Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice - A Celebration of Life

Sun rising at Stonehenge on Summer Solstice
Summer Solstice is a time of celebration of the cycle of life and of the gifts that the sun and nature have to offer. It is the longest day of the year when the power of the sun is at its strongest, and the day when the north pole is most tilted towards the sun, causing it to have the highest and longest path through the sky.  Based on the Gregorian calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere, depending on the shift of the calendar. It is also known as Midsummer, Litha and the Northern Solstice because it occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer in the northern hemisphere.
Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form and it has been celebrated as a life and fertility festival by Pagans, Celts and Druids for thousands of years. The travels of the sun were marked and recorded. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice. 
Although few primary sources are available detailing the practices of the ancient Celts, some information can be found in the chronicles kept by early Christian monks. Some of these writings, combined with surviving folklore, indicate that Summer Solstice was celebrated with hilltop bonfires and that it was a time to honor the space between earth and the heavens. 
In addition to the polarity between land and sky, in many cultures Summer Solstice was a time to find a balance between fire and water. European traditions celebrated this time of year by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water. This may be because this is when the sun is at its strongest yet also the day at which it begins to weaken. Another possibility is that the water mitigates the heat of the sun, and subordinating the sun wheel to water may prevent drought. 
Solstice comes from the Latin words "sol" and "sistere" meaning "sun stands still", a reference to how, when seen from Earth, the sun appears to pause before its position in the sky reverses direction. 
Enjoy every minute of the longest day of the year! I know I will! :)
Source: Wikipedia  and Pagan Wiccan. Thank you!  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Curse of the Black Diamond

The Black Orlov Diamond, also known as the Eye of Brahma Diamond, weights 67.50 carats and was once part of a much larger uncut 195 carat diamond which can be traced back to 19th century India.

Not really black in color but more of a deep gun-metal tone, this legendary black diamond struggles to hide the reflections of a very dark past, starting with a theft from a Hindu idol and resulting in no less than 3 mysterious suicides.

Legend has it that the uncut stone was originally set as one of the eyes in a statue of Brahma, the Hindu God of creation, which stood in a shrine in the southern city of Pondicherry. It is believed that a traveling monk stole the diamond from the statue, and this act caused the stone to become cursed. 

The journey of the diamond from here on is shrouded in mystery, drama and death. In 1932, diamond dealer J. W. Paris is said to have taken the diamond to the United States and soon after, suffering from extreme anxiety due to business worries, committed suicide by jumping from a skyscraper in New York City.

Later owners included two Russian princesses called Leonila Galitsine-Bariatinsky and Nadia Vygin-Orlov (after whom the diamond is named). Both women allegedly jumped to their deaths in the 1940s. The diamond was later bought by Charles F. Winson and cut into three pieces in an attempt to break the curse. The 67.5-carat Black Orlov was set into a brooch of 108 diamonds, suspended from a necklace of 124 diamonds (pictured). Confident that the curse is broken, diamond dealer Dennis Petimezas purchased the diamond in 2004.

The Black Orlov has been displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the Natural History Museum in London.

Source: Wikipedia and GemSelect. Images courtesy of GemSelect. Thank you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Aquamarine, The Treasure of Mermaids

Aquamarine evokes the purity of crystalline waters, and the exhilaration and relaxation of the sea. It is calming, soothing, and cleansing, and inspires truth, trust and letting go.

The name Aquamarine was derived from the Latin words, aqua meaning “water”, and mare meaning “sea”. This is because of its color's close resemblance to sea water. Aquamarine was considered sacred to the god of the sea, Neptune. It is documented that it was used by the Greeks between 480-300 BC. They would wear Aquamarine amulets engraved with the water god Poseidon to protect them against perils and monsters of the sea. Legend also says that Aquamarine was the treasure of the mermaids and for this reason, sailors would wear it to keep them safe on voyages out to sea and prevent seasickness.
Today it protects all who travel by, over, or near water, and opens the channels of clear and heartfelt communication.

It is said that Aquamarine will provide its wearer with everlasting youth and happiness, provide courage, cure laziness and quicken the intellect. Aquamarine can replace anger and negativity with mental peace and clarity, providing the wearer with emotional and mental balance. For these reasons it is said to be an effective treatment for anxiety.

As a love crystal, it is believed that pale blue Aquamarine encourages a lover to return, helps two people with different lifestyles to live together in harmony, and reduces the effects of sensitive issues that cause quarrels.  Aquamarine is often given as a love token or eternity ring, and increases commitment and fidelity "as long as the waters of the earth flow".

Aquamarine is the blue variety of Beryl, being mined mainly in Brazil, but also found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

It is the official birthstone for the month of March as adopted by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912, and it is also considered the birthstone for the Sun Sign of Pisces.

The pictures below show the difference between a raw aquamarine stone and a cut, polished and enhanced stone. They are both beautiful!

For one-of-a-kind jewelry designs created with both raw and enhanced stones please visit ADORA by Simona.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Myth of Friday the 13th

In today’s world, the phrase "Friday the 13th" rolls off the tongue, instinctively linked to bad luck and strange happenings. Everyone knows Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. But why does it have such a bad reputation? 
The origin of fears surrounding Friday the 13th is unclear. According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a "Friday the 13th" superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini (an Italian composer best known for the opera "The Barber of Seville"), who died on a Friday 13th. 
The Thirteen Club Registration Flyer
One theory states that Friday the 13th is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that 13 is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day. In 1881, an organization called the Thirteen Club was started in an attempt to improve the number's reputation. The 13 members of the group walked under ladders and spilled salt at the first meeting in an attempt to dissuade any negative associations with the number. Despite these efforts, the number 13 continues to have an unlucky association to this day. Thirteen is so disliked that many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue, many high-rise buildings avoid having a 13th floor, some hospitals avoid labeling rooms with the number 13 and many airports will not have a gate 13. 
In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of divine organizational arrangement or chronological completeness, as reflected in the 12 months of the year, 12 hours of the day, the 12 deities of Olympus, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors if Muhammad in Shia Islam, 12 signs of the Zodiac, the 12 years of the Buddhist cycle, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners. 
Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on the Friday before Easter. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and in John J. Robinson's 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, and also in the Maurice Druon historical novel series Les Rois Maudits (English translation The Accursed Kings).
Jacques de Molay sentenced to the stake in 1314,
from the Chronicle of France
On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V's coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently. It is further said Jacques de Molay, Magister (Master of the Knights of the Temple) cursed King Philip IV of France and his descendants from his execution pyre. As he was about to be executed, he appealed “from this your heinous judgment to the living and true God, who is in Heaven”, warning the pope that, within a year and a day, he and Philip IV would be obliged to answer for their crimes in God’s presence. Philip and Clement V both died within a year of Molay’s execution. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention.

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom "Friday" is named in English and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen.

(Information courtesy of Thank you!)

Honey Moon

A full moon over Greece's Temple of Poseidon in June 2008.
Skywatchers will get a special treat as a full moon occurs tonight, Friday the 13th, something that hasn't happened in June since almost a century ago, in 1919. Known as the Honey Moon, as well as the Strawberry Moon or Rose Moon, the actual full moon occurred very early Friday morning, but will still be nearly full when it rises in the east Friday evening. 
With the sun's path across the sky at its highest during this month of the summer solstice, the moon is at its lowest, which keeps the lunar orb close to the horizon and makes it appear bigger and more amber (hence the name Honey Moon) than other full moons this year. The amber colors are due to the scattering of longer wavelengths of light by dust and pollution in our atmosphere. 
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the name Strawberry Moon name comes from the fact that it's strawberry season, and Algonquin Native American tribes knew this was the time of year to gather the ripening fruit. 
This is the first time since Oct. 13, 2000, that a full moon has occurred on a Friday the 13th of any month, and the last time it will happen until Oct. 13, 2049.
The superstitious may want to steer clear of black cats this Friday the 13th, but venturing outside very early in the morning will be worthwhile. Enjoy the spectacular sight of the full Honey Moon in the night sky, I know I will! 

In today’s world, the phrase "Friday the 13th" rolls off the tongue, instinctively linked to bad luck and strange happenings. Everyone knows Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. But why does it have such a bad reputation? If you want to learn more about where the superstition of Friday the 13th comes from, read my sequel blog The Myth of Friday the 13th.