Like the proverbial crow drawn to shiny objects, humans as a species have been intrigued by stones and crystals for centuries. From amulets and talismans carved out of mammoth ivory to modern-day excavated turquoise and emerald, our affinity for and curiosity surrounding the power of crystals is undeniable.
The earliest historical fascination dates back to Ancient Egypt where lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, emerald and clear quartz were used for protection and good health. The Egyptians’ use of crystals in magic formulas and in burials demonstrates the first realization of these potential powers.
While Ancient Egyptians were the first on record to utilize stones, Ancient Greeks contributed much of the stone knowledge we accept today, both in language and in defined uses. An example: Amethyst, as defined by the Ancient Greeks to mean “not drunken,” was worn to prevent hangovers.
Despite medical, scientific and technological leaps over the centuries, our crystal curiosity and use continues to grow today. With the help of experimentation and channelling, gemstones have emerged as a complementary therapy to many mainstream approaches. Proponents of such believe in the ability of the stones to increase positive flowing energy and decrease or remove disease-causing, negative energy.
Largely based upon the Chinese beliefs of energy flow and Hindu and Buddhist ideas of chakras, “healing stones” are used in therapy settings to realign and balance physical and supernatural elements within the body.
No scientific studies have tied crystals to physical healing, and claims of crystals’ healing properties are often attributed to the placebo effect. Still, the placebo effect can provide immense emotional and psychological benefits; in at least one sense, crystals have very real power for those who believe in that power. In a world of blue-light screens, time spent admiring beautiful, natural objects in a reflective setting can be a much-needed break. And of course, it’s hard for traditional science to measure the nonphysical — i.e., spiritual — effects of crystals and crystal rituals.
Books about crystals list the different properties assigned to each stone, such as yellow topaz for mental clarity and rose quartz for openness and love. Traditionally, the stones are worn close to the body, but in some occasions are used in specific restorative rituals. One of the most common crystal rituals coincides with the monthly new moon, said to be a time of renewal, cleansing and reflection — and the time crystals are at their most potent. New moon rituals typically involve burning sage, setting intentions for the month ahead and arranging stones with corresponding properties (e.g. carnelian for creativity) on a crystal grid.
Whether you’re new to crystals or an avid user, the potential of their influence is fascinating, and for good reason. As the New Age era progresses, so does our knowledge of these uses and capabilities. It taps into something earthly and ancient, literally — it allows us to hold visually-stunning objects thousands of years old and contemplate their energies. Whether this energy is real to you or symbolic, spiritual or simply centering, crystals only continue to charm.
Reanna Spain is a Des Moines native, writer, marketer, mother and certified yoga teacher. Learn more at www.reannaspain.com. This article was originally published in YogaIowa’s Spring 2018 issue.