Worn by kings and clergy throughout history, amethyst was once considered to be more valuable than diamond. A member of the quartz family, amethyst is a beautiful purple-colored stone that is attractive, bold, and warm all at once.
Famous since the time of Ancient Egyptian, the name amethyst is derived from the Greek word amethystos, meaning “not drunk.” It has many symbolic and folkloric associations, both ancient and modern, from love and spirituality to mystical protection. Read on to learn more about amethyst symbolism and legends.
The Tales of Amethyst
A 16th-century poem “L’Amethyste, ou Les Amours de Bacchus et d’Amethyste” (The Loves of Bacchus and Amethyste) by the romantic French poet, Remy Belleau, painted a compelling and evocative “myth” concerning amethyst’s color. The story goes as follows:
Bacchus, the Greek God of Wine was once fascinated by a beautiful maiden by the name of Amethyste. He pursued the fair Amethyste persistently, chasing her for mile after mile. Not to become the prey of the debauched god, Amethyste called out to the Goddess of Chastity, Diana, for help. To protect her, Diana transformed the maiden into a pure white quartz statue. Humiliated by her sacrifice, Bacchus poured a libation of his symbolic grape wine onto the stone, staining Amethyste a glorious purple color.
This tale is not the only lore surrounding amethyst. Some say that one day the Roman God of Wine, Dionysus, was enraged after being offended by a mere mortal. He vowed that he would kill the next mortal that he lay his eyes upon. Dionysus created two ferocious tigers to do his violent bidding. The unfortunate victim was a beautiful maiden. She was saved by the Goddess Artemis, who turned her into a crystalline quartz statue to protect her from the claws and teeth of these ferocious beasts. When he saw the beautiful sculpture, Dionysus became filled with remorse, weeping tears of wine. These wine tears fell upon the statue, staining the quartz purple and thus creating amethyst.
All amethyst was believed to have originated from the statue of Amethyste. Because of its connection with Dionysus, amethyst is thought to protect the wearer from drunkenness by inducing sobriety.
The Truth Behind the Myth
This story may not be the original creation of the amethyst, or indeed an authentic Greek myth, but it certainly invokes the romance, depth and strange, brightly colored clarity of this remarkable gemstone.
Amethyst has many beguiling shades such as lilac, lavender, eggplant, mauve, and magenta. All amethysts are valued, but deep Uruguayan stones are often considered to be the most exceptional. However, locality alone doesn’t determine a stone’s color, and exquisitely colored gems can occur all over the world.
Amethyst in Ancient Cultures
Renowned throughout the world, almost every culture places great value in amethyst. The history and legends surrounding amethyst aren’t all associated with wine and drunkenness.
- Ancient Egyptians wore amethyst amulets to protect against guilty and fearful feelings. It was also worn for protection against witchcraft.
- In Ancient China, amethyst became a powerful tool in the art of Feng Shui. Masters of the art primarily used amethyst to ward-off negative energy and drive away life hazards.
- Following Greek mythology, Romans also believed that amethyst protected one from drunkenness, and carved goblets and chalices from this stone.
- Medieval knights from Europe carried this stunning gem to help them keep a cool head during battle, thanks to its perceived sobering qualities.
- Also during the Medieval Period, a bride who presented her groom with a heart-shaped amethyst in a silver setting was thought to bless her marriage with unconditional love.
The Stone of Royalty
For centuries, purple has been linked to royalty, putting the shade into popular demand throughout history. Amethyst was thought to encourage celibacy by symbolizing piety and sobriety. This is why bishops chose this gemstone to wear in their rings. Saint Valentine himself was rumored to wear an amethyst ring engraved with the image or Eros, the Greek God of Love. The best known legend involves Valentine performing marriages for lovers in secret, when they were outlawed by Claudius II of Rome.
One of the oldest surviving amethyst crystal crowns is the “Iron Crown of Lombardy” from Italy. This golden crown is embellished with twenty-two gemstones (seven red garnets, seven blue sapphires, four violet amethysts, and four gems of glass) and reputedly contains a band of iron made from the crucifixion nails of Christ.
The Significance of Amethyst Today
Famous for its striking beauty, intense color, brilliant purple hues, and sparkling allure, amethyst is bound to be a prized possession in your own collection. This brilliant gem is a well-known symbol of love, peace, and happiness, and is believed to improve existing relationships by enticing those you desire into your arms!
Amethyst is the kind of jewelry that every woman holds close and treasures, as it marks the beginning of a loving relationship. Amethyst jewelry helps express those things that even words cannot!
According to crystal healers, amethyst is regarded as one of the most effective healing stones as it counteracts negative energies. Also referred to as “nature’s tranquilizer,” practitioners believe the crystal relieves obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as insomnia, while stimulating pleasant dreams.
Amethyst is the modern birthstone of February and a traditional gift to celebrate the 6th wedding anniversary. The gem is believed to bring peace and tranquility to the life of the wearer while driving away anxiety and tension, perfect for a long and happy marriage!
National Drink Wine Day
What? Didn’t you know that was a thing? Well, now you do, and the world is suddenly a better place!
National Drink Wine Day is celebrated annually on February 18 across the United States. The goal is to spread the appreciation for, and the health benefits of wine. Many studies have shown that moderate drinking of wine reduces the risk of heart disease, boosts immunity, and reduces forgetfulness, while making new friends and enhancing the enjoyment of food and life.
Whether you love amethysts for its color, history, mythology or potential enlightening properties, it is truly a beautiful stone.
So this February let’s embrace amethyst while enjoying a glass of wine on National Drink Wine Day!