Whilst investigating this piece, I was thinking of creating a guide on crystals for my sister witches. But since I had more questions than answers, I found myself where all people go to find answers relating to new trendy things - Newtown.
It seems that with COVID-19 people have been trying to find comfort in whatever they can. Crystal Arcana, a crystal store in Newtown opened its doors in March of 2020 during the peak of the pandemic. A time when people were forced to stay inside and numb themselves from reality. The app Tiktok was a great tool to do that. At around the same time a community of creators formed, publishing videos discussing their own personal experiences using crystals. Users have even created a fandom for certain crystals such as Moldavite, meant to help release feelings through its ‘energy’. Others use crystals to ‘manifest’ their wishes. making it quite attractive for those who need motivation and answers and want to reach that level of consciousness beyond the metaphysical, which has led to a surge of users.
But before this, I want to clarify that if using crystals as a tool helps you accomplish what you want by all means do carry on, but just hear me out. At first glance this practice seemed quite friendly, with stores filled with crystals and with friendly owners, who believe in the energy these crystals emit. So much so that when asking what crystal would suit me, the owner of Crystal Arcana pointed out “to let my mind choose the crystal”. Which in this case was Mica. A note attached said this crystal is “meant to detach you from toxic emotional behaviour.”
But is this a healthy practice ?
While I was attracted to the crystal due to its shape and roughness, was there something more? That's when it hit me. I had heard that name Mica before. In May 2019, Refinery29 published a video with reporter Lexy Lebsack who investigated how Mica found in make-up was mined through using illegal child labour in India. While I am unsure whether the crystal I bought was from India, over 50% of the Mica used today is from India.
Upon further questioning at Crystal Arcana the owner pointed out to me that most of the crystals in the shop had been bought from Brazil, Indonesia, Madagascar and the Czech Republic, and other undisclosed areas in Australia. It comes to me as no surprise, mining is one of the most unregulated forms of harnessing natural resources. Most people buying crystals don't know its origins or find it hard to truly find its root source due to re-sellers refusing to disclose certain information on their method of extraction.
What I found even more surprising is the lack of scientific facts, showing that these crystals heal you, it seems to me that this is all placebo.
Some crystals, such as Tourmaline can release negative ions in the environment if placed under great amounts of heat, causing it to apparently “decrease feelings of anxiety in one self”. Another crystal, Shungite, was sold with a note saying that it “helps your immune system by eliminating toxins, bacteria, viruses and radicals”. It rose in popularity during the pandemic, as it is said to protect you from EMFs (electromagnetic fields) or radiation. Some ‘believers’ claim that the virus came from these EMFs rays emitted by 5G towers and that carrying around this crystal would protect you from COVID-19. Of course there's no evidence to prove that any of this is true, but there must be a reason why some people are affected...
In the 18th century Doctor Franz Mesmer would ‘magnetise’ people to cure illnesses like depression. Upon further investigation in 1784, Benjamin Franklin and other doctors at the time led a Commission report finding that individuals only reacted to something when they expected it. They concluded that the true force behind this was imagination, thus creating the early psychological explanation for the placebo effect. Similarly, individuals here are expecting to be healed through the energy of these crystals, thus feeling healed, and less bad. This is not surprising when you look at the market; some of these tiny stones can retail up to $AUD325. As a customer if you are willing to spend that much, you would be expecting a reaction as well, whether there is one or not.
As humans we have been fascinated by the beauty of stones for millions of years, as one of the earliest tools created. The Acheulean was a normal grey stone shaped a certain way to please our aesthetic pleasure, and similarly today we use crystals as mental tools and to please our aesthetic sensations, but fail to see the darker side of this practice.
Humans are still intrigued by the beauty of stones, due to their rarity, age, and variety in colour. Their attachment to the earth has attracted individuals of trendy characters seeking for a new sort of salvation. Yet, as beautiful as they are, they are mostly produced from unethical methods of extraction and are re-sold as a myth with no scientific backup aside from the stories from their healers. To me, many of these crystals have nothing to them aside from the consequences of their exploitation to our environment, which goes against the agenda of its ‘eco-friendly’ consumers.