Lapidary of Sacred Stones & My Grandmother’s Amber


I’m finishing up research on Medieval and Renaissance uses of stones of all kinds (even stones like gall stones and kidney stones) for the purpose of religious worship (including all Abrahamic religions), healing, and protection.

The stones you see in the picture are a string of raw amber my grandmother brought back for me from Częstochowa, Poland. She made a pilgrimage to see The Black Madonna of Częstochowa 30 years ago and returned a very different woman after that experience. They carried so much energy in them that I locked them away and lost track of them until recently.

According to the lapidary, amber or Cymbra as it was called is thought to be engendered from the breath of a whale, found at the bottom of the sea and the mouth of rivers. It guards the virtues of the body, sharpens the memory, and banishes sorrows.

In The Thousand and One Nights, all sorts of stones are pitched into the sea by a fountain, swallowed by fish and spit back out as amber.

Pliny offered us a fanciful creation story, stating that amber was produced by the sun’s rays that would leave it behind as they struck the ground at the end of the day.

In folk medicine, it is used to tranquilize the mind.

Amber plays a key role in The Woman On The Wall, As does the Cult of the Black Madonna.

More on that soon.

My Bucket List of Novel Settings

I’m a bit lusty in the travel department lately, not really able to get my mind off of the frolicking in France I’ll be doing this September. However, my family will report that wanderlust and I have been BFFing hard since I got my first National Geographic in the mail at age six.

Novel writing provides the perfect excuse for exotic explorations. Geist is set in a Prunières, France, deep in the Cévennes Mountains. However, it also explores the ancient magic of Moldavia. I loved weaving the two and building on the myth of each place.

Outside Prunières, France on the Margeride
Outside Iaši, Romania (formerly Moldavia)

I’ve got a crazy pile of novel concepts floating around and so many fictional landscapes to explore.

Here is my Top 10 Bucket List of settings I want to use in novels:

  1. Kiev, Ukraine.


2. El Jem, Tunisia

El Jem is home to the second largest colosseum ever built by the Roman Empire

3. Ephesus, Turkey

The Library of Celsus was destroyed by an alleged earthquake in 262 A.D. However, the contents of the library vanished. 

4. Wroclaw, Poland

One of the most haunted cities in Poland, Wroclaw is steeped in legends including that of a demonic dwarf.

5. Xiaohe (Little River) Cemetery, China 小河墓地

Before the desert, this incredible place was the site of an enormous lake and the kingdom of Shan Shan.

6. The ancient city of Merv near Mary, Turkmenistan

Thought to be an ancient Scythian fortress, Merv is one of the most ancient sites on Earth

7. Gobekli Tepe, Turkey

Gobekli Tepe, Turkey is considered one of the most ancient temples in the world. Remnants of 

Read THIS about it.