Sacred Jade in Maya and Breath Spirit
Jade is such a beautiful gemstone, and one I’ve always been particularly drawn to. And it’s interesting to learn about its connection to the Ancient Mayans..
Jadeite and Nephrite
There are two types of Jade, Nephrite and Jadeite.
Generally speaking, Nephrite is a more common form of Jade. It’s very popular in Asia, particularly in China, Japan and Thailand. It has a long history in China, in particular, and that’s why it’s sometimes referred to as being the “Chinese Jade”.
Jadeite, on the other hand, is a much rarer form of Jade. This type of Jade is found primarily in the countries of Burma, Russia, Japan and Guatemala.
Both of these types of Jade are real and authentic, but have their own unique differences. The biggest one being that they have different chemical compositions and hardness, with Nephrite being slightly softer than Jadeite.
Both of these types of Jade come in a variety of colours. You may see Jadeite in white, apple green, lavender or even sky blue. And you may see Nephrite in white, greens, yellow-brown and even translucent.
The Jade colour spectrum you can find is truly amazing.
Jadeite is a particularly precious stone, and a lot harder to come by compared to Nephrite.
Especially “Imperial Jade”, which is the finest-quality Jadeite. This stone has an incredible vibrant emerald-green colour, and is one of the world’s most expensive gems.
Interestingly enough, Jadeite only occurs in metamorphic rocks.
“Metamorphic rocks were once igneous or sedimentary rocks, but have been changed (metamorphosed) as a result of intense heat and/or pressure within the Earth’s crust. They are crystalline and often have a “squashed” (foliated or banded) texture.” The Rock Cycle
And so, when the rare Jadeite is discovered at the surface, it’s a sign that earlier buried layers have been uplifted. This makes finding Jadeite a precious occurrence.
Some of the main Jadeite sites are found in Burma (Myanmar). Jadeite has also been found in Japan, Guatemala, Calif, Kazakhstan, and in Russia.
Jadeite in Guatemala
As mentioned above, Jadeite can be found in Guatemala. Here the main source of Jade is found in Zacapa, which is about 120 miles from the city of Guatemala.
Here you’ll see a variety of colours of Jade. From pastel shades like lavender and opal colours, to very deep greens and even blacks.
One of the most prized colours of this stone is, of course, the “Imperial Jade”. Chromium causes this colour to form, resulting in a wonderful bright lime green colour.
Because it’s the natural minerals, like Titanium and Iron, that produce these different Jadeite Jade colours, this stone is often considered to be a symbol of pride to the country.
Sacred Jadeite Jade and the Maya
In Guatemala, the majority of indigenous peoples are of Mayan descent. There are actually about 21 different Mayan communities in Guatemala making up about 50% of the national population.
And so, it’s not surprising to learn that Jadeite is a sacred stone to the Maya.
Jadeite was not only loved by the Maya for its precious beauty. They also saw this stone as a symbol of great importance. The Maya infused many meanings to Jade, including centrality, rulership, and as a material embodiment of wind and the vitalizing breath soul.
Connection to the Breath Spirit
Jade was essentially symbolically associated with life and death. And for this reason, it possessed high religious and spiritual importance.
To the Maya, Jade has a very close relationship to the breath spirit.
Here is a lovely explanation to take you deeper:
In the Mayan tradition, “I’q” is the Breath, the Air, the Spirit. The symbol of “I’q” is drawn as a T, representing a doorway into the spirit world and other dimensions. The T forms half of a cross (the World Tree) and the other half lies in the spirit world. Many of the Mayan temples have windows and doorways in the shape of a T. They are not only physical doorways but are also spiritual doorways (a portal into the spirit world).
Just as air is exchanged in the lungs, so our consciousness exchanges thoughts, ideas and experiences with the spirits by going through the zero point. Through the breath, we can gain a clearer perspective of reality, create a state of serenity and peace and journey through the corridor of our consciousness.Angelfire
So, because of this close relationship between Jade and breath spirit, it became an important component of funerary rites and the ritual conjuring of gods and ancestors.
You’ll see various examples that show this, such as the Jade beads placed in the mouth of the dead.
Another example is the use of Jade earspools, known as a ‘plug’ in today’s modern world. Beautifully carved Jade earspools were considered to be supernatural sources or passageways for the breath spirit.
There is even a classic Maya death expression, och b’ih, meaning “he entered the road.” This has been described as “a metaphor for death” pertaining to the resurrection of the soul through the symbolism of earspools.
Symbolism of Jadeite
There are many meanings attached to the beautiful Jadeite Jade stone.
It is said absorb negative energy, and possess health-strengthening abilities that improve longevity.
It’s also considered to be “the dream stone” by ancient cultures. And for this reason it is used to solve dreams and access spiritual realms.
Jadeite Jade is also said to have a calming effect, invoking a sense of peace and tranquillity.
Another element to consider is the colour. As it comes in many different shades, each has its own meaning.
Moon Jade is a symbol of purity, fertility, youth and pure love. Blue Jade is a symbol of wealth, positive energy, peace and reflection. Lavander Jade is a symbol of prosperity, inner peace, good health, attracts love and helps relieve emotional pain. Black Jade is a symbol of protection, keeps away negativity and a symbol of power and elegance. Orange Jade is energetic, bringing joy and teaching the interconnection of all beings.
Then we get to all the greens…. over 20 shades! Green Jadeite is a symbol of the earth, nature and life. It has a healing power, transforming negative energy into positive.
The prized Imperial Jade, as mentioned above, is a symbol of power, status, and good luck. This was the Jade that was once only worn by powerful people and royalty.
There are so many ways that we find a connection to the natural world.
And gemstones like Jadeite feel like a great way to appreciate and connect to the beauty and magic of Mother Earth.
What are your thoughts on gemstones? Do you have any particular connections to particular stones? Do you have any Jade stones?
Mayan Symbol Jade Pendants
If you’re inspired to add some Jade to your life, check out these Mayan pendants below. You can personalise them with your Mayan Day Sign which is engraved by hand by Guatemalan artisans.