A Skeptic’s Guide to Crystals

This is an article about my very recent, yet very deep appreciation for crystals. For years I considered crystals to be the mascots of New Age culture — too woo-woo and hippie for my liking. But I’ve found that we tend to resist what we’re most authentically drawn to for fear of edging closer to our truth. And, if I’m being totally honest, this is why I fear-resisted crystals for years. If you’re skeptical about crystals or just don’t understand what all the fuss is about, read on. If you’ve always loved crystals since forever, I hope you read on too. I’m not writing to convince you to be pro-crystal or anti-crystal, I’m simply offering my perspective on these natural wonders of the world.

So, first things first:

What are crystals made of and how are they formed?

Crystals are composed of groups of atoms, with silicon, carbon, and oxygen molecules making up the most ubiquitous types. The crystallization process, consisting of three stages, is essentially a transition from chaos to order. In its initial phase, a few atoms approach each other and form a stable microscopic aggregate. In its second stage — the growth stage — there is an orderly addition of further molecules until the termination stage (the third and final) when the growth ceases.

In the 17th century, Nicolas Steno, a catholic bishop and scientist, first discovered that although crystals appeared to be a variety of shapes and sizes, the same interfacial angles persisted in every specimen of the same mineral. This highly ordered crystalline structure is what causes them to oscillate and emit frequencies, making crystals essential components of certain electronics — from computer and TVs, to cell phones and satellites.

Crystals are also incredibly old, millions and millions of years old, having formed when molten rock or liquid magma cooled within fissures deep beneath the earth’s surface.

Therein, crystals act as a physical record of our planet’s geological history — affected by climate, the elements they’ve come into contact with, and any significant energetic shifts.

Varying degrees of chromium, iron, and titanium (aka: impurities), along with a crystal’s atomic arrangements, determine its color and hue.

For the purpose of this article, we’re exploring only the crystals that are formed from earth, but there are many other examples of crystalline structures, including snowflakes and table salt. When these earth crystals (or minerals) get cut and polished for their beauty, we know them as gemstones.

That’s cool and all, but what can crystals do for us?

Though there has never been scientific proof that crystals can heal physical ailments, the fact that they come from the earth — and are actually the earth — means they have the potential to ground and calm our nervous systems. Contrary to that, what cell phones, television, video games, and even the computer I’m typing on, does is to stimulate the nervous system.

So, much like walking barefoot on the grass can be grounding for our systems, holding a crystal can re-balance our bodies when they become frazzled by the electromagnetic frequencies we’re constantly absorbing.

In the metaphysical plane, crystals can be a portal for awakening. In A New Earth, spiritual teacher and author, Eckhart Tolle, writes: “When you are alert and contemplate a flower, crystal or a bird without naming it mentally, it becomes a window for you into the formless. There is an inner opening, however slight, into the realm of the spirit.”

Crystals are the jewels of the earth; beauty personified without human design. They offer us an invitation to open to the universal beingness of our world.

But metaphysics aside, what if you want to use crystals as a practical tool in the physical world — perhaps to manifest a more fulfilling job or a more giving partner?

With practice, crystals can be effective and supportive tools for meditation and manifestation. But… they only work if you believe they work.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Belief (born from our subconscious) is incredibly compelling because it creates our thoughts, which then creates our actions. Our actions create our character and our character creates our destiny. So, believing that crystals have power is precisely what makes them powerful. And the converse is also true. If you don’t believe they’ll work for you, then they most likely won’t. And… I wouldn’t force it.

Okay, I’m sold! What should I know before purchasing some crystals?

Know the source

Given that crystals are formed deep beneath the earth, they contain the earth’s vibration and the energy of everyone that has ever handled them. So, it’s of the utmost importance to know where they came from.

Trust your taste

When selecting a crystal to purchase, don’t overthink it. Because crystals emanate energy, you’ll naturally be drawn to the ones that will be most balancing and enhancing for you. Let your body guide your choice.

Clear them

Clear them when you first get them and clear them often. Clear the crystals that you hold and use the most every week to remove any stale energy. Once a month is enough for crystals you keep in your home or use for decoration. You can clear them in a variety of ways:

A | Bury them in the dirt for a week. It is a means of returning your crystals to the earth’s vibration.

B | Bathe them in salt water overnight. Note: use this method only if the stone is not brittle.

C | Cleanse them by the light of the full moon. Gently wash them and then place them on a natural surface on the evening of a full moon and leave overnight. Because direct sunlight can fade certain crystals, take them back inside come morning.

D | Use Clear Quartz and Carnelian as aides. These stones have the power to clear other crystals if placed all together in a bag or container.

Get with the program

Crystals will work best for you if you program them with a specific intention. Take whatever time you need to decide what that intention is, then find a quiet space, clear your crystal, and while holding the stone in front of you, transfer your energy or thoughts to that stone.

Alyssa D. Benjamin is a writer, strategist, and producer who aims to make the world a more sustainable, equitable place. She lives (mostly) according to Ayurvedic practices and has a deep passion for dancing, Bauhaus architecture, The Beach Boys, and the sea. Find her on Instagram at @alyssadara.

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