Urine of the Lynx
I had done an article on this gem once before as it related to
Greek mythology. However, its history is so vast that I thought
I’d give you all another slant. Aside from the name we know it as
today, it has been known by many other names, some of which will
reveal its identity to the astute. The Greeks, at one time,
called it Elektron …that very word that would one day become
Aside from being known as The Crystallized Urine of the Lynx, it
was also known as Perfumed Crystal, Sun Stone, Burnt Honey, and
Tears of Enchanted Birds. It was used for adornment. It was
burned as incense. It is believed that its perfume was one of
those Moses commanded to be used in the Tabernacle. It was used
as medicine. It could cure insanity. It could cure catarrh. It
could cure diseases of the throat.
We are now back millions of years before man made his appearance
on this earth. Forests of evergreens fringe the shores of what is
now known as the Baltic Sea. The climate is tropical…the air
is heavy with moisture.
Resinous sap slowly oozes from the pines in great thick globs,
entrapping plants and insects in its viscosity. Times passes,
and the forest slowly sinks and the sea flows in and covers it.
Then…prehistoric man makes his appearance. As he patrols the
shores of those waters where the dripping pines had once stood,
terrible storms arise, caused by demons and evil spirits who want
nothing more than to destroy this flimsy creature that is
inhabiting their world. Man cowers in fear…till the storm
subsides. And then…there …on the shores…are strange,
formless yellow clumps…waiting to be plucked. Good omens…to
be strung on animal sinew and worn around the neck in order to
ward off those evil storm creatures that menaced their very
The beginning of jewelry. The beginnings of Amber. So precious
was this stone that when a tribal member died, his amber was
buried with him so that he could enjoy it in the next world.
Some of the wealthier members of the tribe were often buried with
enough amber to fill a full bushel measure.
Harvesting this gem became an intrinsic part of the life of our
savages. They needed it…they truly needed it…to help control
those spirits that hovered in their lives, wanting nothing more
than their destruction. And so they braved the ocean itself to
harvest its crop. They tied themselves to each other…anchoring
themselves first on the beach…and then slowly going one after
the other into the waters…bracing themselves against the
tides…gathering seaweed laden with amber…stuffing it into
animal skins slung around their necks. Once back on shore…the
amber was picked out of the seaweed by the women.
And now…as the excess of amber stores grew…and the tribes
found they had enough to ward off their evil spirits…they began
to use it to barter with other tribes for tools, and weapons, and
maybe a television and a car too. Who knows? The age of commerce
had made her appearance in the lives of primitive man…and would
never disappear. And all this…because of a piece of gem that
primitive man wore as a bejewelled amulet.
So don’t tell me folks, that jewelry and jewelers, do not form
the most basic and intrinsic part in the very growth of
civilization and industrial development. It wasn’t Plato…or the
Wright Brothers…or even that Swiss inventor of Velcro that
brought man to the point where he is today. No sir. It was
amber…and the jewelers of the day that long time ago…who
knew how to string a clump of yellow matter on animal sinew, to
be worn, in a most attractive way, around the neck in order to
ward off evil. And there ya have it. That’s it for this week
folks. Catch you all next week. Benjamin Mark
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