FROM remotest times, back even to the birth of humanity, Precious Stones and Talismans have been held in high estimation by all nations; the former, primarily because of their beauty, and the latter on account of their virtues, as transmitters of good luck and to avert misfortune. The association of Gems with power, civil and religious, has ever been noticeable; and to the fascination of antiquity may be added the allurement of mystery. Moreover, of the many and varied signs of wealth and luxury, jewels have played a most important part in the lives of the great, not only on account of their beauty but because they contained in a small compass the equivalent to a large sum of money and in times of danger could easily be concealed and carried from place to place.

As tokens or symbols they conveyed joy and confidence to their owners, and were thought to give warning of coming events, inspiring courage and faith in the fearful, and the romances and tragedies in which they have played a part, together with their marked influence on the lives of individuals and nations, intensifies our interest in them so that it is little wonder that faith in the mysterious properties ascribed to them should have survived the growth of ages and still find so many believers in all countries. The philosophers of thousands of years ago, understanding their suitability as a medium for the transmission of astral forces and vibrations, invested them with much importance, attributing to them spiritual as well as material powers, special characteristics and medicinal and curative qualities.

In all probability gems had their origin in the very remote period of the Earth's history when it was still in a molten state subject to deluge and fire, before its solidification made it possible for vegetation to appear, and the translucent lustre of certain gems is due to the action of the floods which preceded the fiery volcanic period. The colouring which forms their greatest fascination is due to various metallic oxides in combination with oxygen which in varying quantities gives red, blue, yellow, or green colourings, as shown by the Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, and Amethyst.

It is most difficult to determine with any certainty in what country Precious Stones were first worn as ornaments, but the consensus of opinion seems to point to India, as far as recognised history is concerned, as their birthplace, for every rare and beautiful production of Nature, Gems and Pearls are associated with the East.

The earliest records of humanity do not, however, stop with known histories, for traces of man's love for gems are found in the discoveries of travellers and the traditions of South America, evidence proving an inheritance from past civilisations of great antiquity. There is an innate attraction to the marvellous in mankind, the imagination leading us to endow the rare and precious with peculiar qualities, particularly when the source of its beauty and rarity is not readily perceptible. It is akin to the extraordinary magnetic influence which one person may exercise over another without any. tangible evidence of super-physical powers, or the mysterious attraction which the Magnet exercises over Iron, and establishes the inference that other minerals may be similarly endowed with properties at present unrecognised by our ordinary physical senses.

Modern research confirms the old teaching that the Universe was created from the four elements, Fire, Air, Water, Earth, in the order given, each growing as it were from its predecessor and all animated in turn by the Word breathed upon them at the Creation; this force, or energy, permeates all existing things from man, who is the highest of apparent physical manifestations down through the animal and vegetable kingdoms to the mineral, in which this energy, by reason of its very slow atomic changes, is least obvious. This Force manifests in the form of vibrations moving in waves through every composite part of the physical world, and, according to the condition of its medium, helping and giving power when in harmony, and thwarting or nullifying action when under unfavourable conditions. To this Force, or Etheric influence, is due the law of Evolution, or progress, which operates in every department of the Universe, not being confined to any one kingdom, but harmonising each with the other, being naturally most powerful in man whose evolution is the highest, and forms the medium through which man can act on the lower kingdoms and receive desired vibrations from them. We may thus interpret Plato's statement "that gems owe their origins to the stars" as an etheric influence acting on the auriferous matter which forms their composition.

Evidence of undoubted authenticity of wonderful occult powers and experiences has within recent years become readily accessible to all. Psychometry [the art of sensing past happenings to individuals from the handling of something belonging to them, such as a glove or jewel] may be said to be established as a fact; and that this power is not confined to human affairs but permeates also the lower kingdoms is aptly illustrated by a personal experience which occurred during the summer of 1912. Mr. J. Wedge wood of the Theosophical Society, who is much interested in sensing colours from the touch of Precious Stones, and with whom I have frequently experimented in this direction, called one day at my office with a lady friend, Mrs. Russak, also of the Theosophical Society, and a well-known occultist. In the course of conversation Mr. Wedge wood said, "If you want to know anything about any of your stones, this lady can tell you," and, being desirous of getting a real test, I selected two new stones that I knew had never been used, as will be seen by what follows: - I handed one to Mrs. Russak which she held in the palm of her hand for a moment or so, and then gave me what was, as far as I could judge, a description of the processes of its formation; then, holding it out to me, went on to say, "I am sorry I cannot give you any events connected with this stone, but within the last month you have changed its centre of gravity." The stone was a Jargoon that I had only just received back from the lapidary with whom I had left it in the rough to be cut; it was a very decided oval in shape whilst in its rough state, and the lapidary had advised me to have practically half of it cut away, leaving the stone quite circular and only about half its original size, although much more valuable and finer in colour than it would have been had it been cut as an oval twice the size.

The second stone was a piece of Lapis Lazuli, and after holding this for a while the Seer said, "I only get warm friendly vibrations from this stone, and as far as I can tell it has had no history as a finished stone; but it must have come into your possession under very kindly conditions." The stone in question had been cut from a large piece of Lapis Lazuli given to me in its natural rough uncut form by a client, in recognition of quite a slight service I had rendered her, but which had played a rather important part in her life.

This ability to gauge and come into touch with the soul of things is unfortunately at present only confined to the few, although innate in every human being, and must be regarded as a latent sense which will be common to coming generations, opening up realms hitherto undreamt of and making a decided forward step in human evolution.

Confusion and doubt have arisen as to the exact stones mentioned by the early writers, owing to their elastic methods of describing all red stones as Rubies, all green stones as Emeralds, and all blue stones as Sapphires; this confusion has not been lessened by reason of the complexity of the many languages of the East, to say nothing of the artistic liberties taken by modern poets and authors, (who, probably unaware of the necessity for astronomical or astrological knowledge as a basis for the Zodiacal placing of the stones,) have taken our calendar as it stands for the Month stones with such embellishments as their fancy dictated.