Published January 2015 • Updated July 2022 • Read Time: 6 minutes
Pyrite is a sulfide mineral that is nicknamed “Fool’s Gold” because it is easy to confuse with that most precious metal. But look closer and you will soon discover they are very different indeed! Pyrite is a heavy mineral with a brassy yellow color, but it is nowhere near as heavy as pure Gold and when seen side-by-side it doesn’t have that unmistakable buttery yellow shine. Those seeking only earthly riches may be fooled, but those seeking something higher may find a good friend in Pyrite. It is a strong ally in the search for enlightenment and gives us strength and courage to do the hard mental work to see the Truth that is often hidden between greed and lies.
Pyrite is a stone for self-realization and the quest for enlightenment in this life. It asks us to take action for our spiritual ideals and to live with great integrity. It offers us gifts of strength and will-power to overcome struggles. Pyrite balances polarities and reveals to us our Light and Dark sides so that they can be accepted and integrated. It is also a fantastic stone for attracting abundance and prosperity on all levels.
Emotional Healing Properties
Pyrite evokes courage and strength in order to face our emotional demons and release any negative energy, particularly fear, that is caught in our emotional bodies. It is a protective stone whose primary purpose is to help us gain a more joyful and fulfilling life. It increases self-confidence and encourages us to be more extroverted and social. Its happy and energetic vibration teaches us to love with everything in us, both giving and receiving with equal pleasure.
Mental Healing Properties
Pyrite helps to reveal the reason why situations develop and what we can do about them. It encourages us to be willing to take more initiative and ownership over our lives. Pyrite also reveals hidden memories trapped in our subconsciousness and brings them to the surface so that we can properly assess them. This stone has a very soothing energy for the mind, promising us that we are safe and fully capable of handling anything that life throws at us.
Physical Healing Properties
Pyrite is recommended for general physical vitality and good health. It encourages us to maintain a heathy environment around us and a positive mindset within us. It helps us to pay closer attention to pollution in our environment, such as second-hand smoke, mold, or other issues and to act sensibly to mitigate the risks. Pyrite is a powerful talisman when we are dealing with mystery illnesses which don’t lend themselves to an easy diagnosis. It helps us to distinguish between casual symptoms and the root problem and to communicate this effectively with our healthcare providers. For women, it can be especially helpful for diagnosing and treating endometriosis. For men, it can be helpful for understanding and healing male impotence.
Pyrite deposits are found worldwide. Some of the most important deposits are in Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and the United States (California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Virginia).
Mining and Treatments
Sulfide minerals are the most common ore minerals for most commercially mined metals including Gold, Silver, Platinum, and Copper. Pyrite is commonly mined alongside these more precious metals.
All Pyrites are natural, enhanced only by tumbling, cutting, and polishing. It is sometimes falsely advertised as Marcasite, which has a similar appearance but is an entirely different mineral.
Pyrite is a type of sulfide, minerals in which sulfur has been combined with one or more metals. They tend to have simple structures and often have a metallic luster. It is often confused with Gold, a native element.
Like other Sulfides, Pyrite can occur in all rock types. It is created when Iron molecules bond with water. When found in igneous or metamorphic rocks, Pyrite forms in concentrations inside veins and fractures. When found in sedimentary rocks its is loosely disseminated.
Pyrite’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment. Try it in combination with Calcite, Fluorite, Quartz and Rhodochrosite. Or explore how it’s energy feels when fused with a friend: Black “Lemurian” Jade
Brass yellow, gray-yellow
Cubic, octaheral, pryitohedral
Hardness – Mohs Scale
History of Pyrite
Pyrite was not included as a distinct mineral in most early lapidaries, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. However, archaeological evidence reveals that humans have valued Pyrite for millennia, and small pieces have been found in numerous prehistoric burial sites. Pyrite’s name comes from the Greek word pyr, meaning fire because when struck with iron, this brassy gem will emit sparks.
The earliest lapidary reference is from the Roman Era, courtesy of Pliny the Elder (CE 23-79), a Roman author, naturalist, and philosopher. In his Natural History of Metals, Pliny the Elder describes several different types of stone that emit sparks when struck against steel, all collectively known as “Pyrite.” One of these was brass colored and is almost certainly the specific stone that is today called Pyrite.
During the Mesoamerican Classic period (CE 250-900), both the Mayans and the Aztecs used Pyrite to create elegant mirrors. Generally these mirrors were mosaics made of small pieces of Pyrite that were cut to fit closely together and then attached to a slate backing. Such mirrors were beautifully crafted and generally circular in shape. Unfortunately, few of these mirrors have survived intact, due to oxidization over time. As a result, most of these ancient mirrors have been reduced to a circular piece of slate with a red or yellow stain.
Most Pyrite mirrors were used as part of the ceremonial dress of priests and noblemen, typically worn on the back or belt. Larger mosaic mirrors were placed in temples or royal tombs. Some of the mirrors likely symbolized noble or kingly lineage. This is inferred based on the fact that the Mayan god K’awiil was closely associated with mirrors and divine kingship.
Today Pyrite has lost much of its glamour and is often dismissed as “Fool’s Gold.” The nickname refers to a common mishap during 19th century gold rushes in which uneducated miners believed they had struck gold when they had in fact found a cache of Pyrite. While both Pyrite and Gold can share a strikingly similar color, the easiest way to differentiate them is by their natural shape. Gold has an irregular shape while Pyrite forms in cubes and multifaceted crystals. Other clues are the color – Fool’s Gold is a bright and brassy yellow, but only Gold has that unmistakable buttery yellow shine. Even more obvious is the weight, while Pyrite is a heavy mineral is is nowhere near as heavy as pure Gold.
Julie Abouzelof is the owner of Moonrise Crystals and an advocate for responsibly sourced gems and minerals. Her first career was in education teaching history, geology and anthropology, as well as working with special-needs students. She is now a heart-centered entrepreneur who encourages mindfulness and positive action to heal ourselves and the world. Julie lives in Hawaii with her lover and a little parrot named Darwin.