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By Dennis Flaherty
The lore of gemstones and their energetic and healing powers come to us from many, varied sources. One of the oldest, if not in fact the oldest codified branch of gemstone knowledge comes to us from Vedic Astrology, the astrology of ancient India, reputed to be over 5,000 years old. According to Vedic Astrology, gems are used to propitiate planetary weaknesses in the astrological chart, weaknesses that often result in physical or psychological challenges for the person. These weaknesses and challenges can be seen, and propitiation suggested, by a properly trained astrologer as part of an astrological consultation. This form of gemstone propitiation goes under the name of Graha Shanti, which means "making peace with the planets" in Sanskrit.
Perhaps the most famous published story of a Astrological Gemstone recommendation according to the astrological chart appears in Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramanhansa Yogananda. In the chapter entitled, "Outwitting the Stars," Yogananda's Guru, Sri Yukteswar, suggests that Yogananda acquire an astrological armlet. Yogananda replies, "Should I, master? I don't believe in astrology." Sri Yukteswar, a fine Vedic Astrologer in his own right, replies, "It is not a question of belief; the scientific attitude one should take on any subject is whether it is true. . . . The cosmos should be fairly chaotic if its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief." Sri Yukteswar goes on to prescribe an astrological bangle to propitiate an upcoming ailment that he forecasts for Yogananda through the astrological chart. Sri Yukteswar explains:
Electrical and magnetic radiations are ceaselessly circulating in the universe; they affect man's body for good or ill. Ages ago our rishis pondered the problem of combating the adverse effects of subtle cosmic influences. The sages discovered that pure metals emit an astral light which is powerfully counteractive to the negative pulls of the planets. . . Most effective of all are faultless jewels of not less than two carats. . . One little known fact is that the proper jewels, metals and plant preparations are valueless unless the required weight is secured and unless the remedial agent is worn next to the skin.
Yogananda then replies, "Sri, I shall take your advice and get a bangle. I am intrigued at the thought of outwitting a planet." Sri Yukteswar adds, "The stars are about to take an 'unfriendly' interest in you. . . Fear not, you shall be protected. In about a month your liver will cause you much trouble. The illness is scheduled to last for six months, but your use of an astrological armlet will shorten the period to twenty-four days." Yogananda goes on to explain that he sought out a jeweler and was wearing the astrological prescription the next day. The illness came as predicted, but was propitiated as his Guru had promised.
As can be seen from this short story, Graha Shanti often involves the use of metals, Ayurvedic herbal preparations and prayer. When gems are to be worn, each gem is required to be set in a particular metal that it resonates with. These metals are usually gold, silver, copper and amalgams. In the selection of gems, the ancient Garuda Purana of India insists that the gems be of excellent quality. This means the gems should be eye-clean. One should not be able to see inclusions and infractions in the stone when viewed with the naked eye. Under magnification very few precious stones are flawless and when they are, the price of the stone increases dramatically. Small inclusions under magnification are generally regarded as impossible to avoid. Vedic quality gems need to be as clean as possible for propitiation and healing purposes. It is also important to note that gemstone enhancements are very common these days. These include synthetic replication of gems, heating, irradiation and coloring of precious stones. These so-called "enhancements" destroy the natural energy of the stones and it is the opinion of many Vedic Astrologers that this renders them less effective for healing purposes. Even the ancient texts, such as the Guruda Purana, caution against heating gems. Natural, eye-clean stones are best for astrological healing purposes. Most experienced Astrological Gemstone dealers are well aware of today's gemstone enhancements.
Astrological Gems are usually set in rings or pendants. The gem is to be set open-back style so that it touches the skin. This is how gemstones perform their planetary healing function. Gemstones are also ground down into gem oxides, called Bhasmas, which after careful, prolonged preparation are taken internally to propitiate particular planetary afflictions. Gems are also placed for a period of time in copper, silver or gold receptacles to produce gem enhanced water. As water is a natural conductor of electrolytes, it is a perfect medium to convey the healing power of gems.
For each person's chart, particular gemstones take on a positive or a negative attribute, according to that person's astrological constitution. Planets, and the functions and issues they represent, can be strong, or weak according to a person's astrological chart. A skilled Jyotishi can identify the karmic issues related to weak planets, and once understood they can be ameliorated through gemstone prescription, specific to the person's needs. In short, the primary gemstones for each of the planets, as prescribed by the ancient Garuda Purana are noted below. The secondary gem recommendations of contemporary astrologers are also listed below.
The proper gemstones are prescribed by the Vedic Astrologer to improve weakened planets in the person's natal chart. Planets are weakened by falling in debilitated signs, severely weakened Houses, or having the aspect of specific malefic planets for that chart. The issues represented by the weakened planet and its corresponding House, or Houses, become problematic areas of concern for the person. For example, a person with a weakened Sun would experience recognition and classic self-esteem issues. The person would find it hard to "shine" forth their essential self. The Vedic Astrologer would prescribe a ruby, if the client could afford it, or the Sun's secondary stones, a red spinel, or red garnet. The gem would be set open-back style, and worn on the ring finger (the Sun's finger) of the right or left hand. The Vedic Astrologer would recommend a gold setting for the ring or pendant, as gold is the metal of the Sun.
There is also much tradition and lore as to the day and time in the preparation of the setting. In the case of the Sun's gemstone, the suggestion would be to purchase the stone and set it on the Sun's day, which of course is Sunday. The karmic resonance set into motion by the Sun's stone would help propitiate the person's issues of recognition and self esteem. The goal would be to increase the person's vitality, self awareness and confidence, all concerns related to the function of the Sun in the astrological chart.
In closing, it is important to say that astrological gemstone recommendations not be prescribed lightly, or casually. In my opinion it is an art, not a science, learned over time, as the whole chart must be analyzed and assessed by a competent Vedic Astrologer, before a gem is recommended. Gemstones are recommended to restore a balance that has been lost by a weakened planet in the astrological chart. In my opinion it is important to understand the Ayurvedic principles of balance in recommending gemstones, for when a specific planetary energy is enhanced by a particular gemstone recommendation, all planetary energies in the astrological chart will shift in relationship to that energy.
Incorrect gemstone recommendations can create a host of new problems by aggravating existing conditions, or by creating an inappropriate energy where it is not needed. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Always consult an experienced reputable Vedic Astrologer for recommendations, and an experienced reputable gemstone dealer for assured quality of stones. An excellent, comprehensive book on the astrological power of gemstones is: The Healing Power of Gemstones, by Harish Johari: Destiny Books, 1988. This book is a fine astrological gem in itself.
About the Author
Dennis Flaherty is an internationally recognized Vedic astrologer. He is one of the few westerners who is practiced in both Vedic and Western astrology. He is the recipient of the Jyotish Kovid from the Council of Vedic Astrology (2011) and the Jyotish Kovid (1994), Jyotish Vaschaspati (1996), and Jyotish Medha Pragya (2011) from the ICAS, the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences. Dennis is one of the several founding members of both the American College of Vedic Astrology (ACVA) and the Council of Vedic Astrology (CVA). He is the current elected President of the CVA, and the director of the NW Institute of Vedic Sciences, in the greater Seattle, WA area, where he offers consultations and teaches a curriculum in Vedic astrology through his CVA approved audio correspondence course in Jyotish. Dozens of his students have been recognized and received CVA certification, and several have gone on to start their own successful Vedic astrology practice.
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