Hematite: the stone of BLOOD

hematite (or haematite) is easily identifiable as a heavy, cold and mirror-like grey/silver stone.  That is actually red.  We know that it’s red because it leaves red streaks and because when it is ground down it becomes a red powder, known as rouge (because it’s red, don’tcha know?)

What you need to know about hematite:Hematite is a common mineral form of iron (III) oxide (FE2O3) basically a kind of rust!  Unsurprisingly, it’s not one of the more expensive stones used in jewellery. In powdered form this is called rouge and is used as a metal polish (e.g. silver polish in jewellery making) or a colourant in cosmetics such as lipsticks and blush.

In clay form (mixed with water) this is called red ochre and has been used as a pigment around the world since prehistorical times – in fact, it is still used as a pigment for painting in some places (such as houses in Newfoundland and Aboriginal paintings in Australia).

Hematite means bloodstone, from the Greek for ‘blood’, haema  and was sometimes called such by the ancients because of the red streak.  As such, it was thought to be useful for healing relating to the blood (such as coping with hemorrhaging) and is still thought to be good for your blood’s health so that it is popular in magnetic jewellery, which is said to help blood circulation. 

It is said that the ancients believed that hematite formed on old battlegrounds, where the warriors’ blood was spilled and transformed – maybe there was some truth in this because Greek warriors used to rub ground hematite powder on their bodies before battle in order to make themselves invincible.   Presumably when they were wounded their blood mixed with the hematite and became indistinguishable except close up.

Hematite/red ochre may have been one of the first materials used by pre-humans, based on controversial findings of Homo Heidelbergensis (Heidelberg Man – ancestor of Cro Magnon and Neandertals). These may have been the first to care for their dead as bodies have been found buried in the fetal positions, often with their bones stained with hematite – indicating that their bodies were sprinkled with hematite powder or hematite-based paint (such as red ochre or the powder mixed with oil as is still done in Newfoundland and Scandinaviatoday).
Of course,  some archaeologists and other scientists think this is coincidence…


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