Crystals & Angel Cards: More than just Exceptionally Pretty Rocks and Pictures of People with Wings?

Before I get into this topic I’m going to say— you might just want to keep your tongue pretty firmly in your cheek for this one as it’s going to get pretty hippy dippy, airy-fairy, and perhaps teeter on the edge between fascinating/a wee bit mental. This is the tale of how I first came into contact with Crystals and Angel Cards (yes, those two words make me cringe too) and how they are now a regular presence in my day-to-day existence. There is also a ‘how to guide’ element about this too. Just so you know- up until a year ago I too harboured a healthy scepticism towards many of these things, some I still do, some are inexcusably laughable. Take it with a pinch of salt, how little or how much is completely up to you. Though I hope you’ll bear with me, be open-minded, and let me show you where I’m going with this. I’m sharing a lot here. crystals So last Spring I was very unwell, at the height of my illness. I’d tried to ‘get back to normal’ after returning from New York. I’d been really physically sick for a few months, but I managed to crawl back enough to get a nice job, and had been trying to re-establish some sense of normality. I even managed to do what ‘normal’ people supposedly do and got myself a boyfriend-of-sorts. I managed to keep this charade of wellness up for a couple of months, but who was I kidding, I was far too sick for this, I couldn’t cope. I gave up my job, ended the relationship (as lovely as he was we just weren’t exactly the best suited for one another anyway and I think we’d both now admit that the two of us had simultaneously suffered from a classic case of rose-tinted spectacl-itis when we first met). So I gave it all up started surrendering to the fact that I was really unwell.

Around this time my flatmate’s alternative New Age Spiritualist Eastern European mother had sent her a pack of Angel Cards. This was the first time either of us had come into contact with them, we were beyond dubious. They were in Polish, and utterly ridiculous and we had a good giggle playing oracle and doing readings for ourselves and friends. As they were in Polish, my flatmate took on the role of mystic, and she did it very well in fact, shuffling the cards and delivering the messages from above with a straight face and a remarkably convincing tone, as if she were looking into a crystal ball. We did not take them seriously at all. The cards had a ‘What’s Your Life’s Purpose’ theme, and so this was what we were asking for when we did the readings. I remember one of the first readings we did we were to pick three cards, to represent our past, present and future. That day my ‘past’ card turned out to be the card we affectionately named ‘Computer Guy’. His picture was our absolute favourite and would send us into fits of giggles. Here he is, check out the wings on him; he kind of reminds me of Newman from Seinfeld. WP_20150409_001Anyway, although the picture really cannot be excused, he stands for computer based work and travel. This actually very fitting to have been selected as my ‘past’ as the year previous, when I had been studying for my masters, I had spent the majority of the year buried in books and behind my computer screen and had secretly hated it, all of it that is apart from my amazing research trip to Anna Halprin’s outdoor dance deck in San Francisco, that was, hands down, the best 10 days of my life so far. I was lucky to have been on numerous research trips throughout my masters and immediately after: Berlin, London, San Francisco and New York, and as fun as these were (San Francisco especially) but I was completely exhausted and I knew that my ideal job would not be like this. I was not a natural academic, I felt it in my gut. I honestly think I’m meant to teach yoga, outdoors.  Neither did I want to see in the inside of an airport unless I was going somewhere to do nothing but relax, in fact I set the intention to stay at home for the entire next year, and my illness ended up pretty much enforcing that anyway. I can’t remember exactly what my ‘present’ was, I think it might have been called ‘Protection’, I know it was telling me to relax, that I didn’t need to do anything, and that I would be taken care of; something I really needed to hear at the time. How does a workaholic admit that they just can’t keep going anymore? That they can’t go to work and pay the rent, and get their own food shopping, and they need to (gulp) ask for help… This was an alien concept to me. Looking to the future, the card that came up, funnily enough, was ‘Music’, and a picture of an angel playing a violin. Delightful as I’m sure you’ll agree. WP_20150409_002At the time this didn’t seem to hold any meaning for me, but a few months later I decided to take up singing again. I’d been classically trained in my youth and hadn’t sung for over ten years, and I’d massively neglected it. I decided it was time to start again so I used the last remaining money in my bank account and bought a guitar. I named her Vashti. I started singing again in my kitchen, and now, up in the Highlands, I am singing not only on my own but with a couple of groups, including one where we sit around in a circle by candlelight in a yurt singing the mantras of Kundalini Yoga in Sanskrit, I love it (you might want to move your tongue to the other side of your cheek!) I confess I haven’t really managed to get anywhere with Vashti yet due to headaches and complete in-aptitude; I might need to get some lessons. But, I have also just picked up the fiddle again after a 12 year gap, and although it sounds like I’m strangling a bag of cats right now, I am hoping I’ll remember how to play it again if I practice hard enough. Just like riding a bike? So in some ways I have fulfilled the prophecy, but whether music will be my ‘path’ remains to be seen. I was always hoping the cards would turn up ‘Yoga’ for me. Maybe I’ll end up recording an album of Sanskrit mantras for people to listen to while doing my yoga classes— who knows!

We laughed when my flatmate pulled out ‘Research’ for her future— which had a picture of an angel (again with big comedy wings of course), sitting at a writing desk, deep in thought with a scroll, pen and ink in front of her – and this was pretty damn accurate. She was currently in the middle of her PhD and was well on the way to becoming an academic, so this was a given. Around that time she had been really stressed at work, to the point of taking some time out, she had become very unwell; what a pair we were! She was questioning her career path: maybe she just wasn’t supposed to go down this route? But, as I said ‘Now my dear, you must listen to the angels, they agree that being an academic is your calling!’ And she really is; she is a  natural academic. We had a few weeks together at home, ill, exhausted and trying to take care of ourselves and each other. My energy levels could just about manage (when I wasn’t in bed feeling awful) the short walk to the park to lie down on the grass in the Spring sunshine. In fact I remember one morning where the sun was out and glorious so we put on our shorts and headed to the park. But we were like a pair of 90 year olds we were both so weak, hobbling across the street arm in arm, only narrowly missing getting run over. But we really were too sick to move any faster! This was about all I could manage, or if energy levels were exceptionally good then a meander along the street to buy food or by the river and up to the local hippy-dippy shop not too far from our flat.

It was here that we would go and buy our first crystals, feeling momentarily at peace in the little shop full of gems and oils, incense, candles and wind-chimes and all that New Age-y stuff. I knew absolutely nothing about crystals, all I knew is that they looked pretty and the felt nice and comforting to hold in your hand, and were renowned for their capacity to heal. I was willing to try anything that gave me a few moments comfort. They come in lots of different colours, shapes and sizes, and various degrees of rough to smooth, and apparently the key to picking out crystals is to trust your intuition. First of all, what are you attracted to colour wise? Each crystal type comes with a little label which states its connections to the Starsigns, Chakras (the 7 energy centres in the body running from the base of the spine up to the top of the head) and the different qualities it is said to help cultivate. I was suffering from these major migraines (one of the most debilitating ongoing symptoms of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and so I was looking for stones that would help to stimulate and clear my Crown Chakra, situated at the top of my head.  I chose that day a couple of little stones (which cost less than a pound each) which related to the crown chakra that I also liked the look and feel of: A ‘Rutilated Quatrz’ which was said to help promote ‘clarity, concentration and energy’, and a ‘Laborodite’ which was, according to the label: powerful, protective, transformative. What the hell, it’s worth a try, I thought. So I’d sit at home, playing with them in my palm. I didn’t really feel anything, maybe at best the kind of stress-relief that you get when you have something in your hand to play with with (something I know most other ex-smokers will relate to!)

But I was intrigued, I’d been having these headaches since I was in the States, and it was then that I’d been gifted my very first crystal by the wonderful alternative therapist who gave me Accupressure there: a Selenite Quartz that I had placed on the table beside my bed. When I first got it I had to move it away in the night sometimes I felt such strong vibrations on the top of my head. At times these vibrations would travel right down to the base of my feet when it was too close to me. It felt nice, but I was freaked out by it! I wasn’t sure if it was the crystal, or just me.

A few months later, at the end of the Summer, shortly before I moved out to return to the Highlands to recover, I was not much better, and we did an Angel Card reading and I’d asked the cards ‘What do I need in my life to help me to heal’ and the cards turned up ‘Crystals.’ I felt that this was freakily accurate. The day before we did the reading I’d ordered a Crystal Bible and a book of Crystal Prescriptions by the ‘Mother’ of the Crystal world, Judy Hall, and had them sent up to my mother’s cottage so that when I arrived home I could begin my research into these tiny energetic powerhouses properly. By this point I’d amassed a good few of the little crystals, (that I still felt were little more than fondling material), but I’d also bought what is still my favourite crystal: a rough-hewn Rose Quartz. I had gone to buy one (it cost £2.50) after I’d spent my week at the Homeopathic hospital. In the room where I would do my yoga every morning there was an enormous pink crystal, a rough-hewn rose quartz bigger than my head. I was curious about it so one morning I walked up to it and placed my hands on it. A wave of complete relaxation enveloped my entire body and I felt completely soothed, calm and refreshed. ‘I have got to get myself one of those’, I thought. So the day after I returned home, I meandered up to the hippy-dippy shop and picked out a rose quartz, much smaller, about the size of my palm. I held a couple and I knew which one was ‘right’ for me as I felt the same feeling, the wave of pure relaxation, that coursed through my veins just by holding the stone in my hand.

Crystals can be used in a multitude of different ways. You can wear it in jewellery- in a ring, or a necklace, certain stones work best when are worn on the body at all times. A small one can just be held in the palm of your hand, or applied to the area of the body that needs healing, maybe resting with it there for 30 mins or so. You can also make crystal remedies by following instructions to soak the crystal in water and/or alcohol. Crystal Prescriptions has all the advice on this you need, it cannot be done with all crystals, if you are trying this please do follow a recipe.

If you are going to start with any crystal, I would highly recommend a Rose Quartz. Here’s a short section of a much longer entry on what the Crystal Bible has to say about them:

‘Rose Quartz is the stone of unconditional love and infinite peace. It is the most important crystal for the heart and the heart chakra, teaching the true essence of love. It purifies and opens the heart at all levels, and brings deep inner healing and self-love. It is calming, reassuring, and excellent for use in trauma and crisis. If you want to attract love, look no further than romantic Rose Quartz.’ Judy Hall, ‘The Crystal Bible’.

We could all do with some of that, right?

The Encyclopedia of Crystals lists some other things Rose Quartz is beneficial for: ‘Inducing love, reducing tension, overcoming trauma, sexual imbalances, grief, addiction, heart and circulatory system, chest, lungs, kidneys, adrenals, vertigo, fertility, burns, blistering, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, senile dementia.’ After doing my research I realised that maybe it wasn’t just the fact that my heart needed to soothed after my fair share of tumultuous relationships that had attracted me to the Rose Quartz. Maybe my weakened Adrenal Glands (the main contributive factor to my fatigue based illness) were drawn to them too? Anyway, I had to admit, this was really powerful.

So I keep my trusty Rose Quartz, beside my bed, pointed towards me, bringing in the love. And I usually carry one around with me, although I keep finding myself giving them away. One I gave away on the spur of the moment to a close friend as we were listening to Charles Eisenstein give a talk (my favourite Spiritual Ecologist, who I will no doubt write more about in future posts) and he had pulled a pebble out of his pocket and was challenging us to consider that perhaps this rock was just as ‘alive’ as the rest of us. The friend I was with had said previously that she was never able to feel any energy from crystals. When he was talking about the stone I had an urge to test this out so I quickly grabbed the rose quartz out of my bag and stuffed it into my friend’s hand, and waited to see if she felt anything. She said she did feel a little something. Another one I gave on the spur-of-the-moment to my five-year old niece when she has been admiring a rose quartz necklace I was wearing. I’d remembered I had a heart-shaped one in my bag, so I gave it to her. I told her that this was her very own stone and that she should keep it somewhere safe and hold it when she was upset and wanted to feel a bit better. I didn’t think it through properly and I said to her that it was important that she was the only person who touched it, and if someone else touched it then she should wash it under cold water to cleanse it. (This is the case, crystals attune to the energy of the person using them, and if you are using them on someone else they need to be cleansed before and after so that the energies don’t get mixed up). A  natural water source is preferable, I clean mine in  the stream in the garden every now and again. But under the tap is fine too. stream Immediately I realised this was not a good thing to tell a five-year old girl with a two-year old brother, as this could lead to so many potential upsets: ‘This is MINE, You’re not allowed to touch it! EWWWW, you touched it, now I’m going to have to clean it of all your dirty fingerprints!’ Admittedly, not the best Auntie advice on my part… oops. I do think that it is a good sign that I keep giving these rose quartzes away though, somehow like there is more than enough love to go around? (Oh my, I can be so cheesy, well you might want to stop reading now if you can’t handle any more as it is just about to get even more so…)

Although my crystal collection was only just beginning I’ve been collecting stones and shells since I was a kid. I think it began with a handful of bright pink shells my Dad brought back for me and my sister from the ‘beach of pink sand’ somewhere on the West Coast that he promised he’d take us to one day. I still treasure them, they have survived several house moves. (Dad, if you’re reading this, we’re still waiting…) My absolute favourite stone is small and in the shape of heart. I remember giving it to my first love, as a sign of commitment, with the proviso that he would have to give it back to me if we ever broke up (not that I ever thought we would, ah, first love, so naive!) But as you might have guessed, we grew up a bit, and as such apart, and we broke up a few years later. He dutifully returned my stone to me, still intact, but my real heart, and his, were definitely left with a few cracks. Ever the quick witted wordsmith, he returned my stone to me and delivered the equally hilarious and cutting remark in jest ‘You can take back your heart of stone!’, no doubt alluding not only to my treasured little rock, but to the one beating in my chest, although perhaps in his eyes at that point it appeared frozen. Ouch! He always did have absolutely impeccable comic timing, the best jokes always have a dark undercurrent don’t they? I then forgot about the stone for the best part of a decade, but I re-discovered it last Summer. Now it sits perched on top of my Rose Quartz, inviting love into my life. And although I know this sounds ridiculous, I feel it’s sitting there waiting for the man that I am supposed to be with. And whoever he may well be, he will have to completely get the significance of this little stone for me. I like to think of it as the male equivalent of an engagement ring. ‘Heart of stone?’ pah! Far from it, I’m a hopeless romantic, my heart is more like honeycomb!

On another occasion I realised just how attached I was getting to my crystals when I went to meet my two best friends from university for a coffee, a big thing for me to do at that time I was so tired all the time, and somehow I started talking about crystals and I happened to have an ‘Atlantasite’ and a ‘Turquoise’ in the pockets of my dungarees, I think to support me as I was ‘out in the big bad world’ that day, and I brought them out of my pockets to show them. And they both, quite naturally, stuck their hands out to touch them ‘oooooooh, pretttttyyyyyyy’, and I went ‘Nooooooooooooo! You can’t touch them!’ and I snapped my hands as then they would have no longer have been attuned to my energy. I so was embarrassed, as that just sounds mental, but as I said If you want to use them for yourself they have to be attuned to your energy, and you have to cleanse them each time someone new touches them and I’d been building up some pretty good vibes with these wee guys and didn’t want to disrupt that. Yup, I was getting majorly into crystals.

So, these days I’m a bonafide crystal convert. The more you use them, the more sensitised you become to them. (The ones I used to feel nothing from while I played with them in my hand, I now have to keep in a sealed box under a desk, otherwise I can’t sleep due to the vibrations that come off them). My most used crystals are my ‘Chakra set‘ where you place a crystal on each of the corresponding seven chakras, these are amazing, well worth it. They work to completely re-balance you, whatever is going on, and you can buy a set for under a tenner; I use them on an almost daily basis. I even always have a Rose Quartz and an Amethyst in my water filter jug (I’m a tee-totaler these days so it’s not relevant to me but FYI- Amethyst derives from the Greek for ‘to be intoxicated’ and was worn to prevent drunkeness, so you might want to get hold of one for your next big night out…).

And I must admit I’m partial to the odd Angel Card reading these days too. On my very last night in the city, before I moved home to the Highlands, my flatmate made me a lovely dinner (the last of our two-years worth of ‘flat-date-nights’.) When dinner was over I said ‘We have to do one last angel card reading’. She was taking our teacups into the kitchen and I shouted after her: ‘You know, I’m going to need to get a pack of my own Angel Cards, and in English this time, so that I get to play oracle!’ and literally just as I was finishing my sentence she walked back into the room carrying a leaving gift for me. I opened it up and sure enough, it was a pack of Angel Cards. And not only that, a small clear Amethyst. She’d bought the little stone just as an added extra, but when we opened the cards to look at the instructions, what did we find? That to ‘cleanse’ the cards between readings you had to place a clear crystal on top of the deck for a minute or two. And, that is exactly what I use it for now!

So, there we go. Thanks for reading to the end of this post, it is, admittedly, quite a fair bit ‘out there’. I know that not everyone is inclined to be as big of a crystal fondler as I am. But best of luck if you do decide to dip your toe in the crystally water, or try and make contact with the Angels. It can be pretty revelatory (but yep, despite everything I’ve just written it still makes me cringe a little).

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