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Religious Jewelry Myths

 
 

Many of the world’s most important stones and metals come along with certain myths. When these items are transformed into pieces of religious jewelry, they have even more significance. Due to ancient mythology, there are many different stories that can be related to religious jewelry items from different countries and eras.

Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egypt, jewelry was not only valued because of its beauty, but also due to its magical protections. People of every different class from very rich to very poor would wear jewelry ornaments. Egyptians often wore ornamental jewelry and amulets as infants clear through death. Since jewelry had such a religious role in the lives of Egyptians, they would also need the items once they passed away in order to journey to the afterlife in peace. A person’s jewelry would be buried with them. Egyptians even prepared themselves for death by collecting the protective jewelry so they could have it buried with them. Egyptian jewelry has a long history and a storied background filled with symbolism and myths.

 

The Celtic Mythology

Celtic mythology is based on polytheism, a religion of the Iron Age Celts. Unlike other Europeans of that time, the Celtic people had a polytheistic mythological base and religious structure. This mythology did not survive the Roman Empire due to the conversions to Christianity and the overall loss of the Celtic languages.

One of the Celtic myths states that Nuada from Silver Hand was a simple human man who lost one of his hands in battle. He later received a hand made from silver from the Dian Cecht, an Irish God of healing. The significance of silver comes into play early in this Celtic myth.

A Persian myth shows belief that pearls, also called “Fairies of the Water” are the results of spirits’ tears. Pearls also sometimes were rumored to be past souls of love and beauty and other times, they are deemed gifts to the earth be past spirits. Ancient residents of India even thought pearls were made from the dew that the sun produced with its rays first thing in the morning.

Norse Mythology

Norse mythology is a set of German myths, legends, and beliefs that began with supernatural beings known as Norse pagans. This set of myths was very popular before Scandinavia was Christianized in the Early Middle Ages. Some of the aspects of the myths have even survived to modern days. Most of the existing records on the myths come from the 11th to 18th century range. In Norse mythology, there are nine different worlds. Each of the worlds is joined together through the World Tree and each world has significant places in it. Asgard is the most important world because it is home to the Norse gods. Asgard is a magical place that is only accessible by crossing a rainbow bridge. It is also a world full of palaces made of gold and silver in which the gods live. Once again, the gold and silver elements come into play in terms of importance within the mythology.

Greek and Roman Myths

Many Greek and Roman Myths have made their way into jewelry. The Golden Age was the first mythical period in which man and everything else was happy and life was easy. Humans lived like gods and though they would still die, they would only fall asleep and never feel pain. Nice weather never ended and no one had to worry or ever felt unhappy. Once Zeus overcame the Titans, the Golden Age came to an end. The Silver Age followed the Golden Age. This age was the second among the Olympians. At first, people thought it was going to be a much less noble age, but then humans began developing civilizations. Silver became quite popular, especially in reference to Apollo’s silver bow as well as the silver doors of his palace within Mount Olympus. Apollo’s sister Artemis also has silver arrows and the silver columns led up to the grotto where the Styx were held. There are even silver references used when talking about the leather bag Ulysses used to carry the wind. Using gold and silver metals in jewelry has significant meanings in terms of Greek and Roman mythology.

There are also many myths about amber’s origination within Greek mythology. For example, Ovid wrote about Phaethon, a boy who convinced the Sun God Helios who was his father to let him drive the sun chariot around the sky for a day. The boy drove the chariot a bit too close to the earth, however, and it lit on fire. In order to save the earth, Zeus used his thunderbolts to strike Phaethon out of the sky and plunge him into the sea. The boy’s sister turned into poplar trees surrounding the Erivan’s River and their sorrow could be seen weeping into the stream for centuries. As the tears fell into the water, they became glistening drops of amber.