In Arabic the onyx is known as ‘el jaza’ which means ‘sadness’. A manuscript from 1875 notes that in China the onyx was mined by slaves and menials, never would anyone willing touch or own an onyx, for fear of the bad dreams, ill fortune and loss of energy it would cause. The stone could not be sold in these lands, but was instead brought to the west and sold to the unwary there. Of course, the fact that it WAS sold would argue that it wasn’t all that detrimental to fortunes, just not at home where it had such a bad rap.
The red hue of the Sard was used as an ‘antidote’ for the dark, melancholy effects of dark onyx, and also of the bad dreams it caused.
With such a reputation, what then is the appeal to this stone? Well, the wiser alchemists knew that it is not so much in the stone, but in the mind of the user. That it has depressing qualities, they had no doubt. But depressing what? A manuscript by Cardano from 1560 tells of the onyx being used extensively in India to cool the ardor’s of love. That is a form of depression, for sure.
Scott Cunningham describes the onyx as being useful for temporarily dampening the sex drive, as described above. or containing energy of any kind. Onyx has long been associated as a ‘captured’ demon, imp or spirit. Almost like the genie trapped in the bottle? Hmmmmm Anyways, he notes that the sexy sparkle of the diamond is a perfect foil for the ‘depressive’ onyx. They look good together, too.
The Bghai tribes of Burma kept spirit statues of different stones in their homes. These spirits were fed offerings of blood, so that they would be sated and not feed on the family. Many of these statues were made of onyx.
An acquaintance had mentioned that Onyx figured heavily in the Russian folklore. I have not been able to track down this information, but I did find an interesting link in my travels. If you are so inclined, check out the story of the Amber Room. It was stolen from Russia during WWII. One of the panels was of onyx.