In an age where healing through nature is resurging in modernized cultures, there is one natural resource that can boast millions of years in existence, rocks. Some have been revered for centuries for their beauty. Others are now becoming more popular for their healing properties. In this guide, we will review some of these categories and speak to ways crystals may work for you as an aid in health and wellness.
What is a Crystal?
Stones we believe to hold additional healing power, known as crystals, are named due to their patterns of growth. They have in common their crystalline structure that is repeated when we look at the anatomical structure. They grow in patterned, geometric shapes based on the type of minerals present. These repeated growth cycles are found in most of the rocks celebrated in the crystal community. The patterns are believed to hold energetic power with the messages for health and wellness. When in idyllic conditions, without matrix, we will see them form predictable shapes. For example, quartz will grow in points and pyrite will form perfect cubes.
Categories of Crystals
Crystals can be categorized in several ways. Some separate them into categories of precious, semi-precious, and others, while others enjoy looking at them from the perspective of crystal families. Both ways work for sorting, but the second method helps us get to know the chemical makeup of the crystals.
To touch on the understanding of “precious” stones, we can look to jewelry. When cut, many precious stones become more translucent. This makes them sparkle in the light. For this eye-catching quality, these gemstones were set into jewelry and royal accessories for centuries. We are probably all familiar with crowns adorned with sapphires and rubies. In this category, we typically also find other birthstones like amethyst, aquamarine, diamond, and emerald.
Meanwhile, the semi-precious stone category encompasses all other stones with a crystalline structure. These rocks are still utilized in jewelry but were believed to be of “lesser” quality either due to their lack of sparkle. As it is debated which stones truly belong in the precious category, different sources will place stones in opposing categories.
Stones in the “others” category do not form predictable lattice shapes but are believed to have similar properties to healing crystals. This includes the “adopted” objects of the crystal world consisting of pearls, petrified wood, shells, and copper.
To make this all less confusing, let’s get acquainted with a more agreed-upon method. This is my personal favorite as it helps us organize them into a system we are a bit more familiar with, family. Each of the groupings below is named after the element most present in the stone. Examples of better-known stones for each family are listed.
- Carbonates: Aragonite, Calcite, Coral, Seashells, Malachite
- Halides: Fluorite, Halite (Salt)
- Mineraloids: Amber, Obsidian
- Phosphates: Apatite, Turquoise
- Silicates: Agate, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Aventurine, Carnelian, Citrine, Emerald, Garnet, Jasper, Kyanite, Labradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Serpentine, Sodalite, Tigers Eye, Tourmaline, Quartz
- Sulfites: Angelite, Celestite, Selenite
- Sulfides: Cinnabar, Pyrite
How Healing Crystals Work
Altogether, crystals support just about any mental or physical ailment through their vibration. Evidence supports them as a part of life for humans globally, but the evidence of spiritual connection cannot be as easily proven for each of these cultures. In Chinese medicine, we see the use of crystals as a natural way of healing through the understanding of energy centers in the body. Crystal healing courses today teach wellness through connecting to the chakras as a guide for common placement and understanding properties of crystals. Historically, we see references to crystals being utilized in weaponry, jewelry, talismans, and to adorn sacred sites and burial plots. We continue to study archeological evidence for the importance of these stones cross-culturally.
Taking all of this into consideration, we find the intersection of science and spirit. This is where we take a leap and believe the vibrations of the stones interact with our bodies. Unfortunately, due to a lack of empirical testing, there is not enough research to draw definitive proof that healing crystals work as well as other medically approved medicines. We will need more advancement in tools to accurately “prove” what people have believed for thousands of years. We cannot ethically claim that they are a cure for any illness. Therefore, it is still recommended to seek medical support for illness, but crystals can help to alleviate symptoms and support overall wellbeing.
In order to connect, we need to set an intention for our energy to connect to the stone through physical contact, gem water or elixirs, or body placement. The goal is to either have the crystal somewhere you will see it and be reminded of your intention, such as in crystal gridding or Feng Shui setup, or have it Touching” you internally or externally. As gem waters and elixirs can be dangerous, this is a more advanced skill to learn once more comfortable with crystal basics.
We will want to be in a grounded space when we set the intention. Meditation is a positive way to help set the environment. We will then place the sone in its chosen location or on the body. When we leave it on the body, we want to stay focused on the intention within our mind while picturing healing coming in and dis-ease leaving.
How to Cleanse and Charge Your Crystal
Crystals need to be cleansed and charged regularly for optimal use. This can be done through any of the natural elements and some healing plants and stones. This is important to do when we want to change the previous intention or when we have been using it as a support. If we consider it as a battery, we can better understand the depletion process. Below we will focus on each of the natural methods and what type of imprint they leave on the stone.
The element of fire is connected to passion, creativity, and motion. This can be embraced by the crystal by placing stones by the fire. The natural burning of wood in an outdoor fire or under the are the most organic methods of fiery cleansing. We need to be careful not to get the stones so close that they overheat as many stones will pop and break into pieces when overheated. Think of the warmth you want while getting cozy by the fire and place your crystals at this same, safe distance. The fire will burn off the energy that was unhelpful and instead infuse pure, abundant energy. If natural fires are unavailable, we can also pass the stone above a candlelight flame back and forth three times. This will increase the energy of fire-based stones.
Firestones: Carnelian, Opal, Fire Agate, Ruby, Garnet
When we think of air, we think of thought. This is what our present culture shows the most comfortable with. The sharing of ideas and opinions is widespread. Placing stones out on a windy day will help infuse them with this element and cleanse away negative thought energy. In a pinch when we can’t wait for the wind, we can use incense smoke to cleanse and charge the crystal by passing it over the smoke 3x asking for the old intention to be taken away. When we use this with air-based crystals, we are encouraging unique thought and the ability to understand.
Air stones: Lapis Lazuli, Celestite, Sodalite, Angelite
When we think of Earth, we are reminded of the importance of being grounded. This is our connection to Mother Earth and the plane of existence we experience in human life. Charging and cleansing with the Earth include burying crystals in the dirt. We prefer to do this outside, but potted plants will do for those who do not have access to land. Leaving this overnight will suffice for cleansing and charging. This will help to reconnect your stones to the earth.
Earth stones: Moss agate, Obsidian, Shungite, Tourmaline, Unakite
Cleansing your stones in a moving body of water is the most optimal way to cleanse them with water. This allows the concept of water flowing through the stone to take place. We can also use tap water poured in a crystal or glass bowl. We don’t recommend using water straight out of the tap to wash as this water has been energetically disrupted coming up from the drain. If we allow at least 10 minutes out of the drain, it decreases the agitation of the water and allows it to be in its most natural state. When we add water, we look to the addition of emotional properties. This is optimal for stones connected to the water element.
All stones can be dusted, but only most can be washed with water. Some, like selenite, halides, and galena would start to dissolve, so it is important to consider what is an appropriate choice for physical cleansing and do some research before washing them. The reason we sometimes add salt to water or use the ocean is for the drawing properties we know exist within salt that helps in washing away from negative energy.
Water stones: Aquamarine, Larimar, Ocean Jasper, Turquoise, Blue Lace Agate
The sun has helped many with personal power and positivity. It also is a symbol of the Sacred Masculine. Using this is probably the most well-known way to charge and cleanse crystals. We can leave them outside in the sunshine for three or more hours in order to burn away the old energy and recharge the crystal with the element of the sun.
Sunstones: Citrine, Sunstone, Tiger’s Eye
Moonlight is all about intuition and “seeing” in the dark. It encourages us to embrace the Sacred Feminine. Leaving crystals out overnight will wash away unhelpful energy like passing dreams and add positive qualities back into your stones.
Moonstones: Moonstone, Selenite, Howlite, Labradorite
How to Use Your Crystals in Rituals
Crystals are versatile for use in ritual. You can do an entire celebration using only crystals or instead incorporate them into an existing practice. You can find a reference to colors, holidays, fragrances, and cultures using specific crystals as a part of their celebrations. Look for stones to incorporate into current spiritual rites you engage in by matching the energetic properties of stones to the purpose of the ritual. Crystal healing sessions are like a ritual of self-love and can become a part of self-care routines. As we become more advanced, we can learn to perform these types of healing ceremonies.
Setting an Intention
The intention is the most important piece of any healing ritual. It brings our mind, body, and spirit into the appropriate set and setting to receive the gifts of the ceremony. Being in a trusted, loving environment has more power than we can quantitatively comprehend. Many of us know the feeling that occurs when we are moved by the spirit. This flow of pure, positive energy is markedly familiar to our core.
Embodied focus, also overly marketed as mindfulness, is necessary regardless of our intention tools. Mindfulness, at its core, is a beautiful understanding of the balance needed to wholly (holy) focus. The watered-down, Americanized version commonly sold to us is better known as cognition. True focus will allow for connection to our whole selves and our environment. This means we are more aware of our breath, the cadence of our hearts, and felt a sense of the objects used in ritual. We know we are connected when all else melts away we’re left with ourselves and our intention.
After cleansing and charging your crystal, meditation will help you connect to the intention you want to set. There really is no “wrong” placement on the body for crystals, just some more commonly utilized than others. If you are familiar with chakras, you can lay down and match the color of the stone with that area of the body as a baseline.
Another way is to place the stone in your giving or receiving hand depending on the mantra. I will use my giving (dominant) hand when I am wanting to place my intention into the crystal as the conductor, almost like a magic wand. I instead place the stone in my receiving(non-dominant) hand when I am attempting to connect with that crystal due to wanting to absorb its qualities in my life. In this case, I am allowing the crystal to shift my energetic field by entangling itself in my way of being.
Remember in meditation to take the crystal and intention with you through your mind’s eye. Focus on the feeling of connection as you go along. If possible, stay in this state for at least 10 minutes before a ritual to allow time for the body to slow automatic processes and become grounded.
Crystals for Protection
Many people use crystals in search of protection. The stones that are black in color often are utilized for this, although there is some crossover with a few red stones or even indigo known for protection. For example, let’s focus on black tourmaline so we feel more confident using this as a starting point. Focus on the stone and place it in your non-dominant hand. Ask for a band of protection to come out, circle around you, and meet just over your head, encasing your auric field. Let tourmaline act as a shield assisting with physical safety and security.
Crystals for Abundance
Several stones have been utilized for abundance throughout the years. One of the favorites for financial abundance is pyrite. It is also known as “fools gold,” but remember, a man decided what was “valuable,” making it a skewed perception. Place this stone in the four corners of your office or space in the home where you focus on finances. Picture these stones as large, golden pillars of wealth holding the roof over your head. Move to each corner and visualize your hand on this stable pillar symbolizing your security. Repeat this before paying bills, or as paychecks come in.
Where to Buy Crystals
Make sure to buy your crystals from trusted shops that truly serve and inform their customers. This means understanding whether they are ethically sourced, where they come from and an explanation of their energetic properties. Otherwise, you could run into getting something that’s not what you wanted. For instance, you could pay a heavy price for a heated, dyed, misidentified or man-made stone.
What is the best crystal to begin working with?
If able, go to your local crystal shop and see what you are drawn to. You may also review a pictorial list of crystals and see which your eyes stop on if a store is not readily available. It is important to be open to the stone choosing you rather than having a stone in mind.
How do I use crystals?
In the beginning, many people carry or sit with them in mediation. This ideally is done with one crystal at a time for at least a week to better understand how each stone works for you. As you become more advanced, you can learn how to use them in a crystal grid and even learn to make gem waters and crystal elixirs. As you learn placement and attributes, you can do some of your own healing work, or research people offering crystal healing in your area. Ask questions to find out if these individuals utilize the same chakra stone set, or if they intuitively use different crystals each session
Does size matter?
Our connection to the stone is more powerful than the size. A larger stone as a beacon, or center stone in crystal gridding, is considered more important, but in day-to-day use, a tumbled stone is all you need.
What about rough vs. tumbled?
A tumbled stone goes through a machine to smooth the edges and often a gloss is added. While this sheen makes it more visually beautiful, it is not natural to the stone. Some purists say to only use rough stones, but others feel more connected if things are aesthetically pleasing. Ultimately, this is up to the user.
What if I do not feel anything when I hold them?
This is why it is important to focus on the same stone for a week. The stones “talk” when we are ready to listen. Our seeking cognitive proof blocks our intuitive sense. As you spend more time with the stone, journal about differences you see within yourself and your environment.