Crystals and gemstones are beautiful gifts from Mother Earth, with a myriad of different varieties forming naturally all over the world. Some are very precious and rare, others are more commonly available. Many have taken thousands of years to form into the pieces that we see today. As such, they should be treated with respect, and held in awe for the magical treasures that they truly are. Wearing crystals as jewellery and using them as healing tools and talismans has a long history. The ancient Celts, Egyptian, Native American, Indian and Eastern cultures all revered crystals, embellishing their jewellery and sacred buildings with precious gems.
Working with Crystals
(For simplicity, I will refer to "crystals" throughout this page, however I include all types of gemstone and mineral).
Many people feel drawn to crystals for different reasons - some are simply attracted by their unique beauty, and keep them as ornaments or as part of a collection. Others are aware of their energy, and use them in healing, meditation and ritual.
When starting to work with crystals energetically, you may not feel a great deal from them. This isn't something to be concerned about - you will still benefit from them. And as you continue to work with them, you may well find that you will sense more and more as time goes on. The important thing to remember is to HANDLE your crystal as much as possible. Crystals have a subtle energy (which you may or may not feel), and by handling them, you will absorb this into your own energy field. Each crystal has its own individual properties, and will relate (through colour and energy) to different parts of the body. As such they can be used as powerful yet gentle healing tools for a myriad of physical and emotional ailments, as well as areas of spiritual development.
Choosing a Crystal
You may feel very drawn to crystals, and know that you want to work with them on some level. Sometimes it can feeling daunting to be faced with shelves or lists of crystals to choose from - it can be hard to know quite where to start! The information given on the properties of crystals can often feel overwhelming, and often crystal books and web-sites will give conflicting information.
There are many ways to choose a crystal, but I really feel the key is to follow your heart! If possible, switch off the rational, analytical part of your mind.
Look! When looking at a collection of crystals and gemstones, with thought to finding the "right" one, take a deep breath, stay centred and grounded, and scan the crystals with your eyes. Take time to look at them all, let your eyes gently absorb the whole collection you are choosing from. See which one(s) you are naturally drawn to...and when you settle on a particular type, use the same technique to choose your own individual piece.
Feel! Our connection with crystals is not only based on how they look, but (often more importantly), how they feel. When making your choice, pick up the crystal(s) you are drawn to, one at a time. Hold it in your hand and see how it feels. Can you sense the energy of the crystal? Can you feel a tingling or pulsing sensation? Some people can feel energy from a crystal quite easily, whilst others don't, but this really isn't important. ...but the key question is, does the crystal feel good in your hand? Do you feel connected to it? Do you like it?! If so, then you've found a crystal that you can work with and enjoy having in your life! Some people are adept at sensing energy, and will scan a selection of crystals with their hand to see what they feel. This is a good technique too, and anyone can do this with a little practice.
Cleansing and Charging
On its journey to you, your crystal may have travelled far, and been handled by many people, at the very least from the person who mined it, to a crystal importer, to the shop owner who have chosen it and put it on display in their shop...where it will probably have been handled by a few "prospective owners" before it "spoke" to you! Crystals are sensitive to positive and negative energy, and your crystal may well be overloaded by the time it reaches you. So it is important to cleanse your crystal when you get it home, to purify it for your own use and bring it back to its natural, perfect energetic state.
There are many different ways of doing this, from the very simple to the immensely (and I would say unneccessarily) complicated! Here is a short list of suggestions - see what works best for you!
Blowing on your crystal. As you blow, visualise any negative energy leaving your crystal in a grey cloud, to be dissipated and neutralised in the atmosphere.
Washing in water. Running a stream of water from your cold tap over your crystal for a few minutes, whilst again visualising any negativity leaving your crystal can be effective, however if you live in an area where tap water is very hard or your feel it is impure, you may wish to substitute mineral water, and pour this in a slow stream from a jug or other receptacle.
Salt and water bath. Make a solution of (preferably) mineral water and a pinch of sea salt, and allow your crystal(s) to soak in this for around 10 mins.
Water soluble crystals: some crystals will weaken and disintegrate if placed in water. As a very general guide, crystals with names ending in "ite" may be water soluble, but do check information on your individual crystal type. The following methods are suitable for cleansing without water:
Smudging. Cleansing with the smoke from a smudge stick, loose sage or purifying incense or oil can be very effective. (see our "OM Info: Smudging" if this is new to you)
Burying in salt, earth, or lavender flower heads. Place your crystal in a pot of either of the three, and leave for around 10mins., before removing and gently brushing away any residue. (For very "tired", overworked or damaged crystals, burying in the earth for a longer period of time can be very re-energising.)
To charge your crystal after cleansing, simply place on your windowsill for a full day and night (waxing to full moon is the best time as the energy around this time is powerful and very positive.(if in doubt check the Moon Phase Guide at the bottom of our "Home" page). Some people like to place their crystal on a larger quartz or amethyst cluster, as this can help to keep them charged and energised.
Care of Crystals
You can keep your crystal wherever you feel drawn to...on an altar, on your window ledge (avoid doing this with dyed or colour enhanced stones though as the colour will fade with too much sunshine). You can carry or store them in a pouch or box with a soft lining...however remember that crystals do like light, and keeping them stored in a dark drawer or box for too long will deplete their energy. Regular cleansing and charging is beneficial. You'll get to know intuitively when your crystal needs some attention, but certainly if you've been working with it a lot, then it will benefit energetically from a "freshen up". Also if there's been negativity in your home or wherever you keep your crystals (ie from arguments or traumas), or if has been handled by other people, or used in healing, then a cleanse and charge will clear it of any residue negative energy. Keep your crystals dust-free and cleansed, bright and happy, and they'll work well for you!
Where to Buy
You may find your crystal in the most unexpected places..in fact you may not "buy" it at all - but find it on the beach, on a hillside walk, or in your garden! A friend may feel drawn to giving you a crystal as a present. Your chosen crystal may be a polished beach pebble, or a rough piece of quartz found on a walk. If it "speaks" to you and you connect with it, then it is yours for now.
If you are making a crystal purchase, do be sensitive to the energy in the shop you are buying it from. Since crystals pick up energy easily, know wherever possible that your crystal has come from a "good" source, energetically. There are also ethical and environmental considerations - where was the crystal mined? Was child labour involved? Did it come from a place where sources are depleted and scarce? These issues will all effect the energy of your crystal, as well as our precious earth. Buy responsibly and with your heart. Buying crystals on-line is difficult, especially for someone starting out. Wherever possible, it is best to handle and choose your own crystal. However as your interest and knowledge grows you might be happy to shop on-line, and certainly it can be helpful in sourcing some more unusual pieces. Again, find suppliers you can trust - knowledgeable crystal specialists are best.
I hope you find this information helpful - enjoy your crystal journey!
The following books are excellent for further learning.
The Crystal Bible Vol.1 by Judy Hall, publ. Octopus. £12.99 A fantastic reference book, packed with information on how to use crystals, as well as a comprehensive list of crystals and their individual properties, with nice, clear pictures.
The Crystal Bible Vol.2 by Judy Hall, publ. Octopus. £12.99 The follow up to Vol.1 gives further information on crystal use, as well as a reference section on more unusual crystals not found in Vol.1
The Book of Stones by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ahsian, publ. Heaven and Earth £26.99. A sumptuous and in-depth book featuring information on many rarer crystals as well as more commonly available ones, with beautiful photographs of each crystal.