Mineralogy of Carnelian
Rough Carnelian, Sarusas Mine, Kunene Region, Namibia
Other Names: Sard, Cornelian
Mineral Family: Silicate (Quartz, Chalcedony, Agate)
Color: Orange, brownish-red
Fracture: Rough, brittle
Fluorescence: Weak, blue-white
Color of Streak: White
Crystal System: Trigonal, fibrous aggregates
Chemical Composition: SiO2 Silicon dioxide
Location: Deposits are found in Brazil, India, Mozambique, Namibia, United States, and Uruguay.
Mineral Family: Carnelian is a type of orange Agate and a Silicate mineral. Agate is a tiny twig on a far off branch of the crystal family tree. Silicate minerals form the largest family of minerals, including more than 25% of all known minerals and 40% of all common minerals. In addition to being a major part of the Earth’s crust, Silicate minerals have also been found on the moon and in meteorites. Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). Together, these two elements form a tetrahedron – a shape similar to a pyramid – with a Silicon atom in the center and Oxygen atoms at each of the four corners. These tetrahedra connect with other chemical structures, in six different ways, to form various minerals and rocks. 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 a large mineral family in its own right, and has two main subdivisions, macrocrystalline (crystals that are large enough to be seen by the naked eye, for example, Amethyst) and microcrystalline (crystals so small they can only be seen through a microscope, for example, Agate). All microcrystalline Quartz falls under the subcategory of Chalcedony, which is then further subdivided. One of these categories is Agate. Carnelian is a relatively rare type of Agate that can be either a brilliant solid orange or be striped orange and white. When its color becomes a darker brown-orange, it is more properly called Sard, and if that Sard is joined with with Onyx (black Agate), it is called Sardonyx.
Formation: Carnelian is created when liquid magma from a volcanic explosion cools down and transforms into igneous rock. During this cooling down period, silica acid bubbles shift from being a gas/liquid into a solid compound. The bubble becomes a hollow space in the igneous rock and the silica acid becomes Quartz crystals. Agates are formed when thin sheets of Quartz are layered with other minerals, creating a wide variety of colors and patterns. Trace particles of iron in clear Agate create Carnelian’s rich orange color.
Mining: Typically mined from primary deposits that still have their original relationship with the host rock.
Enhancements: Many of the Carnelians sold on the market are actually other types of Agates which have been dyed or heat-treated. Natural Carnelian typically has a cloudy distribution of color, and is enhanced only by tumbling, cutting, and polishing.
Map courtesy of TravelBlog
Photos: Rough Carnelian
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!1
Egyptian Scarab Ring
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.”2
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 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.” Similar views were echoed by lapidaries for centuries afterwards.
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.”
Photos: Cherries, Scarab Ring, High Priest, Allah Pendent
1Fobes Harriet Keith, Mystic Gems (Boston: The Gorham Press, 1924) p.77
2 Kunz, George Frederick, The Curious Lore of Precious Stones (New York: Dover Publications, 1913, 1938 ed.) p.63
Healing Properties of Carnelian
Spiritual: Carnelian is a soothing and warm grounding stone 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. Carnelian is attuned to the Root, Sacral, and Solar Plexus Chakras; is linked to Taurus, Cancer, Leo, and the element of Fire, and vibrates to the numbers 5 and 6.
Emotional: 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: 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: Carnelian is believed to bring the physical body vitality and energy. It is thought to help detoxify the body and break addictive habits, particularly to alcohol and drugs. It is commonly used by metaphysical healers to treat the reproductive organs, as well as for physical and emotional wounds caused by abuse. It has been used for centuries to stanch the flow of blood, whether from a physical cut or due to the menstrual cycle.
Always use wisdom when considering crystal therapies for healing.
Safe Handling of Carnelian
Carnelian will gradually lose its color over time if left in direct sunlight. It is always considered a “best practice” to keep your stones and crystals out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Unique Trait ♥
Carnelian is one of the few stones that can be used to energetically cleanse other stones. However, Carnelians are NOT self-cleansing so they do need to be cleansed and re-charged occasionally in order to keep their own energy bright. They will appreciate being soaked in fresh water, set outside to absorb the moonlight, and/or being smudged with smoke or incense. Use your own intuition to determine the best method.
Good To Know:
Carnelians are physically durable stones. As long as they are rounded and without thin edges, they can be carried in a pocket or medicine bag, or worn as jewelry on an everyday basis, without significant danger of the stone chipping or breaking.
Carnelians can be physically cleansed with water or a dusting cloth.
Tumbled and fully smooth Carnelian can be safely used to make direct-infusion “Carnelian Water” for drinking or bathing. Before making any direct-infusion elixir ALWAYS check the mineralogical properties of the stone to ensure it is not toxic. Only use fully tumbled stones or natural Quartz points in direct-infusion elixirs, never rough stones. When in doubt, make an indirect-infusion elixir instead.
Earth to Pocket
Earth to Pocket is the Moonrise Crystal business mission. It’s the promise that any stones purchased here will be consciously sourced and the journey of the stone, from the Earth and into your Pocket, will be as transparent as possible.
These Carnelians were mined in India and tumbled in South Africa.
The owner of the tumbling company is one of my very favorite suppliers. He has been in the business for over twenty years and has some of the most gorgeous tumbled stones available. He sells only once a year at the Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona.
It would be my pleasure to hand-select a beautiful Carnelian for you.
This price is for one stone.
You can buy a single Carnelian or several, depending on your individual needs. Each Carnelian measures approximately 1 inch at its longest length and has a unique shape with soft edges. Tumbled stones are natural products and variations are part of their beauty.
The stone I choose for you will be smooth and free of chips, and be a beautiful translucent orange, possibly with white bands. If you buy multiple stones, I will choose stones that look and feel particularly good together. Stones will be cleansed and smudged with sage before being shipped to you.
With their beautiful color and clean energies, these Carnelians are perfect for crystal healing. Add them to a medicine bag, place them on an altar, use them in a crystal elixir, fashion them into jewelry, or simply carry them in your pocket.