Amethyst Meaning Throughout Time: From Ancient Times till Now
INSIDE: It should be fairly obvious that we LOVE Amethyst! Besides the powerful healing abilities of this wondrous stone, the history behind Amethyst meaning is pretty magical too. Learn about its expansive presence throughout the ages right here!
It’s not often that we dive into pop culture for a deep connection to crystals, but we thought we’d work in reverse, at least in the beginning, to work through Amethyst meaning and uses through history.
That’s why we want to present Amethyst, a Crystal Gem in the cartoon Steven Universe. Talk about an awesome way to understand how Amethyst has been used as a protectorate of the Earth, a confidant of a beloved character, and a guide to healing and understanding.
For a fun look into the character of Amethyst, you can listen to a whole discussion to see the connections to this mystical gemstone.
In an earlier example, Princess Amethyst is the heroine of The Ordinary Princess, a book written by M.M. Kaye in 1984. She stands tall and proud in who she is, defying her royal parents to find a path in life that suits her best and coming into her own, defined by her unique gifts.
The stone, Amethyst, has bestowed a sense of regal confidence and divine wisdom throughout the ages, but to truly trace its importance in history and culture, we need to step back several centuries and start from there…
Amethyst Meaning in Greek Mythology
The folklore surrounding Amethyst and Amethyst Geodes resides first in Greek mythology, to one ruler’s big mistake…
The Story of Bacchus
Améthystos (αμέθυστος), a Greek word translated to “not intoxicated,” bears the etymological origins of the name, Amethyst, but it is Bacchus, the god of wine, who we can credit with bringing meaning to the stone.
Bacchus, a rather short-tempered god, issued an order over his kingdom to doom the next person he saw to death, fated to be mauled by his tigers – this all over an insult aimed his way that he happened to overhear.
The next person happened to be Amethyst, a beautiful young woman, who passed en route to the shrine of the goddess, Diana. Having passed in the sight of Bacchus, her fate befell her and the tigers sprang to action.
However, Amethyst, quick-witted and devoted to Diana, reacted and beseeched Diana for protection. Diana, in turn, responded by turning Amethyst into a Quartz crystal, keeping the beasts from taking their fatal bites.
Realizing his grave error and cruelty, Bacchus instantly regretted his decree because it had cost the world a beautiful soul. To atone for his mistake and to seek forgiveness, Bacchus poured his potent red wine over the stone, turning it into the glorious purple luster we recognize in Amethyst today.
The Origin Story of the Stone
Through the tale of Bacchus and Amethyst, we come to recognize the dangers of intoxication, that to act impulsively and recklessly can meet dire consequences. Thus, Amethyst exists as an amulet to keep the mind focused and to protect it from distractions and overindulgence.
The story of Bacchus and Amethyst may not stretch back as far as we imagine. It took form through a poem written by a French poet, Remy Belleau, in the sixteenth century.
A Renaissance poet, his final poem, les Amours et nouveaux Eschanges des Pierres precieuses, celebrates gemstones and their powers which helps contribute to Amethyst meaning.
Christian Ties to Amethyst
Besides the tragic tale of Bacchus’s temper, Amethyst meaning and use gained significance in other contexts, too, especially in Christian beliefs, from the Catholic Church to hybrid forms of Christianity.
The Bishop’s Stone
One of the most recognizable uses of Amethyst is as the Bishop’s Stone, which was inlaid in rings worn by Catholic bishops.
Often placed on the second finger of the right hand, Amethyst was believed not only to protect bishops from the poisoned aura of sinners but also to bring healing to those who kissed the stone through spiritual grounding and divine guidance.
As religious leaders, Catholic bishops rely on Amethyst as a talisman that connects them to God and helps them share wisdom and knowledge with others in creative, impactful ways to lead them to righteousness and truth.
Amethyst Meaning Throughout Christendom
Beyond Catholicism, Amethyst has played a role throughout the history of Christian religion and society. It has been a staple stone in rosaries and malas that have also been used in other religions like Buddhism and Islam to calm the mind for meditation and prayer.
In early Judeo-Christian thought, Amethyst sat as the ninth stone in the Hebrew High Priest’s breastplate, called Ahlamah. With twelve stones in total on the breastplate, each stone represented a tribe of Israel, and Amethyst stood for the tribe of Dan.
It was also prophesied as the twelfth stone in the foundation of the New Jerusalem.
As Christian beliefs have been reshaped in time, Amethyst has had a continued place. For example, in Rosicrucian society, which borrows from pagan traditions with Christian elements, the meaning of Amethyst lay in the notion of divine male sacrifice.
The deep purple of the gemstone conveyed passion, sacrifice, and love, emblematic of Christ’s crucifixion and suffering for believers.
Amethyst Meaning Across Cultures
We know Amethyst has resonant properties that make it a potent crystal in spiritual symbols like the Tree of Life or as tools like crystal wands. Its uses have roots deeply embedded in cultures around through world.
In Europe, Amethyst’s first markings on culture arise among Neolithic people in 25,000 B.C! Its uses were similar to the spiritual amulets that were popular in Christian culture. With time, it gained notoriety as a stone of royalty to decorate the tools of kings and queens, from crowns, jewelry, and more.
Ancient Peruvian belief attested Amethyst meaning by engraving the stone with the names for the sun and the moon. Worn as a necklace, it warded off evil spirits and witchcraft. Interestingly, this same method was found in the teachings of Pliny the Elder, an ancient Roman philosopher.
In ancient Egyptian traditions, Amethyst served a similar protective purpose when it was worn around the neck of traveling Egyptian leaders to keep them safe from attack or sorcery.
Also, in the Book of the Dead, using Amethyst to carve the likeness of the god, Hemag, in a heart shape and placing it in the burial tomb was thought to offer protection in the afterlife.
Amethyst & the Zodiac of Pisces
A final modern take on Amethyst meaning comes in the timeless Zodiac tradition. Amethyst symbolism has assigned it as the birthstone for February due to its connection to Pisces; therefore it bestows important healing energy for those with the sign of Pisces and, in general, during this early month of the year.
Interestingly, Amethyst also has ties to February’s staple feature in the modern world – Valentine’s Day! St. Valentine, honored by the holiday, was said to wear an Amethyst ring that displayed Cupid. Its meaning came from the stone’s connection to passion and steadiness, emphasizing the importance of balance and honor in love.
Amethyst meaning has endured through the millennia, a stalwart of nature that blesses the universe with energy to bring calm strength and empowered understanding to all beings on Earth. Amethyst’s abilities have clearly left marks on cultures and histories around the globe.
* Crystals and stones should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please read our full disclosure notice here.