Thursday, 31 March 2011

For my dissertation I want to discover the supernatural powers are gemstones and crystals believed to hold and what effects they have. How these gems have been used in alternative therapy and as protective amulets and charms. Discovering how their meanings changed from ancient times to the modern day. Having briefly done some research for a previous project, I am now aware of the basics of crystal healing. Crystals are made up of geometric structures or lattices and at the centre of the crystal is the atom. The atom has particles within it which rotate consistently causing vibrations. This is what is thought to give a crystal its energy. There are thousands of different gemstones and I am familiar with a number of various types, the properties it is suggested they possess and how they may assist in helping an individual within alternative therapies. I am also aware of the chakras and the importance of balance within them to aid energy flow and create a healthier mind and spiritual well being. However, as my research has progressed I have become increasingly interested in the ancient myths and legends of gemstone jewellery, how these stones were believed to hold powers and how they may have been used for protective, health, love and luck purposes. I want to look further into the magic of charm jewellery and how it has evolved through time. Many ancient symbols are still used today to show religious or spiritual beliefs for example, one which we come across everyday is the cross of Christ. The scarab and four leaf clover being other widely recognised ones. Lucky charms can be symbols as well as gemstones and “by combining a lucky symbol and a gemstone a doubly effective charm can be made.” (Alun-Jones and Ayton year?) I aim to discover which stones were used as popular amulets back in ancient times and whether they are still believed to hold these same magical powers today. Are they still used for the same purposes as they were back then? Or have their meanings changed? One book of particular interest to me was ‘Bodyguards: protective amulets and charms’ written by Desmond Morris. He has collected many amulets and charms whilst travelling the world learning about different cultures and their beliefs. His book details what each particular charm was used for and the powers it was believed to hold, backing up his points with anecdotes and legendary stories. Morris (1999) states that; “Almost all forms of jewellery began as protective body guards but as the jewellers skills grew and techniques improved, creations became more like works of art. These were enjoyed not because of their magical powers but because they looked so exquisite. Aesthetics outed superstition as the main force behind body adornment” This shows the early stages of jewellery evolving to be more of an ornamentation and decoration of the body rather then simply being carried or worn as an amulet for protective purposes. Many stones in ancient times were believed to offer protection from the ‘Evil Eye’. Back then, numerous people believed in witchcraft and did everything they possibly could to protect themselves from misfortune believed to be caused by an evil look. Of course as science has evolved it has shown that there is no evidence to prove that these crystals contain healing powers. “The suggestion is that the power of crystals is all in the mind rather then in the crystals themselves.” (Woodcock and Hill 2001) The theory is that if people really want crystal therapy to work and believe these stones genuinely posses such powers then psychologically it often will. I find the ancient folklore of what these stones had the power to do fascinating. Tigers Eye was thought to be a contraceptive stone where if a wife was unfaithful to her husband she would be unable to concieive a baby with her lover. That a little stone can prevent conception is something I struggle to believe. Equally Jasper is said to “slow down the ageing process” (Morris 1999) and Rubies have been said to protect from floods and storms. Is there any truth in the fairy tales about these minerals? Or are they just pretty to look at? Being sceptical myself about the alleged powers these gemstones are believed to hold, I am also attracted to the myths and legends behind them. I have looked into a few scientific experiments and explanations rubbishing crystal healing. Beyerstein (1997) argues that these alternative therapies are a load of nonsense. He states that there is no scientific proof that these alternative therapies actually work and describes crystal healing as a ‘patently absurd practise’. He reinforces his argument with a variety of secondary resources from other scientists and professionals. More recently psychological illusionist Derren Brown (2005) visited Lorraine Deflelice a new age publisher with the intention of convincing her he could see her dreams based on a ‘dream catcher’ which was nothing more then a box with a small light inside it. However he told her that inside the box was a special crystalline technology with the power to store her dreams and transfer them onto him. Using his skills as an illusionist he managed to convince her that he could infact see her dreams and she believed it was all down to the ‘crystal’ inside. I aim to look into both sides of the argument and to further discover the ancient history of jewellery as bodyguards and good luck charms and the significance of these talisman’s in contemporary jewellery today. Aims: Within my research I aim to further discover how gemstone jewellery has impacted on people spiritually, emotionally and physically from ancient cultures to modern day practises. I want to look into the history of jewellery as charms or sacred amulets from thousands of years ago to how we perceive jewellery such as charm bracelets today. I aim to discover the connections between crystals and mental and physical well being. All the while taking perspectives from those who have had first hand experience (good and bad) as well as scientific explanations into consideration. Why do people wear the jewellery that they wear? Why do people choose to wear a certain stone? It is for its properties and associations with that particular gem? Or simply because they like the way it looks? These are all questions I want to address within my research. Objectives: I hope to produce a body of research material from a variety of secondary sources from the history of gemstone jewellery to modern day contemporary jewellery. I aim to discover peoples personal experiences with lucky charms or amulets. With this I aim to reinforce evidence of my own experiments. These may include how crystals could better improve (or not) the mental and physical state of myself and others around me. Being sceptical myself about the supposed ‘magical powers’ of crystals I am interested to see how they may benefit or make no difference to my life. I would also be interested in doing lots of primary research to discover what other peoples opinions and experiences with crystal therapy are. I aim to take a crystal healing course with Ethereal Light an alternative therapy business in Dundee in order to gain a better insight into how it works. I would like to discover how many people claim not to be superstitious but still have a lucky charm or symbol they wear or keep close to them.Alun-Jones, D. Ayton, J. (n.d) Charming. Thames & Hudson. SingaporeBook based on charm jewellery, where different charms originate from and what they stand for today. Bibliography: Andrews, C. (1990) Ancient Egyptian Jewellery. British Museum Publications Ltd.Book detailing jewellery from ancient Egyptian times, sacred amulets and lucky charms and their uses. Beyerstein, B. (1997) Alternative Medicine: wheres the evidence? Canadian public health associationArticle giving the scientific side of the argument - alternative therapies do not work. Author backs up points with sources from other scientists and professionals. Derren Brown Messiah (2005) Objective Productions. U.K. online video of video showing Brown managing to convince Deflelice that he can read her dreams through a crystal. Dyett, L. Green, A. (1998) Secrets of Aromatic Jewellery. Flammarion. ItalyCollection of scented jewellery, scents used for different purposes (healing, aromatherapy etc) Elspeth, M. (1997) Crystal Medicine. Llewellyn PublicationsExplores supernatural and therapeutic properties of stones, vibrations, zodiac signs and healing methods. Ethereal Light (online website) about business in Dundee specialising in new age products, also provides alternative therapy courses. Evans, J. (1970) A history of jewellery 110-1870. Faber and Faber, London Shows history and different styles of jewellery over 700 years. Pictures all black and white. Gienger, M. (1998) Crystal power, crystal healing: the complete handbook. CassellGuide to crystal healing, useful for beginner and intermediate levels. Giles, C.H. Williams, B.A. (1976) Bewitching Jewellery: New models in occult charms. A.S Barnes and Co, Inc. U.S.AJewellery and charms used for magic, powers of gemstones, symbols and charms in jewellery. Gonzalez-Wippler, M. (1990) The complete book of amulets and talismans. Llewellyn Publications,U.S.Book detailing amulets and talismans from many diverse cultures. Not just gemstones but lucky symbols aswell. Tells us why they were made and how to make them ourselves. Hall, J. (2003) The Crystal Bible. GodsfieldDetails thousands of different types of precious and semi precious stones, their properties, appearance and uses. Harding, Dr R.R. Symes, Dr R.F. (1991) Crystal & Gem. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. LondonDefines crystals, examples of crystals and uses. More for the younger reader but gives a good general introduction to crystals and gemstones, small section on ‘lore and legends’. Hill, J. Woodcock, J. (2001) Crystal Healing all in the mind. The Scotsman.Article arguing psychology behind crystal healing, people want to believe and so make themselves better , by having a better mindset - not by the power of the crystal Holbeche, S. (1998) The power of gems and crystals: How they can transform your life. Piatkus booksExplains why various stones are worn for different purposes, how to choose the stone best for you and how to use these stones in crystal healing. King, F.X. (1991) The Ecyclopedia of Mind, Magic and Mysteries. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. London Includes small section of gemstones and powers they hold. Also useful in learning about myths and legends - not always associated with jewellery. Kunz, G.F. (1968) Gems and precious stones of north america. Dover publications inc. U.S.ADetails how stones are formed, differences in each type, scientific structures. Kunz, G.F. (1971) The curious lore of precious stones being a description of their sentiments and folk lore, superstitions, symbolism, mysticism, use in medicine, protection, prevention, religion and divination, crystal gazing, birthstones, lucky stones and talismans, astral, zodiacal and planetary. Dover Publications ConstableInformation about supersitions and myths behind different stones and their use in medicine (alternative therapies) Megemont, F. (2007) The metaphysical book of gems and crystals. Healing ArtsTalks about the effects of gemstones for spiritual, psychological and physical healing. Also shows how to use stones for alternative healing (colour therapy.) Morris, D (1999) Bodyguards: Protective amulets & charms. Element books ltd. DorsetMyths behind different charms and meanings in other cultures,. The powers associated with crystals, also looks into the impact on society today. Paine, S. (2004) Amulets - A world of secret powers, charms and magic. Thames & HudsonSource of history, cultural background and stories of amulets. Author an expert on tribal history and textiles. Read, P.G. (2008) Gemmology: Third Edition. Robert HaleBook about how gemstones are formed, their scientific properties and structures. Scarisbrick, D. (2003) Finger Rings: From ancient to modern. Ashmolean museum. OxfordBook of rings ranging from ancient Egyptian times to Victorian styles. Religious symbols, toadstone and magical powers of gemstones detailed. Tait, H. (1986) 7000 years of jewellery. British museum publications Ltd.Illustrated book detailing different jewellery techniques, materials and styles throughout history.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Enterprise Project

Over the last few weeks we have been working on an enterprise project and looking into designing a product or service aimed at post consumers. My group have been meeting up once or twice every week doing research for our buisness and coming up with a buisness plan.

We began our research by looking at post consumers, who they are and what they like. We came to the conclusion that post consumers are generally well educated people interested in sustainability and environmental issues. They are very concious of the environment and the effects that disposable products, carbon emissions etc may have on our world. Nicky and I went out on the streets in search of a post consumer to gain a better insight into their lives and this is what we found.

Big Al and his bicycle

Big Al was 34, married and had a well established career. He liked to cycle everywhere as he was very concious of the effects that carbon emissions from cars had on the atmosphere. He rarely bought anything new and only every bought something if it was necessary. He told us he liked to shop in charity shops and would often get old things repaired instead of buying new ones. He was exactly the kind of person we wanted our buisness to appeal to.

We began brainstorming ideas for a buisness and came up with several from vegetable allotments to organic fairtrade restaurants to phone apps. We eventually decided on a sharing scheme as so many people had garages, sheds and attics overflowing with things they hardly ever used. Our idea was to share space, to have somewhere that people could store their rarely used or seasonal items but also share them with others in the community. And so The CommuniTay Attic was born!

Brainstorming buisness ideas

Photos that inspired our buisness proposal.

We then went on to do research into other existing companies such as CouchSurfing, SplitStuff and EcoBees. We also needed a location for our company and looked into various warehouses in and around Dundee. We decided it was also be a good idea to have a van with which we would offer a delivery and collection service. As part of our company we also decided on a website on which our customers would have the oppertunity to book out items for however long they needed them. Each person would have a login name and password and must be a member in order to reserve items. A yearly membership fee of £10 per year per person would be charged and that means they had unlimited access to anything in our attic for the year. However we were open to non members aswell and a fee of £5 per item would be charged each time they wanted to book an item out. Each member must sign a contract detailling their responsibilites of the items in their care and stating that they were liable to pay any fees in the event of damage. However, if the product was damaged through general wear and tear then obviously we as a company would foot the bill.

We got in contact with a few companies including B&Q in the hope that they would support our buisness venture. We were looking for them to donate or give us a discounted rate on any items to help get our buisness started as well as the products we would recieve from our customers. The Right Signs helped draw up the artwork of our van and agreed to donate the signs free of charge in exchange for the advertising benefit they would recieve. Spokes a local bicycle company also said they would assist with repairs.

As with being an eco friendly company we needed eco friendly products... we looked into a variety of these from smart log splitters to solar powered BBQs and lawn mowers. These were some of the items we hoped B&Q would donate us.

Overall I really enjoyed the project and it has given me a better insight into what is involved in setting up and running a successful business. Everyone in the group contributed fairly and I think we worked really well as a team.