The use of crystals dates all the way back to ancient Egyptian times. Though they often used the precious stones for jewellery and cosmetics, they also used them for protection and health purposes, such as the use of topaz for purging evil spirits.
The word ‘crystal’ comes from the Greek word for ice, due to the belief that clear quartz was water so deeply frozen it would remain forever solid. Many other popular crystals also have names of Greek origin, for example ‘Amethyst’ meaning ‘not drunken’ was carried or worn to prevent drunkenness. Greek soldiers were also also known to associate Iron with Mars, the god of war and they would rub themselves in hematite before going into battle believing it would make them better warriors.
As well as playing a central role in the above cultures, crystals have also played a part in a number of religions and faiths and have been mentioned in both the Bible and Koran. In the Koran, the 4th heaven is described as being completely composed of garnet. The Kalpa Tree which represents an offering to the gods in Hinduism is said to be made entirely of precious stone and a Buddhist text described a diamond throne near to the Tree of Knowledge.
Before the advent of worldwide exploration and travel, most civilizations would have been isolated and unaware of the practices of other far-away civilizations. Interestingly, the use and purpose of crystals seems to have transcended geological boundaries. For instance, it is thought that the ancient Chinese, Aztec and Mayan civilisations all used Jade as a stone for healing the kidney, without the knowledge that anyone else was using it for the same reason.
The early 19th century saw a number of experiments aimed at demonstrating the clairvoyant effects of crystals. Though little evidence exists to prove the medical merits of the therapy it is still sought after as a beneficial complementary treatment.