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.
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.
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:
2. El Jem, Tunisia
3. Ephesus, Turkey
4. Wroclaw, Poland
5. Xiaohe (Little River) Cemetery, China 小河墓地
6. The ancient city of Merv near Mary, Turkmenistan