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The Magic of Rocks and Stones

Pyrite (Iron Pyrite)

Written and compiled by - Patricia Jean Martin

The name Pyrite comes from the Greek word "pyr" meaning "fire," and was named such because it was found that sparks would fly from it if struck against another mineral (best if Iron or Steel).  In early times, this sparking ability gave man one way of creating fire; in later times, this ability made it popular for use in early firearms devices such as the wheel lock. Today Pyrite also carries the name of "Fool's Gold" for the simple reason that many throughout history have mistaken it for Gold because of its similar visible structure, metallic luster and brassy yellow color.  Ironically, Gold is often found adjacent to Pyrite deposits, and the only thing foolish about finding "Fool's Gold" would be in not searching a bit farther!  Pyrite is easily distinguished from Gold; Pyrite being lighter in color and much harder, whereas it cannot be scratched with a fingernail or knife as Gold can be.  But even though Pyrite is a fairly hard mineral, its crystals are known to break and crumble, as it is brittle. 

Extremely common in the Earth's crust and found in almost every possible geological environment including sedimentary, metamorphic, magmatic and hydrothermal deposits, Pyrite's usual crystal forms are cubic, octahedron and pyritohedron - the latter being a dodecahedron with 5-sided pentagon faces.  When a cube and pyritohedron crystal combine, the face of the cube may appear striated (grooved with lines or ridges).  Many times Pyrite will be found in combinations of all these forms, but may also occur in masses, globular, radiating or reniform.  Pyrite is also commonly found as small nodules.  A flat variety of this nodular form, appropriately called "Pyrite Suns" or "Pyrite Dollars", are popular with collectors.   

Having the same chemical makeup as Marcasite but with different structure, symmetry and shape, Pyrite is thus a polymorph of Marcasite and it can be extremely difficult to distinguish between the two.  The name Marcasite is derived from the Arabic word for Pyrite.  The confusion between the two minerals is amplified as the jewelry trade uses the trade name of Marcasite when in reality what they are selling is Pyrite.  True Marcasite cannot be used in jewelry as it has an even higher tendency than Pyrite to crumble into a powder.  Pyrite also closely resembles Galena, but Galena has a higher symmetry.  Another mineral, Bravoite, is very closely related to Pyrite too, but contains 20% more nickel, although some go so far as to list it a variety of Pyrite. 

Even though Pyrite contains a high percentage of Iron and is abundant, it is not used as a source for Iron (the primary iron ores being the Iron Oxides, Hematite and Magnetite), but it was mined as a source for Sulfur during WWII in order to produce sulfuric acid, an important chemical used in industry.  The Sulfur component of Pyrite was in high demand as a strategic chemical, and a then newly-found deposit in Ducktown, Tennessee, provided what America needed at the time. 

General Information: 

Chemistry:  FeS2, Iron Sulfide  

Class:  Sulfides.  

Group:  Pyrite 

Color:  Pale brassy-yellow and gold-like. Crystals are opaque.  

Luster:  Metallic. 

Crystal System:  Isometric, bar 3 /2m. 

Crystal Habit:  Crystal shapes - cube, octahedron, pyritohedron, or combinations of these forms.  Penitrating twin crystals, called "Iron Crosses," may occur but are rare.  Commonly found as nodules, but may be massive or reniform. 

Cleavage:  Poor/Indistinct. 

Fracture:  Conchoidal. 

Hardness:  6 - 6.5. 

Specific Gravity:  Approximately 5.1+ (heavier than average for a metallic mineral). 

Streak:  Greenish-black. 

Other Characteristics:  Striations (grooved vertical lines) on the cubic crystals are caused when cube is crossed with pyritohedron.  Unlike Gold, Pyrite is not malleable. 

Notable Occurrences:  Worldwide but notably Illinois and Missouri in U.S., England, Germany, Peru, Russia, Spain and South Africa. 

Best Field Indicators:  Crystal habit, streak, hardness, luster, color. 

Uses:  As a minor ore of Sulfur for sulfuric acid; jewelry; mineral specimens. 

Myth & Lore: 

Pyrite was very often used for scrying.  The Mayans, Aztecs and Incas, at one time, all were known to polish large slabs of Pyrite to a mirror-like finish which they used for this very purpose.  Native Americans believed they could look into one's very soul when peering into a polished piece of Pyrite.  Their shamans used it as "a stone of power," and their medicine men used it in certain healing rituals.  Pyrite has also been labeled the "Healer's Stone". 

The ancient Chinese viewed the earth as a golden cube, a vision well emulated by Pyrite.  They also believed that Pyrite would guard against crocodile attacks.    

Pyrite is thought to create a better balance and flow between right and left brain function.  This helps transform the intuitive and creative (right brain) thought into logical and well-reasoned (left brain) action. 

These metallic crystals are often used to attract money and good fortune.  It is also widely used to protect against infections and viral attacks, and to help one attain a more ideal state of health. 

An interesting parallel...Edgar Cayce, commonly known as "The Sleeping Prophet", recommended that "to carry a piece of Carbon Steel in one's pocket (preferably a groin pocket) would inhibit one from catching a cold or infection".  Carbon Steel is a mixture of Iron and Carbon, to which Pyrite is similar and claims the same health benefit. 

The ancient Greeks used polished Pyrite in various types of jewelry and amulets.   During the Victorian Age in England, jewelry made with Pyrite was extremely popular. 

Cleanse and recharge Pyrite under the rays of the Sun. 

Metaphysical Properties of Pyrite: 

Astrological Sign(s):  Leo 

Element(s):  Fire 

Chakra(s):  Solar Plexus, Third Eye (Brow) 

Defense. 

Shielding. 

Protection. 

Deflects and disperses negativity. 

Grounding. 

Stimulates intellect. 

Harmonizes dualities. 

Psychic development. 

Enhances memory. 

Increases energy and stamina. 

Determination. 

Promotes self-confidence. 

Attracts wealth and good fortune. 

Gives physical aid in treating: Infections, viruses and fevers; blood disorders; increases blood flow to the brain and improves circulatory system; increases memory; bone and cellular formation; helps repair DNA/RNA damage; fatigue, lung problems; digestive tract problems; relieves anxiety and stress. 

NOTE:  

Stone therapy should NOT take the place of medical evaluation and procedures, and should be used merely to enhance one's health and well-being. 

My own thoughts and experiences: 

If you like sparkling reflective stones as I do, then you are going to love Pyrite! 

Like Gold, Pyrite is a solar stone—strong, projective, masculine, direct, and to the point—although I can't help feel that the stone's crystals hold a few fairly strong feminine qualities too, such as receptiveness and attraction.  Other than these perceived properties, maybe another reason I feel this way is because Pyrite's color appears to be almost a mixture of both gold and silver.  It does have a very brassy look, and the old colloquial statement of, "That girl has a lot of brass!," is exactly what Pyrite offers to me. :-)  Confidence abounds with Pyrite, as does a take charge attitude.  People that believe they are already too aggressive should probably avoid this stone. 

Another useful-for-the-meek property that Pyrite willingly bestows is that it will also help prevent you from being duped or taken advantage of, as it gives you a crystal clear idea of what is truly being said.  It fosters a reading between the lines and promotes quick dissolving of facades.  There are no pretenses with Pyrite, and it will inhibit its user from having any either. 

This magickally gifted stone is also useful for manifestation of ideas.  All thought and no action?  Then Pyrite's the stone for you...AND me.  I have so many creative ideas rolling around in my head that I would need several lifetimes to accomplish them all!  Luckily, though, (and for anyone else who suffers from the following), when that myriad of ideas gets so overwhelming that they tend to create a muddy, stymying effect that keeps you from focus and productive movement, you can just reach for Pyrite to help you put the proverbial fire under your buttocks.  Not only will this fiery stone get you moving, but will have handed you a very practical application to go forth with. 

In its mimic of Gold, Pyrite can be carried to attract wealth and is used in many money spells.  On the other side of Pyrite's spectrum, it can also be used as a shield in either a hands-on or visualized manner.  Carry some to shield yourself from negative energies or use its essence and color in imagining a golden protective sphere around yourself or your loved ones.  In either case, don't be surprised if, while surrounded in its radiant glow, you suddenly come up with one or two more brilliant and creative ideas!  No worries, though, Pyrite will help you see them through to completion.

End.

Sources:

"Love Is In the Earth" ~ Melody

"The Crystal Bible" ~ Judy Hall

"Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic" ~ Scott Cunningham

http://www.galleries.com/minerals/sulfides/pyrite/pyrite.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrite

The A.R.E. (Association for Research & Enlightenment, Inc. - Edgar Cayce Foundation)

Photo by Patricia J. Martin 

 

© 2006 Patricia J. Martin

 

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