4. Mineral Healing: Gemstone Remedies in Astrological and Medical Traditions
Soulless Matter, Seats of Energy - Metals, Gems and Minerals in South Asian Traditions - Fabrizio Ferrari
Anthony Cerulli [+]
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Caterina Guenzi [+]
École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
In this chapter we explore the science of “external” remedies in India. What are some of the ways that people in India treat the body and mind and seek overall wellbeing through ornamentation and surface application of gemstones (maṇi) and amulets (bhadrikā and rakṣikā) (vis-à-vis, for example, “internal” treatments involving botanical decoctions, oils and powders that are assimilated by the body)? Drawing on textual references and ethnographic examples, we discuss how gemstones (e.g., rubies, pearls and sapphires) and amulets (constructed from such things as devil tree, wild asparagus, seashells, and other substances) have been used in India as preventative therapies in a person’s daily regimen and as specific remedies for disorders during pregnancy, planetary-based afflictions, and madness, among other things. The preparations, testing, and practices of minerals and amulets that are used to treat the body and mind reveal a worldview in which the human person is entwined within multiple and intersecting ecosystems. It is a worldview, furthermore, in which notions of bodily externality and internality are blurred. A distinctive and wide-ranging notion of wellbeing emerges, we suggest, that connects the mineral, botanical, and astral domains with the human body’s functioning and a person’s course of life.