An article describing the importance of forging spiritual relationships with nature, focusing on the sacred power of stones.
After years of living under the spell of lonely individualism, people are looking back to nature for greater meaning and fulfillment. The world is coming to see that health is primarily a matter of right relationship to what we eat, think and feel, to work and play, to one self and others. Individuals are beginning to recognize that personal well being requires healthy relationships to all families on earth including the plant, animal, and perhaps most significantly, the mineral. My belief is that through a better understanding of the sacred nature of stones, people become more alive as members of the growing healthy earth community.
This article introduces crystal and rock collecting from a broader than normal, consciousness-raising perspective, to help people build their own special relationship to stones. However, I must emphasize that I am a student with regard to crystals and the mineral kingdom as a whole. I do not consider myself an expert and what I share does not originate with me. Over the years, I have added crystals to my environment, wear others and put stones to use in my healing work. Doing so, I realize the benefits of our exchange multiply in gentle ways that might be imperceptible without my growing sensitivity to the mineral family.
As a child in school, I didn't know much about rocks. From teachers I learned to look at stones as "specimens" under a microscope. I was taught to break up the rocks if necessary, in order to identify and name each one. The only thing more important than labeling them was to memorize their particular uses. "These are clear quartz," a lab assistant would quip dryly. "It stores and amplifies electricity in almost all household appliances." I learned to value a quick classification of rocks, above the mystic qualities they contain. By the time I was a young adult, I thought rocks were inert and uninteresting. Crystals and gemstones were pretty, but as for the rest I was tainted by my childhood education and they were just "dirt."
Eventually, I came to realize that the mineral kingdom could be viewed from other perspectives, outside the rather sterile, scientific viewpoint. For people with roots in ancient cultures around the world, the mineral kingdom is cherished. According to legend, rocks were the first objects chosen to be "keepers of spirit" on earth. In this respect, the mineral kingdom is the oldest family on the planet. Like grandmothers or grandfathers, stones serve as repositories of ancient wisdom. "The fact that man has been the final product of the purposeful life force did not make him the crown of creation," states Vine Deloria, Jr., a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in a 1993 presentation at the Institute of Neotic Sciences, Los Angeles, California. "Coming last, human beings were the 'younger brothers' of the other life forms and therefore had to learn everything from these creatures."
Traditionally, a person approaches a representative of the mineral kingdom with the mind first. Thoughts flow into the stone. Permission to touch is sought before the rock is held. Thoughts precede the person in order to establish a relationship without exerting human control. People do not "own" crystals or gems. Stones are partners, living on earth together with humanity. Sharing thoughts with rocks demonstrates a human willingness to accommodate the mineral kingdom's consciousness within the partnership. Such a deep understanding of relationships gives people the knowledge required to live conformably in the world and not intrude into the lives of other species.
This open perspective also encourages respect and reverence for stones. Respect does not mean the worship of other forms of life, but rather involves responsible actions towards rocks, and seeking to establish mutual agreements about any partnership formed. This respect calls for a strong sense of community in which each player holds specific roles within groups that have defined values and behavior. Mutual agreements state the responsibilities of involved parties and provide a way to heal any tension in the relationship. This becomes the goal of most sacred ceremonies, to make whole again whatever unravels or becomes chaotic. To succeed, all elements of the cosmos are brought into the restored balance. Sacrifices are sometimes made to heal the injuries of a partner and a new beginning is established.
Paying attention to rocks in nature gives insight into their proper care. Unfortunately, in the modern world, collectors often display crystals on glass shelves or suspend them in the air on small tripods. Such placement is foreign to rocks that are used to being cradled in solid ground. Preference is for the stones to be securely anchored in a basket made of natural fibers, or in a bowl of sand. Also, rocks are used to being washed by rains. Even in the humid sanctuaries of middle earth moisture condenses into droplets and drops form rivulets, so gems and minerals bathe regularly. Once in "captivity," crystals can be held under tap water for cleansing. The water must be cold to simulate the temperature of the rock in nature. Sometimes, sea salt can be added. This is particularly important when the rock is placed in an environment where humans suffer prolonged illness, anger and grief.
Just as caring for stones is a sacred process, collecting crystals and gems is also spiritual work. The "gatherer" must view the harvest of crystals as a sacred event, separate from their later use. Gathering is a participatory process involving many "beings," especially the spirits of the rocks to be collected. This predisposes knowledge of the cycles and language of our mineral relatives. "The Dakota people have the ability to see in and through a rock discerning its make-up, as you might look into a grove of trees,” states Henry Boise a tribal elder living on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. "The idea of atoms and electrons pleases an old Indian. Such things fit with his previous thinking that each rock for instance, is an actual community of beings, the minds and spirits of which are free to move and blend with others."
A properly harvested crystal is one that of its own volition loosens its roots from the earth. Perhaps the stone originates in a cave, and each spring, rains cause water to seep down from the surface of earth, so a temporary river runs through the cavern. Depending upon the force of the water, which varies from year to year, and season to season, crystals along the bottom or sides become lose and eventually free. The sensitive collector seeks such a stone alone or in a cluster, trusting the consciousness inside is ready for a new place to live and friendly relationships to other beings.
Earth-based people do not disturb nature by mining for gems and minerals. They know the planet depends upon the mineral kingdom for physical form much like humans rely upon skeletons for their structure. No wonder as humanity once again connects with nature; they are attracted to crystals, members of the most essential and ancient earth family. It is easy for modern people to forget everything has spirit. After all, we are taught to believe only "living" things have souls and heaven is the only source of spiritual support. On the other hand, earth-based cultures see no spirit world above and physical earth below. Earth is simply heaven in dense physical form. All is one. Spirit energy is at the core of everything on earth. This includes things considered "dead," such as rocks. The effect of consciously developing a spiritual relationship to stones is that we learn to reach out more compassionately among ourselves, and to the world around us.