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Tumbled stones used in magic and spell workStones are excellent tools for spells and magic.  You can use them in a number of ways, but stone pouches are a convenient tool for energy and chakra work to rituals and wards.  This article is a quick reference for some of the best candidates for spiritual and metaphysical uses of stone, crystals and minerals.  Note:The PaganPath Shop carries may stones and combination pouches for your convenience.

These stone profiles reflect our experiences here at PaganPath.  Please remember that you may feel a different energy from a type of stone, and that every stone has its own 'personality'.

Amazonite: A type of feldspar used for harmony, blending many energies, peace, calm, communication.

Amber: A powerful amulet and traditional Witch's 'stone' for good reason. The most ancient stone used for amulets and magick. Solar and light energy. Very energizing, increases power; purification and protection from negativity, psychic and magickal vampirism; shielding (without hiding).

Amethyst: Enhances general magickal workings and raises personal power. To fine tune its energy, combine amethyst with other stones and focus clearly on your goals and intent. Well suited to psychic development, protection, detoxification, inner exploration, emotional and psychic shielding, purification, breaking addictions, self-understanding.

Apache Tears: A special variety of volcanic obsidian used for protection and shielding, emotional cleansing, grounding. Brings protective earth energy to sensitive psychics and empaths.

Black Tourmaline: Protection and purification. Probably the best all around protection stone. Tends to need less cleansing than many stones. Shielding, grounding, neutralizing, detoxification, prevents psychic and magickal drain, anti-hex, converts negative energy into neutral energy.

Bloodstone: A red and green chalcedony used for strength, healing, courage, detoxification, purification. Very balancing, energizing and grounding of sexual and emotional centers for healing the body and spirit. Combines well with other stones and spell ingredients. (Works and plays well with others.)

Botswana Agate: Soothing and energizing, like a spa treatment for the spirit. For manifesting higher goals, clearing conflict, harmonizing, absorbs negative energy (cleanse stone well) and prevents unwanted visitors (physical, psychic, dimensional, etc.). Cuts ties to the past, psychic links, hexes, addictions & negative patterns. Helps prevent dwelling/obsessing on the negative; helps find solutions.

Carnelian: Orange-red and usually semi-translucent. For focus, concentration, uplifting, energizing, protection. Prevents psychic and emotional drain. Helps reinforce aura, increase confidence, improve motivation. Brings an energizing life force for creativity, personal will and sexuality.

Celestite: Also known as Celestine, this rare mineral is used to help you connect with your higher self, tune-in to your deeper goals, face your shadows, and for dream work. Very healing when working through issues in order to reclaim your personal power, and open your flow of energy to that of the universe. With time, this use also helps with manifestation of your true goals and desires in the physical plane.

Citrine: A quartz in the yellow hues, from lemon-yellow to root beer amber. Very energizing and enlightening. Used for manifestation of creativity. Brightens mood, boosts your 'inner fire' and protects against negativity.

Clear Quartz: Power, protection, harmony, energy. These power-houses will boost the energy of any healing, energy work, ritual tool or talisman. Whether tumbled smooth or in their original pointed crystal form, they add their energy to the overall working according to your will and focus, while providing clarity and helping harmonize mixed energies of other stones, other people's wills, etc.

Fluorite: The color often indicates its uses, ranging from green (healing) to purple (psychic work) and more. Very high energy in the mind and crown chakra. It can help to open doors of perception, improve mental clarity for decision making, divination or study. Very cleansing and purifying, will remove negativity and is a great 'junk eraser' after healing, psychic, ritual, spell and magickal work.

Garnet: Healing broken hearts, physical health, strength, sexual expression, self-worth, attraction, lust, sexual love, protection. Used to invoke the symbolism of the pomegranate. Earth energy, fertility.

Goldstone: Helps you focus on and achieve your goals; increases ambition and drive; emotionally stabilizing; protection; uplifting. Has a slight tendency to attract money.

Green Aventurine: A green quartz stone with mica inclusions. Increases opportunities, confidence, growth, personal energy, vitality and perception. Aventurine is often used for luck; helping you take advantage of opportunities, and allowing you to better perceive opportunities as they arise. Traditionally used to attract adventure and for general attraction, creating a positive attitude, fortifying independence; said by some practitioners to invoke the favor of the Goddess of Love.

Hawk's Eye: A 'tiger's eye' stone in the colors of blue, green and gray. For clarity and gaining perspective, psychic work and visions, opening the third eye, protection while doing visualization, divination and magick. Eye stones are often used for luck, helping you take advantage of opportunities, or helping you to perceive opportunities as they arise. Psychic, mental and emotional stamina.

Hematite: An iron oxide mineral. Manifestation, potency, charisma, grounding, balancing of opposites, detoxification, strength & courage; can be used in spells for removing insecurity or even impotency.

Jet: A very powerful amulet used since ancient times for protection, purification, manifestation on the physical plane, stress relief, dispelling negative patterns within and without, grounding (without heaviness). Prevents psychic and magickal vampirism, purification, helps channel earth energies. Lunar and shadow energy. A traditional Witch's 'stone' with good reason. Tumbled jet pieces are $2.50 each.

Kyanite: Mental and psychic clarity; stays clear for better purification and protection; quick access to visualization, magickal powers, telepathy and intuition. Unlocks the third eye, helps you understand how to use your skills responsibly. Aids in communication, expression, balance, dream work, meditation.

Lapis Lazuli: Creativity, visualization, expression, articulation, communication, intuition, useful for divination and psychic readings. Helps you tap into your psychic centers to aid in gathering and directing your energy, raising power for magick and spells, visualizing and manifesting goals.

Mahogany Obsidian: Promotes inner strength & healing; reduces feelings of unworthiness; amazing ability to end psychic attacks & psychic "chains" or "ties" placed either consciously or subconsciously by others. Stabilizing & grounding for better manifestation & healing. Unblocking, protection, gently grounding.

Malachite: Useful for analyzing repeated negative patterns, draws out repressed memories and emotions, good for revealing and healing emotional damage and trauma. Good for healing broken hearts.

Mook Jasper: A micro-crystalline quartz. Helps tune into earth energies, cycles and patterns. Excellent for maintaining the sense of wonder and openness of youth, thereby increasing opportunities & gratitude.

Moonstone: Self-acceptance, self-confidence, tuning into your intuition and psychic centers, soothing, balancing and calming, dream work, shadow work, working with cycles and patterns, feminine power, intuition, Goddess energy, inspiration, creativity.

Picture Jasper: Banded with many colors, the patterns in the stone sometimes resemble a landscape. Tuning into earth energies, harmonizing multiple energies, gaining perspective and insight for physical manifestations (redecorating, garden plans, business plans). Visualization, nurturing, confidence.

Red Jasper: A micro-crystalline quartz. A very useful stone you will reach for again and again. Balancing, handling emotional stress, retaining dreams and visions, enhancing physical strength and inner stability. Gently grounding. Has a good healing energy, especially in the lower chakra centers.

Red Tiger's Eye & Golden Cat's Eye: Found in red (tiger), gold and yellow (cat) and used for protection, perception and clear thinking, discovering truth, luck. Like Aventurine, eye stones are often used for general luck, but this is primarily due to their ability to help you take advantage of opportunities by increasing your ability to perceive both opportunities and pitfalls as they arise. Excellent for enhancing and focusing willpower, protection, grounding, vitality, motivation, balance, insight and integrity. Also used for psychic, mental and emotional stamina; and for seeing your way clearly.

Rhodonite: Pink and black coloration is a reminder of the grounding and centering of this stone's energy. It helps to stabilize emotions and ground the heart chakra for better healing. A stone of grace, discovering hidden talents, generosity and compassion, expression of love, understanding your purpose.

Rose Quartz: Pink shades of micro-crystalline quartz, usually found in mass rather than individual crystals. Heals emotions, self-love & self-acceptance. Dissipates negativity, anger, tension & frustration. For unconditional love, self acceptance, beauty, allowing love in, creativity; enhances yours or your partner's receptivity to love; prevents fighting and encourages harmony, friendship and peace.

Ruby: Increases life force, courage, confidence; invokes sensuality and passion; attracts people towards the wearer. Energizes and activates all energy centers; Boosts motivation; helps aspire to new levels.

Sapphire: Balancing, healing & soothing; Increases awareness and personal power. It is said in folklore and magickal correspondences to insure faithfulness and protect relationships from love triangles.

Selenite: A soft stone with a powerful punch. Helps to direct energy to your will and goals, aids in communicating with other realms, clears the cobwebs from the third eye and crown to enhance perception. Increase awareness, psychic skills & insight. Harmoniously blends & amplifies other stones.

Shiva Lingham: Meditation, insight, healing, very balancing & energizing, psychic skills, high spiritual vibrations, union of opposites, manifestation of wisdom. Healing of emotional and sexual issues, reclaiming sexual power and increasing self-love. Understanding and trusting the positive masculine.

Smokey Quartz: Protective of sensitive people, helping to guard against over-empathizing, being suckered by con artists, and helps prevent unhealthy relationships with others. Both grounding and uplifting, it is often used to move energy through all the seven major chakras. Pairs well with amethyst.

Snowflake Obsidian: You will love this stone so much that even after decades of use, you will find yourself coming back to it. While grounding, centering and protecting, it brings hidden things to the surface. You can use this energy for emotional and physical healing, psychic awareness and even for spells to return lost objects. Helps one to see patterns for better psychic readings and mental health.

Sodalite: A fantastic writer's stone for inspiration and any creative pursuit involving intelligence, communication, education (teaching and learning), creativity, fore-sight and logic.

Spirit Quartz: Found in amethyst, clear and other types of quartz, these special formations are a larger crystal covered in many smaller drusy quartz crystals. Gaining perspective, increasing humor and ability to experience joy, reducing fears and anxiety, moving on, speeds and enhances magickal workings, great for covens as it helps many people work toward a common goal, heals discord, increases patience, will receive a magickal charge well, making it well suited to talismans and wards. Projects a charge well.

Staurolite Crystal: Also called fairy cross, used much like the pre-Christian symbol of an equal armed cross or X, symbolizes the crossing of paths on the universal web, invokes the favor of the Fates or Goddess of Crossroads. Helps protect against hexes, negativity & rebound from magical work and spells.

Tiger Iron: A very powerful combination of red jasper, tiger eye and hematite. Harmoniously blends all of the energies of these three stones. Great for manifestation, protection, energy, strength, stamina, increases willpower, motivation, bringing insights into action, healing and grounding, creative solutions.

Tourmalated Quartz: A powerful shield of protection and neutralization of negative energy. Stays clear a long time, making it perfect as a 'take with you' charm. Energizing and grounding at the same time. The powers of black tourmaline and clear quartz crystal blended perfectly. Good for purification.

Unakite: A green and pink jasper (micro-crystalline quartz) that balances and heals the heart, helps manifest love, calming and stabilizing, prevents ego-based negative patterns, good for releasing.

Watermelon Tourmaline: Balances the heart, encourages self love while healing and recovering from negative relationship or past mistakes. Increases your magnetism and attraction for your positive benefit. Tends to protect you from spells cast by others, but this energy is more prominent in black tourmaline.

Wavelite: A very rare mineral found here in Arkansas at the PaganPath Sanctuary. Extremely useful for tuning into earth energies, manifestation, understanding interconnectedness, healing emotions, finding your path and making decisions. Excellent for healing, increasing your sense of well-being, changing your perspective when you are feeling down or 'stuck' and helps you gain insight.

Zebra Stone: Helps you see yourself and others clearly, removing illusions and delusions. Grounding of high energy without being too heavy, it helps to manifest goals on the material plane. A stone with "unconditional love" energy somewhat similar to rose quartz (the two stones work well together).Helps harmonize varied energies of numerous stones or ingredients in a spell or talisman. Helps combat depression, apathy and disinterest; increases creativity and motivation; a nurturing & protective energy.

 

These stone profiles reflect our experiences here at PaganPath.  Please remember that you may feel a different energy from a type of stone, and that every stone has its own 'personality'.

A selection of amber resins and amber and jet resinits from the author's private collection.As you can see from the picture, there are many types of amber, and these are often confused with each other, as well as with ambergris, copal and jet.  In this illustrated guide, you will learn about the interesting world of amber, and how to tell various ambers apart from each other.  The spiritual, metaphysical and magickal uses of these materials is vast, and understanding their differences will greatly enhance your workings.

Take a close look at the picture by clicking on it to open the full size image with notations.  You can click on any of the images in this and other PaganPath articles to begin this same slide show effect.  Later in this extended article there will be references the various types shown, and you will see magnifications of several of the "stones" displayed.

Amber was once called Elektron by the Greeks because when rubbed it produces a static charge.  This is very much like when you rub a birthday balloon on your hair and it clings with static, but imagine how magical this must have seemed in a world without plastic or synthetic carpeting, and at a time before our more modern understanding of electricity and magnetism.

Amber has been used magically in every geographical region that it is found, and in most every time period.  It is considered an energizer (much like dragon's blood resin or mandrake root) in that it adds "oomph" to your magical focus and intent.  Now this amber, referred to in most ancient writing, is the hard amber used for beads.  It is often called "fossilized, but that isn't exactly right.  This is because minerals do not replace the organic parts like they would with say a fossilized bone, or a fern impression in a rock.

Amber is a material, usually from extinct species of trees, several million years old, that has cross-linked and polymerized to become quite hard, and is not "fossilized" as some might say.

Amber is entirely organic, and the actual resin (from an extinct tree) has not changed much over the millions of years it took to become the amber we know today.  This hard amber is the same type that is often found with extinct critters imbedded in it, such as insects, small vertebrates, etc.

Because the amber resin seals out oxygen from these trapped critters (they got trapped when the amber was still soft sticky tree sap) it may be possible to extract DNA from the imbedded critters.  There are currently several laboratories working on this, and you may remember that it was fictionalized in the movie Jurrasic Park.

Air bubbles, gas and water droplets can also be found in amber.  This, and the critters, make it more valuable for jewelry and more valuable to science.  By testing the air, water, gasses, etc. within ancient pieces of amber, we can tell how much our environment has changed.

An insect and bubble appears in the lower left with a sunburst, an embedded stick runs from the top left to bottom right.The first picture of this article shows a somewhat triangular piece of true amber on the bottom row, in the middle.  In the magnified photo to the right, you can see an embedded stick in this piece (the dark line crossing from the top left to the bottom right) and an entrapped insect.  The insect has caused the amber to form what is known as a "sunburst" or "starburst", a rounded or fan-like halo surrounding it.  In the center of this sunburst is the insect, and a small bubble of trapped gasses.

Because embedded items make amber more valuable, there are many fakes on the market.  Sometimes amber colored plastic is melted and cooled at specific temperatures to create the alligator patterns that sometimes occur on the outside of natural amber.  Sunburst fractures and other features of true amber can also be duplicated.  Insects, scorpions or small invertebrates are sometimes included within these imitations.

You may hear that amber is fossilized pine sap, and although it does have a somewhat pine like smell when burned, it really comes from various extinct tropical broad leaved trees and conifers.  Only a few of these trees were even related to pines.

Although amber is found all over the world, wherever the hardened resin from certain extinct plants is found, it has only survived in a couple dozen locals in large enough quantities to be mined.

Amber washed down rivers and streams as trees fell, and is now most often found on beaches.  Because the specific gravity of amber is just a little higher than water, it tends wash ashore.  It is well preserved over millions of years in the sediment at the bottom of oceans and seas, and because it is buoyant (but doesn't float) it gets stirred up by the waves and reaches shores and beaches.

Large quantities wash up in the Baltic Sea after storms, and you will often see "Baltic Amber" for sale at shops.  The appearance of amber on beaches lent tangibility to the ancient legend of amber being the rays of the setting sun becoming solidified on the ocean waves.  Amber is often associated with the sun, and is combined in Craft necklaces with Jet, a black resin with moon associations.  Jet is pictured in the lower right corner of the picture at the beginning of this article.

True amber is melted just enough to stick to other small pieces and chips, then pressed into moulds or larger masses and carved.Also in the first picture is a pyramid shaped piece of amber composite.  To your left is a magnification of this type of amber, also known as reconstituted amber.  This is a partially genuine, and partially faked type of amber made by melting true amber and molding it.  True amber, usually from pieces and flakes that would otherwise be too small for jewelry, is melted down and molded.  Most amber spheres and larger shapes are created in this way, and would otherwise be unaffordable to most people if they were carved from a solid piece of amber.

Amber composite still maintains many of the magickal properties and energies of true amber, but this varies from specimen to specimen.  Some of it can be just as powerful as true amber, some has a unique energy signiture all its own, and still other pieces have very little magical use.  You will have to use your intuition (as always) if you decide to use reconstructed amber.  It is helpful to select these items in person in order to sense their energies.

Reconstituted, or composite amber is very popular because it is abundant and less expensive than true amber.  It can also be formed into wonderful pieces such as spheres, boxes, combs, pendants, pyramids, obelisks, etc.  Normally such pieces made of true amber would be prohibitively expensive for most of us.  However, some unscrupulous merchants do try to pass off reconstructed amber as true amber, and will price the imposter pieces accordingly as if they were true amber.

Notice the angular shadows in this picture, many are just below the surface.  Rather than circular sunburst patters you'd see in true amber, you can see a halo of the edges of pieces and flakes that were melted together.  This particular specimen does have some sunburst patters deep within it (not visible in the photo), however these are very symetrical and do not have any gas bubble, insect or debris visible in their centers.  These inclusions are normally what cause sunbursts in true amber, but in this composite piece they were formed by controlled cooling and reheating.

At the top right hand corner of the picture, you can see the rounded shape of an air bubble that was intentionally trapped to enhance the natural appearance of this specimen.

This greatly magnified piece of real amber displays trapped gas and water bubbles and insects.The first picture in this article displays another interesting piece of true amber from the author's collection.  In the middle of the bottom row, between the reddish coral beads and the triangular true amber is a small round specimin.  To your right you will see the magnified photograph of this piece (click on it to enlarge).

You can see vertical fluctuations in coloration, called banding.  These color variations are formed by sap flow when the amber was just flowing tree sap.  Banding such as this can be an indication of true amber.  You can also see a natural gas bubble in about the middle of the photo, slightly to the left.  A few other air bubble are also are scattered about, generally following the banding patterns.

Take your amber to the local lapidary shop, head shop, gem show, night club or even the local natural museum if you have one nearby.  Expose it to the various lights they have, or to black light.  It will often flouresce green/blue color.  It is also soluble in alcohol and has been used medicinally.

True amber is a hard amber, and it is old.  About four to five million years old.  Jewelry, charms and amulets of Stone Age amber can still be found, and are frequently displayed in museums.  Amber was probably one of the first materials made into beads, charms, amulets and adornments.  Archaeologists propose that this is because it is easily worked with hand tools, and readily found without mining.

Although you can burn this type of amber, and the ancients often did, I personally feel it is wrong to do so.  True amber is a non-renewable, natural gift.  Is any special occasion you may have really special enough to deprive future generations from experiencing the wonder of amber?

In long past and ignorant days, I did try burning a very small flake of true amber just to see, or rather, just to smell.  Honesty, it was not that impressive as far as fragrances go.  Copal blanco, other types of amber (see below) and benzoin are far more impressive, and much more renewable.  The true amber I burned had an overtone of clear, pine like scent, and an undertone of tar-like plastic scent.  Since then, I've come to understand that this is normal, and perhaps when bathing was less popular, the scent was preferred to the odor of exuberant bacterial growth.

True amber is wonderful and magical to keep around without burning it, and it is becoming more and more rare and costly.  It takes millions of years for amber to transform from tree sap to the amber we use, and the plants it originated from are now extinct.

Amber Varieties

The photograph at the beginning of this article illustrates many types of amber.  Amber is often referred to as a resin, and there are many types of resins.  Frankincense, myrrh, dragons blood, opopanax, copal, benzoin, mastic and many others are also resins.

A common factor among these resins are terpenes.  The types, quantities and activities of these terpenes are primarily responsible for the odor of these resins.

Copal Amber is yet another type of hard amber.  It is younger, and softer than the jewelry type discussed above but it can also be used in jewelry.  The red-orange beads on the bottom left of the first picture in this article are copal amber.  It is frequently made into beads and is unfortunately sometimes marketed as "Baltic Amber".  It is much more common and should be more affordable than true amber.  Magically, it has properties somewhat like a cross between copal and amber, so I believe it is aptly named.

When I say copal amber is younger, I mean that copal amber is only several thousand years old, rather than several million years old like Baltic amber and other hard ambers.  In geological time, this is "baby amber" and its energy reflects this.

Copal Amber has not completely cross-linked and polymerized, and when it comes into contact with alcohol, perfume or other solvents it becomes sticky.  It will melt and liquefy easily under heat, whereas the older ambers usually soften somewhat and blacken first.  Copal is sometimes made into traditional varnishes.

A note to botanists and herbalists, this is not the "copal resin" from the trees in Australia and South America that produce sap which hardens quickly and is not the copal resin used for incense.

Trees like these formed into Whitby jet over 180 million years ago. A young monkey-puzzle tree shows the unique branch structure.What About Jet?

Jet, also known as lignite, also has organic origins.  It is considered a mineraloid and was formed hundreds of millions of years ago.  Wood (from trees like the monkey puzzle tree in Whitby, and coniferous Araucariaceae in other areas) and water under pressure and over long periods of time create jet.  Salt water produced harder jets like Whitby, and fresh water caused softer jets like those found in Russia and China.

Although the Pagan use of jet from Germany may be older from a Northern European perspective, all types of jets have been found carved and fashioned into jewelry, charms and religious artifacts in many areas of the world.  There are examples from Germany circa 10,000 BCE and carved jewelry/beads from around 1400 BCE.  Neo-Pagans, Wiccans and Witches often use all types of jet for magick and spiritual purposes.

Like amber, jet is also warm to the touch and will form a static charge when rubbed.  It is sometimes found washed up on beaches (such as in Whitby) much like amber, and was sometimes thought to be a black amber.  Some still refer to jet as "Witches' Amber".  Although the wood it came from is similarly resinous, it was a wood (jet) rather than the resin (amber) that formed the specimen.  On close inspection and magnification, you can sometimes see the wood structure and even growth rings within jet.

Jet pairs well with amber for charms, amulets and talismans.  This combination is often used by Witches, and holds very special magickal energies and is deeply symbolic.  Whitby jet is known to be a particularly high quality, hard jet, appropriate for beads and jewelry.  However, there are exceptionally fine types of jet found nearly all over the world.

Geologists call both Amber and Copal Amber Resinites.  So what are resins?  And what is Ambergris?

Lets start with Ambergris because it too washes up on beaches like Baltic Amber, but it's a very different thing.  If you keep a pet bird, perhaps you've given it a cuttlebone for beak rubbing.  This is an abrasive, sharp bone that is a main part of the diet of the sperm whale (Physeter catodon) along with sea mollusks.  So what does all this have to do with ambergris?  Everything!

Sperm whales eat sharp cuttlefish.  They produce a secretion in their intestinal lining to protect themselves from the sharp bones.  This is an oily substance that floats, and often coats fishing nets or washes ashore.

It smells strange, very sweet and deep, and is the basis (or rather was the basis . . . more on this later) for many of the finest perfumes in the world.  It is a powerful fixative which decreases how volatile other oils are, and makes fragrance last longer.

This is rather hard to explain, but think of it this way. You mix rosemary oil (very volatile and evaporates quickly) with rose absolute (somewhat volatile and evaporates moderately) and patchouli essential oil (many chemicals in the oil are not as volatile and evaporate slower).  You apply this new perfume and voila!  First you smell like rosemary for an hour (top note), then you smell like roses (middle note)and by the end of the day you're just wearing patchouli (base note).

Adding ambergris to this mixture balances everything out so that you have the combination scent, a harmony of all the ingredients together, and so it persists for a longer period of time.  Please remember this is a very rough explanation and more details will be found in other articles and courses about perfumery and incense making here on PaganPath.com.

Don't use ambergris!

Why?  Well lets think about this, we have a substance that is worth more than its weight in gold.  The sperm whales are harvested (that means killed) to get more ambergris, because not enough of it floats to the surface naturally to appease the world's appetite.

Now ambergris is illegal in many places, as well it should be, and just possessing it can be a criminal offense.  Also, harvesting it from live whales is certainly illegal in most parts of the world.  But how do you know the ambergris you bought that was supposedly collected from the beach really was collected naturally, and not through slaughter of an endangered species?  You don't, not unless you were there when it was found.

But here's the good news! Ambergris can now be made in the laboratory.  Sure, I know what you're thinking, "that's not natural!".  And you'd be right.  But all things on this planet are of this planet, and brewing together molecules in a vat isn't too far a cry from brewing a potion in your cauldron.

There are many types of synthetic ambergris, however if you are looking for the "real synthetic thing" (if there is such a thing, lol) then you want "Nature Identical".

Nature Identical oils and chemicals are just that, identical to those found in nature.  A certificate of analysis will show the exact same composition and the molecular structure is the same.  The bad new is that a real nature identical is also price identical, but with ambergris a gram of the white crystalline powder is enough to strongly scent a gallon of perfume.

Civet and musk are other precious scents obtained from animals that also have nature identical versions. (And no, Jovan musk is not a nature identical.)

All of the major perfume houses in the world now use synthetic ambergris out of consideration for the survival of the endangered sperm whales, and more importantly, because they can guarantee a consistent fragrance.  Although the price of nature identical and genuine is about the same, perfume houses rely on the stability and dependability of their formulas.  Customers of a branded perfume expect each bottle to be consistent in fragrance.  Because of the impurities found in many natural substances, the fragrance of each is not always the same.

There are a few places you can still find true ambergris, but again I would strongly discourage this.  Ambergris is from the French term "ambre gris" meaning "grey amber" and it was once thought to be unsolidified amber.  So, if you were confused about amber vs. ambergris, you are certainly not the first person this has happened to!

So what about these resins and what is that smelly amber resin stuff?

The amber resin sold in the incense section of most shops is a combination of many ingredients.  It can also be used for jewelry, but with a perfume function as well.  There are open woven lockets that are made to hold this soft resin so that you can smell good and look stylin' at the same time.

But the main use of this soft amber is not for jewelry, it is for fragrance.  It can be stored in boxes with holes in them to perfume the air like a potpourri or sachet.  It can be burned on charcoals or mixed with other herbs, a binder and some saltpetre to make an incense.  It can be rubbed onto the skin (it will often melt at low temperatures or skin temperature, but can also cause skin irritations for some people).  However, no matter what you do with this soft, fragrant amber, don't ever let it come into contact with any type of hard amber or jet.  The solid amber fragrance will react with true amber and jet, and make it sticky as it dissolves it.

This soft, fragrant amber is often called "Himalayan Amber" or "India Amber" or sometimes even "Mysore Amber".  Most are composed of liquid benzoin resinoiid, sandalwood, copal, patchouli, myrrh, synthetic ambergris and other resins.  These are melted together and then allowed to solidify.  As they solidify, a semi-crystalline structure will form, similar to the crystalline look created in some soy candles.

Various recipes and the techniques of making amber resin into the crystalline substance you buy are closely guarded secrets, often passed down through generations in families.  The ingredients in this type of amber vary widely depending on who makes it.  Think of it this way, there are a thousand types of salads, from pasta to spinach or even jello, but they are all called "salad".  This type of amber is the same way in that the recipe and ingredients vary widely.

Some amber is made by using ghee (clarified butter) and mixing it with essential oils.  The oils included are usually Mysore sandalwood, patchouli, liquid benzoin and other fragrance and essential oils.  Almost none of the types of amber resin available contain true, hard amber or amber resinite, but they were probably originally made have a similar fragrance when burned.

Nowadays, many types of soft amber resin smell far better than true amber resinite when burned.  Even more important, they are normally made of renewable ingredients.

"Red Amber" is usually the type made with ghee, and was at one time considered to be superior in fragrance.  However, the ghee content makes it smell like burning food when it is used for incense and it is often not as sweet as honey amber, celestial amber, gold amber or yellow amber.  It is a wonderful perfume resin, but does not perform as well in incense due to the ghee.  The price of red amber is usually reflective more of popular trends than of the actual ingredients and it is interesting to note that red Baltic amber also draws a higher price.  Maybe red is the new selling color.

The coloration, origin and name of amber resin are no longer a good indication of its quality.  Red Amber Resin - Mysore Amber Resin or other names have become marketing gimmicks more than informative titles since around 1995.  Many of the golden amber resins available today easily surpass much of the red amber resin sold, but it all depends on the recipe and your preferences!

Usually, I use the term Amber Resin to refer to the fragrant soft substance, and call hard amber one of its many, more specific names like: Copal Amber - Baltic Amber - or Amber Resinite.

The picture at the beginning of this article shows three different types of fragrant amber resin.  These are the very top three from left to right in that photograph, and are labeled accordingly. Please note that the red amber in this picture is much lighter in color than most red amber due to the reflection of light from my scanner and the small quantity I still had for the scan.

Final Summary & Notes

The smelly chunks of soft amber are usually guilt free and have nothing to do with sperm whales. They are all interrelated though and some people think that Amber resinite, some Amber resins and Ambergris smell similar. They do share a sweet, woody sort of "old library book" note, but once you have them all side by side they don't seem any more similar than the "green" scents of rosemary, mint and sage.

Amber Resinite or hard Baltic amber resin was once used medicinally and in food. Amber resin, the smelly stuff, tastes horrible and should not be eaten. Ambergris is not a food substance either, and the amber resinite once used medicinally and in food doesn't offer any medicinal properties that cannot be found other and more practical places like renewable herbs.

All types of amber have an important place in magic, from incense to jewelry. But knowing the difference between amber resin, amber resinite and ambergris is essential, so now you know!

 

 

 

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