Teardrops From the Moon
© 1997 by Kadorienne
No part of this article may be reproduced without permission of the author.
For longer than recorded history, humans have regarded tektites as magical and uncanny. The unromantic word tektite comes from a Greek word meaning "molten", but most of the other names for them have been considerably more poetic. In the Chinese Tang Annals, which go back more than 2,000 years, Liu Sun makes the first written reference to tektites, calling them Lei-gong-mo, "Inkstone of the Thundergod." Australian Aborigines call them Maban, which means "magic". In India, they were Saimantakimani, the "sacred gem of Krishna". The Sanskrit name for them, Agni Mani, is generally translated into English as "fire pearl" or "teardrops from the moon".
They figure frequently in American Indian legends as harbingers or messengers. Aborigines of central Australia believe it is good luck to find them. They have used tektites as tools and weapons and believe they can control weather or aid hunting. Medicine men carry tektites from Mt. Magnet in their beards, believing that it will help them maintain telepathic contact. There is even some evidence that some aboriginal groups may have bartered tektites with each other at some time.
Some Aboriginal tribes use tektites for healing. Medicine men will palm a tektite from an afflicted person, pretending that it was the cause of the illness. Perhaps it is this which gave rise to a contrary superstition that even touching a tektite can be lethal and that witches or evil people can cause death by throwing one at their victim.
Natives of the island of Billiton in the Java Sea, where teardrop-shaped tektites are plentiful, call them "magic black seeds." Exporting tin is important to the island's economy, and they believe that planting tektites will grow tin as planting seeds will grow plants.
Paleolithic humans in present-day Czechoslovakia were using moldavites, a type of tektite which is green in color, as ornaments as well as tools as long as 30,000 years ago. Tools and amulets made from tektites have also been found in Indochina, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Fire pearls have been worshiped in China, India, Indonesia and Tibet for at least 2500 years. They are sacred to Tibetan monks and lamas, who call them "the Stone of Shambala" and believe them to have come from the constellation Orion. One legend is that fire pearls are pieces of the arrowhead of the Hindu god Arjuna. Another Hindu myth speaks of the Chandrakanta, a magical gem formed of the moon's congealed rays. Though this myth does not mention fire pearls directly, the similarity to the tektite's fabled powers and its theoretical origin is arresting.
Legends about the magical powers of tektites are still current. Modern mystics believe that contact with moldavites will aid one's spiritual evolution and that tektites are conducive to lucid dreaming. For an exploration of the spiritual properties of tektites, see Moldavite: Starborn Stone of Transformation, by Robert Simmons and Kathy Warner.
The Holy Grail has been described both as a cup and a gem, and one version says that it was a chalice ornamented by an emerald that fell from the sky. Legend has it that the Grail originated as an emerald that fell from the crown or forehead of Lucifer during the war in heaven. This calls to mind the (fire?) pearl in the forehead of the Indian god Shiva, called the Urna, which is like the mystical third eye of spiritual perception.
In the ancient world, any green stone could be referred to as an emerald, and the extraterrestrial origin of the Grail stone inclines one to think that it could have been a moldavite.
Most tektites, however, are black or brown, and this makes legends about black stones intriguing. The ancient Semites revered black stony meteorites which they called baetyls, which means "house of God". In their pagan phase, they are said to have chosen a baetyl to represent a triple-aspected mother goddess to whom they made human sacrifices. We are told that it is this very stone which later became the centerpiece of the Ka'aba.
The Ka'aba is a cube-shaped shrine in the Court of the Great Mosque at the center of Mecca. It once held many pagan idols, but when the prophet Mohammed took Mecca, he went into the Ka'aba and destroyed them, saying, "Truth has come and falsehood has vanished." The only idol he left was the Black Stone embedded in one corner. When Muslims bow to Mecca, it is the Ka'aba to which they prostrate themselves. When a pilgrim enters Mecca, he goes straight to the Ka'aba and kisses the Black Stone, an act which Mohammed authorized.
Whatever the truth about the Black Stone's part in previous worship, plenty of Islamic legends have grown up around it by now. The night before Mohammed was born, it is said, Abyssinians tried to destroy the Ka'aba, but the elephants refused to attack it. Another version is that Mohammed was actually born in the Ka'aba. The Black Stone was a meteorite given to Abraham by Gabriel. The stone is believed to be the only remnant of the shrine built by Abraham and Ishmael.
I do not know if the Black Stone of the Ka'aba is a tektite; I was unable to find any information about what kind of rock it is. But once again, the parallels with the tektite legend are striking.
I first learned about tektites when I came across an ancient copy of Fire Pearl: Magic Gem From the Moon by Richard J. H. de Touch»-Skadding, now lamentably out of print. In it, Skadding relates how, during a youth spent adventuring in the Orient, he began hearing legends of a magical, wondrous stone called an Agni Mani. Most level-headed people did not believe that fire pearls existed at all, let alone that they had the powers attributed to them. Skadding spent years searching for one, gathering legends and rumors diligently. Fire pearls bestow power, wealth, and precognition, he was told. The stories he collected told of powerful men who prospered as long as they had fire pearls and went into decline when they lost them.
1600 years ago, Skadding learned, a Prince Pulavarman acquired one and built an empire of Malaya, Java and nearby islands, the Empire of Srivijaya. His dynasty ruled it for a millenium. When they lost it, the empire fell apart. 400 years ago the Sultan of Malacca, a powerful braggart, claimed to have it. One of his court officials stole it and sold it to Don Alfonso d'Albuquerque, a Portuguese admiral. He became very powerful in the area and conquered Malacca. When he died, another sultan seized it. The British founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, bought a tektite from a Javanese potentate for a high price and became the most powerful European in the area until he lost it. It somehow found its way back to a ruling house of Java.
Skadding kept asking powerful men in Malaya and Java if they had one; one replied that if he did, he wouldn't tell anyone. At last Skadding met the Sultan of Pontianak, who admitted to having one and, after some persuasion, allowed Skadding to see it. The Sultan confided that once when he was travelling through his realm, he saw lights in it in the shape of an arrow; he followed the arrow and found a rich diamond mine. He allowed Skadding to touch his fire pearl and make a wish; Skadding wished for a fire pearl of his own, which he acquired shortly afterward.
After that, he found many more. A Latvian baron and sometime diplomat, Skadding gave Queen Elizabeth II a tektite in a precious necklace as a wedding gift. She came to acquire many more; in the 60's, the Swiss government gave her a piece of jewelry with a large, raw moldavite as its centerpiece for the tenth anniversary of her coronation. The piece is valued at $5000. Skadding also says he gave one to Winston Churchill and one to Lord Louis Mountbatten -- just a few days before his successful invasion of Burma during World War II. The Czechs recently made a faceted moldavite rosary for the Pope.
Perhaps it was inevitable that a stone so cloaked in legend would be used in an Atlantis theory. The Eternal Man by Louis Pauwels & Jacques Bergier presents an Atlantis theory that once Earth had a technological society based on solar power which it captured with the use of pyramid-shaped insulators. Eventually disaster resulted. "The enormous insulators were destroyed. Much later, in the twentieth century of our era, tectites [sic] were discovered in the places where they had once stood in Africa, Australia and Egypt. Tectites are a kind of glass which has been exposed to exceptionally high temperatures and bombarded by particles of high energy."
One problem with this exciting theory is that the Ivory Coast tektites are considerably older than those of Australia, at least according to one of my scientific sources; on the other hand, other scientific sources say that the two areas' tektites are of identical age. Another problem is that there are no tektites in Egypt, though there is natural glass in neighboring Libya. The Libyan glass, however, is 30 million years old.
The scientific theories of tektite origins are as varied as the legends. Ask a roomful of geologists how tektites are formed and you may very well witness a fistfight. Every reference book which mentions them is forced to advance numerous theories about their origins.
Tektites are very numerous in Australia. Emus use them as gizzard-stones, and aborigines will cut them out of emus they have hunted. The emus' digestive enzymes have been blamed by some for the tektites' shapes. However, this does not explain the presence of tektites in areas with no emus, such as Georgia and Czechoslovakia.
Another theory is that lightning striking the earth creates them, but in this case, why are they found only in certain areas of the world, and why are all those in any given area all the same age?
Tektites first came to the attention of science in the 18th century, when the translucent green moldavites were found in Czechoslovakia. They soon became very popular to use as ornaments for walking sticks, and men gave them to their fianc»es for good luck. The 18th century theory of moldavite origin was that they were broken relics from an ancient glass-making factory. Indeed, tektites of all regions are very similar to natural glass. However, tektites are definitely not synthetic.
On his famous voyage on the Beagle, Charles Darwin acquired several tektites. He became the first to suggest a volcanic origin for them, and for a time they were called "Darwin glass". To account for the fact that many tektites were found nowhere near any volcano, he theorized that they were volcanic matter that had been shot very high in the air during an eruption. This theory has since been discounted, though it was partially revived in an idea that they had their origin in lunar volcanoes. Still, it is intriguing that the great theorist of evolution should have found tektites on his historic voyage and speculated about them, because as we shall see, tektites may have played a part in a pivotal moment in human evolution.
Ivory Coast tektites are the same age as the natural glass from the Bosumtwi crater, a correlation repeated at other craters. Fist-sized fragments of natural glass approximately 30 million years old are strewn over Libya. Scientists tell us that they were formed by a meteoritic impact with the desert sand. And this is also one of the leading theories about the formation of tektites.
There are numerous variations on the meteoritic theory of tektites. One is that tektites came from the tail of a comet which brushed earth. Another is that they are the fragments of a meteorite. They could also be particles of terrestrial material thrown into orbit by meteoritic impact and then shaped into tektites by their fall back to earth. Certainly tektites melted during their formation. Wind tunnel experiments show that entering the atmosphere at high velocity caused their shapes. It is estimated that the events which produced them were 5,000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb.
In 1947 H.H. Nininger, Director of the American Meteorite Association, fell in, perhaps unknowingly, with the ancient Oriental theory that they are lunar fragments dislodged by meteorites. Nininger said they were made "when fused rock was splashed off the surface of the moon as a result of meteoritic impact." However, this does not explain why they are only found in certain areas of the earth. The terrestrial collision theory is an answer to this.
The theory that tektites are created by meteorite impact is supported by several verifiable scientific facts. Tektites approximately 600,000-700,000 years old are strewn over Australia, Indochina and the Philippines, and NASA has linked their formation with that of the lunar crater Tycho, echoing the ancient legend that tektites are "teardrops from the moon"!
"Tektite events may also be associated with climatic change," says Magill's Survey of Science. The tektites of Australia and the Philippines - and possibly of the Ivory Coast - were formed at the beginning of the Pleistocene ice ages, though no direct connection has yet been determined. Geologists tell us that there was also a geomagnetic reversal at this time. And an article in the New York Times on November 8, 1988 says that moldavites were created at the time of another geomagnetic reversal, 14.8 million years ago.
The earth's magnetic field has reversed itself at irregular intervals throughout the earth's history, and no one is certain of why. A cataclysm, such as the impact of a meteor, could conceivably cause such an event. Dr. Dean Chapman of NASA thinks that a three-mile wide meteorite could have hit the moon 700,000 years ago: "Reflection of sunlight from billions of glass objects diffused through space would have presented a light spectacle in the sky for many nights. To this was added a half-day-long rumble of continuous sonic booms as the tektites arrived and entered the atmosphere. Thick-browed Java man, whose fossil bones have been found with tektites, undoubtedly witnessed this extraordinary celestial event." (Ames Research Center, NASA, Moffet Field, CA, Fact Sheet: "Tektites -- Tons of the Moon Already on Earth.")
Our ancestor Java man, also known as Homo erectus, certainly lived during the Pleistocene, right in the middle of the tektite strewnfields. And it is at this point that Java man's brain began to grow, rapidly, far more than was necessary for mere survival, in what anthropologists have termed the "brain explosion."
Coincidence or connection? Robert Ardrey, in The Social Contract, proposes a connection "with the strict understanding that I do not believe a word of it." About 700,000 years ago, he says, a meteor or asteroid about 1,000 feet in diameter exploded over the Indian Ocean, scattering tektites around a six thousand mile area and causing the earth's magnetic poles to reverse. During a switch of poles, we know from the geological record, the earth goes for about 5,000 years without any magnetic field to divert cosmic rays as it normally does. This would have left Pithecanthropus unshielded from cosmic rays, which would have accelerated the rate of mutation.
If the evolution of the human race into an intelligent species was caused by the same catastrophic event that caused tektites, it is hardly any wonder that we should regard them as magical and sacred. Perhaps we feel an unconscious kinship with them, since we and they were formed at the same time and by the same cause. Or perhaps we have an ancestral memory of the odd stones which began appearing just as our minds were beginning to awaken. They are the talismans of our own acquisition of souls.