I’ll admit, I’m not totally on board with the whole crystal magic thing. Partly I have really bad associations with crystals and polished stones; when I see them I think of the New Age movement, of flaky spirituality, of metaphysical quick fixes and superstition and people who claim a different “spirit animal” every week. (I really hate the term “spirit animal.” If you’d like to know why, kindly follow this link I found in two seconds on Google.) I once saw a documentary that showed New Age practitioners stuffing crystals between the stones of Mayan pyramids. The locals, as you can imagine, weren’t impressed.
Partly it’s the cost and luxury associated with owning even one crystal or polished stone, let alone several, or dozens, or hundreds. As Marian Green points out in A Witch Alone, crystals have to be harvested from the caves and veins in which they grow, and a crystal doesn’t grow back as quickly as a sprig of rosemary. We are tearing ancient caves apart in order to peddle rocks at metaphysical shops. I cringe when I read about people grinding up rubies and drinking them. It’s a matter of scale, of course. It’s not a huge problem when there are a handful of crystal balls here and there…but when every single Witch, Pagan, magician, or New Ager needs to have an entire collection of stones in order to work? That’s not magic. That’s not spirituality. That’s Capitalism urging us to hoard more, more, more.
This isn’t to say that I automatically disbelieve that crystals and stones each have distinct magical properties. I haven’t really investigated it. I haven’t weighed the evidence. I’ve used a couple of stones in charm bags, but of course it’s impossible to say whether the stones themselves had inherent powers or whether the effect came from the spells I worked into them.
I do have one small slab of selenite that I absolutely love. I picked it up in a shop one night and felt a rush of goodness go through me–the endorphin feeling I get when I hold something with a lot of power in it. My understanding is that the gypsum crystals are relatively common and easily formed (after all, they do dissolve in water, which lessens the likelihood that any particular one is a million years old), so I didn’t feel too bad about buying it.
I first came across lepidolite when I was wandering through a health food store. There was a small bowl of tumbled lepidolite stones, each costing 5 bucks, with a sign saying they helped with depression. The depression sign made me look twice–I was between medications at the time, and hurting–but it was the stones themselves that really made me stop.
Oh, lepidolite is beautiful! Look! Look at this stuff!
Have you ever seen a finer lookin’ piece of mica.
I didn’t pay 5 dollars for a tumbled rock–this was in Westwood, where everything is out-of-this-world expensive. Parking for twenty minutes at the meter will cost most people about half a year’s salary, and you need to get an escrow agent to buy lunch. But I did develop a love for this stone.
Might it help with my depression? Well, the good news is that I later found an effective medication, so I’ve gone a few months without a crash. I do now have one small piece of lepidolite, which I’m planning to turn into a necklace. At the very least, it sometimes it serves as a little power object: something I can hold in my hand while I breathe, and calm down, and promise myself that as bad as things get, they always get better.
As for stones in general–I’ve enjoyed collecting rocks since I was a kid, so of course I have a few modest crystals and tumbled stones. Some pyrite, some amethyst, some rose quartz, the selenite. The way I see it, though, is that one appreciates beautiful objects more when they’re at least a little rare. Their beauty is actually a case for buying fewer of them. Do you want to get bored with your crystals, and find yourself buying more and more in order to compensate? Wouldn’t you rather restrain yourself until you find that perfect little stone? Would you rather have a dozen crystal wands that you never use, or one that you cherish?
Knowing where our traditions and technology come from, knowing what’s genuine and what’s manufactured, help us keep them authentic and alive.