What is it? Does it work?
by Kristine Bonner
Molded by pressure and time, deep in the earth, elements transform into gems of vivid colors and sparkly depths. Flung from the sky, meteors arrive bearing metals smelted by their journey through the stars. To cultures that feel the earth and the sky are living entities, stones and metals are powerful, dynamic objects not only representative of their sources but carrying the power that their origin has endowed upon them.
Minerals' and metals' use as adornment, in healing, and in sacred ceremonies dates from the dawn of time. Fossils have been found in ancient Celtic and Norse tombs.1 Ancient Sumerians are said to have used crystals in their magical traditions, and the ancient Egyptians crushed malachite for their green eyeshadow, and made amulets from green stones for placement in the hearts of their mummies. The Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese and Islamic cultures all used minerals for medical and magical applications. Medicine and magic were not seen as separate; healing was kind of magical activity. Some of the medical applications may have had a basis in biologic composition - Pliny the Elder refers to malachite as a wound dressing; it contains copper, which is antimicrobial. A fascinating article in Forbes Magazine by David Bressan "A History Of Collecting Rocks And Minerals: Minerals As Early Medicine"2 says
Assyrian and Babylonian texts contain description of the magic-medical powers of minerals. At the time it was believed that diseases were caused by ghosts and spirits. Minerals, like lapis-lazuli, hematite and native copper were used as talismans to protect from evil spirits, along many other minerals which old names are nowadays forgotten. Minerals were also pulverized and used in lotions to be applied on the body.
According to Indian sources dating to the 13th century, but based on far older beliefs, diamonds were used as pulverized medicine against impotence and to increase longevity. Aquamarine cured fever and topaz was used against skin diseases. Some of the supposed powers of minerals still play a role in the modern Ayurveda medicine.
Nine iron beads were found in an Egyptian tomb in 1911. The tomb dated from 3200 BC, two millenia prior to the Iron Age. Scientists later determined the iron must have been hammered into beads from meteoritic iron, iron from a meteor. They were found with "lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, gold foil beads, [and] carnelian from the Eastern desert..." 3 Were these items solely for decoration or were they thought to have some power of some kind? We'll never know.
A seal with a stamp from the Sasanian period of Mesopotamia in the 5th century A.D. was made of meteoric iron. The Gem Society says that people "believed these stones had healing properties. Iron meteorites were also commonly associated with balance and strength, and the nickel in these meteorites was believed to purify the wearer’s blood." 4This may have been due to their magnetism, or perhaps people realized that they came from the sky.
It's not only ancient cultures that react and interact with stones and metals in this way. Today, there's a resurgence of interest in crystals and gemstones, not only for their beauty, but for their life-enhancing energetic powers.
Many people believe that wearing stones, or carrying them in day to day life, can help heal mental, emotional, physical, or psychical problems. Placement on chakra points or pulse points on the body is thought to have a direct impact on energy fields. Chakras were first postulated by early Hindu culture as part of a theory of a subtle body that supports and sustains the physical self. Seven main chakras are positioned along the spine, from the base to the top of the head. These spheres of energy are each thought to control different qualities from successful adaptation to earthly life, to life force, to a sense of purpose and personal identity, to unconditional love and peace, to expression and speaking truth, to inner guidance, and finally to cosmic consciousness.
Crystals are said to have energy fields that resonate with those chakra energies. There are scores of sites online with descriptions of the healing and spiritual properties of stone, and rituals for using them to energize, heal and protect. Some people say they can actually feel the different energies between various types of stones, and from individual stones within a single type, like different pieces of quartz, for example.
There is a school of thought that says the mind is the power behind these sensations – that the belief itself is the important element, rather than the crystal. The placebo effect has indeed been shown to be very powerful. National Geographic, in a 2016 article entitled, "Unlocking the Healing Power of You", by Erik Vance, says this power of the mind to heal consists of a combination of personal belief, the theater (trappings and surroundings) in which the treatment is delivered, and a consciousness of what other people believe. 5
Consider the rise of the internet's role in publicizing and thus increasing the popularity of crystals. Add to that the increased awareness of others' belief in them, together with descriptions of ritual use. It makes sense that many are truly experiencing energies even if it is their own mind that is creating the experience. Since the results of the placebo effect are sometimes more powerful than actual drugs (sometimes even if the person knows they have received a placebo), the use of crystals would seem to be validated whether you believe they actually have power or not.
Minerals Used for Purification
Many people are interested in shungite, a shiny, black mineraloid found mainly in the Karelia area in the far northwest of Russia, bordering on Finland. A kind of super compressed carbon, shungite contains trace amounts of fullerenes (Carbon-60), carbon units that form a spherical mesh.
There is speculation that fullerenes are a natural antibiotic - certainly shungite has that reputation. Peter the Great set up a spa in Karelia in 1719 specifically to take advantage of the mineral's anti-bacterial properties and subsequently provided his armies shards of it to place in their water supplies. This action is said to have lead to their victory over the Swiss in the battle of Poltaava, when the Swiss were afflicted with dysentery while the Russians were not.
Some people think shungite also protects from electromagnetic forces such as wifi, cell phone or other types of technologic pollution so ubiquitous in modern life. Present day uses include placing shungite in water containers to treat illnesses or maintain good health, wearing pendants or placing stones around computers to shield against EMF. 6
Other crystals to use for energy clearing and purification are clear quartz, selenite, howlite and amethyst.
Suggestions for use:
Include crystals in ceremonies with burning sage to cleanse your space. If you are able, open as many windows and doors around you as is practical. Hold the crystals in your hands and breathe deeply, bringing in new energies on the inhale, while releasing old patterns on the exhale. Call in your own vision of what is holy, or just imagine a bright light surrounding you. Continue until you feel your own sense of completion. Finish by bringing fresh flowers or new plants into your space, or even just a sprig of mint or rosemary to put on a central spot in your house or room.
Minerals Used for Grounding
Grounding is thought to connect you to your sacral chakra and to make you more present and effective in the world. Hematite, iron oxide, is a favorite among many for grounding. One of the most common minerals found in the earth's crust, this black or dark red stone always leaves a red streak if it's scraped. Its name came from the Greek word haima, meaning blood. It has been found in large quantities on Mars, which is ironic as it is known as a stone to ground you to the earth. Other grounding stones are smoky quartz, moss agate and turquoise.
Suggestions for use: Grounding rituals involve a connection with nature and the earth beneath you. If you can, try to do these outside. You can stand or sit or even lie down. Burning sage is helpful. Quiet yourself, and hold your grounding crystals. You could place them on your feet if that is practical, or wear them over your heart if you have medicine bag. Breathe in, bringing energy from above the crown of your head. Imagine it moving through your body, down into the earth. Exhale it down, as if creating roots through your feet into the earth. Inhale, bringing it up from the earth, permeating your body and exhale it out through the top of your head to the sky. Repeat as many times as you wish. Feel the harmony of the universe around you, with yourself as a part of it. If you see a rock that attracts you, pick it up and carry it with you for a while.
Minerals Used for Healing
The topic of healing crystals is complex, as each mineral is said to dispel different types of ailments. Clear quartz crystals, especially the ones with points, are employed to provide clarity and boost the power of whatever other stone is in use. Obsidian is said to dissolve old traumas, and to act in a similar fashion to soften blocked digestion, and release cramps and locked up arthritic joints. Jade is reputed to be a master healing stone, long in use by the Chinese and Mesoamericans. It is said to encourage a healthy long life, and to benefit elders in particular. People use it for problems of the spleen and the stomach as well.
Metal is also used in the healing arena. Many have used copper bracelets for relieving joint and bone pain or low energy. Its addition to crystal jewelry is supposed to amp up the crystalline powers and to encourage the flow of energy between the crystal and the wearer.
For weight loss, people recommend apatite (aptly named), sunstone, iolite and sodalite. Apatite is said to speed up the metabolism and iolite to release fatty deposits.
For addiction, many consider purple amethyst to be the best crystal. It is said to help promote freedom from compulsion, and to bring in higher energies, lifting up the user out of negativity.
Suggestions for use:
For healing rituals, again, start with a sage cleanse. Lie down in a peaceful, safe place where you will be uninterrupted and place the healing crystal on the body part that is affected. Bring your breath to a slow inhale and exhale. Then envision the crystal's color. Imagine your breath to be tinged with that tint. Begin to see the color moving through you as you breathe. Now imagine your exhale going through your body where the crystal is placed. Inhale through the crystal, and exhale through it, as the color passes in and through the spot. Continue until you feel done. Allow the color to dissipate. Slowly come back to yourself and carefully remove the crystal and sit up. You might follow with a grounding ritual if you are feeling light headed.
Many people interested in healing often wear their stones of choice. Beaded bracelets are popular, and not too expensive. At night, you can put them under your pillow while you sleep. Amulet bags, or protection pouches as they are sometimes called, come in many forms and are a nice way to carry your stones with you on a daily basis.
Minerals Used for Prosperity
Pyrite and citrine are generally agreed upon to be two of the most powerful prosperity stones. Pyrite can create sparks when struck against other minerals, making it one of mankind's earliest tools. The famous frozen man, Ötzi, preserved in a glacier over 5,000 years ago, was found with pieces of flint and pyrite.7 Pyrite is also called fool's gold, and can be confused with gold by inexperienced miners. Its gold tone is lighter than real gold though, and it's more brittle. It's associated with the third chakra, the solar plexus chakra. Keeping a piece on your desk is supposed to be good for your business and wealth building.
It's easy to see why citrine, with its sunshine-yellow color, is also associated with prosperity. Some call it the merchant's stone. Advice online says to put it in any place that you associate with your money, a cash drawer, your purse, wallet, or some say, your front door to invite wealth in. Citrine is also said to boost your confidence. Much of what is sold as citrine is actually treated amethyst. True citrine is more yellow than gold or orange, so research before you buy.
Other prosperity stones are said to be aventurine for luck, tiger's eye for attraction, and moss agate for growth of your business.
Minerals Used for Love and Fertility
Rose quartz is a well-known heart opener. GIA says, "Rose quartz beads dating back to 7000 BC have been found in the area once known as Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq)... People in the earliest recorded times believed in the magical powers of quartz. Ancient Roman, Egyptian, and Greek civilizations used quartz crystals as potent talismans."8 The Egyptians used masks of rose quartz as beauty treatments; they've been found in tombs.
This "heart stone" is said to open the heart to healing and thus allow love to manifest, first within, and then acting to draw love into your life or renewing relationships if they are already present. It is said to bring happiness, encourage sensuality and, an added plus, to help prevent aging. Some sleep with rose quartz under their pillow or under the mattress to attract love. Others like to wear a pendant over the heart.
Suggested use: Meditate holding the stone and allow its peace to permeate your aura.
Another love stone is moonstone, a mineral of the feldspar group. It has the quality of adularescence - an inner glow and appearance of movement created by light moving through layers in the stone. Its mysterious quality has made it a sought after stone for millenia. GIA says, "According to Hindu mythology, moonstone is made of solidified moonbeams."8 It is said to bring emotional response back to those who have been inhibited by grief or trauma. It is also thought increase passions and calm stressed hormones. As it is connected to the moon, it has a special association with women, the sea and fertility.
Suggested use: Wear the moonstone on a full moon to fall in love. Carry it with you to increase fertility.
Clearing and charging your crystals
People believe that crystals retain the energy of those who have handled them. It's recommended that you clear your crystals of this energy prior to use, and periodically, especially if you are using them for healing or in conjunction with other people, or for working with issues that carry a lot of emotional weight for you. It's also thought that the stones benefit from exposure to the natural elements, the sun, the moon, the earth and the open air, just like we do. Clear and charge your crystals whenever you feel called to do so.
There are lots of ways to clear and to charge crystals. You can sage them, holding them in the smoke of your sage bundle, or you might leave them out under the sun for a day or two, or under the full moon overnight. Some people soak them in salty water, or bury them in the earth (be sure to mark the spot!). Some stones are believed to be clearers of their own. Selenite, citrine, rose quartz, clear quartz and kyanite are thought to be clearers. You might put the crystals to be cleared on clearing stones overnight, or for as long as you feel necessary.
Another method employs sound. People use singing bowls or tuning forks to create clear tones and then bathe their stones in the sound. If you have a good clear voice, you could sing to them. Pre-recorded music is not suggested.
Crystals that have been used for protection are supposed to benefit from burial in brown rice. Do not use the rice when you are done cleansing. If you have a green compost service that accepts food waste you can dispose of it in your green bin. Otherwise throw it away as you would food scraps.
There are some crystals you should not expose too much to the sun. Here's a short list from a post at mindat.org (link in footnotes) Amethyst, Ametrine, Baryte, Celestite, Citrine, Danburite, Fluorite, Blue Halite,Bright orange/pink/yellow Heulandite, Proustite, Rose Quartz, Realgar, Spodumene (Hiddenite, Kunzite), Topaz, Tourmaline.10
There are some crystals you should not soak in water. Crystals that are 5 or below in the Mohs scale will start to dissolve. Check before submerging your crystals.
Charging for particular purposes:
You may want to charge stones for a particular use, or just to get them more attuned to your own energy. It's helpful to be a little more specific for some purposes. You could meditate, holding the stones and visualize the successful outcome of whatever issue you are working with. If they are for healing, it's helpful to connect with whatever you feel is holiest to you via prayer, thoughtful intention, meditation or other method. Feel the light within you, and send it into the stones. Oftentimes people will feel a vibration start to emanate back to them from the stones, letting them know their energies are in tune with the crystals.
There are many more beautiful stones and metals than mentioned in this article, and many additional ways that people use them to enhance their lives. What's important is that the stone resonates with you - that it calls to you in some way, and that you use it in a way that seems valuable and appropriate to you. Don't be afraid to be creative!
One word of warning - Some people put crystals in drinking water to charge the water. While not all stones are toxic, it's safer to charge the water in an indirect way. Put the stones in a glass or other dry container, and then put that inside your water.
NOTE: Margarita Alcantara has an excellent page on clearing crystals, check here for more ideas. [http://alcantaraacupuncture.com/cleansing-your-crystals-guide/]
- Kenneth J. McNamara, Jan. 1, 2007, Shepherds' crowns, fairy loaves and thunderstones: the mythology of fossil echinoids in England, Geological Society of London Lyell Special Publications, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://sp.lyellcollection.org/content/273/1/279
- David Bressan, Sept. 30, 2016, A History Of Collecting Rocks And Minerals: Minerals As Early Medicine, Forbes Magazine, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2016/09/30/a-history-of-collecting-rocks-and-minerals-minerals-as-early-medicine/#602e417e4ae7
- Aug. 20, 2013, Oldest Egyptian iron artefacts made from meteorites, UCL News, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), University College of London, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2013/aug/earliest-known-iron-artefacts-come-outer-space]
- Meteorite Jewelry: An Introduction, International Gem Society, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.gemsociety.org/article/meteorite-jewelry-introduction/
- Erik Vance, Dec. 2016, Unlocking the Healing Power of You, National Geographic, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/12/healing-science-belief-placebo/
- Dec. 13, 2018, What the Shungite?, Little Lemuria, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://littlelemuria.com/blogs/the-lemurian-trigon/what-the-shungite
- Toni Rahn, Aug. 6, 2018, Examining Pyrite, Iron and Flint: The Fire Makers, Rock & Gem, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.rockngem.com/examining-pyrite-iron-and-flint-the-fire-makers/
- Rose Quartz History and Lore, GIA, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.gia.edu/rose-quartz-history-lore
- Moonstone History and Lore, GIA, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.gia.edu/moonstone-history-lore
- Kristi Hugs, July 9, 2013, Fade in Sunlight, post at Mindat.org, (accessed Nov. 26, 2019), https://www.mindat.org/mesg-298543.html
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