Our Solar System by Marco Lobo Winner of the 2012 Contest “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading”
In ‘The Witch Hunter’s Amulet‘, Manuel Andrade collects gems to make a navaratna,a nine-jeweled amulet that he believes will cure him. As some readers may not be familiar with the belief held by various cultures, that gemstones have healing powers, I am providing some basic information.
Listed below are the the heavenly bodies and each of the nine gems they relate to, the deities represented by them and their effects on body and mind.
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and its gemstone, Ruby
The Deity, Aditya
Assertive, Independent, Illuminating and Purifying. Rides a chariot pulled by 7 horses. Representing 7 visible rays of light and their colors. In three hands, he holds the lotuses of purity and with his fourth.
It gives vitality, the power of resistance and immunity. It also rules wisdom, the understanding of the phenomenal world and governs man’s relationship with temples and holy places. In the book, its effect on Andrade is instant; filling him with vigor and causing him to imagine himself as a giant. When he finds the ruby, he is in the holy city of Hampi and declares that he is now home.
* * *
and its gemstone, Pearl
The Deity, Chandra
Represented riding on the back of a deer. In one hand a disc (chakra of Vishnu – to remove obstacles). In another, a conch, (symbolic of primordial sounds; liberation from the cycle of birth and death). In the third hand a lotus of purity and in the fourth the reins of the deer representing psyche.
The Moon gives illumination, allows intuition and gives a sense of purpose. Its feminine energy encourages a love for art and music and makes the wearer tender-hearted. Andrade is wearing the Pearl at the auto da fé when he releases the prisoners.
* * *
and its gemstone, Coral
The Deity, Mangala
Masculine, authoritative and aggressive, he is painted red or flame colour, four-armed, carrying a trident, a lotus and a spear. His mount is a ram symbolic of muscular strength and combat.
Mars rules over self-confidence and leadership abilities. Coral also promotes health but can make the wearer impulsive and insensitive. Andrade believes it protects him from the evil eye.
* * *
and its gemstone, Emerald
The Deity, Budha
Budha is emotional, joyful, evergreen, wise and rules the power of communicationIt rides a lion with an elephant’s trunk. He is represented holding a scimitar, a club and a shield, riding a winged lion. In other illustrations, he holds a sceptre and lotus and rides a carpet, an eagle or a chariot drawn by lions.
Mercury is the planet of intellect and communication. It rules education, writers and teachers. In the body it controls the nervous system, speech, lungs and intestines. One of the Emerald’s effect on Andrade is that it makes him see himself as a great teacher, even though he is mostly speaking gibberish.
* * *
and its gemstone, Yellow Sapphire
The Deity, Brahspati
Teacher of the gods, disciplined and priestly it rides and elephant. Holds a scroll of sacred knowledge, a disc of Vishnu to cut through illusions and a conch symbolizing sacred sounds. With the fourth hand a blessing is bestowed.
Jupiter is said to preside over mental powers, a teacher of astrology and astronomy. It controls the movement of planets and is ruler of the Sun and Moon. This is the last gem Andrade collects for the navaratna and it completes the circle of gemstones, creating a mini-cosmos.
* * *
and its gemstone, Diamond
The Deity, Shukra
Hedonistic, it rules the sensual side of human nature. It is shown riding a horse (of heroic desires), holds a scroll as writer of scriptures, sometimes shown also holding a sword and a lotus.
The planet rules over regeneration and is life giving. In the body, it presides over reproductive systems. It is connected to beauty and sensuality and also governs comfort and luxuries. In the book, Andrade receives a diamond for the he played in a battle; from there he goes to sack the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire.
* * *
and its gemstone, Blue Sapphire
The Deity, Shani
Planet of darkness and confinement. It is seen riding a vulture. Shani holds a sword of lawlessness, trident of Shiva, a mace of strength and material power. The fourth hand holds the reins.
A cold dry planet, Saturn is old and suffers from poor eyesight. It is referred to as the ‘enemy of light’ and brings misery and disappointment. It rules over prisons and labor. In the body is controls hair, teeth, bones and the nervous system. When Andrade finds the blue sapphire, he immediately feels a chill. His mental state deteriorates and he travels to Bijapur in search of the next gem.
* * *
A shadow planet representing the NORTH lunar node
and its gemstone, Hessonite
The Deity, Rahu
One of the two points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they around the celestial sphere. Rahu is disruptive and creates Confusion. It is seen as a disembodied head, riding a chariot and shouting obscenities. The chariot is pulled by a tiger representing the mind wandering in a forest of desires.
Rahu is interested only in what gives pleasure. It is never satisfied even if it achieves what it wants. It destroys one’s ability to judge and to lose control. Andrade is given a hessonite gemstone on purpose and its effects on him are disastrous.
* * *
A shadow planet representing the SOUTH lunar node
and its gemstone, Cat’s-Eye
The Deity, Ketu
This is the rest of the body of Rahu. It causes disturbs physical bodies and causes a loss of interest in life. It carries a sword, a shield and a flag. The last hand is open, palm out, fingers pointed down. It is seen as a headless torso on the body of a fish.
Ketu bestows spiritual tendencies as well as wisdom and powers of discrimination. When Andrade dreams of Ketu and subsequently receives a cat’s eye, his star is on the rise. He manages all his affairs expertly and is for a time greatly admired.
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Some readers may also be curious as to what Manuel Andrade’s navaratna looked like. When writing this story, I needed to have a reference to is as well and so I sketched one. Below is one idea I had for it.
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