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A Brief History of Crystals and Healing
Educational articles on metaphysical spiritual supplies and ritual supplies such as uses of metaphysical crystals. Come visit often as we will be adding more educational articles on how to use your metaphysical spiritual supplies! Enjoy!
It is fair to say that as long as we have existed as a species, we have had an affinity with stones and crystals. The use of talismans and amulets dates back to the beginnings of humankind, although we have no way of knowing how the earliest of these objects were viewed or used. Many early pieces were organic in origin. Beads carved of mammoth ivory were excavated from a grave in Sungir, Russia, dating back to 25,000 years ago (Upper Palaeolithic period), and there are contemporary beads made from shell and fossil shark’s teeth.
The oldest known amulets are of Baltic amber, some from as long as 30,000 years ago, and amber beads were discovered in Britain from 10,000 years ago, the end of the last ice age. The distance they travelled to reach Britain shows their value to the people of that time. Jet was also popular, and jet beads, bracelets and necklaces have been discovered in Palaeolithic gravesites in Switzerland and Belgium. There have been malachite mines in Sinai since 4000 BC.
The first historical references to the use of crystals come from ancient Sumaria, where they were included in magic formulas. The ancient Egyptians used lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, emerald and clear quartz in their jewellery, and carved grave amulets of the same gems. Stones were used for protection and health. Chrysolite (later translated as both topaz and peridot) was used to combat night terrors and purge evil spirits. Egyptians also used crystals cosmetically. Galena (lead ore) was ground to a powder and used as the eye shadow known as khol. Malachite was used in a similar manner. Green stones in general were used to signify the heart of the deceased, and were included in burials. Green stones were used in a similar way at a later period in ancient Mexico.
The ancient Greeks attributed a number of properties to crystals, and many names we use today are of Greek origin. The word ‘crystal’ comes from the Greek word for ice, as it was believed that clear quartz was water that had frozen so deeply it would always remain solid. Amethyst means ‘not drunken’, and was worn as an amulet to prevent drunkenness. Hematite comes from the word for blood, because of the red colouration produced when it oxidises. Hematite is an iron ore, and the ancient Greeks associated iron with Mars, the god of war. Greek soldiers would rub hematite over their bodies before battle, probably to make themselves invulnerable. Greek sailors wore a variety of amulets to keep them safe at sea.
Jade was highly valued in ancient China, and some Chinese written characters represent jade beads. Musical instruments in the form of chimes were made from jade, and around 1000 years ago emperors were sometimes buried in jade armour. There are burials with jade masks from around the same period in Mexico. Jade was recognised as a kidney healing stone both in China and South America. More recently, dating from around 250 years ago, the Maoris of New Zealand wore jade pendants representing the ancestor spirits, which were passed down many generations through the male line. The practise of wearing ‘green stone’ pendants carries on there today.
Crystals and gemstones have played a part in all religions. They are mentioned throughout the Bible, and in the Koran. The origin of the stones we attribute to various birth signs is the breastplate of Aaron, or high priest’s breastplate, mentioned in the book of Exodus. In the Koran, the 4th Heaven is composed of carbuncle (garnet). The Kalpa Tree, which represents an offering to the gods in Hinduism, is said to be made entirely of precious stone, and a Buddhist text from the 7th century describes a diamond throne, situated near the Tree of Knowledge (the neem tree under which Sidhartha meditated). On this throne a thousand Kalpa Buddhas reposed. The Kalpa Sutra, in Jainism, speaks of Harinegamesi, the divine commander of the foot troops, who seized 14 precious stones, cleansed them of their lesser qualities, and retained only their finest essence to aid his transformations.
There is an ancient sacred lapidary treatise, the Ratnapariksha of Buddhabhatta. Some sources state that it is Hindu, but it is most likely Buddhist. The date is uncertain, but it is probably from the 6th Century. In this treatise, diamonds figure highly, as the king of gemstones, and are ranked according to caste. The Sanskrit word for diamond, vajra, is also the word for the Hindu goddess Indra’s thunderbolt, and diamonds are often associated with thunder. The ruby was also highly revered. It represented an inextinguishable flame, and was purported to preserve both the physical and mental health of the wearer. The treatise lists many other gemstones and their properties.
In Burma, stones, especially rubies, were inserted into the flesh to become part of the wearer’s body, in the belief it would make them invulnerable.
Amulets were banned by the Christian church in 355 AD, but gemstones continued to play an important role, with sapphire being the favoured gem for ecclesiastical rings in the 12th century. Marbodus, the Bishop of Rennes in the 11th century, claimed that agate would make the wearer more agreeable, persuasive, and in favour of God. There were also many symbolic references, such as the carbuncle representing Christ’s sacrifice.
In Europe, from the 11th century through the Renaissance, a number of medical treatises appeared, extolling the virtues of precious and semi-precious stones in the treatment of certain ailments, alongside mainly herbal remedies. Authors included Hildegard von Bingen, Arnoldus Saxo, and John Mandeville. There are also references to stones with particular qualities of strength or protection. In 1232 Hubert de Burgh, the chief justicular of Henry III, was accused of stealing a gem from the king’s treasury which would make the wearer invincible, and giving it to Llewellyn, the King of Wales and Henry’s enemy. It was also believed that gemstones were corrupted by the original sins of Adam, could possibly be inhabited by demons, or if handled by a sinner, their virtues would depart. Therefore, they should be sanctified and consecrated before wearing. There is an echo of this belief today in the cleansing and programming of crystals before use in crystal healing.
During the Renaissance the tradition of using precious stones in healing was still accepted, but the enquiring minds of the period sought to find out how this worked, and give it a more scientific explanation.
In 1609 Anselmus de Boot, court physician to Rudolf II of Germany, suggested that any virtue a gemstone has is due to the presence of good or bad angels. The good angels would confer a special grace to the gems, but the bad angels would tempt people into believing in the stone itself, and not in God’s gifts bestowed on it. He goes on to name certain stones as helpful, and put other’s qualities down simply to superstition. Later in the same century, Thomas Nicols expressed in his ‘Faithful Lapidary’ that gems, as inanimate objects, could not possess the effects claimed in the past. Thus, in the Age of Enlightenment, the use of precious stones for healing and protection began to fall from favour in Europe.
In the early part of the 19th century, a number of interesting experiments were conducted to demonstrate the effects of stones on subjects who believed themselves to be clairvoyant. In one case, the subject claimed to feel not only physical and emotional changes when touched with various stones, but also to experience smells and tastes.
Although no longer in use medicinally, gemstones continued to hold meaning. Until recently, jet was popularly worn by those in mourning, and garnet was often worn in times of war. There is a tradition in a local family here in southwest England: every female descendent wears an antique moonstone necklace for her wedding, which has been in the family for generations. It was only recently that one family member realised this was a fertility symbol.
Many tribal cultures have continued the use of gemstones in healing until very recently, if not through to the present day. The Zuni tribe in New Mexico make stone fetishes, which represent animal spirits. These were ceremonially ‘fed’ on powdered turquoise and ground maize. Beautiful inlaid fetishes are still made to sell, and are very collectable artifacts or sculptures, although the spiritual practise surrounding them is no longer much in use. Other Native American tribes still hold precious stones, especially turquoise, sacred. Both Aborigines and Maoris have traditions regarding stones and healing or spiritual practise, some of which they share with the rest of the world, while some knowledge still kept private within their communities.
It is interesting to note that there are many examples of gemstones meaning similar things to different cultures, even when there has been absolutely no interaction between these cultures, and no opportunity for crossover. Jade was considered to be a kidney healing stone by the ancient Chinese, and also Aztec and Mayan civilisations, turquoise has been worn to give strength and health all over the world, and jaspers have almost always conferred both strength and calm.
In the 1980s, with the advent of the New Age culture, the use of crystals and gemstones began to re-emerge as a healing method. Much of the practise was drawn from old traditions, with more information gained by experimentation and channelling. Books by Katrina Rafaell in the 80s, and Melody and Michael Gienger in the 90s, helped to popularise the use of crystals.
These days there are a large number of books available on the subject, and crystals frequently feature in magazine and newspaper articles. Crystal therapy crosses the boundaries of religious and spiritual beliefs. It is no longer viewed as the domain of alternative culture, but as an acceptable and more mainstream complimentary therapy, and many colleges now offer it as a qualification subject.
This article was originally written for www.crystalage.com
How Do I Use Crystals?
Wear or carry the appropriate crystal
The simplest way of gaining benefit from crystals is to wear them for a period of time. Some crystals, such as jaspers, work slowly and continuously, and you may feel you would like their ongoing support. Others may work faster and are best used in short bursts. Remove them if you start to feel uncomfortable, and make sure they are cleansed. If you are wearing them in the form of jewellery, they are best set in pure metal such as silver or gold, not plated base metal. Metals themselves are used in healing, and can affect the energy of the crystal. It helps to have them near or touching the area that needs healing, and they are more effective if worn in direct contact with the skin. If you are using a stone to treat a specific area, for example malachite for pain in the lower back, you can alternatively tape it on with Micropore (surgical tape). Be sure you select a relatively flat, smooth crystal, and cleanse it often.
Space clearing and Feng Shui
Crystals can be used to clear a room, create a sacred space, and to nurture and protect those within a home or building.
To keep an area clear and vibrant, a clear quartz or amethyst cluster can be placed in the room. Zeolites, such as apophyllite and stilbite will work well, too.
You can also grid the area by placing a small clear quartz point in each corner. If the terminations are pointing towards the corners this will protect the room; if they are pointing inwards they will charge the energy of the room. This is particularly nice if you are using the room for meditation, but be careful of the size of the crystals used, as in this case size does matter, and too much energy can make everyone feel jumpy. If in doubt, experiment. Selenite or satin spar gypsum can also be used in this way.
Gridding can be used in larger areas to protect or clarify property or help to prevent vandalism, and crystals can even be placed in the foundations of a new building.
Most black, brown or deep red crystals are good for clearing electromagnetic “smog” generated by computers, televisions and your electricity supply. Also helpful are rose quartz, rutilated quartz, or a cluster of clear quartz or amethyst. Place near the area that needs clearing, or between you and the computer. With the exception of the clusters, which are self-cleansing, be sure to cleanse these crystals often, as many of them will absorb the unwanted energy. By carrying them with you, these crystals are also useful for self-protection, if you feel you are being bombarded by negative energy.
If you have an altar, crystals are a wonderful addition. Choose the crystals by what they symbolise to you. For example, you can use rose quartz if you want to attract or strengthen love, improve self-love, or if you wish to symbolise your love of the divine; clear quartz can indicate a spiritual connection, or symbolise purity.
You can also grid crystals around your bed. Use one on the floor by each leg (the bed’s legs – not yours!). Rose quartz is good for nurturing in general, and especially good if you have a recently broken heart or are just in need of some TLC. Amethyst can help you sleep. Some of the green crystals, such as green tourmaline, chrysocolla or moss agate, can help to boost the immune system if you are ill. Again, experiment, and don’t be afraid to try crystals in combination. Clear quartz and selenite are not recommended for the bedroom, as they might keep you awake.
Another aspect of gridding involves sitting in a stone circle for a period of time, preferably while meditating. This is not to suggest you plan a trip to Stonehenge, but to simply surround yourself with small crystals. Choose crystals by what you would like to bring into your meditation, and use any number from three upwards. The effect can be amplified by “activating” the circle. If you are used to energy work, you can channel energy and visualise it joining the circle together in a clockwise direction, possibly drawing the circle of light with your hand. Alternatively, use a wand or control crystal to do this. If you use this method, be sure to deactivate the circle at the end, using an anti-clockwise direction. All crystals can be used in this way. Rose quartz is very gentle and loving, prehnite and “new jade” are detoxifying, honey calcite can aid meditation, and black tourmaline can help you feel protected, and can also help you to move on when you’re feeling “stuck”. These are just a few suggestions. It is useful to combine crystals as well. If you use crystals with terminations (such as clear quartz or amethyst points), the points can be aimed in different directions to varying effects. You can point them away from you, towards you, clockwise or anti-clockwise around you, or even in patterns, such as a spiral or Star of David. Try out different stones, and see how they work in combination. Smaller crystals are preferable, but this is by no means a rule. Many small crystals can be purchased for very little, so expense shouldn’t hinder you.
It can also be helpful to hold a single crystal in meditation to gain self-knowledge and insight, or information about the crystal itself.
Laying on stones
This is an effective method of treating others, and involves placing stones directly on the body. There are many, many different methods, but possibly the easiest method to try is a basic Chakra Layout.
You can try this on yourself, but it’s much more effective to treat another. Choose a crystal for each Chakra, with the right corresponding colour, such as red garnet for the Root Chakra, orange carnelian for the Sacral Chakra, etc. Make sure the crystals are cleansed before you begin. Have the person receiving the treatment lie comfortably on their back, on a bed, the floor, or a treatment table. Place the crystals in order from the Root Chakra up, until you reach the Crown Chakra. If you are placing a crystal in a sensitive area, you might ask the person receiving the treatment to place it (and later remove it) for you. Leave the crystals on for a period of time, say 10-20 minutes, and let them do their work. This can be further enhanced by channelling white light into each crystal, or directing a wand or control crystal in a clockwise motion around each crystal in turn. Again, begin with the Root Chakra and work your way up. Check with the person every so often to see what they are experiencing. At first they may be aware of particular sensations around the area of certain crystals, but when the Chakras have balanced, they should be relatively unaware of the crystals on their body. If there is a long-term energy blockage, it is not always possible to balance all the Chakras in this way. If this is the case, use your intuition and discretion to judge when to finish the treatment. When removing the crystals, start with the Crown Chakra and work your way down. Make sure the person is grounded before they get up. If in doubt, hold their ankles, and ask them to imagine their energy flowing down their bodies, into their legs, and pooling in their feet.
Gem waters and elixirs
The fat-free mass of our bodies is made up of approximately 70% water. This varies with age and sex. It has been long believed that water carries vibrational energy, which can be affected by the use of trees and flowers (such as the Bach Flower Remedies), as well as the area in which the water exists. Biophysicists have recently proven this as fact (see Messages from Water, published by HADO Kyoikusha Co, Ltd, and Love Thyself, published by Hay House, Inc, both by Masaru Emoto). Gem elixirs work in a similar way to flower remedies. Crystals are placed in a clear glass container (with a clear lid) filled with water, and left outside for 12-24 hours, depending on the system. Some healers only charge water in sunlight, but 24 hours means the water has been influenced by light from sun, moon and stars, enhancing it with masculine, feminine and spiritual energy. Because some crystals can be toxic, it’s best to understand this technique in more depth before attempting it. Having said that, charging water with clear quartz or rose quartz is safe, and many people place these crystals in their water filtre jugs.
Use of Wands, Points, and Control Crystals
Wands and Points
Wands and clear quartz points are used to amplify and direct energy. Use these with care and intent. A double terminated quartz crystal (possessing a point at each end) will allow the energy to flow both ways.
Massage wands are carved so that one end comes to a point, and the other is smooth and rounded. These can be used with the rounded end as a massage tool, to break up and dissipate energy blockages. This is best done with training and experience, using a very gentle pressure.
This is a method of crystal healing favoured by Dramis West and Geoffrey Keyte, who first introduced modern crystal healing to the UK. It involves using a large clear quartz crystal to do most of the work, and to direct other crystals to work in harmony. The Control Crystal is used more like a conductor’s baton than a magic wand, and it is seen as an extension of the self. The advantages of this system are neutrality and detachment of the healer, and the gentleness of the healing itself. Attunement to a control crystal should be learned through a teacher. It involves deep meditation techniques and a period of nightly work with the crystal.
Recently many massage therapists have started using stones in their treatments, and not only in hot stone therapies. There are a number of carved crystal shapes specifically designed for use in massage, including flat palm stones, lenses, stylus shapes, spheres, massage wands and massage tools. Tumble stones are also very effective, and even rough crystals and points can be used (with care!).
It is best to learn this through a teacher, but there are also books available on the subject (eg. Crystal Massage for Health and Healing by Michael Gienger, published by Findhorn Press). If you have some experience with massage, you can try working intuitively. Always use a very gentle pressure, as the deep work is done by the vibration of the crystals. Because of this, many massage therapists use this method if they are experiencing RSI or arthritis in their hands and fingers.
Spend time in the right place
Rocks that form through volcanic, sedimentary or metamorphic processes each have their own qualities and implications in healing. To bring about strong transformation and healing, try looking at geological survey map. Choose an area with the right type of formation, and plan a stay in that area for a few days. This method was first researched in Germany by Michael Gienger. (See Crystal Power, Crystal Healing by Michael Gienger, published by Blandford)
Rock formation through volcanic eruption and magma; a liquid substance becomes solid
Igneous rocks demonstrate a crystallisation process based on cooling and solidification, and represent potential and predisposition; each igneous mineral symbolises an aspect of spiritual potential, and can support and encourage their development.
Rock formation caused by weathering and breaking down of already existing rocks. They are transported by wind, landslides or water, followed by sedimentation at the water table. Sedimentary formation demonstrates the influences of environment, and represents the shaping of our personalities and belief systems due to experiences in our past and upbringing. Sedimentary rocks can help us to recognise and become aware of this shaping, and gradually let go of old patterns
Formed in the lower part of earth’s crust under extreme heat and pressure. The metamorphic process includes the formation of mountains, and metamorphosis and transformation into entirely new rocks. This demonstrates the spiritual process of transformation, and represents the burning off of anything that is not necessary. Metamorphic rocks stimulate inner transformation and encourage critical self-reflection.
Revised November 2008
Portions of the original article appeared on www.crystalage.com
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