This post was prompted by the article, “Dark Crystals: The Brutal Reality Behind A Booming Wellness Craze” by Tess McClure (link at the end). It brings up something that’s been on my mind about crystals, about the energies they carry and knowing how they get to us. I am sharing my opinion and my reluctant yet growing awareness to the not-so-great journey of commercial and “artisanal mine” crystals. When I read McClure’s article, it was actually the charged and emotional comments in various threads that motivated me to step forward with my own thoughts on the discussion. I am not crystal-shaming! As a crystal lover, collector and user, I definitely am not about bumming anyone out about their crystal babies, in fact I hope that you feel it is actually the opposite, that we appreciate even more how sacred they really are in their journey alone, before picking us.
This past February was my first trip to the Tucson Gem Show in AZ. Wanting to go for years, I was crazy excited and came with a small list of crystals I was definitely interested in buying. We were able to explore and shop the gem show over the course of two days. On the second day we encountered those HUGE, magnificent amethyst geodes the size of appliances, museum quality specimens. We also saw the biggest quartz crystals I had ever seen (larger and taller than me), along with malachite tables, amethyst sinks, rose quartz fountains, crystal Buddha heads and life size sculptures, and just impossibly large pieces of so many beautiful specimens. But it was a lot. I started to become overwhelmed by it all. I thought maybe I was getting overwhelmed by the energy of all of these different crystals. And I think I was, but not in the way I expected. Seeing so many crystals in place, from larger than life angel winged geode boulders, to bin after bin of tumbled stones really impressed upon me the magnitude of the industry. As we were taking pictures of each other posing with these truly amazing pieces, layers of thought kept flooding my mind.
It takes thousands upon thousands (millions?) of years for specimens of this size to grow, making these beautiful healing crystals a finite natural resource. If you look at my picture I am certainly smiling but at that same moment I am also searching for the amethyst’s powerful energy one might expect to feel in a specimen this size. We spent a bit of time with them and when we finally moved on, I realized I was feeling not too much from it. If I had to pick one word to describe its energy, it felt lonely to be honest. In a weakened state. Was that really the crystal’s energy? This massive, heart-shaped amethyst geode (which had sold)? My friend and I lamented on how these were likely headed to private collectors, or maybe a museum to draw visitors, or nowadays even a luxury hotel lobby bar.
We assumed this beauty would end up in a place where it might not be utilized for its spiritual properties and not appreciated much beyond its natural beauty. All of this energy, will be ignored. This crystal will be ignored, which seemed sad. And if you believe that crystals, in their mighty beauty, are meant to be discovered and unearthed, and that their energetic destiny is a gift from mama Earth to help humanity, then this situation is even sadder. If I think about a commercially mined crystal—something of this size in particular—I think of how it had to have been taken from the ground by earth movers, mechanical claws, cranes and crates and chains without any permission or blessing or gratitude toward it or Mother Earth. And maybe it was in my own head this vibe I was feeling. I don’t know.
It is a somewhat controversial conversation that needs to continue…we should absolutely be willing to remain educated and spread awareness of the realities behind a lot of crystal mining. I do not agree that this type of information flow is fear mongering as some passionate people claimed in response to McClure’s article. I believe it’s learning and the responsibility of knowing better. I recently experienced this regarding the endangered status and misleading information around my favorite sacred palo santo plant I love using. I know better now and have not bought any more since. The stash I have left has become even more sacred in its use. And I have returned to the native species in my own backyard for their medicinal values and responsibly harvesting them or growing them in my yard.
And now the truth spotlights exploitation and ethics in the crystal trade, the information rises up as a clever test of my own character claims from my spiritual Universe, my Source. Admittedly, a few hiccups for me here. I am guilty of crystal-sourcing blinders over the past year (that day I did some damage visiting my favorite crystal shop this past summer in Sedona of all places). Hiccup. But I’ve started taking time to begin researching individuals who prospect and hand dig for crystals with like intention, gratitude, permission, and care for Mother Earth. There aren’t a lot out there predominately yet, but there are a few (who are willing to part with and sell their finds!). When we know better we need to start taking steps to do better. Of the beautiful store-bought, gem show and crystal gifts I am lucky to have, they are not cast aside. I love and embrace them, I continue to work with them and cleanse them. My relationship with them is evolving in unexpected layers of awareness. I will bless and share the tumbled and raw stones left in my practice as intended, energetic gifts for chakra sound bath participants—until my small supply runs out.
As far as my own crystals, they are becoming even more sacred. They still carry the energies I was drawn in “collecting” them, but in a lovely way, this new responsibility of awareness (that I didn’t want to acknowledge before), has moved me to approach them with a new sense of healing–them and me–when working with them, thanking them, building stronger relationships with them, getting to know them more intuitively. It is so interesting and frankly complements my spiritual journey at the moment with a much richer, deeper layer of energy and guidance. It will take time—I’ve collected a lot of crystals and crystal jewelry through my life LOL. And it has only just begun, but each one I pick up to work with, is a step toward this additional journey and new awareness.
If I were being totally honest….this has become a challenging, inconvenient truth invading my love of crystals and stones. This is the shadow side of crystals mirroring the Shadow side of our own spirituality. You gotta appreciate the great lesson in that! For me, it is asking me how I’m going to work out other ways of doing things when I hit a wall, aka a hard truth. About myself.
So I hope we all share McClure’s article below and do what we can to hold sacred the crystals we have while continuing to educate ourselves. There is nothing wrong with holding this industry to the energetic standards of which we work to maintain in our own healing work with these energies.
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In this article from The Guardian, “Dark Crystals: The Brutal Reality Behind A Booming Wellness Craze” by Tess McClure, the reality of most of the crystals we buy is that they are coming from “artisanal” mines where conditions are incredibly unsafe, who also use children to mine, and where miner families are paid so little for risking so much and working so long in air they can barely draw a deep breath. It’s hard to follow the trail back to where a crystal was pulled from the ground, and the mining conditions. Nearly impossible.
And if the vendors and CEO’s in the article are any gauge, most don’t really want to know. As long as the demand is there and we don’t keep asking questions, they will continue doing business with their suppliers in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of way about child labor, in my humble opinion. Or as one gem show vendor sees it, ALL the responsibility is on the consumer alone and he does business by the assumption of what we really want vs. what we’re willing to demand by what we’re willing to pay.
We must consider that if we agree with one of the happy vendors interviewed in the article that the intention and energy of the people who mine it, in the circumstances of which the stone is removed and processed, is all embedded in the energy of the stone. Then what stones do we truly want to be supporting and using for our own healing work?