The thirteenth century “Book of Wings” by Ragiel, was one of those middle ages writings which held the curious notion that gemstones carved in ancient times were actually created that way in nature. Of the topaz, Ragiel says “The figure of a falcon, if on a topaz, helps to acquire the goodwill of kings, princes and magnates.”
Due to its golden color, topaz was thought to attract gold, and did so most adeptly if set in gold. Worn on the left arm, a topaz amulet protected its wearer from dark magics and greed of others, relieved the pain of arthritis, regulated the digestive system, aided in weight loss, and attracted love. In potions, it was thought to cure a wide range of ailments.
St. Hildegard recommended the topaz as a cure for dimness of vision. The vision connection also comes up in another tale that the topaz would render its wearer invisible. A stone of protection, placed in the home, it is thought to ward off accidents and fires. Under the pillow, it prevents nightmares and other night terrors.
Topaz was astrologically associated with Jupiter in Hindu traditions. Rings set in astrological sequence as represented by different stones were called the ‘nine-gem’ jewel, or naoratna. When set in the prescribed manner with flawless gemstones, this was considered a very powerful talisman from very ancient times. Topaz was the seventh stone in this setting. The other stones were:
Ruby, in the center, for the Sun.
Diamond, to the East, for Venus.
Pearl, to the Southeast, for the Moon.
Coral, to the South, for Mars.
Jacinth, to the Southwest, Rahu (head of the Dragon, the ascending node, indicating the passage of the Moon on the ascent above this plane).
Sapphire, to the West, for Saturn.Topaz, to the Northwest, for Jupiter.Cat’s-eye, to the North, the descending node (tail of the Dragon, the descent of the Moon).Emerald, to the Northwest, for Mercury.
The idea of the ascent and descent of the Moon being placed into the setting lends ‘movement’ to this arrangement and hence power to the talisman. A very interesting way of looking at jewelery settings indeed!
Ancient references to topaz actually seem to be referring to a greenish stone, most likely peridot, or chrysolite. Conversely, topaz was known as chrysolite, which literally means “golden stone.” This type of confusion over ancient names and properties assigned to them is one of the leading causes of debate over the original setting of stones in the High Priest’s Breastplate.
No sooner is there a set list of which stones someone believes were in the Breastplate, then you open up the can of worms over which stone was actually MEANT by that name! It is a mystery that will never be completely solved. Those wishing to duplicate such a setting would be best off in simply trying to match the colors as described and use the common ancient stones of those colors to complete the setting. This is most likely what the ancients did do, hence the modern day confusion over the ‘right’ settings! Study into the matter of which tribes may have been associated with which color, and attacking the problem from that angle might also be warranted.