Historically, some cultures considered Red Jasper to be 'the Blood of the Earth'; this spiritual comparison to blood is interesting when compared to our modern understanding of Jasper’s formation. In a sense, when the Earth is broken open, Jasper heals the wound. Found all over the world, Jasper constitutes 12% of the Earth’s crust. Jasper forms when the shifting of the Earth’s Plates create deep cracks. These aqueous voids are where Jasper grows and eventually, it fills in the space. Certain types of Jasper like Brecciated Jasper, are created when again, the Earth shifts and the immense pressure fractures the existing Jasper. These cracks are then filled with a new blend of Jasper creating a beautiful mixture of two or more types of Jasper over time.
While it seems that Jasper forms exclusively in areas of volcanic/tectonic activity, there are a few outliers that form in igneous rock, like Granite.
There are many, many types of Jasper, all unique in color and pattern. This is because Jasper is not a mineral or a crystal, but rather a ‘textural variety’ of Quartz. Various types of tiny pieces of Quartz (microcrystalline quartz), merge together to form the base of Jasper. The many colors and patterns in Jaspers are caused by the inclusion of other minerals.
Jasper History & Legend
Jasper’s influence and usage can be seen throughout human history and across ancient cultures. We see evidence of Jasper’s use and perceived value as far back as 7000BC, nearly 10,000 years ago. This is evidenced by the etymology of the word for ‘Jasper’, which can be traced through the ancient languages of Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek, and Latin.
Mehrgarh was an ancient civilization in modern day Pakistan and one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia. As early as 5000BC, these peoples were using Green Jasper to make Bow Drills - a hand-tool used to make fire.
The Minoan Civilization, 2700 to 1100 BC, used Jasper to carve seals, which were recovered by archeologists at the Palace of Knossos.
Ancient Egyptians saw Jasper as Blood from their supremely powerful Goddess Isis. Isis had powers over the other Gods, but also could bring change in the lives of everyday people. She was thought to have a role in death, when one was journeying to the underworld. Funerary amulets were often made of Jasper and given to the deceased to grant them protection.
In Norse Legend, the magical sword of Siegfried was inlaid with Jasper to grant him courage.