“Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli.” – George R.R. Martin
Lapis Lazuli, the great communicator, the bold protector, the stone of the ancients. First recognized in the 7th millennium BCE near Mesopotamia, this ancient stone has been used for everything from protection amulets to eyeshadow and a lot of its historical meanings have been lost over many millennia, but some “small” aspects remain the same. Here are 9 things you didn’t know about lapis lazuli.
1. Heaven, she wrote
The name itself comes from the most interesting and divine combination of languages. In Latin, the word lapis translates to “stone”, while lazuli comes from a more medieval word lazulium, taken from the Arabic word lāzaward, derived from the Persian lājevard, both translating to “sky”, “heaven”, or “the divine”. Literally and spiritually, lapis lazuli is the stone of the heavens which allows us to communicate with the source of cosmic power and find a connection to our higher selves.
2. Lapis Lazuli, the stone of royals
Since antiquity, lapis lazuli has been revered for its esoteric properties. Royals were considered in those times to be just below gods and goddesses in hierarchy, secretive of the wisdom and knowledge that was bestowed upon them and holding it dearly close. In many cultures throughout history, lapis lazuli was put on a pedestal as the “stone of the sky” – sacred, as it was believed that to be worthy of its mysticism, one should be financially or otherwise physically able to obtain it.
3. Lapis Lazuli, the fuel of warriors
In the Southern region of Mesopotamia, (modern day Iraq and Kuwait) pantheistic beliefs encompassed the acknowledgement and worship of a variety of deities. Innana sits in the pantheon of gods and goddesses of ancient Sumer, one of the oldest known human civilizations. As the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and warfare, she is complex to say the least. Innana was the embodiment of power, justice, and femenine strength, bringing death and disaster in the most divine way possible. She was known to wear lapis lazuli around her neck, through her reign and in her death as the stone gave her strength, courage, wisdom, and protected her from evil in the journey into the afterlife.
4. Aesthetics of the Ancients
Lapis Lazuli existed not only in Kemet and Mesopotamia, but was also very well-known in ancient Greece, Rome, and China – yet probably not in the typical way one would assume. Aside from being utilized in adornments, amulets, and talismans, this stone of the mystics was often ground into a powder and smeared upon the chests of warriors, male and female alike – while more enlightened figures of higher standing would use the powder as eyeshadow, believing that its metaphysical properties would be absorbed into the skin of the “wearer”. Strength, courage, power, resilience, and protection for the earthly warrior as well as the goddess, god, and the half-mortal.
5. Life after death
We’ve spoken of Innana and her many endeavours, but not of that which lapis lazuli brought to her after death. In mythology, she descended into and then returned from the underworld, the occurrence itself seemingly being the only true purpose in the complexity of her existence. As she entered the afterlife, she bore the insignias of her earthly existence, including her necklace of lapis lazuli which only fortified her status as a cosmic being. In ancient Sumer, the stone was believed to carry the soul of the deity who rejoiced in its power most authentically. It made her a goddess and nothing less (not that there was any doubt).
6. An Egyptian Favorite
If you can’t already tell, most of the folklore surrounding lapis lazuli originates in Kemet (ancient Egypt), and there’s no land better suited for setting the plot of this divine stone. They are a people known for their immovable and incomparable beliefs, their devotion to spirituality, and for having created the foundation of a grand part of modern day spirituality. This is where my origin lies, this is where we come from.
7. Lapis Lazuli in art
Archaeologists undoubtedly get a lot of inspiration from this ancient stone – it’s been found in many digs throughout history, mostly temples, graves, and tombs. Evidence suggests that lapis lazuli was used for various purposes (both frivolous and spiritual). including votive sculptures and figurines, hair combs, dagger handles and even [in powder] as the base for paint. Italian sculptor and painter, Michelangelo was one of the first to discover and make use of blue pigment by grounding down this stone and mixing it with various solutions, then using it as paint. The hue itself, having been regarded as rare and expensive, was saved for the scribes and illustrators of that time, mostly for use in religious scrolls.
8. The Stone of passage
The religious significance of lapis lazuli, held greatly among the ancients who believed that possessing the stone granted the right to pass judgement (this may still sit uncomfortably within many religions and beliefs today). Its paradox exists within the ancient Egyptians’ reliance on the stone for safe passage into the afterlife. As a talisman of protection, and in much the same way that other sacred crystals would be carved into and with symbols of spiritual significance, lapis lazuli would be fashioned into the shape of scarab beetles to accompany the dead on such a journey.
9. Lapis as a money stone
Lapis lazuli holds and lends properties of prosperity and wealth. In its genuine form, it contains strands and streaks of either gold or pyrite, otherwise known as “fool’s gold”. These golden growths represent the royalty and divinity within the power of the stone itself, as well as the magic within ourselves. They signify divine femininity and the magnificence in the golden glow of the full moon, promoting growth from within and throughout. Manifest from your own will and wisdom that which you desire, the effortless sustenance of your earthly embodiment.
Use your crystals wisely and always remember to cleanse, charge, and bond with them. They are you and you, them.
“Discard not your confidence in the universe, but place it firmly within.” – TLSM