Solid mineral objects having naturally formed plane faces. Their orderly external appearance derives from the regularity of their internal structure.
According to folk belief, crystals prevailed against unpleasant dreams, dissolved enchantments, and served as a medium for magical visions. Crystals bruised with honey were believed to fill the breasts with milk. Before the manufacture of glass, rock crystal was widely used for bowls, figurines, and drinking vessels. Magicians in Australia and elsewhere used rock crystal in rainmaking ceremonies. Rock crystal shaped into polished balls was also the favorite material for crystal gazing. (See also Crystal Skull>. )
From ancient times crystal objects have been used as amulets and talismans. In ancient Israel, 12 stones (one for each of the 12 tribes) were placed on the breastplate of the high priest (see Exodus 39). Later, 12 gemstones were identified with the 12 signs of the zodiac. These survive today as birthstones.
Bonewitz, Ra. Cosmic Crystals: Crystal Consciousness and the New Age. Van Nuys, Calif.: Newcastle Publishing, 1983.
Crow, W. B. Precious Stones. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1968.