Two thousand years ago, so the Cherokee legend of Fairy Crosses begins, the "Yunwi Tsunsdi," or Little People, lived in the beautiful mountains of what is now North Georgia and Western North Carolina. Shy and elusive creatures, the Little People were revered throughout the Cherokee Nation for their ability to find people lost in the thickly forested mountains of the region.
One evening, while the Little People were enjoying an enchanted celebration of dance, music and song, a foreign messenger arrived bearing the sad news of the Crucifixion of the Son of the Great Creator. So moved were the Little People upon hearing the news of the loss of one so great, that they were moved to tears. As their tears fell to the ground, they turned into Fairy Crosses, where they can be found to this day.
The scientific--and much less romantic name--for the Fairy Cross is staurolite, from the Greek word stauros, meaning cross. Staurolite is found in rocks that have been subjected to enormous heat and pressure. A composite of iron, aluminum and silica, staurolite occurs when these three materials crystallize, often forming a cross-shape.
No two Fairy Crosses are the same. Each has its own unique shape, most commonly broken down into three categories: The Maltese Cross-a perfectly formed cross that is the most difficult to find and thus most highly prized by collectors. The second is the more common Saint Andrews Cross, a more angled cross rather than a horizontal and vertical shaped cross. And the third is the Prismatic Cross, while less than perfectly shaped, it is in the form of a cross, and is the most common and readily found variety.
Long prized as good luck talismans, Fairy Crosses have been carried by Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, as well as Thomas A. Edison and Charles Lindbergh.
In 1976, staurolite was named Georgia's state mineral.
Fannin County--along with a few other areas of the Southern Appalachians-- is one of a relatively few places in the world where Fairy Crosses are naturally occurring. Rock hounds from around the globe visit Blue Ridge in the hopes of finding the perfect speciman.
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