What is our fascination with gemstones and crystals? Have we always looked at these stones through metaphysical lenses? To pinpoint why the human mind is drawn to crystals and gemstones is actually a great deal more complex than one might think. Researchers initially believed the widespread purchase of crystals was something that developed with New Age beliefs. However, recently it was found that our obsession with these unique stones is quite old.
In this article I am going to examine two researched points of view regarding crystals and hopefully find out a little more about why we are drawn to them. I want to know if science can validate neo-metaphysical practices, see how crystals may impact us, and new innovations in their use. Before we jump much further I want to share some of my own views regarding these curious creations and how I integrate them into my own practice.
Personal Practice Meets Magpie Syndrome
Admittedly, I haven’t really paid too much attention to the sensations around crystal use in my practice. My integration of crystals didn’t really begin to take hold until the past two years and even now it is still relatively limited. Much of this is because I don’t get that “spider-tingle” around stones and I don’t think they actually hold as many properties as retailers boast. That said, I have begun to recognize when I am drawn to something versus simply wanting something shiny.
Pertaining to crystals, I think this is an important trait to develop. It can be very difficult to avoid magpie syndrome and not stockpile all of the shiny objects around us. So how do I determine if it is an actual sensation versus magpie syndrome? This is sort of difficult to explain, other than to say it is my intuition. An example would be when I rotate shopping at local Pagan stores and all I can think about is how captivating agates are (agates really are my jam!). Usually the sensation is strong and I get that same feeling one has whenever they see something awesome in nature. Typically, this sensation will focus on a singular stone or family of stones.
Being a chatty person, I will usually inquire about the stone’s properties and nine out of ten times something clicks. I know I know, I just said that I don’t believe stones hold so many properties. That isn’t to say I don’t believe they are void of some properties! What clicks for me is interconnectedness and animism. When I recognize the inherent life of objects, creatures, and how those impact me, it is easier to open the door to possibility.
Long spill aside, how do I actually use these stones? I work with the stones as supports for areas where I may need a little boost. For meetings where I may need to present to a large group, I carry a chalcedony worry stone in my pocket. It supplies a way for me to relieve some anxiety and gives me a reminder of the value in my presentation. My desk has crackle quartz, pyrite, and other stones that are supposed to encourage prosperity. These remind me to keep up my good work, even when I might not be feeling it.
What’s Spectroscopy of Solids Got to Do With It?
So what does science have to say about why we might be fascinated with crystals? In an article by Ceri Perkin’s with the BBC, we find that some of our fascination might have to do with the lattice in crystals. This is to say, the way light impacts the color reaction can draw humans’ interests in a mineral. These minerals can be affected by irradiation, heating, lighting, or the flux of minerals in that stone.
Humans are also simple creatures at heart. We have long felt awe by stones that could manipulate lights or create biophotonic spheres. These types of crystals are tiny repeating structures that control how much light can pass through a stone. This can be gradual, completely iridescent, or nearly solid in appearance. Some researchers suggest that these stones captivate us so much because they remind us of the natural world around us. Insects, butterflies, birds, and even some grains carry a photonic shimmer.
The lattice in crystals have recently provided scientists with the ability to utilize qualities to do spectroscopy. This is a way to measure and direct vibrations using crystals on a laser. Each outcome is different depending on the solid state and materials found in a crystal. What does that mean for us as everyday people? It means that we are seeing advancements in medical equipment and tools because of enhanced use of atomic vibrations found in crystals.
Generally speaking, though, most researchers tend to discount any metaphysical support in crystals. It is encouraging to know that institutions like Stanford are spending some time to at least examine what crystals could embody to us. Marisa Galvez, from Stanford, spent a great deal of time looking at the historical development in our interests in crystals. I wish that I could say her research ended with a substantial road sign that confirmed something close to what we use crystals for but it didn’t. Galvez was gentle in her ending comments and stated, “Crystals, in a way, fulfill a spiritual need for some people. Some people go to church, some do yoga, and others collect and meditate with crystals.”
Okay, That Is Valid
Spending roughly three hours looking through Harvard, Stanford, and Cambridge journals did not turn out anything that would support the use of crystals metaphysically (I know, not a concerted effort but I have a day job). Okay, that seems valid to me and supports an earlier statement. However, what I continued to find were articles and journals on site redox, proteins, lattice, lasers, medical advancements, and even uses in radiation treatment. Then it really hit me, what exactly was I trying to validate?
If I walked into this with an animist approach and a mindset that already had limitations on crystal properties, what more was I looking to gain? The answer is that I wanted that assurance from a notable researcher to validate my community’s use of crystals. That is not likely going to be something I will ever find, outside of placebo effects. Yet, what I am finding is that researchers knew we were on to something. These crystals are very much alive and provide a range of uses in our modern world.
So jade isn’t going to enhance my wealth but it does transmit low frequency levels of infrared rays. That is currently used by teams in Berlin and Chiba, Japan to treat patients with blood vessel concerns. Looking back at quartz we have a solid history of use from watches, visual health, lasers, and now radiation therapy. Perhaps I was missing the far more obvious sign that crystals are utilized in ways that help humans.
You’re Still My Buddy
At the end of the day my stones are still allies to me. I don’t have the training to investigate if my chalcedony stone is doing anything more than providing a placebo. I also don’t have a great deal of desire to conduct experiments around metaphysical uses. This isn’t because I am afraid that I will end up disappointed by my results. This is because I am afraid I would keep missing the bigger picture (as we do).
I also enjoy that in my Neo-Pagan faith there is an acceptance of crystal use. This use isn’t judged or looked down upon but simply embraced. We accept our limitations as humans, honor all living elements, and have reverence for items that connect us to the past. There aren’t many things around that connect Modern Pagans to our ancient ancestors but the awe we feel for crystals is one of them.
This reverence and link to my ancestors (OUR ancestors) is something very special. I am equally in awe of how we use crystals today in our desire to live better lives. That is the message we should take away from this, even if we are not validated by science. Pagans hold a unique ability to see the incompatible and find the webs that link everything. We can see that science will eventually catch up with many of our practices and when it does it may word the practice differently. That is okay and not an offense at all. In fact, it is a nod to the same reverence we feel as Pagans today.
Do you have a favorite crystal that you use? If so, it might be time to look into some of the modern uses. This gives us a chance to see a non-metaphysical use for our allies.
- Grab your favorite stone and hop onto a computer
- Go onto Google and search “Modern uses for (crystal name)”
- Try to find reputable articles by researchers versus other metaphysical thinkers
- Write down some of the points you find about your ally and see if that impacts your relationship with the stone