Amber is not actually a crystal, but is fossilized tree
resin many millions of years old. It is believed to be the
first substance ever used by humans for decorative purposes,
and archaeologists have found it in the form of talismans
Its origins suggest some of its spiritual properties. A
tree is a being whose roots sink deep into the earth and
whose top rises into the sky. Thus, it serves as a bridge
to connect the energies of heaven and earth, of the spiritual
and the physical. Sap, the lifeblood of a tree, carries
and transmits its energy.
Thus, amber is considered to be a material which can be
used to ground spiritual energies into the physical body
and fill it with light. It can also work in the opposite
way. If you're not feeling enough earth energy, i.e., too
much in your head, amber can help you feel more connected
to the physical plane.
For this reason it has been found to be helpful in relieving
depression. Depression can feel either like being earthbound
or like not being connected to the benefits and blessings
of physical existence. Many people have used amber for either
Amber can also be helpful in dissolving energy blockages.
Although for purposes of chakra balancing, it is placed
on the navel area, it can be placed at any point where you
feel that you need to be revitalized.
Amber is the fossilized remains of tree resin. When a tree
is injured or fighting a disease, it often exudes a resin
which tends to seal the injury. The process is similar to
a blot clot in the animal world. Anyone who has worked around
pine trees and become sticky, can attest to resin’s
persistence against all attempts to rid oneself of the stuff.
In the past, insects and small animals that became en-mired
in the sticky resin mass, and unable to extricate itself,
became trapped. These formed inclusions, along with leaves,
vegetable matter, and bubbles.
When resin is exposed to the atmosphere, it forms a skin,
dries out, then crumbles. But under certain circumstances,
a large mass will form, somehow become buried, and time
will turn it into amber. These masses of amber result from
burial of the forest floor, or the semi-hard resin being
washed down to it’s burial place. In either case,
resin must be buried to protect it from oxidation. Rather
unique conditions must be present at the beginning, and
continue throughout amber's history.
In the case of the Baltic region, scientists suppose that
an ancient forest in a lagoon environment, and producing
a large amount of resin. Whether this was due to disease
or just the natural process of the trees themselves is unknown.
In either case, the resin was left behind in enormous quantities,
as the forest was buried under a layer of silt. The bed
of resin/amber protected form oxygen, and further buried
for many millennia, forming today's most prolific deposit
of amber. In the process of being buried, an entire ecosystem
was trapped; the insects, some small animals, vegetation,
and the actual atmosphere in the bubbles.
Jurassic Age, about 200 million years BCE
By the Jurassic period, trees were exuding resin which was
destined to become amber, and of course this is the time
of the dinosaurs. Mosquitoes are found in Jurassic amber.
Cretaceous Age, about 140 to 65 million years BCE
By the Cretaceous Age, resin began to include insects of
a more advanced biology, as bees and moths which were dependent
upon modern plants. Obviously you needed flowers before
the modern bee could survive. Amber of this age is found
Tertiary Age, about 65 to 2 million years BCE
The is the age when small mammals and birds dominated the
scenery. While birds are not found, feathers sometimes are.
This age is not well known for amber, as formation of amber
tends to take 20 million years or so. There is no exact
length of time required although much time is needed to
transform the resin into true amber. What is found is called
copal, an intermediate state between amber and resin.
First off, the inclusions in amber are not true fossils.
Geologically, fossils are remains which have been replaced
by some other mineral. A tree becomes fossilized in a process
of cell-by-cell replacement of the original cells by silica.
In amber, the inclusions are still the original organism.
They are not fossils, they are the actual animal or vegetable
remains. Further, for some reason not completely understood,
the inclusions retain their original shape, and colour.
Remember, the inclusions are at least 20 million years old
The group of insects which are trapped are of necessity
those which could not escape after being stuck in some way.
The same holds true for animals. Small lizards have been
found, and animal parts. Small bones which have been dropped
in the resin after being eaten by some other animal have
been found, as well as the teeth of larger animals. Speculation
has it that the resin dripped onto the animal carcass. Hair
has been found, although from which animal we can only guess.
There is also one case where a footprint has been found,
thought to be that of a cat.
These inclusions have spawned a branch of palaeontology
devoted to study of ancient biology as represented in amber.
An entire ecology can be reconstructed by inference from
the contents of inclusions. Thus, flowers existed in the
time when resin trapped bees, as the bees needed the pollen
from flowering plants. Mammals with blood could be inferred
from mosquitoes. The ancient ecological environment would
not be a perfect match, as not all insects are trapped,
but nonetheless, we get a view of what it was like.
Depending upon the sources, amber has been worked by early
man from 7000 to as much as 11,000 years ago. The occurrence
of amber with human artefacts goes even further back, possibly
to 30,000 years, in Germany. We can be assured that from
the first time man found amber lying in a streambed, he
associated it with his religious world and carried it around.
One can imagine his surprise when the ‘rock’
melted if placed too near a fire.
Amber reached all corners of the world, known or otherwise.
Baltic amber pieces were found with Pharaoh Tutankamon,
dating form 1400 BCE. We can assume it was also included
with earlier Pharaohs, and later lost. Amber from 900 BCE
has turned up in Mesopotamia.
Man began to alter amber with carvings, and using amber
in ritual at an early date. Amber is found included with
the grave goods of important persons. From this time forward
it possessed an intrinsic value, much as incense in the
Middle East. Amber was used as a good luck charm by Europeans,
and legends grew as to its origin. Literally thousands of
find spots attest to its importance. Trade grew as Greece
and later Rome acquired a taste for the gem. In Lithuania
and Poland, many settlements have been identified where
it is thought the amber craft was centred, dating from 2100
BCE to 1700 BCE
Legends centring around amber grew up in many different
cultures. Northern Germans thought amber was the sun’s
rays striking the oceans surface. The Greeks built a legend
involving the teardrops of nymphs in the sea. The Greeks
and Romans used amber as jewellery, and as adornment on
personal items. That it was considered lucky was an extra
The Lithuanian legend ascribes amber as the teardrops of
a Goddess of the Sea. She is prevented from marrying her
true love, Kastytis, who is killed by the Thunder god. These
tears fell to the bottom of the sea and are today washed
up after storms.
The Greeks associated amber with not a goddess, but with
the tears of a nymph. By 1600 BCE the Greeks were importing
amber down from the Baltic area by way of the Black Sea.
The Alps still presented a problem for the trade caravans.
Pendants and necklaces begin to appear with grave goods
indicating it’s importance to the owner. Amber was
thought by the Greeks to cure some disease, especially if
worn close to the skin. However, much like a rabbits foot,
if the person dies the amulets power is in question. Might
as well bury it with it’s owner.
The Greeks seem to be fascinated with it after Thales, in
c.600 BCE described the ability of amber to attract small
pieces of anything organic, as seeds and dust. By rubbing
amber with wool, it becomes charged with static electricity,
and will attract things of opposite polarity. Since many
organic compounds are bi-polar, very small pieces are attracted.
To the Greeks, unaware of electricity, this was a gift of
the gods. They called amber electron, and from this word
we describe electricity.
Greek mythology wrapped amber with many legends. The son
of Helios, Phaeton, drowned in the River Eridanus, and his
sisters were transformed into pine trees on the riverbank.
The tears they shed for their brother were transformed into
amber by the sun. One could probably trace the origin of
this legend back to Lithuania.
A more involved legend concerns Atlas, who slew a dragon
guarding an apple tree with golden fruit. Upon eating the
apple Atlas became immortal, and the dust of amber was called
Ambrosia, which is the root word for immortal. From this
comes the belief that amber, worn as a necklace, or eaten
as dust, could cure disease. Amber became known as the "gold
of the north", and merchants could turn a profit by
carrying it to customers along the Aegean coast.
Herodotus scorned the belief in the legends, and by 700
BCE interest in amber began to wane. But by this time, the
Greek merchants had spread amber to the Middle East, and
amber was found with Pharaoh Tutankamon form about 1400
BCE. Amber from around 900 BCE turns up in Mesopotamia,
but they may have imported it direct from an outlet on the
Black Sea, near the mouth of the Danube River.
As early as 750 BCE, the Romans were the barbarians relative
to the Greeks, and eventually took over much of their culture.
Doctors were Greek, not Roman, as were the philosophers
and scientists. The belief in the curative power of amber
was transferred to the Romans. It was used as a medicine
and believed to protect against illness. As the Roman power
grew, so did the demand for more amber, what with everyone
eating it. Even gladiators were wearing it, and women tried
to dye the hair to match its colour.
The campaigns of Caesar was pushing toward the source of
amber, although not his primary goal. He named one of the
islands along the Atlantic ‘Glessaria’ after
the German name for amber. A few centuries later, Emperor
Nero sent a Roman expedition north to find the source of
the "gold of the north". At this time the Germanic
tribes which lie along the trail to the Baltic were not
always friendly. Shortly after his return, loaded with amber,
the Amber Route was established. This route began at the
northern end of the Adriatic Sea, at Aquileia; struck northeast
around the eastern flank of the Alps; crossed the Danube
west of Budapest, at Carnuntum; then went due north to the
Although a route was established, it was under Emperor Claudius
that the territory was annexed to the Roman Empire, up to
the Danube. From there north the Celts still controlled
the amber trade. In the area of Poland, where many sites
have been found where amber was processed, more than 70,000
Roman coins have been found. Later yet, Claudius opened
a more direct route across the Alps, called, aptly, Via
Claudius, but was still dependent upon the tribes north
of the Danube River.
The demand for amber became so intense that Pliny the Elder
complains that a small statue of a man in amber was more
expensive than the cost of a live and healthy man. The rich
were using amber for all sorts of useless adornment. The
amber fad apparently began to die off around mid-1st century
CE, about the time of Christ. Perhaps because the Empire
had splurged in it’s orgy of wasteful spending and
luxuries began to become expensive beyond the average rich
Incidentally, by the time of Pliny the Elder, the Romans
had a general idea where amber came from, that is from the
resin of the pine. They knew it was fished from the Baltic,
and guessed at the rest. This information died with the
Roman Empire, and was not again discovered until after the
By c.400 CE, the Roman Empire was effectively dead, the
Dark Ages was setting in, and the history of amber shrivels.
Amber was still gathered and processed into jewellery, but
knowledge of writing was lost. The Celt craftsmen in the
Baltic region still made jewellery, some of the most attractive
from the times. Amber did not return to the public eye until
the medieval period. Local rulers, lords and kings tried
to control the amber supply, erecting gallows along the
Baltic. Removal of amber was a hanging offence.
While I generally stop around 400 CE, the history of amber
has an interesting story from around 1713 CE. Fredric William
the First built an entire room panelled in amber, called
of course, the Amber Room. The room was later presented
to Tzar Peter as a gift, who was duly impressed. Then it
disappeared, last heard of in 1944, about the time of the
invading German army. The Russians dismantled the room and
hid it away in Novosibirsk. The Germans found it anyway
and moved the amber to Kaliningrad. That is the last information
available. All else is rumour.
Amber slipped in importance, becoming so common as to be
melted and used for varnish on ships. And possibly as an
ingredient in some of the famous varnishes for which we
have not been able to find the formula. General amber was
melted down and reformed into cheap jewellery, called amberoid.
Even so, the good quality pieces were still made into fine
jewellery; but if it had inclusions, it went to the melting
pot. Today, things have reversed!
Amber, chasmal in Hebrew, occurs only in Ezek.1:4,27-8:2.
While chasmal may denote a metal, it is thought by many
to refer to amber.
Amber is found all around the world, and every culture had
its own name for it. Arabia: anbar; Prussia: gless; Persia:
karabe; Rome: succinum, glesum; Greece: elecktron. Tibetans
called this gem pö-she, which meant perfumed crystal.