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Three glass ornaments (see below) were the original models for the actual magic Ravenstones. Readers will note that – except for the colors – the descriptions of the gemstones in the books match (more or less) these pieces.
In my younger days, I collected glasswork (both blown and cast) along with prints and paintings. Ione Thorkelsson, a friend and university classmate of my sister, is a noted Canadian glassblower, and my sister’s purchases of some of her pieces inspired me to get these three simple objects.
(If you’re interested in blown glass, here’s my shout-out to Ione – a video on the approach she takes to producing her art).
The piece in the center may have been blown by Ione, but since so many years have gone by I’ve lost track and haven’t been able to confirm it. The two iridescent cast glass pieces are two of several other more elaborate works of art by Robert Held, the dean of glassblowing in Canada.
I could say a great deal more about the Ravenstones, but I don’t want to spoil any surprises for the dedicated reader. Perhaps at another time, when we’re further along into the story.
The series wasn’t always called The Ravenstones. It had two earlier titles (now best forgotten), and was originally named after the two lead characters, Eirwen and Fridis. It was only later, when I recognized that I had several intertwining stories and a host of lead characters, that I decided an overarching title was required, one that encapsulated the real central quest involved.
Interestingly, if one googles ‘magic stones’, the first thing that pops up online is a reference in the digital magazine, Aleph. This journal, dedicated to inspiring creativity and “honoring values” such as rebellion, magic and transformation (amongst other things), provides a motherlode of fascinating material for the curious mind.
The site delves into mysticism, eccentricity, explorations, inspiration, and, best of all, fantasy lands, with side trips to the worlds of cartography, sacred places, utopias, mythical islands, secret gardens and, even, monsters. A site full of ideas, in sum, to inspire just about any individual, but especially a fantasy-loving author.
Aleph is published by the FAENA Hotel/Architecture firm (clearly an atypical hotel chain and one with a lot of imagination) and here is the article.
The post, entitled Ten Magic Stones, Their Stories and Mythologies, lists the following ten “stones and gems with unique stories to tell”: obsidian, moonstone, jade, turquoise, amethyst, sapphire, ruby, opal, emerald, and diamond, and provides a brief description of the relevant myth, symbolism and/or history of each one. Hey, I’m inspired already – the plot forming in my mind, as I write this post.
Here’s another one on divination, another topic I explore in the series.
This subject has led me to think more about mythic and historical stones. In Google, typing “magic stones mythology” produces an overwhelming 4,670,000 results. Here are but three of the listings I came across:
The British writer on the subject of historical mysteries, Andrew Gough, provides us with an excellent post from February 2011, where he talks about the Grail stone (“neither holy nor related to Christ” when first mentioned in literature), the Black Stone of Mecca, Ireland’s Blarney Stone (to be kissed upside down by visitors to gain any benefit), the Stone of Scone (also known as the Stone of Destiny), the standing stones (in circles and rows) of the Vikings and Celts, Egyptian obelisks and, finally, oracle stones.
Speaking of oracles, since The Ravenstones deals with the subject of prophecy, here I’d like to quote directly from the article:
“The most important oracle in the ancient world was at Delphi, Greece, and here the notion of ‘bit’ (bees) and sacred stones are linked in a curious fashion. Legend asserts that the second temple at Delphi was constructed by bees and that the Omphalos Stone, an oracle stone that resembles a beehive and is designed with crisscrossing rows of carved bees. The Oracle was used by the ‘Delphic bee’, a goddess named Pythia who rejuvenated the tradition of shamanic female seers, a position of importance that later evolved into the role of Melissa and Sybil; sacred offices of gifted prophetesses who used sacred stones, like the oracle stone at Delphi, to predict the future.
“The practice of using mysterious stones to predict the future was not confined to the ancient world nor was it exclusive to women. In the 18th century the occultist John Dee used mysterious stones to consult the spirit world for guidance on matters of state, namely Queen Elizabeth I. Many believe that the prosperity of England was ensured as a result. Dee’s instruments of divination included a smooth black scrying stone made out of obsidian, a type of volcanic glass, and a translucent crystal ball, each of which can be viewed in the British Museum.”
In Ganoksin, (according to its website, “the world’s largest educational internet site for the jewelry, gemology and metals field”), Peter Henselder provides a beautifully-illustrated undated article about the “Power and Magic of Babylonian Gemstones”. Here he talks about the superstitions, mythical properties and supposed powers of classic gems through the ages.
Finally, in Listverse, under Weird Stuff (dated May 27, 2016), Debra Kelly discusses “10 Mysterious, Mythical Substances Thought To Have Great Power”. Kelly provides a great list of truly mythical or legendary objects, credited with awesome powers: lyngurium, azoth, ambrosia and nectar, orichalcum, Unspoken Water, the Moon Rabbit’s Elixir of Life, Isaac Newton’s The Net, Toadstones, Dragon’s Teeth and the Water of Lethe. I must confess I’d only heard of a few of these amazing sounding substances, but it’s an intriguing enough list (and with detailed descriptions), so, worth checking out.
Clearly, I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg here – a veritable treasure trove of ideas and inspiring material lies just beneath the surface, waiting for any writer of fantasy tales to chance along.