Crystals and Me One of my earliest memories was as a small child, sitting on the beach—Dollymount Strand, Dublin—freezing, but that’s an Irish summer for you, and staring at a rock. I was fascinated by its hardness, its inimitable solidity in a world of maybes. I wanted to climb into it, to dive through the exterior and see what lay beneath its tough outer shell. What was on the inside? My childhood mind couldn’t comprehend its enduring, everlasting, incorruptible nature. It was indestructible, and that had me mesmerized. Years later, of course, I learned that the interior of rocks and crystals had an altogether different life and one I would come to know very well. My next encounter with these ‘beings’ as I came to know them, was at the tender age of 18, walking to work one sunny day, not a million miles from the aforementioned beach. I wandered into a ‘New Age’ shop, popular in the late eighties, and was inextricably drawn to a chunk of amethyst, sitting high up on a shelf. I don’t know if it was the cool afternoon winter light reflecting off its purple pointy peaks or simply the beauty that drew me to it, but whatever it was, I was hooked. Entranced by its tractor beam, robotically I picked it up and had to have it like a bee to honey. The idea that I would spend hard-earned money, which was in short supply, on a rock, was simply unthinkable. “As long as it’s eaten or drunk, then the money is not wasted.” This quote from my long-suffering mother will lend some idea to the priorities at the time in recession-ridden Ireland circa 1987. So to purchase a chunk of rock, well, let’s just say I never told her. I still have that piece of amethyst. It split in two, but it’s still with me. This was the first in a collection that would grow organically over the years but with no direct influence or thought from me. I was gifted a round rose quartz ball for my birthday. Someone bought me a pair of agate bookends one year. I picked up a turquoise ring in the Mojave Desert when I went hiking in the canyonlands of Arizona. My collection grew when I lived in San Francisco. This just happened by osmosis; it was San Fran after all, the land of New Age wonders and hippie happiness. Crystals, gems, and rocks remained as trinkets and toys, household decoration,s and pretty sparkly things for most of my life. That is, until a few years ago. I began a journey into all things energetic and this led me down the path of revisiting my attitude to these wonderful objects. I saw them in a new light and realized why they had been a constant, if underrated, companion throughout my life. I was awake now and tuned into their charms. I was a yoga teacher to small kids in a local creche and as a novelty I brought some crystals into class one day, to do a little meditation at the end of their session. Well, the kids went wild—not an exaggeration. We’re talking The Beatles land in America and the kids go berserk!! Their reaction made me realize there is something about crystals that the kids could instinctively see. I began giving my own kids various crystals to help them out: Tiger's Eye in the pocket going to school, to boost their confidence, or rose quartz if they were feeling low. And thus my exploration into all things crystals had begun. I decided to learn all I could and trained as a crystal healing therapist to add to my other energetic learnings. The journey had begun … Why and How Do They Work? The word ‘crystal’ actually comes from the Greek work krustallos which means something that is hardened by freezing, like ice. Crystals are formed deep within the earth’s core over millions of years, where molten lava and gases bubble and cool and form various types of crystals. Other types of formation include the evaporation of salts. Stalagmites and stalactites are crystal formations also; some grow in river beds and some molten metals cool and solidify to form crystals. Because of this process, a crystalline lattice structure is formed, and it is this unique structure that lends crystals their unique healing properties. The atoms and molecules come into alignment in a specific way to form the most energy-efficient structure. The crystalline lattice structure is a format of sacred geometry similar to our own bodies. It is an expression of Divine energy within the physical, where symmetry, harmony, balance, order, and repetition are evidenced. Different crystals have different inherent geometry. Pyrite, for example, has a cubic lattice and forms into cubes. Calcite is rhomboidal and forms slanted rectangles. Quartz is hexagonal. Looking at quartz a little further, we see that there are a number of different types of quartz: smoky quartz, citrine, amethyst, and rose quartz. All are actually quartz crystals, but with impurities and defects within their crystalline blueprint. It is this blueprint that acts like DNA and it is their inclusions and defects that give them specific properties. Marcel Vogel, a research scientist for IBM for 27 years, was one of the first people to associate the internal structure of the crystal to the tree of life of the Kabbalah. He discovered that the flow and storage of the essential life force energy, qi or chi, ran through the crystals in the form of negative ions. This led to the development of the Vogel Crystal. These crystals are specifically developed to direct the essential flow of energy and amplify its basic healing properties. These Vogel crystals are widely used nowadays to assist in crystal healing treatments. “Crystals are working with energy in the unlimited dimension of a magnetic domain. Crystals are a radio transmitter, a memory element, a transceiver, and a computer that delivers small doses of natural radiation to the body. Crystals agitate the water in the body, using a natural element.” (Vogel, crystallightandsound.com) When a force-like mechanical pressure is put on the crystal, an electric charge occurs, a phenomenon called piezoelectricity. Pyroelectricity is similar to piezoelectricity but the force exerted on the crystal is heat. It is this specific property of crystals, particularly quartz crystals that lend to their uses in watches and other telecom devices like sonar, ultrasound, radios, transistors, and computer chips. They are used in electric guitar amps, microphones, and most digital devices. Scientists in the mid-1990s discovered that seismic waves traveled 3% faster in a north-south direction compared to an east-west direction. On further investigation, they discovered this is due to the center of the earth literally being composed of a giant aggregate crystal. Added to this, think about the fact that 90% of the earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals; we’re living on earth made up of one giant ball of crystal. We are literally living on a crystal. Now stay with me folks— I would like to draw your attention to the work of Masuru Emoto, who carried out a number of experiments on water. He exposed frozen water molecules to different words, pictures, and sounds. Where the words, pictures, and sounds were positive, the water molecules formed into beautiful crystalline structures. Where the exposure was to negative words, pictures of violence or cruelty, or harsh sounds, the water molecules turned into gnarled and twisted shapes. Extrapolating on this, it seems to me that thoughts, sounds, and deeds carry a resonance that will affect the crystalline structure of the earth. If you agree that thoughts and intentions, therefore, have a vibration, it stands to reason that this vibration can carry a charge to the crystals we work with. Let’s examine this hypothesis a little bit closer. Crystals come from the earth. They, therefore, carry the grounding, homeostatic energy of Mother Gaia. When we use them for healing, we are using their innate properties to benefit our own etheric and physical bodies. When light enters the molecular structure of the crystal, it changes the atomic bonding or charge of that crystal. Think of the Pink Floyd album cover where white light is refracted through the crystal prism and we see a ray of color out the other side. As light comes in through the crystal, it shifts the vibration of the atoms, and depending on the intensity of the light frequency, it will interact with the atoms at an atomic level and bend, refract or rotate to produce a ray of color. Different crystals behave in different ways. Clear quartz is considered the master healer and is used in a multitude of ways. It is similar to diamonds but quartz crystals are simply easier and cheaper to access. Rose quartz then takes in the life force energy or light and directs it to the pink, heart-based centers and emits a loving softer vibration. Amethyst, another quartz, directs the vibrations to the third eye and higher spiritual mind. Lets look at the work of molecular biologist and organic chemist A.G. Cairns-Smith, who proposes to examine the notion that crystals are an organic life form. Here he examines the three criteria that form the basic definition of life: 1) Can the organism store information? 2) Can this information be replicated and passed on? 3) What is the preservation versus mutation ratio of this information and does evolution occur? There is a bit of mulling over here but it's interesting to think about...if you are a natural rock hound!!! Also, Rupert Sheldrake's work and his theories on the morphogenic field, similar to Jung's collective unconscious, lend credence to the idea that there is a field into which we can all tune into. This really embodies the idea of the healer being in tune with the crystals and the client. When a therapist is working with crystals, they are using their intuition and sixth sense to choose the appropriate crystal to work on the specific ailment of the client. How Do Crystals Heal? A chakra is considered to be a spinning energy vortex, and there are many hundreds throughout our physical bodies and into our etheric fields. Traditional thinking was there were seven main chakras or vortices running from the top of our head which is our crown chakra, to the center of our forehead, our third eye chakra, to our throat chakra, our heart chakra, our solar plexus chakra, the sacral chakra, the root or base chakra. Much has been learned from the Vedic tradition about these ‘wheels,’ or energy centers. In the healing process, we place the crystals on the different chakras. Here the vibrating frequencies of the crystal resonate with the frequency of the chakra and entrain the physical or etheric space to meet the higher frequency of the crystal. Crystals can be used to switch on our parasympathetic nervous system and turn off our fight or flight mode. This has obvious benefits on our health and well-being, as our endocrine system calms down on the production of our stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. They can be used to energize us, calm us, help clear our mind, balance our hormones, to shift stagnant energies. Their uses are multiple and work on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Normally there is a correlation between the colors of the crystals to the chakras. The crown is purple, so amethyst would be placed there. The third eye would hold a violet or indigo-colored crystal, like lapis lazuli. Moving to the throat chakra which is traditionally blue in color; a turquoise stone would work in this position. The heart chakra can take a green stone like aventurine or jade or pink, like rose quartz. The solar plexus is considered to resonate with the color yellow, so a light citrine could work here. Moving down to the sacral, we see the orange of carnelian used, and finally at the root or base of our spine is our final chakra and this usually resonates with a darker color for grounding, like black tourmaline or obsidian. A point to note, however, on the traditional thinking of the number of chakras that the body houses ... Historically in the yogic and Vedic traditions there are seven main wheels or vortices, with many hundred mini energy spots spinning on our hands, feet, knees, etc. However, there is now emerging a school of thought where we have added an extra five chakras to our entire system. We now have four in our etheric body, three above the crown: the soul star, the causal, and the universal gateway, one physical chakra at the navel, and one more beneath our root, in the form of our earth star chakra, which is about six inches below our feet. Whatever your school of thought, the process is the same. The elemental nature of crystals comes into play when choosing which crystal to place where. Crystals like jasper and garnet have a fiery nature and can be used to energize. Larimar and calcite are related to the element of water and are used to calm and instill peace. The element of air is represented by crystals like sodalite and lapis lazuli and the earth element introduces us to the agates and shungite. Crystal Grids “A crystal grid is a geometric pattern of energetically aligned stones charged by intention set in a sacred space for the purposes of manifesting a particular objective” (Moon, 2011, p. 17). We use a grid when we want to manifest something. It is a tool used to amplify the natural vibration of the stones, and by gridding into a sacred geometric pattern, charging the crystals and connecting them to a central fulcrum or tower stone, the energetic quality of the grid increases and the intention or request that is the purpose of the grid is more likely to occur. Dr. William Tiller, Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, has observed that “Crystalline forms are the key patterns for the way the energies are built in the universe; and the key to unlocking energy in a constructive way” (Moon, 2011, p. 38). Basically, what Dr. Tiller is saying is that our universe is made up of crystalline forms and these forms affect how energy is conducted and vibrates and, thus, affect how everything works. Balance and Trust I think it is imperative however at this point to impart an understanding of the crystalline world as a mixture of both the logical scientific world of rationality and realism and the inner world of feeling and intuition. Getting to know your stones on a soul level is an essential step in the understanding of crystals and their healing powers. Building a relationship with each crystal is vital to understanding how, why and what they do. It involves us as humans getting in touch with our inner worlds and beginning to trust the thoughts and feelings that arise from this space. As a Westerner, this concept was slightly alien to me but it was in the understanding and practicing of the alchemical nature of reality, trusting my inner voice and learning to use my imagination as a guide, that my abilities to discern energies on a more subtle level began to develop. The philosopher Martin Heidegger said that any explanation of a subject can only go as far as the explication of that subject where explication is the process of being fully immersed within the process and describing the process from within. Within the crystalline world, there is a tendency to delve into the explanations rather than the explications. I think what the crystals teach us is to become more fully immersed within our own ‘soulful’ world and to embrace the dimension of the alchemical, the shaman, the occult, the magical, and the mystical. If we look at their uniqueness, it is their perfect imperfections that produce their wonderful characteristics. If we do nothing else but take this as a teaching, then the world of the crystals has taught us plenty.