Bruce G. Knuth, of Jewelers Press in Thornton Colorado, has published a fascinating book; Gems in Myth, Legend, and Lore and has graciously offered several for our enjoyment. He still collects stories so E-mail him your tales or orders at email@example.com or snail mail to:
13440 Jackson Pl.
Thornton, Colorado 80241.
Greek Myth of PhaetonPhaeton, the son of Phoebus Apollo the Sun God asked his father to drive the Sun Chariot pulled by wild horses. For a time his travels went well, then suddenly the horses bolted and the chariot came to close to the Earth, setting it ablaze. This was said to be the origin of volcanoes. The entire Earth was blazing, the forests burned and the land parched. The heat was so great that the peoples of Africa were burned black.
The God Zeus, in an gesture to save the earth, struck Phaeton dead with a lightning bolt. Phaeton's body fell into the River Eridanus. The nymphs of the stream pulled his body from the stream and buried him on the river bank.
After a time his three sisters, the Heliades (aka Electrides), came in search of the grave. When they found it, they vowed to stay with their dead brother and wept day and night. Their wasting bodies took root and became covered with the bark of the surrounding trees. Their arms turned to branches and eventually, the three were transformed into trees. Their tears continued to flow, and as they hardened in the sun, turned to amber.
Lithuanian Myth of Lost LovePerkunas, God of Thunder, was the father God. The fairest goddess was Jurate, a mermaid who lived in an amber palace in the Baltic. Kastytis was a courageous fisherman living along the coast near the mouth of the Sventoji River.
Kastytis would cast his nets to catch fish from Jurate's kingdom. The goddess sent her mermaids to warn him to stop fishing in her domain. He did not stop. After the mermaids failed, Jurate went to demand he stop. When she saw how handsome and courageous he was she fell in love with him and brought him to her amber palace.
Perkunas, knowing Jurate was promised to Patrimpas, god of water, was angered to find an immortal in love with a mortal. In anger, Perkunas sent a bolt of lightning to destroy the goddess' palace and kill her mortal lover. Her palace was destroyed and Jurate was chained to the ruins for eternity.
She weeps tears of amber for her lost lover. When the storms stir the sea, fragments of her palace ruins are driven onto the shores of the Baltic. Tear drop shaped pieces are thought to be particular treasures as they are the tears washed from the grieving goddess' eyes. These amber pieces are said to be as clear and true as her tragic love.
Lithuanian Myth of AmberellaThe beautiful maiden Amberella lived on the shores of the sea with her fisherman father and his wife. While swimming, Amberella is drawn into a whirlpool and pulled into the depths of the sea. Amberella finds that she has been captured by the Prince of the Seas to serve as his princess.
He keeps her as his wife in a fabulous undersea palace of amber. When Amberella begs to be returned to her parents, the prince is enraged. He mounts white foaming horses, grasps his princess in his arms, and rises to the surface in a furious storm.
As the Prince of the Seas and Amberella rise from the water, her parents see her in his grasp. She is adorned with an amber crown and amber necklace. In her hands she holds lumps of amber which she tosses to her grieving parents. As the prince and Amberella sink back into the sea, they realize their daughter is lost forever.
Now, when the Prince of Seas becomes angry, the seas begins to churn and storms rage. From her prison-palace below, Amberella tosses pieces of amber onto the shores to show her parents how much she misses and loves them.
Norse Myth of the Divine Origin of AmberFreya, beautiful, blue-eyed, blond goddess of love, beauty, and fertility had a weakness for beautiful jewels. She was wed to handsome Odur, the sunshine, and bore him two lovely daughters. They lived in her palace, Folkvanger, in the land of Asgard.
One day Freya was out for a walk along the border of her kingdom. This was the boundary of the kingdom of the Black Dwarfs. As she walked she noticed some of the dwarfs making a beautiful necklace. It glistened as golden as the bright sun and caused Freya to stop to admire it. Freya was told this treasure was the Brisingamen, or the Brising necklace and of great value to the dwarfs.
"Oh, you must sell me the necklace. I will give a treasure of silver for I cannot live without it. I have never seen one as beautiful."
The dwarfs told her that all the silver in the world could not purchase the Brisingamen. Believing she could not endure without owning the necklace, she asked:
"Is there any treasure in the world for which you would sell me the necklace?"
"Yes, you must buy it from each of us." answered the dwarfs, "for it is the treasure of your love. If you are wed to each of us for a day and a night, Brisingamen shall be yours."
Bewitched by the sparkle of the beautiful necklace, Freya was over come with madness. She forgot Odur, she forgot her two lovely daughters, she even forgot she was the Queen of the Aesir. In her madness, she agreed to the pact. No one in Aesir knew about the weddings of barter except the mischief-maker Loki, who seemed to always be around when evil was brewing.
After four days and nights of these unholy unions, Freya returned to her palace to live in shame. She hid the necklace she had given her honor for. But Loki came to Odur in inform him of what had taken place in the land of the dwarfs. Odur demanded proof of these scandalous tales. To provide evidence, Loki set out to steal the necklace. Turning himself into a flea, he flew into Freya's chambers and bit her on the cheek while she slept. The bite caused Freya to turn so he was able to remove the necklace.
Loki went to Odur and showed him the evidence of her infidelity. Odur tossed the necklace aside, left the kingdom of Asgard, a traveled to far distant lands. Freya woke the next morning to find both her necklace and husband gone.
Weeping, she went to Valhalla to confess to the father god Odin whose palace was near the amber valley of Glaesisvellir. At the entrance to Valhalla was an amber grove called Glaeser, with trees that dripped beads of amber. The kindly Odin forgave Freya for her evil, but demanded a penance. Taking the Brisingamen from Loki, he commanded Freya to wear the necklace for eternity and wander the world in search of her lost love, Odur.
As she wanders the world she continues weeping. The teardrops which land on soil turn to gold in the rocks, those which fall in the sea are turned to amber.
(The word glaeser is derived from the German word gles of glaes which latter was the derivation of the word glass, when the substance was introduced into Northern Europe.)
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