What are crystals and how do they work? A conversation about science and spirituality

A few weeks ago the lovely Erica from Coming Up Roses posted about creating 'back to school' care packages. I'm all for finding ways to bring little bouts of self care into my daily routine so I left a comment thanking her for the idea and sharing my plans to create my own care package filled with teas, crystals, journals and pens.


Though it didn't register at the time, crystals are not exactly mainstream. I sleep with them under my pillow, I take them to the bar, I put them on my computer before I write a post, I give them to loved ones when they grieve, I fill my bath with them, I even have one in my pocket right now (a rose quartz to attract more love into my life) - but in the greater society there is a lot of confusion and skepticism over how they work and what they do. Unfortunately this means the value of crystal healing is often overlooked and left out of important conversations about mental and physical health. 

When Erica responded to my comment with a simple question asking about crystals and their use, I didn't quite know how to respond! I'm an energy girl... I should know this stuff inside out. But I froze. I talk about crystals all of the time in my own life... but when considering how to respond to someone outside of my small circle I didn't know what to say. I felt a big responsibility to write about the science behind crystal therapy (not because of something Erica said, but because of the pressures of society) and validate crystals and crystal therapy by giving scientific proof for how they work. But I didn't have scientific proof - not right then and there - because even though there is science and understanding behind crystals and how they work, I've never needed that knowledge to know they worked. I rely on intuition - a different way of knowing - one that's not readily accepted in the western world. 

So what was intended to be a short response to Erica, turned into a post. One that not only talks about crystals and what they do - but also dives into why crystals are still not mainstream and why that needs to change. Erica -  I dedicate this to you. To your curiosity and willingness to learn. And to that radiant energy of yours that's going to make you the most beautiful bride (she gets married THIS week!!!). 

Our bodies are energy systems

In order to truly understand and appreciate crystals, and how they work, we need to understand the human body as the complex electromagnetic system that it is - which means we need to step outside of worldview we've been taught as truth, and welcome in a different way of thinking.


 Rose quartz (pink) and Selenite (white)

Rose quartz (pink) and Selenite (white)

The first thing I am usually asked when I talk about any type of energy medicine is: "That's cool, but don't you believe in science?" and my answer is always "Yes. I do believe in science. Don't you know that science is only one way of knowing/proving things to be true?"

To understand crystal therapy - and almost everything I talk about - we need to step out of a western worldview and into a more Indigenous understanding of the world. 

... some helpful definitions:

WORLDVIEW: a set of beliefs and values that govern how a person/society functions. 

WESTERN WORLDVIEW: a set of values and ideals that govern what we are taught in public schools, what is practiced in conventional medicine, what is printed in our media, and what is believed to be 'true' in all aspects of our western society.

INDIGENOUS WORLDVIEW: a worldview that guides the way of being of Indigenous peoples and has been oppressed for hundreds of years. Aspects of the Indigenous worldview differs depending on what area of the world you are in but there are many commonalties throughout all Indigenous cultures.

Both worldviews approach life/knowing/health/relationships etc. in very different ways. So when we talk about therapies outside of western medicine we need to talk about them outside of the western worldview, because the western worldview isn't the be. all. end. all; it's just one worldview, one way of thinking, one way of proving things to be true.

Understanding the body as an intricate energy system has been at the centre of Indigenous healing practices for centuries, but since western medicine 'couldn't understand it' in scientific terms, or profit off it because we all have the power to heal ourselves with energy medicine, it was deemed pseudoscience and - quite literally - laughed at. When people ask for 'science' they are asking for a certain type of proof - one that has been defined as the only type of proof by people with money, influence, and power. Looking at the worldviews above, it's not difficult to see how the Indigenous worldview (one of collaboration, relationships, and spirituality) might have been abused by those who believed in a worldview of amassing wealth for personal gain. 

That's not to say the western worldview is inherently bad. As a worldview it has enhanced our society in many ways. But there is a whole world of ideas and practices that are kept from us because of the western drive for money and individual success (Big Pharma I'm looking at you) and if our world is going to survive we need to get real about what those ideas and practices are and how they can be used to better humanity as a whole.

When Spirituality and Science Meet

Thankfully the gap between these two worldviews is beginning to close, and conscious scientists are working hard to validate age-old energy practices with science. Not that they should have to, but because that's unfortunately how our world works.

As someone who values both sides of the argument, I was excited when science started to study energy and its affect on the human body, and even more excited when science PROVED meridians exist. Not because I personally needed science to prove energy exists (I have my inner knowing for that) but because research influences everything in our western world. Having research support the importance of energy is the first step to having energy medicine taken seriously by the medical community and having energy assessments, energy education, energy treatments made available to all. 

While it may seem a little airy fairy to some to consider the energy body while we have flesh and bone, at source we are an energy field, embedded into another energy field. Our bodies are electromagnetic in nature and science has measured these frequencies with advanced machines, like EKG’s and MRI scanning, for many years... When the flow of energy is blocked, it causes low energy and illness. [Energy practices] work on these subtle energy channels, supporting the flow of energy through the body.
— Azriel ReShel

What are crystals?

A crystal is a clump of atoms/molecules/ions with a unique lattice structure. 

Like all natural things produced by planet earth (animals, plants, dirt), crystals carry a high frequency when they are in their pure, natural, untouched state. 

Health is a high vibrational state (and disease is a low vibrational state) so when we work with crystals we allow their high frequency to merge with the frequencies of our body and bring the overall frequency higher. Different types of crystals resonate at different frequencies (due to mineral content, inherent geometry, colour frequency, etc) which influence how they react with the energies of the human body / and how they assist in healing. 

Crystals have been shown to oscillate at their own frequencies, and even respond to the input of vibrations. The cells in the human body also vibrate at certain frequencies, as do the chakras (the centers of the human energy body). So when we come into contact with a crystal, its vibration interacts with the vibration of the cells in our body.”
— Dr. Kelly Neff, Psychologist

How to work with crystals:

Curiosity is our soul's way of saying "go this way!" "try this!" - so if you've found yourself reading this far, and you think you might have a curiosity for crystals, take yourself to the nearest crystal shop (they are usually sold at health food stores, or new age shops) and pick up a crystal that interests you. I encourage you to not overthink it. Once you've picked up the stone, look up it's meaning. Chances are whatever properties the crystal emits are the exact qualities you need in your life and healing journey; because like attracts like. 

For the first few years of working with crystals I was constantly drawn to rose quartz, the love stone. I loved the soft pink colour and felt very calmed by the stone's presence. It's not surprising that those years were also huge transitional years with regard to how I understood and loved myself and how that affected my romantic relationships. Rose quartz resonated with me because it was the crystal I needed at the time. Today I do not feel the same affinity for the crystal but I do keep a small rose on my left hand (that will someday become part of my wedding band if I decide to get married) and carry one in my pocket when I want to attract more love into my life. 

Once you start to establish a relationship with crystals, the right crystals will begin coming into your life. When I decided to stop resisting my connection with spirit and the angelic realm, a friend gave me a piece of clear quartz that she picked up for me on a trip. Clear quartz is used to strengthen the third eye and crown chakra, both needed for a strong connection to what I like to call the Divine. 

Today I am drawn more to stones for the root and throat chakras (especially as I prepare to birth this blog) including azurite, kyanite and blue lace agate.

My favourite ways to use crystals:

Once you get your new crystals home and have learned what they crystal does you'll first need to clear them. The easiest way to clear a crystal is to run it through sage, so pick some up when you get your crystals. If you don't have sage you can also run it through water while asking Archangel Michael to clear it. If you're not into that, just running it through water with the intention of having it cleared will do.  

Once your crystal is cleared you are good to go. Below are a couple ideas for how to use them, but let your curiosity lead the way and do what feels right to you. 

1. Put them under your pillow when you go to sleep at night

If there is something I am working on - like my throat chakra right now - I put relevant crystals under my pillow for the energies to be absorbed while I sleep. I also like to put Clear Quartz under my pillow to help me have more peaceful dreams. Or Amethyst when I've asked for guidance to come through my dreams (some people find Amethyst makes it hard for them to fall asleep - so just be aware of that). 

2. Put them in your bath water

Bathing in crystals is one of my favourite ways to use them! Baths create a calm and restful space where we are more likely to allow the crystal energy into our energetic systems. When I went through a tough breakup a couple of years ago I bathed in rose quartz daily. 

3. Carry them in your hand/pocket/purse

I love carrying crystals around with me throughout the day. Not only are they extremely grounding (which is good for people like me who feel anxious in crowds) but they can also be used for specific reasons depending on where you are going / who you'll be with and what you'll be doing. If I'm on a first date you knowww I'm bringing rose quartz. If I'm going somewhere where I intend conflict I'll bring a protection stone like black tourmaline. 

4. Use them to manifest

Because crystals are so high in frequency they are awesome for manifesting. I am right handed, so I hold crystals in my left hand (or left pocket) when I am trying to bring something into my life. When I am trying to give something away (like love, protection, courage, strength to someone I love) I hold a relevant crystal in my right hand. 

5. Put them in your water bottle and drink their frequencies

This called an elixir and it's a powerful way to work with crystal energy. All you have to do is fill a bottle with relevant crystals - just make sure they are very clean - and then drink the water.

Final Thoughts

There is so much more to life and healing than we've been conditioned to believe, and when different healing modalities show up in our lives (through a comment on a blog post, an event at school, or even through conversation with a stranger) it is an invitation to explore. If we let our logical left brains and consequential need for scientific proof keep us from exploring whatever it is our intuitive right brains are asking us to explore, we miss out on opportunities to improve our health and wellbeing. If you take anything from this post, I hope it's that there is more than one way of living/being/healing and a curiosity for something, especially something that falls outside of the norm, is an invitation from your intuition to explore. 

Get thee to a crystal shop and see what comes up.



P.S. Depending on who you consult, crystal work and smudging (sage) could fall under the label of cultural appropriation, the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. I was invited to use crystals (and many of my other practices) by an Indigenous social worker with the understanding that I respect the culture in which they came from and I am staying committed to that. Though controversy exists, more often than not Indigenous peoples want western folk to engage with their beliefs and practices, however it's important to always stay aware and respectful of "holistic" practices and their roots.