Sunday, June 25, 2006

Snow White Meets the Crapulent God

If you were born between January 21 and February 19, your symbolic gem is the amethyst, a word with an interesting history.

It is Greek in origin. The a- that starts the word is a privative, a negative. The -methus- stem means intoxicated. So amethyst literally means “not intoxicated.” The ancients believed that dropping a piece of amethyst in a goblet of wine--or, better yet, drinking from a goblet made of amethyst--prevented drunkenness. A strange belief, and one rooted in mythology.

Dionysus was the ultimate party animal, the god of wine, celebration, and excess. One day he felt angry and vindictive toward humans who didn’t share his love of debauchery, and he vowed to kill the next sober human that came his way. As luck would have it, a young virgin named Amethyst strolled into his vicinity, and true to his word, Dionysus summoned up ferocious tigers to rip her apart.

Innocent Amethyst was on her way to worship the goddess Diana. When Diana saw what was about to happen, she quickly transformed the young mortal into a glimmering pure white stone--quartz--to make her impervious to the teeth and claws of the tigers.

Dionysus got the message, and immediately he felt remorse. Struck now by the viciousness of his actions, he began to cry. Copious tears fell into his goblet of wine, which began to overflow. Wine dripped onto the white stone, giving it a purple color that endures today.


Footnote: They just opened a bar on the moon. The drinks are good, but the place has no atmosphere.

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