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.