History of Calcite

Calcite was “discovered” relatively recently by the metaphysical community and so it was not included in any early lapidaries, texts that describe gemstones and their powers. Calcite is an extremely common and soft mineral which makes it an excellent choice for carving, both in ancient times and today. It is certainly possible that many of the carvings had healing and spiritual purposes.  Most Calcites are found in Limestone. In fact, the word “Calcite” comes from the Greek word chalix, meaning lime.

Clear Calcite found in the far-north is sometimes called Icelandic Spar.  According to the Nordic Sagas, the Vikings were able to navigate the foggy North Sea using a “sunstone,” a mineral with natural polarizing optical properties. Today, scientists and historians agree that the legendary Viking Sunstone really existed. Certain stones, Icelandic Spar and Iolite among them, can be used to determine the direction of the sun when it is just over the horizon or hidden by clouds. Light shining through a transparent crystal will change in color and brightness as the crystal is rotated. At one specific angle, the light appears in a faint elongated yellow pattern, called Haidinger’s Brush. This shape points directly towards the sun. In 2018, Hungarian scientists used computer simulations to test both Icelandic Spar and Iolite as navigational tools.  After 36,000 trials they determined that Iolite could be used as a compass with 92-100% accuracy.  Icelandic Spar isn’t quite as precise.  White it is good enough to keep a general heading, it’s not accurate enough to reach a specific navigational point.

Icelandic Spar

Icelandic Spar