The month of October is certainly one of my favourites. Growing up in rural Nova Scotia, the forests and fields turn into swathes of ochre and gold, and the crisp night air and lack of light pollution reveal even the faintest stars in the dark depths of sky. Taking a lead from September’s post and the theme of Shadow Work, I’ve chosen a stone for October to help foster self-love and deep emotional healing. The “peering behind the veil” that undoubtedly takes place when we address the Shadow in Jungian terms can be a harrowing experience, dredging up emotion and memory we had long forgotten or stifled. The revisiting of past trauma or repressed emotion can be unsettling and unexpected. Key aspects of Shadow Work often reveal the true causes of repetitive negative or self-destructive behaviour. Whether self-harm, substance abuse, or unhealthy relationships, we can find ourselves repeating these negative cycles as a method of masking buried issues, often, but not always, from childhood or adolescence. I’ve learned over the years that journaling is one of the best ways for me to notice these repetitive behaviours, often I’ll find myself in startlingly similar situations from one year to the next, to the point where I must ask myself: “Where is this behaviour coming from?” and “What aspects of myself am I trying to mask or avoid?” I wanted to offer suggestions for a crystal or mineral to work with to aid in the journey down the psychological rabbit hole. If the Shadow Psyche seems too enveloping—sometimes the reins during this type of work can seem to be taken from our control—then fostering a strong sense of self-love is paramount to this undertaking.
Rhodochrosite is a mineral that offers this energy of self-love and deep healing. From the Greek word rhodókhros, meaning “rose-coloured”, rhodochrosite gets its magnificently rich pink colouring from the presence of manganese. It most often occurs in massive aggregate formations, rather than crystals. Specimens of rhodochrosite are most commonly identified by their alternating bands of rosy pink and opaque white. This variety is often found in crystal shops in tumbled form and is quite accessible and affordable. Especially sought after are the crystalline specimens of rhodochrosite. These occur much less frequently and form small rhombohedral crystals of deep red and hot pink. Scalenohedral crystals also sometimes form, and are the most rare. The colour of these crystalline formations of rhodochrosite is of such intensity they seem almost unnatural. I have one of these small rhombohedrons and the quality of the energy emanating from it is much more intensified than the more common banded variety. This is not to say the banded variety is inferior. I work more often with the banded massive forms because I feel it is more approachable and conducive to meditative and alignment workings. The crystalline specimens of rhodochrosite simply hold an extremely condensed version of the same energetic signature and may be more appropriate for people with greater experience working with crystal energy. Some people find the energy of certain crystals too intimidating or intense to work with immediately and need to develop a relationship with the crystal in question.
For me, rhodochrosite represents the Heart—not so much romantic or sexual love, but self-love. It is this relationship with the Self that many of us struggle with and attempt to displace by investing in relations with others before taking the time and doing the work to build a strong sense of self-love and respect. The colour of rhodochrosite emits such gentility and warmth—it is both comforting and soothing. I consider self-love as the core of being, only from which can love for those around us emanate. We cannot hope to love others if we cannot first love ourselves. This love for Self is not to be confused with narcissism or vanity. It is our deepest, foundational relationship with Self, without which our actions, words, and thoughts become superficial, seeking meaning and validation only outside ourselves. This denial of Self is largely what contributes to emotional and psychological issues that manifest later as destructive behaviour and nihilistic thought cycles. By holding within ourselves a strong foundational core of self-love, we work with the Law of Causation and send out the same love to the Universe, much like the ripples of a wave in a body of water.
The concentricity of the banded rhodochrosite speaks strongly to me of the heartwood of trees and growth rings. If we have a solid, steadfast relationship with Self, we can then emanate love to others—to the Universe as a coexisting Macrocosm—and likewise receive emanations of love back. The rosy ringed bands of this stone also remind me of notions of past and future. Often we think that what is past is past and that the future is unknowable. While from certain perspectives this may be true, I feel we can project intention back to our earlier selves to aid the healing process, and likewise send intention to our future selves. We can use rhodochrosite to send emanations of love and wisdom back to our childhood or adolescent selves that perhaps suffered pain or abuse. Within Reiki philosophy, this is what is accomplished by invoking the wisdom of Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen—a symbol that opens a portal through space and time—allowing us to send intentional energy to our younger self, or to another location or time, future or past. This can also allow us access to healing our ancestral lineage and any grief or trauma that may have occurred in eras past. It is said that the emotional and psychological impact of such hardships can carry forward in genetics for up to seven generations.
For me personally, one of the most evocative symbols embodying this essence of boundless compassion and grace is the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As the most pervasive—yet somewhat disguised—image of the Sacred Feminine throughout the last 1500 years, Mary is a powerful archetype to turn to for the healing of grief. Through her Seven Sorrows—represented by the seven daggers—Mary emanates transcendental compassion and wisdom—represented by the white roses or lilies. The symbol of the rose itself—and, by extension, rhodochrosite—is one steeped in spiritual tradition. In the Middle Ages, the rose as an abstract symbol was a representation of the womb of Mary—the sacred vestibule—the Holy of Holies—sanctified to carry the infant Christ. She is the merciful quality of boundless love in which we can share, be enfolded and embraced. If Christian mythology doesn’t work for you, Quan Yin—the female bodhisattva of mercy from traditional Chinese mythology—holds the same archetypal energy of compassionate wisdom. Her names means “She Who Hears the Cries of the World.”
Remain mindful that the heart is the meeting place of the lower and upper energy centres. Is it at Anahata Chakra that we synthesize the grounded energies of Earth—pulled up through the soles of our feet—and the celestial energies of Sky—drawn in through the crown of the head. As such our bodies are conduits for universal energy, forming a toroidal field of continual flow about us, linking the Heart with the Above—Kether—the Crown—as well as with the Below—Malkuth—the Root. This energetic circuit completes the Middle Pillar of Qabalistic teaching. In this way we are linked with Source, as well as with the Earth itself. Maintaining this alignment is certainly a challenge since so much of our culture indoctrinates us to emphasize one or the other. In eras past, the emphasis was certainly on the spiritual centre, that all life on Earth was merely a transitory way station during our path to spiritual attainment. However, popular 21st-century culture is turning the wheel entirely, so that the only meaningful emphasis is placed on the acquisition of material goods, social status, and monetary success. We’ve been suffering the Matter/Spirit divide since Descartes—that the body is devoid of spirit, and that spirit wants nothing to do with the carnal sins of the body. By establishing a healthy Middle Pillar within our subtle body, we can begin to strengthen the link between the two realms. The importance of this move towards unification is reflected everywhere in the illusion of separation that continues to contribute to pain and suffering. Rhodochrosite can be a wonderful ally in the journey to meet the Shadow and the union and integration that can occur within our own beings, and also that on a successively Macro scale of global and universal harmony and wisdom.