Think of crystals, and stereotypical images come to mind: the silver-ring-adorned elder hippie, the iconic Alex Gray chakra chart, or perhaps a certain Pink Floyd album cover. While these symbols are most definitely part of the culture of crystal healing, they are only the most recent additions to the long-held beliefs in the powers of stones.
The ancient Egyptians thought that wearing amulets of precious stones would protect them from evil spirits and also from poisoned wine; ancient Chinese civilizations have attributed cultural meaning to jade since the Neolithic period; Native American cultures have used stones and crystals as spiritual tools in ceremonies for centuries; and medieval shields and armor incorporated gemstones as a sign of wealth and adornment.
Today, we have quartz-movement watches that utilize crystal oscillators to regulate precise time, electronics-grade crystals used in cellphones, TVs, and computers. In the belief system of crystal healing, the same principles of focusing and transmitting energy are applied to the body or spirit.
Different cultures use crystals and gemstones differently — some complementary therapies encourage placing the stones on the body to connect to the body’s energy fields or chakras while others prefer the use of wands or pendulums. As nature lovers, we prefer to appreciate the stones for what they are: marvels of nature.
Here is a selection of our favorite stones along with some of the healing beliefs associated with them. To make use of their beauty (or to harness their energies, if you like), we recommend wearing them, placing them in your home, or using the crystals as meditation objects. Whatever your beliefs might be, the beauty of crystals’ magical formation is without question.
Excerpted from A Wilder Life by Celestine Maddy and Abbye Churchill (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by Krysta Jabczenski and Claire Cottrell. Illustrations by Holly Exley.
Celestine Maddy, founder and publisher of Wilder Quarterly, is a winner of the Cannes Lion award and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business for 2012. She lives in San Francisco, where she works as Reddit’s VP of marketing. Abbye Churchill, Wilder’s editorial director, is a writer, artist, and herbalist living in Chicago.