Crystals. These aesthetically pleasing, colourful, lustrous, geometric, mysterious and fairly costly pieces of material are everywhere these days! In recent years, I’m sure we’ve all come across at least a dozen posts on social media promoting the use of crystals, particularly healing crystals. They claim to have miraculous healing properties that can cleanse an individual spiritually. But, do they really? What are they even? Why are people so obsessed with them these days? And what is crystal culture?
There are so many more questions one can ask about the practice of healing with crystals. This post shall attempt to answer a few of them. Keep reading to see if your question has been answered.
What are Healing Crystals?
Crystals are naturally occurring solid materials which form over a period of time. What makes them special is their molecular arrangement. Their structure forms a geometric pattern, rendering it stable.
In the domain of crystal healing, in addition to true crystals, gemstones and semi-precious stones may also fall under the spectrum of crystals. Some of the most popular types of crystals used for healing are fluorite, quartz, amethyst, Malecite, citrine, rhodonite and opal.
Depending on the type of crystal, they’re believed to improve memory, stimulate immunity, promote healthy sleep; provide protection from negative energy, aid in digestion; boost self-confidence and, so much more. The claims are in fact endless.
Crystal healing is a type of alternative medicine or a pseudo-science that aims to heal the individual by using and engaging with crystals. Crystal healers, practitioners and crystal enthusiasts believe that crystals contain healing energy that can be used to treat various psychological, spiritual and physiological ailments.
According to them, energy in all matter is constantly vibrating. This energy frequency is sensitive to any change in the environment, causing imbalances at times. Due to the structure of crystals, they seemingly have a stable energy frequency despite the vibrations. The energy frequencies of the crystals are determined by their colour, size and type.
The interaction between these materials with the energy centres or chakras in the human body creates positive energy, thus correcting the imbalances. Upon their correction, one may experience a good mood, tranquillity and happiness.
The crystals are selected based on intuition or on the recommendation of a crystal expert. The experts suggest rocks based on the ailment and related chakra. For example, darker coloured crystals are recommended for those suffering from anxiety and depression as they relate to the chakra responsible for them.
How do they work?
So far, there has been no scientific or medical evidence proving the aforementioned claims. Neither does evidence exist that proves their efficacy.
What is confirmed by many is that using crystals provides them all with a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. It also helped in better managing depression for some.
So, how do they work?
It is called the placebo effect. A tactic often medical professionals also use to treat patients.
Critics, scientists and other scholars have declared that crystals cannot influence the mood or psychology of a person, solely based on their chemical composition and molecular structure. They do, however, believe that crystals are merely placebos.
People practice crystal healing expecting the crystals to miraculously cure their problems. Even if the user is sceptical, they will still be focusing on the crystal. The more a person thinks about the crystal, the more it helps in amplifying their thoughts.
Experts believe that visualizing or thinking about a problem instantly channels all energy into focusing on the problem. In doing that, the brain thinks of the possible outcomes of the problem. Visualizing the outcome lights up parts of the brain, especially those involved with problem-solving.
During the dedicated ‘healing’ time, the brain then thinks of a solution and makes the person feel more hopeful, calm and relaxed.
Normally, many people in this fast-paced era can’t take out the time to reflect on their issues. Even if they do, it is extremely easy to avoid thinking about them. Holding or placing crystals on parts of the body will constantly yet involuntarily remind the person of their troubles.
This is because the person holding the crystal has an issue in mind. So, every time they’re aware of the crystal, they’ll be taken back to their problem. After that, the mind will eventually find a solution to the problem.
Alas, reducing stress, anxiety, making the person feel calm and surer of themselves.
There is still scientific data that needs to be collected and processed in this field. Nevertheless, the good news is that it isn’t seen as a replacement for medicine. Physical and psychological ailments are still treated by medical care providers. It is only used for the ailments of the soul and spirit. The kind of pain that modern science doesn’t yet have a cure for. The practitioners approach a crystal expert or healer, to be healed from the inside.
Moreover, in some countries, crystal experts and healers educate their clients to not expect their issues to be resolved immediately.
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Crystals throughout history
Humans have been attracted to them because of their physical attributes and the way they are different from other rocks and stones. They have been captivated by their colours, their ability to refract light and their mysterious appearance. These are the reasons why they were always thought to have some powerful miraculous qualities. As a result, they have been associated with magic, spirituality and rituals across cultures around the world.
The earliest evidence of crystals dates back to 6000 years ago, from the Mesopotamian civilization. They would use them as protectors of evil, talismans and amulets.
Crystals have been a part of ancient medicine throughout different cultures in the world. Earlier, people would grind up these precious rocks and crystals and ingest them as a form of medicinal treatment. Due to the association with medicine, people now associate the objects with healing.
The earliest literature to exist on crystals comes from the Roman. Historian Pliny the Elder documented the sources and physical characteristics of the stones. At the time, the Romans would use amulets and talismans made of crystals to attract prosperity, luck during war and health.
The stones also had a strong connection with ancient Greece as the word itself is derived from the Greek word ‘krystallos’, translating to ice.
Crystals were associated with many of the Olympian gods. Dionysus was one of them. According to legend, Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, parties and fertility was drunk and was angered by virgin Amethyst.
Seeking protection from him, she approached Goddess Diana. To help, she turned Amethyst into a stone, after which Dionysus felt guilty and cried, into his goblet of wine. A few moments later, the goblet fell and the liquid poured over the stone, turning it into the Amethyst crystal that we are familiar with today.
In the middle ages, people believed that these crystals could summon positive spiritual beings. It was also at this time that people wanted to keep tokens or objects holding the same meaning as the churches. Crystals, therefore, became their object of choice.
Traditional Chinese medicine used healing crystals, even for things like acupuncture where the tips of the needles would be made of crystal. The positive energies into the body are transferred into the body.
Egyptians used them for rituals like when burying the dead, believing that the energies would reach the person in their afterlife. They would also use them to balance spiritual energies. Additionally, Cleopatra would wear makeup made of powdered lapis lazuli. She’d apply it on her eyes as eyeshadow, symbolizing awareness and accurate judgement.
In Egypt, Rubies were worn by dancers. The red stone was a symbol of beauty and sexuality, thus, ideal for talented dancers.
The Japanese would use the crystals to communicate with the inner spirit, like the way Indians do yoga. The Japanese would also use crystal balls to foresee the future. The spheres made of quartz were regarded as a symbol of the dragon’s heart, which was synonymous with power and sagacity.
India is famous for using precious stones, gems and crystals for healing imbalances in a person’s life based on the positions of the planets. A person is usually born with these astrological defaults and only the properties of crystals and semi-precious stones can counter these imbalances. The stones are worn as amulets, rings, arm or waist ornaments. Among the Hindus, the consultancy of an astrologer is part of a mandatory ritual on special occasions such as birth and marriages and for setting auspicious dates.
Popularization of crystals
Today’s popularity of using crystals for healing can be traced back to the 19th and 20th centuries.
After a boom in scientific discoveries during the renaissance period, the western world would change its way of viewing the world. They’d believe only in what they’d see, thus only believing in the reality of the material world. As a result, there was a decline in the belief in the metaphysical and the spiritual. Religion still existed in Europe and North America but its essence no longer appealed to people. Over time, people would start feeling empty. And, although the belief in the material world was more rational, evidence-based and accurate, it didn’t satisfy the interior of the soul.
Eventually, people could no longer tolerate this emptiness and by the 19th century, people began to seek things that would help them fill their void. That is when they discovered and explored eastern philosophies, religions, way of life and objects. They found that many of these religious systems focused the least on the material world. They learned about spirituality, healing, liberation, harmony, etc.
It is also from here that people started focusing on developing and taking care of the self. This is when they realized they could help themselves, improve themselves all by themselves. This was also when they realized that prioritizing self would be more fruitful than to solely accept the notion of god. They learnt that they both go hand in hand. God is the perfect entity and people have now started to search for this perfection in themselves and develop themselves to reach this level of perfection.
It was as if they had finally found what they wanted.
This discovery was highly encouraged by the western world. Even academics would accept these newly found theories and even endorse some of them. It even led to anthropological research on spirituality, spiritual beliefs in civilizations and societies and, the effect of spirituality on societies.
In the 1970-80s, at the time of the New Age movement in America, the exchanges of belief systems were at their peak. It was during this time that people started adopting spiritual practices based on eastern religions and philosophy, such as Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, tarot card reading, paganism, etc. Crystal healing was a part of this package. In fact, when these concepts reached the west, the people there adopted whatever system helped them fill their void. With time, portions of these new age beliefs became a part of the western lifestyle.
Crystal culture and its global influence
Crystal culture is the expression of interest, practice, promotion, and study of healing crystals. It also includes organizing and attending related events.
To engage and learn about healing crystals, people normally consult a crystal expert and, based on their conversation, the crystal is selected. Alternatively, people purchase the crystal that they are most drawn to because they believe the body is attracted to the object that can help them out.
There is also crystal therapy and treatments. During an average treatment, the healer prepares their venue to be relaxing, with music, decorations, temperature and light control. Then they speak calmly, guiding the client through the process. It involves them asking their clients to visualize certain scenarios. Then they apply techniques to balance the chakras and clean the aura to restore the spirit to its original form. This is done by placing different crystals on specific parts of the body.
The demand for crystals today has not only amplified since the Middle Ages but, has also turned into a billion-dollar industry. The following reasons explain why:
a) People are still going through the new age movement
b) There is a higher interest in eastern philosophies
People are more interested in learning about foreign, more specifically eastern philosophies. They show more interest in visiting places in the east and in engaging with their culture, by practising the religion, philosophy, cuisine, attire, language and more.
c) The rise and gradual de-stigmatisation of mental health issues and substance abuse
People want to approach mental health in a more holistic manner. As the stigma around mental health slowly but definitely declines, more people are trying to find ways to heal in a way that focuses on the body, mind and spirit as opposed to just the mind. Apparently, 13% of the world suffer from mental health issues and substance use and the percentage is only increasing
d) The cost of the products
The cost of crystals varies highly. Though cheaper options are available they’re not always well developed. A more expensive crystal attracts only specific demography; privileged, wealthy and influential women.
The last two points, in particular, are reasons why so many celebrities also endorse these placebos to the general public, setting the trend and encouraging the craze for them. Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Meghan Fox, Gwyneth Paltrow are just some of the many advocates for healing crystals.
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Supply vs Demand
There can be plenty of potentially dangerous issues arising from the use of crystals. The first is using healing crystals as a replacement for medical treatment. Although responsible healing centres and healers try their best to educate their clients, some still approach these healers as their primary source of treatment.
The second is the extraction of the crystals. Basic crystal can form in a matter of days however, to achieve a complex, sturdy and aesthetically pleasing structure, the crystals require years if not decades to develop. This limits the supply of authentic crystals given that they sell like hotcakes.
Due to this limited supply and their high value, miners, especially in third world countries, are sourcing the materials unethically and sometimes even illegally. Moreover, some of these countries are becoming victims of exploitation as industry giants get the work done by mistreating the workers in less developed countries.
Finally, there is the matter of its effectiveness. Many argue that these pseudo-practices are a joke as so much importance and attention is being drawn to pieces of stone to heal ailments, based on no concrete evidence. The other side counters by asking, ‘what’s the harm in it if there is a possibility of feeling better?’
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