Explaining Crystals to Sceptics
By Christina Lavers
Crystals and precious gems are undoubtedly jewels in the crown of Mother Nature’s creation, but is there really anything more to them than aesthetically pleasing colours and formations? Ask anyone who has ventured down the crystal path and the response will be a resounding “Yes!” For these people crystals are powerful tools that have the ability to energize, soothe, cleanse, heal, transform, and inform the energy fields they come into contact with. Many of us even develop deep relationships with our stones, seeing them as teachers, guides and friends. But for the more sceptical and less sensitive among us, the metaphysical properties of gems probably seem as though they should sit on the shelf next to magic beans, sea monkeys, and penis enlargement creams.
I personally grew up straddled between the “woo woo” world that I was naturally drawn to and the pragmatic world that I was raised in. I was taught to see people who worked with crystals as flaky, absurd, phony types who lacked connection to reality — but nevertheless, I was attracted to the shimmering, mysterious stones. One of the most difficult aspects of finally coming out and calling myself a crystal worker was that I knew that the majority of my friends and family perceive the practice in the same way I was taught to see it: ‘New Age’ mumbo jumbo. Fortunately for me, the power and allure of the stones trumped the subtle, or not so subtle ridicule, and has actually played an important role in encouraging me to throw off the shackles of social judgement, as well as helping me to better understand some people’s need to discredit others’ experiences and belief systems.
Being one of the many people today who straddle two worlds, I have a tendency to look at things from multiple perspectives. (Check out my article Are You a Bridge Between Two Worlds? for a deeper discussion of this.) As I explored and became increasingly adept at identifying crystals and sensing their associated properties, it occurred to me that there is actually a way to explain crystal work to someone who is a complete sceptic.
“If you want to understand the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ~ Nikola Tesla
Energy, frequency and the power of belief
The most common way the power of crystals is explained is through frequency. Because at molecular levels crystals are arranged in a highly ordered structure, they are one of the most cohesive expressions of physical matter. Most crystal workers believe that because their vibrations are pure and undistorted, they have the ability to positively influence the human vibrations they come into contact with. However, if we are someone who lumps the idea of vibrations being able to affect humans in with esoteric nonsense, then this perspective won’t hold water. But even if we disregard the frequency aspect of crystals, it is still possible to rationally explain the crystal phenomenon.
We all know that we can be affected by things that have no innate powers, just by believing that they do. We call this the placebo effect. Though science uses the placebo effect to denounce many esoteric phenomenons, it actually supports one of the most controversial ideas: the idea that our minds can affect our physical reality. New research that analysed the results of 84 clinical drug trials from 1990 to 2013 for medications prescribed to treat chronic pain, found that in the US the placebo effect has been steadily increasing. [source] By 2013, patients receiving just placebos remarkably experienced on average a 30% decrease in pain levels.
This demonstrates that belief can be a powerful key that allows us to unlock mental states and abilities that we might not otherwise be able to access. As Bruce H. Lipton, Ph.D explains, “If the brain expects that a treatment will work, it sends healing chemicals into the bloodstream, which facilitates that. That’s why the placebo effect is so powerful for every type of healing. And the opposite is equally true and equally powerful: When the brain expects that a therapy will not work, it doesn’t. It’s called the nocebo effect.”
(For more information, please read: 6 Stories That Will Make You Believe In the Power of Your Mind To Heal You and Scientific Proof That Negative Beliefs Harm Your Health.)
Exploring the properties of crystals
When one starts exploring the metaphysical properties of crystals they quickly discover that there is a well established, organized system that links specific crystals with specific properties. This system is in effect like a language with agreed upon meaning and structure. Each crystal becomes a symbol to express specific qualities. For example Rose Quartz emits a soft, gentle, loving energy, while Citrine has a bright, joyful, sunny quality, and Black Tourmaline is a grounding, and extremely protective stone. Most people who work closely with crystals have learned to feel and recognise these energies.
However, understandably, a person who lives from a purely scientific perspective and does not believe in subtle, discernible energy fields, is more likely to think that the crystal worker is delusional, or has just fooled themselves into believing something that is false and ultimately pointless. So, for the sake of argument let’s just say this is true: crystals have no inherent energy that is discernible by humans. Are crystal workers just wasting their time with nonsense? Based just on what we know about the power of belief, I would argue that, even if this perspective were true (and of course I don’t believe it is), then crystal workers would still not be wasting their time — they would be activating the power placebo effect.
Crystals can be seen as beautiful symbols in an energetic language that can teach a person to discover and work with their own internal energies, regardless of whether the crystals can actually be felt or not. For example as I mentioned above, Black Tourmaline is known for its protective qualities. When I got my first piece I noticed that carrying it with me made it easier to interact with the outside world without feeling drained or energetically compromised. The difference was massive. When I used to come home from running errands I would need an hour alone to re-centre. This was no longer the case when I had a piece of Black Tourmaline with me. After several months I realised that since working regularly with the Tourmaline, I could identify the energy that I associated with that particular stone, and eventually I could even call upon it internally if I didn’t have the crystal with me. So basically regardless of whether I was learning from the crystal, or doing it all myself, the result was a significant improvement in my quality of life.
“Ok”, someone might say, “but why pay for a piece of Black Tourmaline when an everyday rock might have done the same thing.” Good question. Needless to say I believe that there is a big difference between the energy of Black Tourmaline and a river stone (not better or worse, just different), but that is clearly not going to wash with the sceptic. So instead I would answer that an important difference is that crystals are symbols within an agreed-upon and categorised system, embued with the power of collective belief. Historically and cross-culturally there is much evidence of humans working with crystals and using them in healing and spiritual practices. This lore, over time has been compiled and expounded upon by other avid crystal aficionados, culminating in a coherent system that can be adopted by anyone venturing into the community. When someone comes onto a crystal site asking, “What crystal can I use to feel more protected?” there will undoubtedly be a chorus of people declaring, “Black Tourmaline!” When a person is open to exploring this established system, the collective suggestion to use Black Tourmaline would likely have the effect of reinforcing in the mind the belief that it works, which then boosts the mind’s ability to produce the desired effects. So when a person selects a piece of Aquamarine because it is associated with effective communication and calmness, or carnelian for its ability to energise and motivate, the strong, collective associations with these symbols can act as triggers to encourage a person to activate those qualities within. Basically by selecting a particular stone (symbol) to work with, we can call to the fore the particular state we seek to embody.
Reflection, imagination and beauty
An added dimension to these practices is the undeniable aesthetic beauty of crystals, which I feel contributes to their effectiveness. People drawn to crystals are often attracted to their outward appearance. Like poetry crystallized in the physical, their exquisiteness is uplifting and inspires contemplation and reflection. When interacting with crystals it is easy to become entranced by their flashing colours, intricate structures, and internal worlds. By focusing on the visual aesthetics our imaginations are stimulated and we are more likely to drop into the relaxed alpha brainwave state where the connection to our unconscious is stronger and we are more likely to uncover profound realizations and understandings.
Ultimately there are many who will continue to disregard the metaphysical properties of stones and that is fine; crystals aren’t for everyone. There are currently many subtle energy based modalities that are disparaged by those who align with a conventional understanding of reality, yet like crystals those modalities have been helping people for thousands of years. One day, as we continue to learn more about frequencies, subtle energy, and the power of the mind, mainstream science may be able to document and explain exactly how crystals work. But for those of us who are fortunate enough to have the ability to sense crystal energy now, enjoy this enchanting way to grow and heal, and don’t let anyone’s derision affect your passion. There is so much variety in terms of humans and the way we see and experience the world and the more we can embrace what feels right and true for us, without allowing the experiences and world views of others to cloud or diminish our own reality, the more vibrant and potent our own experiences will be.
"Energy work is priceless. It makes every day extraordinary and transforms the mundane to the holy." Silvia Hartmann