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The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems, by William Thomas and Kate Pavitt, [1922], at

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Period—Constellation—Origin of, the Sign—The Yoke—The Altar—Characteristics of the Type—Influence of Saturn—Inclination for Companionship—Marriage—Moods—Partnership—Professions—Health Defects of the Type—Gems of the House—The Opal—Coral—Lapis Lazuli—The Modern Ill-luck of the Opal—Its Ancient Virtues—Sensitiveness of the Opal—Its Virtues as a Libra Gem—Coral—Virtues—As Infant's Talisman—Lapis Lazuli—Egyptian Talisman—Qualities of the Stone.

The Sun enters Libra, the Seventh House of the Zodiac, about September 23rd, marking the commencement of the autumnal equinox, and completes its stay on October 24th approximately.

This House is ruled by the planet Venus and is symbolised by a pair of Scales, as illustrated in No. 7 of the coloured Frontispiece. As a Constellation it is very difficult to distinguish, appearing on the meridian about midnight in June, and is situated between the constellation of Virgo on the West and Scorpio on the East.

It is the first of the Autumnal signs, and, as with the Sun's entry into Libra the balance is

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reached, the days and nights then being of equal length, this would afford a practical reason for its name, although there exists no authority for this assumption.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, Libra the Balance was not included in the earliest Zodiacs, and how its predecessor was named and when it was lost does not seem ascertainable, although in some Archaic records a seventh month is indicated as occupying that part of the heavens marked by the claws of the Scorpion.

It is believed to have been known to the Egyptians as Zugon, or the Yoke, the beam only of the scales being represented, typifying the Nileometer, the instrument by which the inundations of the Nile were measured. According to some Akkadian writings the name of the seventh month was Tul-ku, meaning Holy Altar, and it is interesting to note that both the Altars of the first and second temples were dedicated in the seventh month, which has afforded ground for the assumption that the symbol for this period originally took the form of an Altar. It is also remarkable that this is the only Zodiacal House the symbol of which is not based on some living prototype.

Those born under the influence of Libra are remarkable for their powers of comparison, being

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able to mentally weigh and balance all things in a way that none of the other types seem capable of doing; and owing to extraordinary intuitive and perceptive qualities, Libra subjects are very susceptible to the thoughts of others, often unconsciously sensing their feelings and intentions before a word is spoken.

In matters appertaining to religion they claim an individual liberty of thought and are the least exclusive and most tolerant of all classes and creeds, seeming to act as connecting links between the various sects and faiths which without their mediation would be constantly at variance, drawing men together in the bond of brotherhood, although never forcing their convictions or opinions upon others unasked.

Although apt in all intellectual pursuits and having many interests, subjects of this type seldom make a success of their lives until after middle age, seeming constantly retarded by indecision, a failing to which they are inclined, living on from day to day, contemplating changes but submitting to the yoke of circumstances and environment for years, until some event occurs to break up the groove and force them into new conditions.

The planet Saturn, which has its exaltation in this House, and curiously enough is often afflicted

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in the horoscope of this type, diminishes the influence of its natural ruler Venus, giving a tinge of moodiness and dissatisfaction detrimental to advancement. When unhampered by adverse Saturnian influences, and armed with an education adapted to the development of the profession or calling they are best suited for, they attain to the front rank and, having once made up their minds, do not change easily.

They are impartial and painstaking, but, although they can and do labour strenuously for others, they rarely distinguish themselves when their efforts are merely on their own behalf or to their own personal advantage; and there is an inclination to accept fate as it comes.

Having a strong inclination for companionship and congenial sympathy, the Librans above all the Zodiacal Houses are best suited to run in double harness, the selflessness of these subjects taking the form of being happiest when confirmed in their habits and tastes by those of whom they are fond. They are the least suited of any to live alone, although they enjoy themselves best in quiet surroundings far from the noise and conflict of towns, being partial to hillsides and sunny heaths, with ample leisure at command for study and reading when inclined. They are also interested

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in Botany and the growing of old-world flowers and plants. Even in old age they never lose their interests although disliking social conventionalities and emotional excitement at all times.

In love and marriage relations they are attached and devoted, those born during this period being able to live amicably with any other sign, although most in harmony with those born in Gemini, Leo, and Sagittarius periods, Cancer and Capricorn being the least harmonious. As a rule this type is courteous and affable in disposition, always granting a favour gracefully although keenly resenting any attempt to impose upon their good nature, and in connection with this trait we may mention that China and Japan, the two countries so typical of courtesy, come under the sign of Libra.

The temper of this type is as a rule even, and they are usually lenient to the faults of others, but when aggravated they are cutting and sharp in speech, leaving nothing they feel unexpressed, although never malicious.

Inclined to be fastidious over small things, yet they have a tendency to lose and mislay their belongings; but having much adaptability and' resource in emergency, they seldom feel any inconvenience from this failing.

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To be successful they should be in partnership, or engaged in a profession or business that is neither monotonous nor arduous, as they work best in accordance with their moods; and when in harmony with their associates and surroundings, make good Musicians, Artists, Singers, Poets, Lawyers, Composers, Designers, Botanists, Librarians, Landscape Gardeners and Florists; they are also adapted for mechanical and commercial business, and to deal in goods that can be purchased and sold again quickly; and it is interesting to note that as a general rule this type is unfortunate in gambling and affairs of chance, although lucky in speculation, and as long as they follow their natural foresight will rarely be cheated.

The health defects of these subjects are kidney trouble, pains in the back, afflictions of the reproductive organs, varicose veins, indigestion, headaches, and depression of spirits; also loin trouble.

Quiet and plenty of fresh air are their best medicines.

The gems of this House are the Opal, Coral, and Lapis Lazuli.

The Opal.—The Opal is the most beautiful and mysterious of all gems, containing as it does all the colours of the rainbow, which flash and

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glow in sparks and minute flames as the light plays over the surface, causing it to be aptly described as combining in itself the beauties of all the other stones. It is a species of soft quartz, and the wonderful play of colour is believed to be caused by extremely minute particles of air enclosed in its fissures.

The finest variety is known as Harlequin Opal, in which the colourings are distributed in numerous very small flakes throughout the stone. Mexican Opals are more transparent, with the colouring less definite, and arranged in much larger patches; from Mexico we also get fire Opals which are of one colour, the deep red "fire-like" stones being the best, though they vary in colour to a warm yellow.

Opals are very soft when first taken from the mine, but harden by exposure. Great care is necessary in cutting and also in setting them, as they are very brittle and liable to chip.

In the fourteenth century the Opal was known as the Ophthalmius, or Eye Stone, because it was believed to sharpen and strengthen the eyesight; also that its flashes of coloured fire were especially efficacious in arresting the glance of envy. In India, the passing of an Opal across the brow is believed to clear the brain and strengthen the memory.

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The idea of its being an unlucky stone had its origin in the misfortunes that befell Anne of Geierstein in Sir Walter Scott's novel, her principal jewel consisting of a large Opal; they are not, in reality, more unlucky than other stones, though being a Libra gem and essentially a pledge of friendship, they are not fortunate for any one having Venus afflicted in their horoscope. In the East it is regarded as a sacred stone which contains the Spirit of Truth, and in Ancient Greece the Opal was supposed to possess the power of giving foresight and the light of prophecy to its owner, provided it was not used for selfish ends; its misuse bringing ill-luck in love (which probably accounts for its being unlucky when used in an engagement ring) and disappointment and misfortune in all enterprises.

Pliny tells, as an illustration of its high value, that Nonnius, a Roman Senator, endured outlawry and exile at the hands of Marcus Antonius rather than part with an Opal he possessed.

All Opals are very sensitive to atmospheric conditions, varying in brilliancy according to the temperature, their colouring being at its best when worn and kept warm and dry. This sensitiveness was believed by the ancients to make them susceptible to influences of an occult nature, so that when the colour of an Opal was bright and

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lively it indicated success and good fortune to enterprises or travel, and when dull and lifeless it warned of failure and disappointments. It also indicated to its wearer whether it was favourable or otherwise, being full of colour and brilliancy when in sympathy with its owner's interests and lacking in colour and lustre when adverse in its influence.

Coral.—Coral has been classed amongst gems from time immemorial by all nations, although, as is well known, it is the product of a marine insect.

It is found in various colours, the pink, red, and white, however, being the only kinds generally used as gems. It is produced in enormous quantities in the Southern Seas, where it forms huge reefs and even islands; but practically the whole of the Coral used for ornamental purposes is obtained in the Mediterranean off the African coasts, the Greeks maintaining an extensive fleet solely engaged in this trade. It is exported in very large quantities to China, Japan, India, and Persia, where it is used not only for its talismanic virtues, but also for its medicinal qualities. Amongst the Ancient Greeks and Romans it was highly valued, being used in many ways for various ailments. Orpheus recommended that it should be powdered and scattered amongst

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growing crops to safeguard them from locusts, blight, caterpillars, and thunderstorms. Dioscorides considered it efficacious against the delusions of the devil; and the Romans believed it specially favourable for the prevention of childish ailments, Coral in various forms being worn as charms against Whooping-cough, Colic, and Teething troubles; also for the prevention of fits. The Coral rattle of bells used in modern nurseries is a survival from this period when Coral was worn for health purposes, and the bells to drive away evil spirits. They also used powdered Coral, taking it internally in water for pains in the stomach; and, after burning the powder, used it as an important ingredient in ointments for ulcers and sore eyes because of its soothing and healing qualities. The Roman ladies wore small branches of Coral suspended from the neck as charms against sterility.

In India, China, and Japan, it is extensively used in Rosaries, and is very popular, being regarded as a sovereign remedy against cholera and all epidemics, and invaluable in indicating to its wearer the presence of poison, or the danger of illness, by changing colour. In Southern Europe necklaces of Coral beads are worn to avert the Evil Eye.

Camillus Leonardus recommends it to keep evil

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spirits from the house, prevent mental delusions and nightmare, give relief in intestinal trouble, and to avert diseases of the spleen. It is still extensively used in Italy for the numerous carved charms worn to avert the Evil Eye.

Lapis Lazuli.—Lapis Lazuli is a deep blue stone well known to all ancient nations, and is most probably the stone mentioned in early writings as the Sapphire, the Tables of the Law stated in the Bible as being of the latter, although there is not much doubt that Lapis Lazuli is the stone meant.

It is an opaque stone, and is frequently flecked with gold owing to the presence of iron pyrites in its composition.

The best qualities come from China, Persia, and Siberia; whilst the lighter-coloured and less valuable is found in Germany and South America. Its name is derived from Lapis, meaning "a stone," and the Arabic word Azul, meaning "blue."

It was very popular with the Egyptians, several of their Talismans being made of this gem, particularly the Eye and Heart, specimens of which may be seen in the fourth Egyptian Room at the British Museum. On account of its beautiful deep blue colour it has always been dedicated to Venus, and in Christian religions is regarded as

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the stone of the Virgin Mary. It was freely used by the Greeks and Romans both for ornamental purposes and for the cure of Apoplexy, Epilepsy, diseases of the Spleen, and all skin ailments and blood disorders. Also a necklace of Lapis Lazuli beads was considered beneficial to inspire courage in timid children, cure depression of spirits and melancholia, whilst it strengthened the affections, ensured fidelity in friends, and brought success in love.

The Opal, Coral, and Lapis Lazuli should not, however, be worn by those whose birthdays fall in the Cancer or Capricorn periods.

Next: Chapter VIII. Scorpio—The Scorpion