An Insight into Crystal Healing: Why Are We All So Obsessed With It?
Are you crystal curious?
If so, you aren’t alone. In the current climate, a millennial survival guide might include the following: plant-based milk, a portable charger and airpods, a Pret £20 a month subscription, a vegan leather notebook, and most importantly, crystals.
Whether for manifestation or soothing negative energies, the obsession with crystals and their innate magical properties is currently at the forefront of fashion and wellness trends, especially amongst young women.
A historic practise, Crystals are believed to help a person heal any internal and external imbalances. Whether for stress, anxiety, relationship issues, depression or creativity, there is a crystal out there that can put you on the right path.
As an antique jewellery company, we work with natural gemstones of all types on a daily basis, and we have noticed a significant trend as to why our consumers shop with us. It’s not just the rarity of the gemstone that they are interested in, but also what the gemstone can add to their life on a spiritual level.
The belief in crystal healing dates back thousands and thousands of years, and were widely used in ancient early civilisations and Pagan or Pantheistic religions. On the surface, people have been enchanted by the physical qualities of crystals and their ability to refract light, yet crystals soon accrued divine, protective and medicinal properties.
Why crystals are suddenly popular again amongst celebrities and the younger more inquisitive generations we aren’t sure, but it certainly accords with the enchanting grip of the supernatural. For instance, in astrology and tarot, palm or crystal ball readings.
Astrology has been a fun and laid back interest for many, with fortune telling columns and star sign readings expected in most magazines and newspapers for the past 50 years. Yet, it has certainly become a booming business in the last five years, with smartphone apps like Co-Star , Daily Astrology and Sanctuary a regular download amongst young people. Plus, these younger audiences also get delight from Astrology Instagram meme pages like “Glossy_zodiac” (4.2 million followers, larger than the whole population of Wales), and “thezodiacstea” (1.2 million followers).
The belief in crystal healing stems from this interest in the other-wordly. Yet unlike astrology, crystals are more tangible than the stars. You can easily see, hold and feel the textures and innate shimmers of the crystal, a type of interaction between learning and feeling. In fact, in the past five years, there has been a 40% increase on Google for the search term “crystal healing”. Of course, it's possible to say an uplift in consumerism might account for a large percentage of this, but it is still incredibly interesting!
It is no secret that we are in the midst of a social media age, and the interest in the occult and Spiritual, especially for young social media users, is ever more heightened around this time of year with Halloween only a week away! So, it only seemed fitting to delve into the crystal craze further as we get spookier by the second!
The Fascinating Story of Crystal Healing
We are unsure as to when the first Crystal healing treatise was first recorded, yet writings from Roman Historian Pliny the Elder and other ancient texts like the High Priest’s Breastplate and the The Qu’ran, shows that it was a well-established practise within Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient China and Ancient India. Whether crystals were used to connect your chakras or to improve circulation, they were commonplace within early nature-orientated and spiritual religions. In fact, the association with divinity was actually the reason as to why jewellery was first created, as the earliest iterations of pendants were talismans- designed to help dispel malevolent forces and improve overall health.
The Heart Scarab of Hatnefer, An Ancient Egyptian Amulet, c.1492-1473 BCE, Source - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Yet, amongst these ancient texts, the beliefs differed, which of course later crystal cynics would cling onto! However, there was some general consensus. For instance, as illustrated in our birthstone guide, red gemstones like Rubies and Garnets were worn by warriors of all denominations in battle, for its connection with the colour of blood. And, green hued gemstones were always linked with peace, fertility and luck.
There were various rites to cleanse, charge and programme crystals to enhance their innate powers. This included placing them in direct moonlight on the night of a full moon and from this, the gemstones can work harder and faster to help make life right for you again. This is especially true for Moonstones.
Actually, a slight caveat, but we feel like we should say, the next full moon is going to be October 31s (how spooky!), so get your gemstones at the ready!
As Christianity swept across Europe and beyond (AD 380), it was soon deemed heretical to practise crystal healing. This is because it was believed to be contradictory to God’s omnipotent powers. Nevertheless, crystal meanings were still popular, as certain gemstones became equated with Christianity. Amethysts were believed to represent Christ’s purity of spirit, Bloodstone was believed to have been created during Christ’s crucifixion and thus was symbolic of his blood, and Garnet Carbuncles became the gemstone of choice to represent Christ’s passion and martyrdom.
Bloodstone Bust of Chris, c.17th Century Italian, Source - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The power of gems were also connected to ancient Babylon, where colours of the stones were associated with ancient powers and stars.
Yet, by the 11th century onwards, many texts appeared detailing the powers of precious and semi-precious gemstones. 15th and 16th century medieval liturgical manuscripts have richly detailed cameos and gemstones framing the borders of a page. Within these medieval manuscripts, the four cardinal gems of Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond were repeated with these four quickly becoming representative of the four natural elements.
Manuscript of Saint John the Baptist, c.1520, Matteo de Milano, Source - The Iris
The medicinal qualities of gemstones were hotly debated by theologians Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus. For instance in one of Albertus Magnus writings, he wrote that you should wear Diamonds on the left side of your body to protect against the venom of mad beasts, and that Sapphires would prevent any broken limbs but make the wearer chaste for life! So, even though crystal healing was in some way seen as heretical, at the same time, it wasn’t.
Of course gemstones and crystals of all variety were widely incorporated in the lavish jewellery designs of the Renaissance elite.
16th Century Mannerist Parrot pendant, Erasmus Hornick, Source - The British Museum
It wasn’t until the Age of Enlightenment (1715-1789) that crystal healing as a practise really fell out of favour, as scientific advancements and rationality and logic were emphasised. Yet gemstones still retained symbolism and meaning; a belief that transcended into the Georgian and especially Victorian period.
The Victorians (1837-1901) revisited the medieval manuscripts and were enchanted by the gilded pages, mysterious meanings and elaborate illustrations. The Victorian’s were fascinated with the pious life of the middle ages, believing this time to be a golden age in living. With this in mind, many Victorians based their jewellery choices around these early rudimentary belief systems. Garnets were widely incorporated into reliquary jewellery, and crosses were studded with Amethysts. Jet necklaces graced the necklines of widowed gentlewomen, and Opal rings were given as lover’s tokens.
Victorian Gold Amethyst Cross Locket, Source - Lillicoco Archive
Prominent 19th century artists like John Ruskin and William Morris collected many of these early liturgical manuscripts including a 14th century book of hours and 12th century new testament. The stylistic motifs, Gothic calligraphy and rich pigment within these texts would go on to influence the late 19th century Arts and Crafts movement.
A major development in the history of crystal healing was in 1913, when the text “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones” was published by George Kunz. This text was based upon Albertus Magnus “Book of Secrets”. This book was incredibly popular, as many were enchanted by the theatrical and amusing rituals of these gemstones. Not to mention, “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones” has largely influenced what gemstones mean today. Another cool fact, Georgian Kunz was the famous gemologist who discovered Kunzite!
Of course, this was widely criticised by 20th century scientists. Especially within the context of the rapid advancements in modern medicine like antibiotics, vaccinations, and painkillers. Yet once again, in the 1970s to the 1990s, counter cultural movements latched onto crystal healing as alternative medicine. This chimed in perfectly with many major mid 20th century discoveries.
For instance, due to the moon landing and start up of the space programs, there was a fascination and hunger for extraterrestrial life and the need to know the unknown. What’s more, the supernatural and horror genres were dominating Hollywood, television series and books. This meant that people were incredibly fascinated by the magical and the extraordinary, and the 1970s counter cultural crystal phase was due to that.
Different Crystals and Their Meaning According to George Kunz
“All the fair colours of flowers and foliage, and even the blue of the sky and the glory of sunset clouds, only last for a short time. But the sheen and colouration of precious gemstones are the same today as they were thousands of years ago.” - George Kunz
One only needs to search “[enter gemstone here]” and “meaning” to get a plethora of different definitions and interpretations. So, we decided to take a look at George Kunz’s 1913 text instead, to gain further understanding of the lore of lapidary. Kunz’s comprehensive “Curious Lore of Precious Gemstones” fully explains the myths and histories surrounding these gemstones and how they have traversed different societies and belief systems.
So, without further ado, this is the knowledge we have gained from this enlightening text!
Agate - Agates are believed to help insomnia and make people act with caution. Plus, banded Agates are believed to help neutralise the evil eye.
Amber - According to George Kunz, amber has been “clothed in poetic fancies” for thousands of years. Amber was a vital object of trade, and since it has become a stone of warmth and business success.
Amethyst - If you are privy to a couple of drinks, then maybe you should invest in Amethyst! Amethyst has been associated with preventing “drunkenness” for thousands of years and is associated with the Greek myth of Bacchus, the God of Wine.
Beryl - Beryl is believed to help ease relationship disputes and also cure laziness. If laziness is at the core of your relationship disputes then you can literally kill two birds with one stone!
Bloodstone - Although Bloodstone has been associated with the wounds of Christ in Christian mythology, it has also been believed that Bloodstone had the power to turn the sun red and cause thunderstorms. Other than this, it also is meant to protect the bodily health of the wearer.
Carnelian - Carnelian is believed to possess medicinal properties against arthritis and can help stimulate blood flow. With this in mind, it also believed to give a person courage, so great for the everyday battles of job interviews or making small talk.
Coral - Unlike Bloodstone, Coral is believed to help aid tempests and troubles at sea. This is why many travellers wore the stone; According to Kunz, Coral can help with madness.
Diamond - Although Diamonds frequent as engagement and wedding rings, it is also believed to be an emblem of fearlessness, bestowing the owner with victory and strength.
Emerald - Emerald was believed to be the enemy of all enchantments, and was used in foreshadowing rituals.
Jacinth - Another amulet for travellers, Jacinth will help protect the wearer against plagues and wounds.
Lapis Lazuli - A favourite of Cleopatra, Lapis Lazuli can help aid melancholy.
Malachite - According to Kunz, Malachite was widely used as a talisman to protect young children from evil spirits. Many Malachits were engraved with images of the sun, as the light of the sun would ward off demons.
Moonstone - One of the world’s most beautiful gemstones, Moonstones can help in awaking the passions of two lovers. Plus, it also possesses fortune-telling properties (that's why we picked it in our Fortune Teller look!), and thus must be placed underneath the light of a full moon to properly charge.
Onyx - In contrast to Moonstone, Onyx is believed to help cool the ardours of love, not inflame it.
Ruby - Ruby is believed to help control amorous desires and remove evil thoughts.
Sapphire - A stone of divinity, Sapphires were equated with the celestial heavens. This meant that Sapphires can help awaken your mind and connect you with a higher power.
Turquoise - Interestingly, up until the late 17th century, Turquoise were worn exclusively by men! Yet, like most gemstones, Turquoise helps a person escape evil and attain good fortune.
If, like us, you find this fascinating, George Kunz’s book is the perfect Christmas gift for any avid gemologist and lover of lore. Or, you can read the rest of the text online here!
Another alternative for the millennials and generation z-ers is the smartphone app called “Stone” which details the contemporary meaning behind each gemstone. (Plus, we are partial to their excellent copywriting!).
Or, our Lillicoco Birthstone guide is also a great resource for finding out more about the history and lore of certain gemstones!
But Still, Why Are We So Obsessed?
Although George Kunz’s text is enlightening, we still want to know why we are currently crazy about crystals?
In the past two years, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, two major fashion and women’s magazines have written the following:
“What is Crystal Healing?” - Harper's Bazaar 26th March 2020
“Vogue’s Guide to Crystal Healing” - Vogue 19th of March 2019
“Why Crystal Jewellery is the Ultimate Post Pandemic Trend” - Vogue 17th of July 2020
“Why Magic Inspired Beauty Routines Are A Growing Beauty Trend” - Harper’s Bazaar 21st August 2019
“Why You Should Use Crystals and Where to Find Them” - Vogue June 30th 2019
And our personal favourite “How to Use Magic to Banish Energy Vampires” - Vogue June 22nd 2019.
Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are just two of many magazines that have capitalised on the crystal consumption and craze. And, rightly so! If there has been a general 40% increase in Google, then it only makes sense to jump on the SEO-bandwagon. Not to mention, it also has been driven by celebrities like Adele, Gwyneth Paltrow, Miranda Kerr and Jennifer Aniston who attribute crystals as part of their day to day life routines. Adele believes that crystals can help her combat stage fright, and Kim Kardashian has famously used crystals for overcoming the trauma of her armed robbery in Paris. Today, it's not just wearing crystals as jewellery or using them as home decor objects, but you can find crystals in water bottles and in skincare products.
The general consensus as to why people are leaning towards crystals is not just because they are visually appealing and enchanting, but also because in the smartphone age, people want to reconnect with mother nature. Many blame this on the rise of social media, and how the Instagram lens has distorted how we see the world and ourselves, with it becoming increasingly more vacuous and vapid. Crystals have given the agnostics and the atheists the chance for spiritual connection.
Whilst many scientists have criticised crystal powers (as they aren’t actually proven to do anything), we think “so what?”. For many, like religion, crystals can be a calming antidote to the stresses of the world, and is relatively harmless and affordable to access.
Not to mention, for many young women, gemstones have become connected to feminist ideals. Hundreds of years ago, women were executed as witches for their interest in the supernatural, simply finding crystals in your home with herbs could place them on the stake. With this in mind, many women today now see it as an empowering rite of passage that they can learn and love these objects.
George Kunz’ aptly writes “when we consider the marvellous secrets that have been revealed to us through science, and yet the more wonderful things that will be revealed to us in future, we are tempted to think that there may be something in the old beliefs”.
Perhaps it's the current feeling that nothing in the natural world is within our control, or perhaps people are leaning towards secular spiritual beliefs? No matter the reason, it cannot be denied that crystals are awe-inspiring products of nature, and, they are pretty.
Whether the interest in crystal and crystal healing is due to the cult of celebrity culture or the need for spiritual guidance, we cannot be entirely sure. Yet, what we are certainly sure about is that this crystal trend shows no signs of slowing. So, grab your geodes and your tumbled tiger’s eye for the next time you step outside your home.
If you liked this, take a look at our other Halloween blog content!