“Above you are the stars,
Below you are the stones.
As you go through life, remember:
Like a star should your love be constant,
Like a stone should your love be strong.”
— Traditional neo-pagan wedding rite (from Pagan Astrology by Raven Kaldera)
Traditionally, medicine women and men, magicians, priests and alchemists would draw on the symbolism and power of crystals to aid them in their work, whether they were involved with healing the physical body or enhancing the spiritual experience.
Crystals throughout history
The use of crystals — which often includes gems and sacred stones — in magic, ceremony and healing dates back to ancient Egypt, about 3000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians included specific crystals as part of the amulets buried with their dead. These crystals were often carved into shapes or engraved with unique symbols, also thought to have protective powers.
Amulets containing crystals were included with the dead to protect the powers associated with different body parts in the afterlife, or to give the soul of the deceased extra power and influence when dealing with the gods. An amulet for the heart might be made of lapis lazuli or carnelian, while an amulet of the scarab (a creature sacred to the ancient Egyptians) was often made of a green stone — possibly marble, limestone or granite.
Gazing into a crystal ball, commonly made of clear quartz, was a technique used throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, often to help separate the guilty and the innocent on a suspect list. The person against whom the crime had been committed would be asked to look into the crystal ball to see if they could identify any features of the guilty party. Any information they saw in the crystal ball was then used to help narrow down a list of suspects. Spirits were also said to appear inside crystal balls, though it is acknowledged that “an element of hypnotic self-suggestion” was often present in crystal ball gazing.
The use of crystal balls and other similar divinatory techniques was officially banned inEnglandas part of the Elizabethan Injunctions of 1559. Divination tools and techniques, such as crystal ball gazing, were viewed by the Church and its courts as examples of individuals making a pact with the Devil.
According to J Gordon Melton, the modern use of crystals for healing is one of the distinctive features of our modern New Age. In Perspectives on the New Age, which he co-edited, he writes of the centuries-old use of gemstones and crystals in occult practices and as healing agents. Edgar Cayce is identified as one of the modern proponents of crystals as tools to enhance channelling, which has contributed to the central place crystals now hold in the personal growth and transformation arena. Historically, gemstones and crystals were included in magical tables of correspondences that listed the physical and emotional links between herbs, stones, spices and other naturally occurring healing tools.
Crystals and the Earth
Minerals, when left to their own devices and exposed to both temperature changes and time, end up forming what we know as crystals.Crystals are prized for their consistent, stable atomic structure. Technically, there are different groups of crystals, based on the kinds of minerals from which they form. In ceremonial and ritual use, the most important factors of a crystal are colour, shape, density, vibration and symbolism.
Many modern writers on the topic of crystals discuss how working with crystals can be a way of reconnecting with the earth. As crystals are formed deep within the earth itself, often by naturally occurring minerals, they are a useful tool for grounding. Crystals are also said to be a great tool to help you connect with your inner self. When a certain crystal catches your eye or draws your attention, it’s like you’ve taken the time to attend to the little voice within and should follow it. Coming from the ground, crystals are often used to depict the earth element in magic, alchemy and shamanic practices.
The Crystal and Healing Federation’s website states: “Another property of crystals is the distinct orderly structure which enables them to absorb, reflect, transform, transmute, balance, direct, amplify, clear, focus etc energies. Essentially, a crystal can adapt healing energy in any way imaginable. Since crystals and minerals make up most of the earth’s crust and also reside within the human body, it can be said that, in a sense, we are all part of and living on a crystal.”
Crystals are part of a larger form of magic known as stone magic. The power of ritual arrangements of stones can be seen in the famous stone circles at Stonehenge, thought to have been erected between 3000 and 2100 BCE, and the Easter Island statues, the dates for which vary between 400 and 1500/1700 CE.
Crystals represent the enduring qualities of the earth, as they develop over periods of time longer than you could witness in one lifetime. Perhaps part of their ongoing fascination is that by holding or working with a crystal you really are holding a piece of the ancient past. Different crystals have unique vibrations and, combined with their individual colours, each offers something special, depending on your goals, intentions or needs.
Stones from your environment, like pebbles from the local creek or rocks from the bush near your house, also contain this power of the earth. You may be drawn to a stone, rock or crystal because of its shape, texture or colour. A modern incarnation of stone magic is hot stone massage, which has become popular in recent years. Like many forms of crystal healing, hot stone massage can be used to stimulate key chakra points. Dr Brian Weiss, the American psychiatrist turned past-life regression guide, includes the image of crystal healing beds in one of his popular guided meditations.
Many crystals are also piezoelectric, which means that under certain stress conditions they create an electric charge in the environment around them. It’s partly this piezoelectric quality of crystals that makes them useful in the fields of science, electronics and sound. Due to this potential electric output, crystal work is not recommended for people with epilepsy or mental health conditions.
Crystals, colours and chakras
In many instances, the influence of a crystal is connected to its colour. Here’s a list of which colours are associated with different chakras. A basic form of crystal healing involves selecting a stone of the colour symbolic of the emotions or chakra you are dealing with, or would like to enhance, to wear or keep close.
Green or blue stones are said to be calming, while red stones have an energising influence, which can also arouse anger. Pink stones support love and romance, while clear stones support insight. Yellow stones can improve mood and outlook.
Crystal healers are trained to use crystals to rebalance positive and negative energy in the body and within your aura. Drawing on the higher vibration of crystals, a crystal healer places crystals on or near the body, often around chakra points, to help remove negative energy and bring a person back into physical and emotional balance.
Because of the perfect structure of crystals, they are believed to be potent rebalancing tools. Like other alternative practitioners, many crystal healers take a holistic approach, seeing the physical body as an expression of your emotional and spiritual state. According to the Affiliation of Crystal Healing Organisations, “No one knows how crystals and gemstones can help the healing processes of the body. It may be that the very nature of crystals increases the levels of harmony in the immediate environment. Introducing an element of order into a chaotic, disorganised state always tends to increase overall orderliness.”
In addition to selecting crystals for your current state of mind or being, crystal healers can also use special arrangements of crystals, called spreads or layouts, to create unique vibrations for healing. Each layout may include two or more different stones. Spreads can be designed to energise or clear certain chakras, to support different emotional states or to help improve physical vitality and wellness. Common spreads include those designed to energise the heart, clear negative energy or create abundance. There is no universal template for crystal spreads and you can create your own based on your intentions. Simply select stones that connect with your desires and then place them on body parts or chakra centres that align with your intentions.
Working with crystals
There are associations between crystals, months and zodiac signs, most of which are based on connections between crystal colour, properties or vibration and the qualities of the sign or month in question. A simple way to begin working with crystals is to select a stone related to your birth month or sign*. Individual crystals also have their own qualities, each supporting different purposes. You may prefer to select a stone with properties aligned to your current intentions, areas of growth or life issues.
While crystals are said to be powerful tools for clearing negative energy, it’s important to cleanse and activate your stones before you start wearing or working with them. Cleansing a crystal can be as simple as burying it in the earth for 24 hours or rinsing it in clear, flowing, natural water, as in a stream, ocean or lake, then allowing it to dry naturally under moonlight or in direct sunlight.
In cases where crystals have come to you and you don’t know their backgrounds, or believe there have been strongly negative energies associated with them, a dunking in vinegar can remove strong negativity. After you have completed the initial cleanse, you might like to find a piece of special cloth of fabric to wrap them in. Like tarot cards, crystals are said to be influenced by the energy of those with whom they come into contact. For this reason, it can pay to keep your crystals for your own exclusive use or perform a simple cleanse if others do use them.
Crystals draw on the universal energy available to all and are most powerful when used to support genuine intentions. Trust your gut when selecting stones — a crystal should “feel” right in your hands with no hesitation. You may be aware of a cooling or heating sensation, too. Crystals come in all shapes and sizes and you can access the healing energy in each regardless of the way they are cut. However, the light and energy within a crystal can be concentrated or directed more specifically through crystals shaped in balls, cylinders, prisms, obelisks and towers.
Placing crystals on your body — at either the chakra centres or in places where you feel pain — gives you the chance to absorb the healing energy of the crystal. Crystals are also used in supercharged arrangements called grids. Due to the strong energetic field of crystals and the energy power of geometry, when you place multiple crystals together in specific geometrical alignments, the healing potential is greatly enhanced. Common shapes for crystal grids include the Star of David, a wheel with spokes, the Kabbalah tree of life, circles, squares representing compass points and the symbol for infinity. Be sure to lay out your crystal grid in a recognisable shape for maximum impact.
Crystal grids can be created in small or large sizes. You might arrange crystals geometrically in a small box and slip it under your desk or bed. Or you might prefer to create a grid you can sit or lie down in while you meditate. Creating a crystal grid for your own purposes is easy. First, you need a clear intention about what you’d like the crystal grid to support in your life. Then, decide on the size and location — will you create it in a special container of some kind or will your layout in a room somewhere? Keeping your intentions clearly in mind, you may select crystals — either unconsciously by intuition, or consciously according to those crystals connected to your intentions.
Once you’ve selected your crystals, take a moment to connect with what you feel would be the most appropriate shape. Then, with a clear mind, begin to lay out your crystals. Notice how you feel through this process — you may make adjustments to your original shape as you go. Once your crystal grid is arranged, take a few quiet moments to visualise your desired outcome. This helps to charge the grid, helping it become as potent a tool as possible for healing, intention setting and manifestation.
Crystals and their uses:
|Agate||Helps cure insomnia and makes for pleasant dreams. Boldness.|
|Amber||Linked with sunlight due to its colour. Good for mental clarity and balancing emotions. Said to help protect against radiation.|
|Amethyst||Humility, peace of mind. Helps with problems with alcohol, hangovers and the liver. Supports intuition. Also a stone of protection.|
|Aquamarine||Positive energy. Protective for travelling.|
|Black agate||Courage, vigour, prosperity.|
|Bloodstone||Helps prevent bleeding. Symbolises peace and understanding. Helps remove negativity.|
|Carnelian||Like most red stones, believed to stimulate the circulatory system, gave confidence when speaking, courage, health.|
|Clear quartz||Clarity, the mind, promotes general health. Loyalty and support. The basic fall-back stone, it also helps activate other stones.|
|Diamond||The hardest stone, associated with invincibility and insight.|
|Emerald||Memory enhancers, sharpens wit, supports eye health. Its green colour makes it a symbol of spring and fertility as well as a protective stone for the heart, especially when dealing with life changes.|
|Jade||Especially valued in China, it symbolises purity, perfection, immortality.|
|Jet||Protection. Helps relieve depression and fear.|
|Lapis lazuli||Historically used as a cure for melancholy and fever, vision/eye problems. Spiritual development and universal truth. Good for leadership.|
|Obsidian||A stone for grounding. Also clears energy.|
|Moonstone||Sacred in India, believed to bring good fortune. Linked to the Moon and emotional rebalancing. Inspires tenderness and is said to be the stone of lovers. Enhances intuition and insight.|
|Red agate||Good for attracting spiritual love. Said to be linked to longevity.|
|Rose quartz||Love and romance, self worth, fertility, mood elevator, clarity in the heart and around love.|
|Ruby||Royalty, dignity, zeal and power. Also said to ward off illness.|
|Sapphire||Truth, chastity, contemplation.|
Stones and Zodiac Signs
|Aries||Diamond, red jasper, garnet|
|Taurus||Emerald, red coral, lapis lazuli|
|Gemini||Pearl, agate, alexandrite|
|Cancer||Ruby, amber, moonstone|
|Leo||Sardonyx, cat’s eye, chrysolite|
|Libra||Opal, malachite, emerald|
|Scorpio||Topaz, obsidian, bloodstone|
|Sagittarius||Turquoise, blue zircon|
|Capricorn||Garnet, jet, onyx|
There is no one definitive list here and I have compiled what I could find to give you a getting-started guide below. Stones for your sign or month are stones that can help you clarify or define your identity.
Kelly Surtees is a writer, astrologer, teacher and editor who loves reading, writing and escaping into the ocean. She travels regularly between Australia and Canada. Visit kellysurtees.com or facebook.com/KellySurteesAstrology, or follow her on Twitter @keldreamer.