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Nautical Lapidary

Ascribed to Astrampsychus

pp. 192-193, Les Lapidaires de L'Antiquit� et du Moyen Age v. 2 (Paris 1898)

Translated from the Greek by Tim Spalding


1. Coal and chalcedony worn by a child will not allow him to shipwreck in the deep.

2. Iron and the so-called owl stone--the one in Macedonia from around the solid mountain--seems, as a crystal, to protect against large waves and storms. The same powers are conveyed by the stone found in India which is fiery and silvery in appearance.

3. Beryl is translucent, bright and sea-colored. Let Poseidon going in a two-horsed chariot be inscribed upon it and there will be no injury in troubles to those traveling over the ocean.

4. The "woodpecker" is a stone of whiteish hue; it suits good sailing.

5. Coral with the skin of a seal wrapped around the mast-head of a ship counteracts winds and waves, and all disturbances of water.

6. The snake-coil stone comes from the mountains of Egypt; it has ?encompassing scales in itself, like the coils of a snake. If one has it, he will be protected without danger in a squall.

7. Obsidian, not exceedingly large, but pale, is found in Phrygia and Galatia; it is also called "pitch," because rubbing it produces the smell of pitch. It is useful when worn by someone making a journey over the ocean or a river.



A note on ancient and modern lapidaries has two things to recommend it. First, the author was gracious to link to my site. I thought I'd put a link-back here to thank her, and to illustrate something about the differences between modern and ancient lapidaries. Barton, in Ancient Astrology, has a good bit on how modern astrology differs from ancient astrology. Comparing Astrampsychus with Crystal Readings yields many of the same results. The ancient text stresses the physical benefits of stones; the modern is primarily interested in psychological properties. The ancient text is concerned with the apotropaic properties of stones--the evils they will avert; the modern is mostly about enhancing positive potential. Put another way, the ancient lapidary keeps you safe from danger, the modern offers spiritual health and enhanced consciousness. The exception proves the point: the ancient lapidary recommends stones that will save you from drowning on ocean voyages; the modern recommends ones that "protect against psychic attacks during astral travel." They share a certain permeability to different cultural elements (not very apparent in this short specimen), and an simple encyclopedic style.