January Birthstone: Garnet
In the midwinter the deep red garnet is a warming companion. This is my own birthstone and I have long worn garnets for their fortifying properties. There are several different forms and colours of garnet, but the deep red Almandine garnets are the most easily obtained and affordable. Pyrope garnets are also used in jewellery.
The Romans called garnets carbunculus almandius. Carbuncle is an old term that has been used to describe red gemstones in general and means 'glowing coal', which is exactly the warming effect we require in January. The Crusaders carried the magical carbuncles as an amulet of protection.
According to the Talmud a large garnet gave the light in Noah's Ark. Given the amount of rain we've had this Winter we may want to keep that usage in mind!
Possible origins of the name garnet are the Middle English gernet meaning 'dark red' or the glowing red seeds of the pomegranate fruit whose name contains the Latin root granatus. This association links garnet to the mythology of Persephone in the Underworld. Persephone, the daughter of Demeter and Zeus, was abducted by Hades. By eating the seeds of the pomegranate she was bound to reside with Hades in the Underworld for a third of the year. Grieving over the loss of her daughter the Goddess Demeter causes the plants to shrivel and die and Winter spreads across the land. The return of Persephone marks the start of Spring.
I find that wearing or carrying garnets supports my immune system, another reason for its association with the coldest month of the year. Garnet will assist with grounding and can strengthen the base, or root, chakra, which is essential for robust physical health. If you have difficulty in connecting with your physical being and enjoying the sensual pleasures of physical incarnation then garnet may assist you.
Garnet is a cubic stone and so has a stabilising effect.
Garnet has been associated with Prosperity. I feel this is because garnet strengthens our Earth connection and so makes it easier for us to manifest our ideas into physical reality. It can also help us appreciate what we already have and so we feel more abundant.
You don't have to be a January baby to enjoy garnets. Gather around these 'glowing coals' and enjoy the warmth they'll share with you.