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JANUARY BIRTHSTONE

Garnet is the modern, traditional and ayurvedic gemstone for January, emerald is the mystical birthstone with rose quartz an alternate gemstone.

It is said that King Solomon wore a large red garnet along with eleven other magical gems (representing the 12 steps of Jacob's Ladder) in his breast plate to help him win battles and to keep him in touch with the deity. In the 13th century, they were worn to repel insects and evil spirits and the evil eye of others. In Egyptian times they were taken into the tombs with the dead as payment to the gods of the nether worlds and for their passage through the nether world safely.

According to the Talmud, Noah's ark was illuminated by a brilliant garnet. The ancient Greeks also attribute light giving properties to this glowing gem, which they called the "lamp stone," believing that it enabled its wearer to see in the dark. Cabochon garnets are known as carbuncles, which means "glowing coal." One superstition states that dragons' eyes were made of carbuncles.

Several curative properties were ascribed to the garnet. With other red and yellow gems, it shared the ability to staunch bleeding and cure blood ailments. Used as a heart stimulant, it was believed so effective that people were cautioned not to overuse it, lest they be stricken with apoplexy. This belief in the stone's potency is perhaps the reason that certain Asiatic tribes used garnet bullets, thinking them more deadly.

Garnets also were employed to cure "fluxions" of the eyes (tie to forehead with linen), dissolve tartar in the body, control incontinence, and ward off the plague. They were worn to drive out nightmares and evil thoughts - and, thereby, to relieve insomnia. January's natal stone, which comes in a variety of hues - from deep red through orange, yellow, brown, and even green - should be set in gold for maximum benefit. It is a traditional symbol of constancy. It is said to assure its wearer riches, good health, and joy.


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