It is the beginning of a new year and we will all have a birthday to look forward to. This brings me to talk about birthstones and the lore and history about them.

Birthstones, also known as “natal stones”, can be traced back to the Bible. Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews, wore a breastplate containing twelve precious gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Later, these twelve stones were linked to the signs of the zodiac and each month of the year.

Depending on the culture, birthstones are believed to have magical healing powers and bring good luck to the bearer. Because not all cultures agree on which stone should represent a certain month or zodiac sign, different lists of birthstones have appeared over the course of time.

It is believed that the stone for a month had virtues for those born in that month. This peculiar lore can be traced back to the writings of Josephus and to those of St. Jerome in the early part of the fifth century. But it is only in the 18th century, in Poland, that the custom of wearing your birth, or natal, stone actually started.

Another belief is that the stone of the month would exercise its full therapeutic virtue during that month. Wearers of birthstones would then change stones every month, regardless of what month they were born in.

The birthstone for the month of January is Garnet. For many January babies, Garnet is represented by a dark, brownish red gemstone with little value. Well, let me tell you that Garnets come in a variety of beautiful colours, from deep pure red (Almandine), purplish reds (Rhodolite), sparkling oranges (Spessartine), beautiful greens that look like Emeralds (Tsavorite), golden browns (Hessonite) as well as colour-change stones.

As far as the attributes of Garnet in today’s day and age, it is known as a powerfully energizing and regenerating stone. It revitalizes, purifies and balances energy, bringing serenity. Long ago, it was carried as a protective talisman. It is said that warriors would have a Garnet sewn under their skin to protect them in battle.

With all these powerful attributes, I’m thinking we could all benefit from wearing a Garnet as we say good-bye to 2019 and welcome 2020 (although I would not recommend getting it sewn into your skin 😊 ).

Watch for next month’s article where I will talk about February’s birthstone, the magical, mystical Amethyst.