crystal healing, Holistic health and wellness

Rhodochrosite: A Stone for October

Tumbled rhodochrosite

Tumbled rhodochrosite

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.

Crystalline rhombohedral rhodochrosite

Crystalline rhombohedral rhodochrosite

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.

Cross section of rhodochrosite stalactite

Cross section of rhodochrosite stalactite

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.

Reiki symbol Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

Reiki symbol Hon Sha Ze Sho Nen

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.”

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

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.

Quan Yin, bodhisattva of compassion

Quan Yin, bodhisattva of compassion

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Crossing the River, Embracing Darkness

Today I walked to work amid a very heavy Pacific Northwest rainfall. As my feet reached over the currents of water gushing along the curb I was thinking about the river Lethe, one of the rivers bordering the Greek underworld, the river of forgetfulness, over which one must cross to pass to the other side. The other side of what you might ask?

Submersion in Lethe - Gustave Doré

Submersion in Lethe – Gustave Doré

This time of year offers us a unique opportunity. For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, this is the season, following the autumnal equinox, that the solar year begins to die. The sun rises and sets lower along the horizon each day and darkness infiltrates our lives. Today in particular we experience a solar eclipse as the sun passes into the Eighth House—Scorpio. Always coinciding with a new moon, a solar eclipse further enforces the energy of the underworld journey I was contemplating as I waded over puddles on a gloomy, grey morning. The new moon marks a monthly dark night of the soul, when the moon, having waned from full, seemingly disappears into the dawn. With no nocturnal light, the new moon offers us the darkest night, a night of deep reflection into the psyche. Today the new moon passes before the great solar disc to eclipse from sight even our great star itself. Ancient cultures the world over perceived eclipses as rare events when the sun was eaten by the dark shadow of the moon. This story of consumption speaks deeply to our mythological selves, our primal selves, through the story of Jonah swallowed at sea by the great whale, or even the nocturnal journey of the sun itself passing through the body of Nuit—the Egyptian goddess of the starry night sky. Furthermore, this image of Death prevailing is embodied in the cosmic energy of Scorpio itself. In the vernacular of Tarot, Scorpio is Trump XIII—the Death card—harvesting bodies like wheat from the field. This, of course, is symbolic death, metaphoric death, all that which must be sacrificed in order to make room for new growth. Just as the sun is now daily waning, it will be reborn at the winter solstice as the child of light, a fragile promise. Death and sacrifice must not be construed as ending or demise. Rather, the spiritual death for which Scorpio is a harbinger, marks the ending of all that which no longer serves. We can seize this energy in our lives by going within to recognize our Shadow, the aspect of ourselves that has long remained hidden for the fear of the power it may release if acknowledged. Addiction, pain, grief, anger, jealousy, etc. are all shadow energies better shed than secretly closeted. We cannot deny their presence, and function, in the human psyche, indeed becoming acquainted with and engaging these energies is often the best way to harness them as teachers during our brief incarnations on earth, the three-dimensional kingdom—Malkuth.

This season is also particularly auspicious as the holiday we popularly know as Halloween approaches. The night of October 31 is the traditional Celtic festival of Samhain, one of four great fire festivals marked by the ancient European tribes. The spooks and tricks of our contemporary, mainstream practices are a reflection of the original significance of the pagan festivities to mark the deepening darkness of the solar year, the death of the agricultural season. This night is an opening of the veil, so to speak, between the realms of the seen and unseen, the physical and the astral, life and death. On this night we can reach between dimensions. It is during this period of darkness, enforced strongly by the eclipse, that we are given a window of opportunity to align with the celestial hierarchy to work to actively affect change in our lives. Darkness is not the maligned cloak of night our medieval ancestors have taught us to fear through distorted fairytales, nor is it the hellish pit where dwells greed, avarice, lust, anger, etc. It is only by feeding darkness these personal demons do we allow them to thrive and fashion around us an imposing cell. Rather, darkness is the great regenerating void into which all things must flow in due course, to there decompose and be reformed into new structure and so drive the cyclical wheel ever onward, fuelling the evolution of Yeats’ great widening gyre: the spiral of our galaxy, the helix of our DNA.

Mark this season with small personal rituals and affirmative actions to align your conscious will with the great universal energies already at work, the energies we are all an innate part of, but often are cultured into switching off our perceptions of. By participating in this energetic co-creation we imbue meaning and subtlety into our daily activities. Go into nature to meditate, consider the fallen leaves as organic matter in the act of transformation, feeding the insects and fungi. Develop a healthy relationship with death as transformation so it no longer holds sway as the final plunge before eventual uncertainty. Use this time to transform energies in your life that are no longer fuelling your growth, which have survived perhaps unacknowledged for far too long. By sweeping away these influences we create space for newness to emerge. Be intuitive and creative with these rituals and ceremonies, paint a symbol on a rock representing that which no longer serves your evolution—be it a habit, a worry, an unhealthy relationship, an argument—and cast it into the sea on the ebbing tide to be washed away by the tenderly transformative energy of water. Write or draw your intention for release on paper—a simple phrase, a poem, a monologue—and offer it to the radically transformative energy of fire. Burnt offerings invoke the mythic power of the phoenix, reborn through fire and ash, rising on wings to the sky. These are acts of sacrifice, not a sacrifice in the crass sense of slaughter, but in the true sense of the word. From the Latinate roots sacer and facio, the word means to make holy, to transform something from the mundane into something special, to endow it with sacred meaning.

Fire-on-the-BeachIf nothing else, use the darkness as a mirror to reveal the husk that can be shed. Wade across the river Lethe. Allow the slough to fall from your being and emerge on the other side refined and focused for what is to come. This morning I was acutely aware of the aspects of myself left behind to be carried away by the dark water gushing along the curb beneath the low-hanging grey clouds. I watched as it flowed, mingled with sticks and leaves, into a small whirlpool as it found the nearest sewer drain.

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