The Precious Stones of John Maplet’s Greene Forest, part 1

In 1567 John Maplet published a book with the title A greene Forest, or a naturall Historie, Wherein may bee seene first the most sufferaigne Vertues in all the whole kinde of Stones & Mettals. In the first part of his book he gives a description of nearly 80 stones and metals. Some of these are still well known to us today, some are long forgotten.

In the past readers of this web log may have come across strange names of stones in Cornelius Agrippa’s Books of Occult Philosophy or William Lilly’s Christian Astrology. Descriptions of most of these gemstones can be found in John Maplet’s book.  To make this knowledge widely available I will reproduce the most interesting bits here.

Of the Adamant Stone

The Adamant is a Stone of Inde, small and rare, in colour like to Iron; but in cleare reflection and representation of image more Christall like: It is founde in bignesse of a Walnut, and never above: It yeeldeth or giveth place to nothing; neither is it heat by iron or fire. Wherfore the Greekes call it Fickleforce, for that it can not be brought under. But whiles it is invincible or can not be wonne that way: yet notwithstanding with the warme and freshe blood of the Goate, it breaketh and riveth in sunder. It differeth from the Lode Stone for that the Adamant placed neare any iron, will not suffer it to be drawn away of the Lode Stone. Diascorides saith that is called the Stone of reconsiliation and love: for (saith he) that woman that hath withdrawne hir love from hir husband, by this, is brought to love him anew: yea, it goeth furder: for it is said to give proufe whether she be chast or no: for if she be say they, she shal whylest she is in sleepe imbrace hir husband through the working of this stone, if not, she shall flie and go back from him.

Of Alabaster

Alabaster, as saith Isidore, in his xvi. bwke and fift Chapter, is a white kinde of stone died, and bespotted among with divers & sundrie colours. Hereof are made vessels to keepe and containe all Ointments uncorrupt, wherin they be most purely and safely preserved. It groweth about Thebis and Damascum, and especiallye that which is whitest. But the best of this kinde is brought from Indie. It being borne about one, say some, keepeth him in amitie and charitie with all men.

Of the Amitist

The Amitist also groweth in Indie: It is Princes among those Gemes that be Purple coloured. Diascorides sayth, that there be five kindes thereof: but that which is Purple coloured, he reckeneth the chiefest. His force or vertue availeth against drunkenesse, it kepeth a man waking, and driveth away ill cogitations and thouhts, it sharpeth the understanding. And is also one of those sortes that is easie to engrave in.

Of Achates

Achates is a kinde of Gemme, but lack in colour, enterlined here & there with white vaines: and it is called Achates of a certaine floud of that name in Cicilie, about the which floud this Achates was first found. There is a certain kind hereof seene sometimes in Crete as Diascorides witnesseth, having strokes on eche side like to blew vaines. There is another kinde in Indie bespotted on everie parte with spottes like bloud. That of Crete is said to make a man gracious, and to bring him in favour. That of Indie is gwd for the eiesight it remedieth venome, and being put into the fire is odoriferus.

Of  the Stone Albeston

Albeston is a stone of Archadie, in yron colour, having gotten his name of the fire, for that it being once set on fire, can never after be quenched or put out: Whereof in olde time was built that kind of worke Mechanicall, whereas the Gentiles being once taken in sacriledge, dyed. Isidore sayth in his xvi. bwke, that in a certaine temple of Venus there was made and hung up such a Candlesticke, wherein was a light burning on that wise, that no tempest nor storme could put it out, & he beleveth that this Candlesticke had somewhat of Albeston beset within.

Of Amatites

Amatites is that kinde of Gemme, that touching a mans Vesture or Garment, it maketh it able to resist fire: so that it being afterwards cast into ye fire hath no power to burne, but though the fires brightnesse becommeth more bright it selfe. Thus saith Isidore in his xvi. bwk.

Of Astrion

Astrion is a Gem, founde first in Indie, of verie nigh consanguinitie with the Christall, in whose Centre or middle point: as saith Diascorides, a certaine light is seene shining, without reflexion much like to the Moone. The same Author also thinketh that this light that it has, it taketh of the starres, against ye which it is helden.

Of the Berill

Berill is a stone rare, but not so precious, for it alone groweth in Indie: it is founde greene like to the Smaradge. It is first found also raw and rude without eyther good looke or pleasant shelve, but afterwards it is better polished of them of Indie, and they use to polish it in maner and forme of Angle or Corner, to the intent that through ye dullnesse of his owne colour, this maner might shew some glittring the light having his stay in everie eche corner: Some say, they fashion it at the first seaven cornered: and otherwise they say it shimmereth not. There is also another kinde of Berill, which of the Greeke worde is called Golden Berill, as sayth Diascorides, whose interchanged greene colour resembleth almost the wan and yelow colour of Golde. They say that this being borne about a man, and being put now and than to his eies, kepeth a man out of perill of his enimies.

Of the Corall

The Corall groweth in the red Sea, and so long as it is and hath his being in the waters, it is a kinde of Wood, but by and by after that it is taken forth of the water and cometh into the ayre (and his reach) it hardeneth, and becommeth a stone. His boughes under the water are espied white and tender: and being by chaunce through holdefast Nets in part or parcell brought to lande, chaunge also their colour and become red, and for their feeling, are as hard stones. Isidore in his. xvi. bwke. The Mages reporte that it resisteth Lightninges. Therefore even as much worth and of estimation as is the precious Margaret, that, that cometh from Indie, so much worth and in estimatio, like wise is the Coral we them of Indie. Hereof are said to be two onely kindes, the one red & the other white: this last is never found in bignesse & in length more than halfe a fwte: that other often bigger and longer. They say that it is of power to rid us from all divelishe dreams and pievish fantasies.

Of the Carbuncle

The Carbuncle is a stone very precious, so called for that (like to a fierie cole) it giveth light, but especially in the night  season: it so warreth with the pupill or the eiesight, that it sheweth manifolde reflexions. It has as some say. xv. kindes: but those most precious that come nigh the Carbuncles nature: it is found in Libia.

Of the Cristall

The Cristall is one of those stones that shyneth in everie part, and is in colour waerie. Isidore saith, that it is nothing else then a congeled Ise by continuance frosen whole yeares. It groweth in Asia and Cyperus, and especially upon the Alpes and highe Mountains of the North Pole. It engendreth not so much of the waters coldnesse, as of the earthinesse mixt withall. His propertie is to abide nothing in qualitie contrarie to it selfe: therefore it is delighted only with colde.

Of the Diamond

The Diamond is one of those that be counted something precious, it is in colour almost Christallike but somewhat more resplendishing, and is as gwd (if it be of any bignesse) as a looking glasse. Iorach calleth it an other eie: such certaintie & truth giveth it in things done in his presence.

Of Dracontides

Dracontides as his name also mentioneth, is plucked forth of the heade or braine of a Dragon, which onely is in bright and fierie colour (as sayth Isidore) as long as, it is come by, the Dragon being alive: wherfore the Mages skilled in this point, cut it forth out of the Dragon his braine, he being by meanes cast in to sleepe. The moste bolde and adventerous men, are said, to seeke out the lurking holes of the Dragon, and whilest that the Dragon is from home, these men bestrew his Lodge with certaine Graine, which being recieved of the Dragon, bringeth him into a deade sleepe. And whilest they have thus brought their purpose to passe they rippe in sunder the noddle of his head to take forth the Gem, and after that sow it up againe and so depart.

Of  Echites

Echites is a stone both of Indie and Persia, which in the shore and Sea banckes of the Ocean, in the verie bosome of the Indian and Persian Sea, it is found: it is in colour Violet like: And there is a paire of them, Male & Female, and be most commonly found both togither in the Eagles nest, without the which the Eagle can not bring forth hir yong: and therfore kepeth them, as most necessarie in this behalfe alwaies in hir Nest. These stones bound to a womans bodie, being with childe, do hasten childe birth. And Iorach saith, that if any man have these or one of these, and put it under that mans meate or trencher that he suspecteth to be in fault of any thing: If that he be guiltie, he shall not be able through this to swallowe downe his meate: If not saith he, he may.

Of Elutropia

Elutropia is a Gemme, in colour greene, or grassie, in part coloured and bespotted with Purple speckes & bloud coloured vaines. This is a marvellous Jugler, for it wil cause things obiect to be presented to our eies as it lifteth. It being put into a Basan of water chaungeth to a mans eiesight the Sunne his beames, and giveth them a contrarie colour. Being also mooved and beaten in the ayre, maketh to appeare a bloudie Sunne, and darkneth the ayre in maner of an Eclipse: and therfore it is called Eloutropia as you would say, the Sunne his enimie. There is of this name also a certaine Hearbe which Enchaunters & Witches have oftentimes used, and doe use, as also that above said, whereby they have mocked and deluded many, which by meanes and working and enchauntment, have so dazeled the beholders eies, that they have gone by them invisibly.

to be continued…………………..


4 thoughts on “The Precious Stones of John Maplet’s Greene Forest, part 1

  1. Hello Peter,

    Very interesting. And quainte. :-). The name Fickleforce for the Adamant inspires to fantasy. He speaks later of the Diamond. What was the Adamant then? An uncut Diamond?

    best regardes,

  2. Hello Thomas,
    thank you for your interest. I will upload part 2 of this series soon.
    The Adamant was also sometimes called Adamas. Pliny states that “the Indian adamas appeared to have a certain affinity to crystal, being colourless and transparent, having six angles, polished faces, and terminating like a pyramid in a sharp point, or also pointed at the opposite extremities, as though two whipping-tops were joined together by their broadest ends.” Many writers identify this with the Diamond, but it may as well have been a crystal of Corundum. The corundum is next hardest to the Diamond and this would explain some of the attributes of the Adamant. Others assume it could have been blue or grey Sapphire.

    best regards,

  3. I could not wait and managed to find the book in other ways 🙂

    I’m mad for this kind of things, and I truly convinced they work.
    I have the Italian translation of Alphonse’s lapidary and during my herbs course I checked some of the virtues mentioned by the author with my modern lessons, and in fact they perfectly matched.

    Obviously the same was true for Dioscorides.

    Your blog is one of my favourite ones, I should admit.


    • You were lucky to find the book, it is quite rare. And concerning the correspondences – I agree with you, it works!

      I am glad you like my blog, I visit yours quite regularely as well and find it very interesting and pleasant.

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