The moonstone has long been held to share in the magical properties of its namesake, the moon. The stone was considered by some cultures to be formed from moonlight or to reflect the waxing and waning moon in its centre. The Indian word for moonstone --- "chandrakanta" --- actually means "beloved by the moon." There are almost as many myths surrounding the moonstone as there are legends about the mysterious satellite with which it is so closely associated.
Moonstone Composition and Myth
Moonstone is a type of feldspar. When polished and cut as a cabochon, meaning smooth and unfaceted, it displays an inner, floating, whitish-blue light when the stone is rotated in the hand. This effect is referred to as "adularescence." Some moonstones may also exhibit chatoyancy, a cat's-eye effect, or asterism -- a four- or six-rayed star. It is this light that led to the superstition in the East that the stone was inhabited by a good spirit and could create good luck. The most sought-after shade is whitish blue, and the best specimens come from Sri Lanka. However, moonstones can often be found in shades of grey, peach, pink, green, yellow and brown.
Moonstones are also found in India, where they are considered sacred stones. They are always displayed on a yellow cloth, which is a sacred colour. According to Vedic legend, a battle was fought between Lord Vishnu and Bali, the demon god. Vishnu destroyed Bali by breaking his body into several pieces, which fell to the earth as different jewels. It is said that the "chandrakanta," or moonstone, was formed from the gleam of Bali's eyes. It was believed that the finest blue moonstones were washed ashore by the tides every 21 years, when the sun and moon were in an astrologically harmonious aspect to each other.
As the moon is considered to represent feminine energy and rules the tides, so the moonstone came to be seen to affect the "female" areas of life and was associated with water. It became known as the traveller's stone because it was said to protect those travelling by night or by sea. Moonstones were used for protection during pregnancy and at birth, while in the Middle East, women would sew moonstones into their clothing when they wished for a child. Likewise, amulets of moonstones were hung from trees to ensure an abundant crop. Moonstones were also connected with love. It was said that a lover could predict the course of the relationship if a moonstone was held in the mouth at the time of the full moon. The stone was also said to inspire love.
The moonstone is associated with the astrological sign of Cancer and is an alternate birthstone for June. Some of the metaphysical properties that have been ascribed to the moonstone include its supposed ability to help stabilise the emotions and bring a sense of calm to the wearer of the stone. It is said to enhance intuition and spiritual development. An elixir was traditionally made of crushed moonstone to help cure insomnia, and the stone was also used to treat sleepwalking.