A Crystal Ritual For People Who Don't Believe In Crystal Rituals
I'll admit it: Until pretty recently, I found the idea of using crystals as anything but jewelry or decorative bookends pretty ridiculous. How could little rocks possibly have any sort of magical powers—able to somehow pull you closer to the dream life that played on a projector in your head? The whole thing sounded very Disney Channel Original movie, and while I respected those who worked with crystals, I decided I was most definitely not one of them.
That was until I realized that it wasn't so much the crystals themselves doing the work but the intentions behind them.
Let's back up. During my tenure as mbg's de facto spirituality editor, I've had the pleasure of working with some of the foremost leaders in all things mystical and unquantifiable. While they all have vastly different skill sets and temperaments, I've found that so many of them exude this particular breed of knowing. They know what fills them up and what depletes them, what their purpose is and how they can work toward it. It's an enviable kind of knowing, this deep sense of self.
As someone who changes her mind about all things from the inconsequential to the life-changing three times a minute (hey, I'm a Gemini!), I've often wondered how people locate and dust off this internal compass. From what I've gathered, ritual inevitably plays a huge role.
The role of ritual in self-care.
Different from religious rituals we practice on special holidays and occasions, personal ritual is more about quieting the mind to make way for the spirit to come through—who you are before the world told you who to be. In a distracting and tech-driven age, rituals help us come back to ourselves. The act of intentionally tuning out and looking within, however you choose to do so, creates this powerful and life-affirming connection to spirit.
In a distracting and tech-driven age, rituals help us come back to ourselves.
Diego Perez, aka Yung Pueblo, one of the aforementioned spiritual leaders who shares moving poetry through his Instagram account, phrased it beautifully when he told me, "If you really want to cultivate detachment and start letting go, the most important thing is having some sort of practice that will help you navigate your personal internal world." Everybody's practice will be different, so Perez said we need to "be bold and courageous and try a bunch of different things" in order to find our own flavor of ritual.
What do crystals have to do with it?
I've been so inspired by the big and beautiful world of ritual that I co-authored a whole book about it. The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide to Ancient Self-Care, which comes out next month, is an illustrated handbook of rituals divided by the four seasons. Writing it with mbg's wellness and beauty editor, Lindsay Kellner, has been the ultimate crash course in the various time-honored tools that can be used during ritual: Essential oils, tarot decks, herbs, and just plain old breath. To my surprise, crystals—those little "rocks" I used to dismiss as frivolous—have quickly become one of my favorites.
While it's easy to be skeptical of the idea that certain crystals carry certain properties—rose quartz promotes love, aventurine will attract more money, etc.—it's been a game-changer to realize that they can be used to support any intention you deem important. They let you put your unique goals and dreams into a physical form; that's the beauty of them. By making one crystal your "self-love" crystal, for example, every time you see it you'll be reminded of your intention to soften that inner critic in your head and be a little kinder to yourself. And it's comforting to believe that maybe, just maybe, the crystal itself is nudging your goals toward fruition at the same time. After all, while lasting change can only come when you put in the work, a splash of enchanted earthly energy can only help.
Crystals are wonderful for those new to ritual because they're accessible (heck, they even sell them at Target now), oftentimes portable, and striking. Simply handpicking a few for your altar or any sacred, quiet space, can help it feel more special and unique to you right away.
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A crystal ritual for the autumn equinox.
Taking a cue from nature can help expand your personal practice and make it feel more meaningful. Right now, we're moving from summer into fall, and it's a wonderful moment to conduct rituals. This time of year is all about winding down from the buzzy, social energy of summer and starting to look inward as we ease into introspective winter. Historically considered harvest season, autumn is a time to wrap up long-term projects and acknowledge your accomplishments so far this year while asking what they really mean, and what they ladder up to. I like to think of it like one big exhale.
Whether you're new to crystals or have called on them for years, here's a simple ritual for this inflection point in the year:
- Get your hands on a small crystal that you can display in a special place through the fall. It can be your bedroom, your desk, or anywhere else you pass often.
- Hold the crystal in your hands as you breathe in for five counts, hold, and release for five counts. The fall season corresponds to the lungs according to traditional Chinese medicine, making it a great time to pay extra attention to the breath. You can also drink a warm, herbal tonic or tea to further clarify the lungs.
- After a few moments of deep breathing, begin to play through the season that has passed: Visualize your proudest moment from summer. Don't judge the memory that plays through in your head; just roll with whatever comes up first for you.
- Open your eyes. Do you have a physical photo of the moment that you visualized? A picture on your phone? Pull up any images that you have that represent that moment for you. If you don't have any, write a few sentences down that describe the memory.
- Place your crystal on the written entry or physical or digital photo (rituals should usually be phone-free times but this is one of the few times when tech is OK) and imagine it absorbing the energy and pride of that moment.
- Crystal in hand, consider what you can do to make way for more moments like these in the fall. Jot them down.
- Place your crystal in a place where you'll see it often throughout the new season. Let it remind you of your proud moment and your intention to make more.
At the end of the day, ritual can be whatever you need it to be, so feel free to play around and make this one your own.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.