Published May 2014  •  Updated August 2022  •  Read Time: 10 minutes
Carnelian is a vibrant orange crystal that has been delighting people since the time of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt.  It was first described as having powerful energy in the legendary funeral texts, The Book of the Dead.  Carnelian is sometimes characterized as a Chalcedony, especially when it is a solid orange color, and sometimes as an Agate, especially if its striped with white bands.  During ancient times, it was mined in Mediterranean countries, but today, most Carnelian comes from Botswana, Brazil and India.  It has a happy energy, that can be playful or protective.  It makes a wonderful housewarming gift, its energy helping change a house into a home.

Carnelian Baby Blue Botswana

Carnelian Meaning

Spiritual Healing Properties

Carnelian has a soothing and warm grounding energy that makes us feel safe and loved. It helps us to understand the circle of life and release all fear of death and the unknown. Carnelian is a highly protective stone and cleanses the energy of everything that it comes in contact with. This cleansing energy then in turn attracts abundance, prosperity, and all good things.

Metaphysical Properties Carnelian
Chakra Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus
Element Fire
Numerology 5 and 6
Zodiac Taurus, Cancer and Leo

Emotional Healing Properties

Carnelian evokes the essence of “home” – that place where we can be ourselves and be loved for who we are. It encourages us to find the community of friends and family that will support us in our growth and that we in turn can serve. Carnelian brings courage and eliminates fear, especially the kind of fear that paralyses us from taking action. Instead it insists that we help others and stand up for just causes. Carnelian helps to heal emotional trauma caused by abuse and to help us be willing to be vulnerable again with people who are good and kind. It helps to protect us from anger, envy, and other negative emotions and encourages us to feel centered and happy.

Mental Healing Properties

Carnelian is a stone of action which teaches us to work for our dreams and not just wait for them to manifest. It clears up confusion and helps us to make decisions swiftly and correctly. Carnelian also helps us to embrace change and be truly open to positive transformations in ourselves and in our lives. Carnelian stimulates our logic, our pragmatic common sense, and our creativity, a combination which makes it a potent talisman for bringing financial success to those in the creative arts.

Physical Healing Properties

Carnelian is recommended when we want to bring the body back into vibrant health. It acts as a ray of sunshine that makes us feel confident and excited about life. Carnelian can also help us to break addictive habits, particularly alcohol and drug abuse. It reminds us that the opposite of addiction is connection, and that facing our problems is always smarter than hiding from them. Carnelian helps us to “come home” to ourselves and to the people who love us. Carnelian is an excellent talisman for any issues affecting the spleen, kidneys, pancreas, intestines and the reproductive system. It is also a comforting talisman to hold when we need to pass a kidney stone.

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Carnelian Mineralogy

Where does Carnelian come from?

Chalcedony is found all over the world and in every shade of the rainbow.  Orange Chalcedony, better known as Carnelian, is found in a variety of places, but notable deposits include Botswana, Brazil, Great Britain, India Madagascar and the United States

Mining and Treatments

Chalcedony is a common mineral that is not valuable enough to be the primary focus of any large-scale mining operation.  It is however commonly mined in tandem with other precious metals and minerals.  It is typically mined from primary deposits which still have their original relationship with the host rock, usually in small-scale artisanal mining environments.

All Chalcedony may be considered fully natural, enhanced only by cutting, tumbling, and polishing.  Carnelians are sometimes heat-treated to bring out a more vibrant color. In India, the heat-treatment is as simple as leaving freshly mined brownish stones in the sunshine to be heated, which brings out a redder shade.

Carnelian Placeholder

Mineral Family

Carnelian is sometimes described as a Chalcedony and sometimes as an Agate, both of which are members of the Quartz family, a silicate mineral.  Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). There are six main groups of Silicate minerals, and these main groups are further subdivided into secondary subdivisions, such as Quartz and Feldspar. Quartz is divided into two main groups, macrocrystalline and microcrystalline.  Macrocrystalline quartz has well-formed crystals that are large enough to be seen by the naked eye, for example, Amethyst or Clear Quartz.  Microcrystalline quartz has crystals so small they can only be seen through a microscope.  These are typically grouped together under the name Chalcedony, or it’s subcategories Agate and Jasper.  Microcrystalline quartz can be colorless or appear in every shade of the rainbow.  If the Carnelian is a solid orange it is best described as a Chalcedony.  If it has stripes of orange and white, it is better described as an Agate.

Carnelian’s energy works well with its family – other Chalcedony minerals.  Try it in combination with Blue Chalcedony, Chrome Chalcedony, ChrysopraseOnyxPink Chalcedony, and Snow Quartz

Carnelian Formation and Crystal Associates

Carnelians are created after a volcanic explosion has transformed magma and lava into igneous rock. During the cooling down period, various gases form bubbles, which then become hollow spaces in the igneous rock.  The rocks also shift and break, creating empty cracks, fissures and other hollows.  Chalcedony are formed long afterwards, when silica-bearing water permeates the rocks and begins to fill these hollow spaces.  As the space fills, the water evaporates leaving the silica behind to harden into a Chalcedony. The silica-water may have picked up trace minerals along the way, which result in different colors and patterns in the new stone. Carnelian gets its coloring from iron oxide.

Carnelian’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment.  Try it in combination with Apricot Agate, Botswana Agate, Clear Quartz, Ocean Jasper, Onyx, Petrified Wood, and Sardonyx

Mineralogy Carnelian
Chemical Formula SiO2
Cleavage None
Color Orange
Crystal System Hexagonal/triagonal
Form/Habit Microcrystalline
Fracture Uneven
Hardness – Mohs Scale 7
Luminescence Greenish-white (long wave) / Green (short wave)
Luster Vitreous
Mineral Family Tectosilicate
Specific Gravity 2.7
Streak White
Transparency Opaque

History of Carnelian

Carnelian has one of the oldest and most detailed historical traditions of any healing stone. It is included in virtually every known lapidary, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. Some of the most ancient traditions concerning Carnelian date back to the very dawn of human civilization and probably originated long before that! It is found in many localities worldwide and is included in the folklore of many different cultures and civilizations.

The name Carnelian is a modern variation on the name Cornelian, which comes from the Latin cornum, referring to cornelian cherries, a red berry which the stone resembles. During the 15th century, the name Cornelian was incorrectly believed to originated from the Latin carneolus, meaning flesh. As a result, Cornelian was renamed Carnelian.

Many indigenous tribes still follow traditions concerning Carnelian, traditions which likely date back to time immemorial. Among the Aboriginals of South West Australia, Carnelian beads are worn by men to cure all sickness and it is forbidden for women to touch these beads. The Zulus of South Africa likewise claim that a man wearing Carnelian beads cannot be harmed by a falling house or wall. A similar belief was echoed in both Native American traditions as well as in European lore. The Bghai tribes of Burma carve fetishes out of Carnelian and feed them with blood, since Spirits good and bad dwelt in stones and if we don’t give them blood to eat, they will eat us!

Carnelian was one of the first stones to be used in ancient Egypt, since it is a relatively soft stone which is easy to carve. Carnelian was commonly used for cylinder seals and for burial amulets. In The Book of the Dead, more correctly translated as the Book of Emerging Forth Into The Light, a funerary text dating back to 3400 BCE, is contained a series of magical spells which, if used correctly, were thought to help the souls of the dead travel safely through the Underworld. The book recommend carving Carnelian into a heart as well as a scarab, the symbol of eternal life. In Chapter 156 of The Book of the Dead, it says,

“The is the Chapter of the Buckle of Carnelian, which is put on the neck of the deceased. The blood of Isis, the virtue of Isis, the magic power of Isis, the magic power of the Eye are protecting the great one; they prevent any wrong doing from being done to him…The buckle of Carnelian is dipped into the juice of aukhama, then inlaid into the substance of the sycamore wood and put on the neck of the deceased. Whoever has this chapter read to him, the virtue of Isis protects him; Horus, the son of Isis, rejoices in seeing him, and no way is barred to him.”

Carnelian is also revered in numerous religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. It is mentioned in both the Bible and the Torah, as the first of twelve stones which decorated the breastplate of the High Priest of ancient Israel. The design for the Breastplate was given by God to Moses, whose brother Aaron was the first to wear it. Each of the gemstones on the Breastplate were inscribed with the symbol for one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Carnelian was most likely inscribed with the Tribe of Reuben. The children of Israel were said to have brought Carnelian with them in their flight from Egypt and carved the stones with sacred symbols while they wondered through the desert for forty years.

In the modern Middle East, Arabs still carve Carnelian amulets to ward off envy, since many people believe that if someone is envied, the quality that is coveted can be drained out of them. However, a Carnelian amulet which is engraved with a sacred poem can prevent this draining from happening. Such charms read: “In the name of God, the Just, the very Just! I implore you, O God, King of the World, God of the World, deliver us from the Devil who tries to do us harm and evil to us through bad people, and from the evil of the envious.”

Muslims in particular love Carnelian since it is said that the Prophet Muhammad wore a silver ring set with a Carnelian seal on his little finger. As a result, many Muslims wear a similar ring and it is believed that anyone who owns such a ring can never truly be separated from God.  The German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) summed up Carnelian’s attributes as, “Carnelian is a talisman. It brings good luck to child and man… It drives all evil things; to thee and thine protection brings. The name of Allah, King of Kings if graven on this stone, indeed, will move to love and doughty deed. From such a gem a woman gains sweet home and comfort in her pains.”

The Buddha is also connected with Carnelian, and it is said that he offered a vase crafted of Carnelian to Virupaka, one of the Four Heavenly Kings who watch over the four cardinal directions. Virupaka is the God of the West and the one who sees all. He is symbolized by a snake or dragon, and is a also depicted as an eye in the sky who sees unbelievers and converts them to Buddhism.

Breastplate of the High Priest, Carnelian, Amethyst

Breastplate of the High Priest

Carnelian Ring islamic

Carnelian Ring, “Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”

The Buddha is also connected with Carnelian, and it is said that he offered a vase crafted of Carnelian to Virupaka, one of the Four Heavenly Kings who watch over the four cardinal directions. Virupaka is the God of the West and the one who sees all. He is symbolized by a snake or dragon, and is a also depicted as an eye in the sky who sees unbelievers and converts them to Buddhism.

Carnelian is mentioned in virtually every medieval European lapidary. In the 13th century Lapidario of Alfonso X, Carnelian is credited with bringing courage, a strong voice, and charm, and in the Book of Wings it is said to stop the flow of blood and bring honor. During the next century, Chevalier Jean de Mandeville wrote in his lapidary, “It will bring peace and concord and give honor and victory. It will restrain the bleeding of a wound or of a nerve, it will also restrain the flow of a woman’s bleeding and will appease anger as well as the enemy of he who wears it.”