The Meaning and History of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is the alternate birthstone for October, along with the opal. The stone was first discovered by Dutch traders off the West Coast of Italy in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s. The name tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese term “turmali,” which was the name given to all colored crystals on the island of Sri Lanka at that time. This all-inclusive name indicates the inability of ancient gem dealers to differentiate tourmaline from other stones. In fact, at one time in history, pink and red tourmaline was thought to be rubies. Pink tourmaline tends to be pinker in color than ruby. However, their similarities in appearance are so strong that the stones in the Russian crown jewels believed to be rubies for centuries, are now thought to be tourmalines
The Chinese have engraved and carved figures with tourmaline for many centuries, and ancient examples are still displayed in museums, a testament to the durability of the stone. You may recall seeing intricately carved Chinese snuff bottles made from pink tourmaline.
For centuries, various cultures have had different beliefs about what virtues the tourmaline can bring to the wearer. In 18th Century literature, Barbara Walker cites references, which considered this stone to be helpful to artists, authors, actors and those in creative fields. In the same century, a Dutch scientist claimed that a tourmaline wrapped in silk and placed against the cheek of a feverish child would induce sleep. In Africa, tourmaline was once used as a stone to awaken one from “the dream of illusion.” Ancient ceremonies in India included the use of the gem as a tool to bring insight and help in the discovery of that which is good. It would also serve to make known who or what was the cause of troubles or evil deeds. The gem was also highly valued by alchemists who, perhaps because of its pyroelectric effect, believed it to be related to the philosopher’s stone. This was said to be the substance that would grant enlightenment, give power over spiritual affairs, reconcile opposites and change base metals to gold. In modern times, the stone is used by tribes in Africa, Native Americans, and aboriginal groups in Australia as a talisman that protects against all dangers.
Mystical Powers of Tourmaline
Tourmaline has been said to be good for keeping the digestive system healthy as well as strengthening teeth and bones. It is also recommended for the adrenal disorders and is used by modern practitioners to treat stress and trauma.
Pink tourmaline represents a love of humanity and humanitarianism. It is worn to promote sympathy towards others. It is an excellent stone for healers, therapists and counselors as it allows them to better listen to and understand their patients. It carries the virtue of unconditional love and friendship. In fact, it radiates the highest amount of love of all the different colored tourmalines. It’s also meant for people who bear a special injury in their hearts as it encourages love and gently disperses emotional pain and dissolves disruptive feelings. It calms the negative emotions that often upset relationships.
Pink tourmaline is also of great value to people that have difficulty dealing with fear, who have panic attacks or who are in need of something to help them heal their inner chaos and dread. It’s a heart protector as well as an aphrodisiac. It teaches that it is safe to love and therefore instills confidence. It introduces the qualities of compassion and wisdom into your dealings with others. It also promotes flexibility of thought.
Tourmaline also has many positive attributes in the spiritual realm. It is thought to bring healing powers to a shaman or medicine man. It is what is called a “receptive stone,” which means it is soothing, calming, inward, and magnetic, promoting meditation, spirituality, wisdom and mysticism. It creates peace and promotes communication between the conscious and unconscious minds, allowing psychic awareness to blossom.
Tourmaline has been said to be a stone of reconciliation, a stone that fosters compassion and cool headedness, radiates the energy that attracts money, healing and friendship, and is used for grounding purposes, to stabilize, and reaffirm our Earth roots. It also creates a commitment towards the completion of one’s goals and is said to protect the wearer against dangers.
Physical Properties and Science of Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a complex silicate that contains boron. It displays a greater range of colors than any other gemstone. In fact, it comes in every color of the spectrum. Each different colored stone has a different name. Pink tourmaline is also known as “rubellite,” which is the Latin word for red. At one point in time, there was a different name for each color of tourmaline, but now they are all generally referred to as tourmaline, only with the color’s name added as a prefix. Pink tourmaline is the rarest member of the tourmaline family. It is more rare than ruby in fact! The red color occurs because of impurities in the center of the stone. Much tourmaline occurs as beautifully formed, elongated crystals with a distinctive rounded triangular shape in the cross section. Tourmaline varies in hardness. Some stones rank slightly below some of the quartz gems, and others are about equal to emeralds. Like amethyst and emerald, a tourmaline will last for thousands of years.
Tourmaline has a very complex molecular structure. Its chemistry has been described by John Ruskin as being “more like a doctor’s prescription than the making of a reputable mineral.” It is a high pressure, high temperature material. Many tourmaline crystals exhibit polarity- the color, electrical properties and the crystal forms are different at either end of the crystal. These variations arise because of the complex structure and chemistry of the stone. When heated or rubbed, it acquires an electric charge and attracts small objects like dust and other lightweight objects. It is for this reason that tourmaline is used in electrical devices to produce pressure gauges. This property is known as “pyro electricity,” a legitimate magical property. The first record of scientific proof of this property is found in the work of 18th century Swedish botanist Carl Von Linne. He called tourmaline “the electric stone.”
Tourmaline is usually found in granite pegmatites (course granite) or in segments adjacent to such granites. It can be found in Northeast Afghanistan, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Greenland, Bolivia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Burma, Russia, India, Southeast Brazil, central Madagascar, Italy, California and Maine.