market for pure, high-quality gemstones, check that the vendor meets strict requirements that ensure the therapeutic effectiveness of their products. If there is no statement of their purity and their cleaning and preparatory process, I would be suspect of their efficacy and recommend that you look elsewhere. According to Christopher Dean:
“Gemisphere was founded in 1988. Our founder, Michael Katz, has dedicated his life to sharing the amazing energy of therapeutic quality gemstones to as many people as possible. Gemisphere has built relationships with our gemstone vendors on the basis that they meet our strict and rigorous standards of quality, and we routinely test our gemstones to ensure they are in their purest, most natural state.
“Many gemstones on the market are treated with harsh chemicals or processes that negatively impact the natural, therapeutic quality that is inherent within the makeup of the gemstones. Our gemstones receive no such treatment and are simply shaped and polished, and then strung by hand to create beautiful and powerful necklaces, bracelets and tools.”
(To learn more, I recommend you read through their guide on the importance of therapeutic quality in gemstones.)
Key #2: Shape
The energy of your gemstone is profoundly affected by its shape. The best shape for therapeutic gemstones is a sphere: “Cutting a raw gemstone crystal into a sphere exponentially increases its ability to reach and heal the deepest, energetic aspects of our being, where the root causes of disease and distress lie. Therapeutic gemstone spheres radiate an incomparable energy that can affect all dimensions of our being, physical and subtle, and hence heal and transform us on multiple levels.”
A therapeutic necklace with sphere-shaped gems provides energies “that can radiate deep into your entire body and aura, or energetic field. There, the gems work on dissipating the energetic clouds and other blockages that obscure your natural radiance, limit your positive growth, and lead to ill health. At the same time, the gemstones’ energies uplift and nourish all aspects of your being. Thus, a therapeutic gemstone necklace can energize and inspire you, help restore your health, and initiate enduring changes.”
How to Make Superior Gemstone Choices
Quick reference guide. You will also find a downloadable 56-page guide on therapeutic gemstones for 300 common conditions and goals. This easy-to-use reference includes charts that will help simplify the process of choosing gemstones for yourself and others. A real keeper for both practitioners and individuals who wish to include gemstone therapy alongside other remedies they deem important to their case.
Searching for your gemstone: To help you find your gemstone, the website homepage also features a prominent search box (in the upper left corner). There you enter your condition (for instance, I entered “asthma”), and the search results will take you to the gemstones/products suggested for that condition (I found two results listed for asthma). If you click on one of the suggested gemstone products, you’ll find a plethora of information on why that particular gemstone is recommended.
Caring for your gemstone: Once you decide on what may work for you, make sure to read through the complete instructions on how to clean and maintain your gemstone.
Consultation: Okay—still not sure what to get? Just call their 800 number to speak to a fully trained consultant who will help answer your questions. How easy is that?!
Although I’ve never used gemstones in my practice, nor have I used them personally, I understand why Saint Hildegard of Bingen became so enthralled with them. Energy comes in many different forms, and it is my humble opinion that the chaos of cell phones, loud noises, hurried schedules, and poor eating habits no doubt reduces our energy levels. I can think of no nicer way to heal, calm, and recharge than wearing a lovely gemstone necklace, bracelet, or ring.
Disclaimer from Maria Atwood, CNHP: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor or health practitioner prior to following any recommendations I make in my blog posts or on my website.