I first came across the idea that crystals and gemstones had metaphysical properties that could be harnessed for healing and wellbeing through a girlfriend a long time ago. At the time I thought the idea odd, and possibly a little absurd, and so it got put to the side for a while. I had other pursuits at the time that seemed more plausible such as Tarot and Numerology. And yet within a two-year period after that incidental conversation, I began to collect crystals. It wasn’t that I had decided to investigate the idea further; something quite different happened; I just found myself attracted to them. In those days I was more poverty conscious and so allowed myself only a few small stones to begin with: Rose Quartz, Amethyst and Clear Quartz. I did not know at the time, quite how much of a role the mineral kingdom would play in my own personal journey of healing and awakening. It wasn’t however until about 6 months later that I had my first experience ‘feeling’ crystals, something that would irrevocably change my view of reality, and open my mind to the possibilities. I was with a friend at the time, and we were discussing how to communicate with crystals, and he said to me “go ahead, pick one up and open yourself up and listen!” I was closed to the idea, but I decided to humour him and picked up a piece of rose quartz, and to my surprise I felt flooded with perceptions; a soft gentle feeling of being loved in a nurturing and unconditional way, much as a mother does to a new born child. I realised in an instant that what I perceived had been there all along, it was simply my choice to open my mind to wider possibilities that made the difference. There is nothing quite like the experience of communion with another part of life, whether human, animal, plant or rock, and when it happens for the first time it really rocks your world, and nothing is ever quite the same again. When it’s finally over, after perhaps just a few seconds or if one’s lucky a few hours, we look forward with excitement and longing for the next time it happens. And so it was for me. My crystal collection began to grow, as I delighted in the unique characters I discovered in other crystals, and in the more subtle distinctions between different crystals of the same type.
To the unfamiliar, rocks can be just rocks, and crystals are just beautiful rocks; beautiful but just as inert, they don’t appear to do anything! So why would anyone think that crystals and gemstones are particularly useful in the process of healing or self-development? It’s a valid question given the limiting nature of our school indoctrination, where without our realising it, many of our inborn human abilities are ignored and de-valued such that they atrophy without use.
We can approach crystals on a number or levels. We know already from technological developments that crystals have electrical properties. Some crystals for example acquire a charge when compressed, twisted or distorted, and are said to be piezoelectric. Quartz crystals are used as watch crystals and as precise frequency reference crystals for radio transmitters. Rochelle salt produces a comparatively large voltage upon compression and was used in early crystal microphones. Topaz when heated up and then allowed to cool emits electrical sparks, and silicon chips (from quartz) are the foundation of modern computing. Given that the human body is bio-electrical it is not so far-fetched an idea that we may be able to interact with crystals in some way. To further this point, more recent research by molecular biologist Mae Wan Ho, a pioneer into the liquid crystal nature of living organisms writes: There is a dynamic, liquid crystalline continuum of connective tissues and extracellular matrix linking directly into the equally liquid crystalline interiors of every cell in the body. Liquid crystallinity gives organisms their characteristic flexibility, exquisite sensitivity and responsiveness, thus optimising the rapid, noiseless intercommunication that enables the organism to function as a coherent, coordinated whole. In addition, the liquid crystalline continuum provides subtle electrical interconnections, which are sensitive to changes in pressure and other physiochemical conditions; in other words, it is also able to register “tissue memory”. Thus, the liquid crystalline continuum possesses all the qualities of a highly sensitive “body consciousness” that can respond to all forms of subtle energy medicines. Mae Wan Ho offers a new perspective on the human body, which makes us akin to and possibly resonant with all other types of crystals. Our own innate crystalline nature may also explain the natural attraction and reverence for crystals through the ages from as far back as ancient times.
On another level crystals can act as powerful symbols for healing and change that reverberate at the soul level, effectively acting as bridges to the unconscious. In this sense we may be drawn to certain crystals because they mirror an aspect of ourselves in the personal unconscious, and through symbolic contact with a crystal, perhaps placed on an altar or worn in a particular way, we can make more conscious, aspects of self that want to be known. The power of symbol is a very interesting concept which I will explore in another article.
How do we best relate to crystals to enhance wellbeing? Our attitude to anything in life has an affect on outcomes, and with crystals it is no different. In my experience the best results occur when we approach crystals as living beings in their own right, even if we don’t quite understand how they are alive. Thus we cultivate a respectful and polite connection with them; they are not here to do our bidding! Respect begins with the realisation that our relationship with crystals must be a mutual one, and so it helps to understand that it is not just we who choose a crystal but that the crystal also in some way chooses us. In a more technical sense, let’s imagine that crystals each emit a unique musical note. We too consist of energy vibrations, and have a unique note of our own. Much like human relationships we like resonant people the best, and it's the same with crystals; for wellbeing we need to choose crystals that harmonise with our energy field; we need to have a strong “feel good” perception with them. If we don’t then maybe that particular crystal isn’t quite right for us, or it’s not quite the right time. In principle a dissonant crystal could catalyse a rough ride, and throw us into a ‘dark night of the soul’ cycle, which although may ultimately prove beneficial, may also not have been essential or necessary.
Choosing crystals: It’s always better to choose crystals without first looking at books; it’s not a good idea to look in a crystal book for a healing prescription; far better to get out of the head and follow your intuition. If you feel like you don’t have a strong intuition, that’s ok, because any ongoing relationship with crystals will awaken that faculty, and it’s always a good time to start. Generally your first impulse or attraction will be the truest, for as the seconds pass, it is easy for the intellect to override those first impressions with logical and reasonable alternatives. When choosing for someone else, simply get clear about whom the crystal is for and follow your feelings, you will be able to choose a resonant crystal that they can appreciate and love. How can we work with crystals consciously? There are many ways in which we can consciously work with crystals toward better wellbeing and beyond that toward greater self awareness, and because the way we connect with crystals (and life in general for that matter) is largely subjective i.e. highly personal, there are numerous options, some which work better in a given time than others. Here are just a few of the ways others have been using crystals:
Crystal meditation ~ crystals can enhance meditation practise, offering a focal point if we want one, and supporting the process by amplifying our positive intentions
Sleeping with a crystal under the pillow, with positive clear intentions can enhance dream recall, support lucid dreaming, help us stay protected if we are experiencing unwanted psychic influence during sleep, or help us heal and rejuvenate.
Crystal healing ~ crystals can be used in complex body layouts in conjunction with Reiki or shamanic healing processes to amplify, enhance and intensify positive healing intentions.
Crystals make wonderful additions to any altar work we might be doing. Altars can be formal or casual, and generally help us honour our own cycles of healing and growth. They are best set for ourselves, or the house in general, and should only be set up for a sick person or a person in need with their permission.
Crystals make wonderful allies for enhancing active dreaming or visualisation processes, and can be held or worn for this purpose.
Crystals can be carried in a medicine pouch to support personal healing, purification and letting go cycles.
Crystals can be placed about the home or office to attract and amplify positive energy
Should crystals be cleansed from time to time? In general the consensus answer to that is yes. For beginners the easiest way to do this is to soak your crystals in a bowl of water with a teaspoon of sea salt added. Be aware however a few crystals like selenite are water-soluble and could denature or dissolve if soaked in water, but most do not.
Also understand that some crystals are toxic and could leech heavy metals such as lead into soak water, so it's a good idea to dispose of soak water safely, and to make sure pets don’t take a surreptitious slurp from your cleansing bowl! Your intention to cleanse your crystals using this process is normally sufficient to energise that outcome, but if you want you can make a simple cleansing prayer over the bowl before leaving it in a quiet part of the home. After a day or so, drain the water, and rinse crystals with fresh water and dry. There are other ways to cleanse crystals and are worth exploring – for example I sometimes prefer to use sacred herbs and gums to smudge crystals, allowing the smoke from the incense to act as an energetic purifier. Equally I also set clear intentions in my mind to clear crystals as and when needed.
So when do crystals need cleansing? In general it is a ‘feel’ thing, at some point they just feel either grubby, murky, jumbled or dissonant and one just senses or ‘knows’ what they need. Why do crystals need to be cleansed? Cleansing is a personal affair, but the common idea and experience is that crystals appear to hold memory, and can pick up and amplify the energy of thought and emotion. Sometimes they can be affected by the psychic discharge of negative situations and people. Cleansing practise ensures your crystals are attuned to the positive intentions you set with them. Sometimes crystals just feel like they need a holiday – it's a fanciful subjective view I know, but when a crystal is set to do a lot of work for you either by helping lift a negative space, or helping you with shadow work, or when its used a lot in healing lay outs, they just seem to emanate relief and appreciation when they are placed in water, or re-energised in a natural stream or spend a little time in the sunshine, or connected to the earth. In some instances I have left crystals for over a year either buried or embedded in a tree trunk. I did that with a moldavite pendant once, and hung it in a tree in a forest and after failing to find it after several attempts gave it up for lost, thinking it was no longer for me. But eventually several years later I felt this pull or inner prompting to go try another time, and there it was, easy to find, and I wondered how I could ever have missed it! Such is the way of crystals.
Is there a difference between rough and polished? The answer is both yes and no. Yes in the sense that the vibration of anything is reflected in its appearance and shape to some extent, meaning that a naturally terminated clear quartz generator crystal, will have a different vibration and therefore a different ‘feel’, than a clear quartz polished sphere. Is polished better than unpolished or visa versa? No not really, it is more a matter of preference, which boils down to how it feels and whether you are attracted to it or not in a feel good way. The rule of thumb is to prioritise the feel-good factor when choosing crystals. Some people prefer crystals in the natural format, while others prefer polished stones. In healing lay-out situations choosing polished stones can be about practicality, as smooth flat stones lay more easily on the body, and can be obtained often at affordable prices. In addition some hand polishers take their craft very seriously, approaching the task from a respectful and reverential attitude; they will tune in to the purpose the crystal is made for, and imbue those intentions into the finished article. A good example of this type of crystal is the Vogel Crystals which are high quality healers tools, made specifically for healers. Typically the clearest quartz available is used, and precise geometry is employed. Crystal Books There are numerous books available on crystals and their metaphysical properties, some better than others. The thing to remember is that all the information in books is either collated from the perceptions of other people, or represents the psychic impressions of the individual author. In my view books can be helpful as a starting point, but it’s worthwhile understanding that no matter what is written about crystals in books, the depth and quality of any crystal cannot easily be captured in a few paragraphs. One would never imagine we could accurately and completely describe the unique characteristics and capabilities of a person in a single page; even a whole book would be insufficient. The same goes for crystals, and the longer we actively relate to them the more we learn about how they interact with us as individuals. Having said that books are helpful for giving us a head start and we can definitely benefit from the perceptual insights of others. Key books that I personally enjoy and recommend I will list at the bottom of this article. Decoding crystals So having referred to the books, are there ways we can decode crystals for ourselves? In general, in addition to any personal psychic impression we may get, we can employ certain systems of thought to help us bridge into the mystery of crystals and their purpose in our lives. Colour for example can give us specific clues. Each colour has a different vibration, and colour is already attributed to the chakra system. Red crystals for example could be seen broadly as grounding and energising with a vibration that is specifically resonant to the base chakra, while green stones could be seen as balancing and nourishing to the heart chakra. Clear crystals essentially resonate with the full colour spectrum and thus are very versatile crystals to use in healing.
We can also consider the geometry of a crystal to give us clues. For example the beryl family, which includes ruby, emerald and aquamarine, grows in a hexagonal formation and thus embodies the number 6. Tourmaline geometry is triangular and embodies the number 3.
Using numerology we can add to our understanding of crystals. In the case of ruby or emerald '6 energy' is balancing and harmonising, while the '3 energy' of tourmaline representing the trinity may help resolve inner conflicts through the resolution of duality. Pyrites can form in cubes, and thus could embody both the number 4 representing the square and the number 6 (since a cube has 6 sides). The square in alchemy can also represent the philosophers stone and thus the process of individuation. We can also employ the Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient approach that draws information from the appearance of things. Dating back to at least the time of Dioscorides, a physician, pharmacologist and botanist in ancient Greece, the Doctrine of Signatures was much used in herbalism, and was used by the famous herbalist and alchemist Paracelsus in the 1400s. For example pyrite is metallic gold in colour and it like gold itself reminds us of the sun, so we might find it meaningful to associate the energy of pyrite with creativity, self expression and an ability to assert oneself. Black obsidian is a form of volcanic glass, and by association we can consider its energy to be highly transformative, containing within its vibration the potent fiery energy of hot magma. The colour black reminds us of the shadow, of things we cannot see clearly, and of negative energy. It has been used since ancient times to make spearheads and arrowheads, ritual knives and even used as a mirror. So we can think about it’s capacity to penetrate, and to cut through negative energy, or used as a mirror to reflect negative energy or help us take a deep look at ourselves. Recommended Books The Crystal Bible by Judy Hall.
Judy Hall is a prolific writer and she has done a good job collating the more sensible qualities associated with crystals. It covers a wide range of crystals in a simple and accessible way. A great entry level book to get you started.
The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian offers more depth