crystal healing, Holistic health and wellness

Tanzanite: A Stone for April

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Gem quality tanzanite

Tanzanite grants clarity, that everything becomes crystal clear and your abilities of perception are honed and developed. It activates the seat of our inner wisdom, our intuitive selves—the Third Eye—the pineal gland, Ajna Chakra.

So often we lose the ability to tap into this seat of inner vision, becoming clouded by the illusions of maya surrounding and outwardly informing us in the three-dimensional world.

Awakening the Third Eye isn’t necessarily about developing overt psychic abilities like telekinesis or clairvoyance, but rather learning to trust your own inner wisdom, your innate knowing, without deferring to others for validation.

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Rough tanzanite piece

This relationship with tanzanite and learning to hear your wisdom and recognize the moments when it’s coming through are important in resolving issues with trust—mistrust of Self and others—especially if you have experienced situations of being discredited, questioned, or gaslighted. Because our culture is built on competitive drives and models of scarcity, from an early age we are taught there are finite opportunities available in the world, that there is room enough only for the visions of the powerful, we often become pitted against each other in the drive to accomplish and achieve, rather than support and endorse the perspectives and insights of others. This process of learning to trust the information that filters through the shields modern culture has systematically erected in order to dissociate us from our inner knowing, our awareness of our inextricable connection with everything.

This process of stepping into safer spaces by trusting yourself, discovering self-compassion, allowing your wisdom through is also a process in redefining power, how to claim it yourself by living your own inner vision, by manifesting your unique truth in day to day reality you will undoubtedly step into the wisdom of the universe of which you are an integral and wholly valuable part. Sungazing, especially during this time of waxing sunlight, is an amazing technique to begin the awakening of latent energies of the mind. 

Allow the sunlight to fall on your face to shine across your brow warming the skin and bringing a sense of vitality. Sunlight is one of the most powerful forces we can experience on a physical level. It precludes, inititates, and animates all life on Earth, providing for and sustaining through its pranic energy. There are moments when this connection between the pineal and pituitary glands themselves receive sunlight and information. Sungazing in this way even for only short periods allows sunlight to reach these inner structures of the brain, moving through the osseous structure of the head—the frontal and parietal bones. Permeating deep into the central brain to the seat between the cerebellum and the hypothalamus and at the base and central root of the two hemispheres of the brain.

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crystal healing, Holistic health and wellness

Green Fluorite: A Stone for March

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Green fluorite’s cubic structure

Fluorite is a colourful and vibrant crystal of the mineral calcium fluoride. Its crystalline habit is often cubic or octahedral, producing beautiful geometric structures. It occurs in a rainbow of colours—green, violet, yellow, blue, etc. Sometimes several colours occur at once, producing what is known as rainbow fluorite. As each colour variety of fluorite has unique energetic patterns, I will, for the purposes of this entry, be focusing solely on green fluorite and its wonderfully vibrant and uplifting quality. The name fluorite derives from the Latin roots fluor and fluere which mean “the flow of water”. Often with crystal healing, I like to turn to the etymology of the names of the crystals themselves, especially if the name possesses roots from ancient languages, often, as with most of the sciences, Latin or Greek. These root words give much insight to how the ancient and early modern cultures interpreted the meaning, purpose, and energetic quality of a stone or crystal. The –ite suffix of most crystals simply means “stone” or “rock”. Therefore, fluorite means “flowing stone” or “stone flowing like water”. Anyone who works with crystal energy can tell you how appropriate a name this is for the subtle quality of fluorite. On the Mohs scale of hardness, fluorite is quite soft—a 4—which also lends a very special nature to the energy of this lovely mineral. Also, fluorite, and its frequent colour change under ultraviolet light, gave its name to the phenomena of fluorescence. A further unique quality of fluorite is its habit of occasionally growing on top or along side of other minerals. This speaks to the crystal’s extreme adaptability and versatility. For all these reasons, fluorite is often recommended as a fundamental crystal for any healing collection, or for someone who is interested in beginning an exploration of crystal energy. In general terms, fluorite—like calcite—is readily available and quite inexpensive—with the exception of rarer varieties and formations.

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Cubic green fluorite cluster

Green fluorite resonates strongly with the Heart—Anahata Chakra—the deep-seated Heart of the Earth—of Gaia Herself. For me, a piece of green fluorite embodies the biosphere of Earth wholly within it—the Macro within the Micro. The soft expansiveness of green fluorite is like a heartbeat in the way its energetic emanations flow from within. It allows our hearts to begin the process of shedding ego and stepping into a place of authentic vulnerability. It holds a space of safety and refuge from the outside world, enabling an exploration of our inner landscapes. Green fluorite can aid in developing trust—trust of one’s self and trust in others—so that vulnerability can be inhabited without seeming like such a high-risk stake. This exploration of vulnerability is paramount to any exploration of the Shadow. Green fluorite is an appropriate crystal to work with during the spring—the season of stepping out from the hibernation of winter. As the buds and blossoms of trees begin to unfurl, so does green fluorite coax the Heart from its protective vessel following deep journeys to the Underworld following the Winter Solstice. It brings softness and aids the diffusion of residual tension or traumatic stress. Green fluorite’s energy is highly is nurturing and expansive, fostering growth, safety, and trust.

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Fluorite octahedron

The approaching Vernal Equinox affords us a time of balance and evaluation, providing an opportunity to synchronize ourselves with this energy and let go of things no longer serving our development and create space for new experiences to be formed. Green fluorite will aid this transition, promoting from within only those things which grow from a heart-centred space of love and trust. Fluorite can hold for us the strength and stability of the crux of the solar glyph—the astrological sigil of Earth, peace, and equilibrium—as we shake off the doldrums of winter, creating space and freshness within our being, and cultivating the confidence to move forward with inner trust. One of the keywords for green fluorite is gentility. Just as the spring awakens subtly below the below the ground and within the buds of trees and flowers, so too can green fluorite facilitate the awakening of latent energies within us. This crystal possesses a strong sensitivity, it is not going to allow forces to come crashing into your life, rather hold you in a state of safe awareness and the need for change becomes clearer.

I work extensively with crystals and stones to access information and insight from archetypes, and green fluorite is no exception. For me, the energetic signature of green fluorite resonates particularly strongly with Hathor—the Egyptian goddess of love, beauty, peace, aesthetics, and humanity itself. Hathor is an energetic archetype particularly present during our current tumultuous era to assist with the shift of consciousness taking place on Earth. She is aiding the return to Oneness and overseeing the dissolution of binary systems that fixate factions against one another, creating only tension and turmoil. Hathor’s energy channeled through green fluorite can be felt dramatically. The softness and gentility of this crystal is the perfect conduit to invite and hold the essence of such an archetype. Likewise, I also find green fluorite has aided my relationship with Green Tara—the Tibetan bodhisattva of the Earth itself, from whose essence the world is engendered. Both these entities exist within a high vibrational field elevated beyond the mundane, yet still readily accessible to those to seek them and green fluorite can assist this communion.

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Green Tara—Tibetan bodhisattva of the Earth itself

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crystal healing, Holistic health and wellness

Lemurian Quartz: A Stone for February

db_LemurianPhantom_MAIN1Legends the world over describe an ancient civilization, advanced in its philosophy and technology, existing in various ambiguous locations—islands, mountaintops—lost in the vague curtains of time, but nonetheless, having made its impression upon the collective memory of early human culture. These evolved, opulent cities were the abode of a human-like—or human-appearing; humanoid—race of extra-dimensional beings known as the Lemurians. Just as Atlantis occupies the mythos of many European and Mediterranean cultures, so do legends of Lemuria occur among the Pacific Islands and Americas. These lost continents always exist in a heightened position—at the climax or twilight of an evolved society—wielding wisdom and technology unknown on Earth.

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The lost continent of Lemuria/Mu

Western European folklore is full of mythic islands to the west—the direction of the setting sun—of transition and decline. Ys and Lyonesse in the Celtic lands of Brittany, Cornwall, and Wales; Hy-Breasil in Ireland. In Somerset, Avalon—the Isle of Apples—suggests an Otherworld where food aids the transition through dimensions. This consumption of magical food to pass over has a long folkloric history, from the popular prohibition against eating the food of Faeries, to Lord Tennyson’s “mild-eyed melancholy Lotos-eaters” and Lewis Carroll’s use of food (“Eat me”) to assist Alice in her journey beyond the looking glass. Ynis Witrin—the City of Glass—today Glastonbury, describes the fragile nature of these Otherworlds. They exist only as phantoms shimmering delicately in the memory of a cultural group. In Xanadu, Kubla Khan’s stately magical palace, Coleridge places an idyllic pleasure-dome. Shambhala and Shangri-la, mythic cities in the Himalayas, exist on both a heightened geographic and spiritual plateau, only accessible to humanity through pilgrimages into the high mountains. Mu and Lemuria were primordial land masses in the Pacific Ocean, underlying the vast archipelagos of Polynesia and Micronesia. This is even what Lovecraft was tapping into with his idea of R’lyeh. Theosophists Helena Blavatsky, Charles Leadbeater, and Annie Besant describe the original 7 root races on Earth (including the Lemurians, Atlanteans, Hyperboreans, and Aryans), from whom modern humans are descended. Explored by Plato in Timaeus and Critias, and mentioned by Herodotus in Histories, Atlantis and Hyperborea (respectively) existed off the maps—in the zones marked hic sunt dracones—where the borders of the mystical and the mundane touch and mingle.

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Lemurian Seed Crystals

Following the deluge of these great cities, the survivors of Lemuria were said to flee to Easter Island and the western coast of the Americas, contributing their wisdom to the cultures of the Maya, Olmec, and Inca, and founding the cities and temple complexes of Tiahuanaco and Teotihuacan. In northern California, indigenous legend tells that Mount Shasta was populated with the spirits of a lost civilization from the Pacific. Much like the Celtic sidhe and their underground realms, the Lemurians are said to inhabit the very mountain itself. Likewise, the diaspora from Atlantis brought them to the British Isles, where they influenced the Celtic tribes, giving rise to the sect of Druids and the monolithic construction of sacred sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury, Carnac, Chartres, etc. The Merlin and Morgan—also known as the Lady of the Lake—were spiritual offices among the Celts held by priests and priestesses of the Atlantean lineage. This notion is explored and developed by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana Paxson in the Mists of Avalon series. This mythos serves to tell us that out of the mists of time come these characters to maintain the energetic presence of Atlantis/Avalon on Earth through the Arthurian sagas. In the later 19th century, the Spiritualists and Theosophists did much to channel this knowledge from the astral vaults, bringing awareness once again of these ancient cultures. Throughout the 20th century, many people have explored these ideas, developing theories of the hollow Earth and dimensional ascension. Interest in the ancient astronaut theory was brought forward by Erich von Däniken in the 1960s.

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Pleiades star cluster

In this way, these stories are reminding us of a time—a historic moment—when contact was made between humans throughout the globe and extra-dimensional intelligence. This contact resulted in the ubiquitous archetype of the Star-People—the gods of the sky— come down from heaven or come through the veil/portal of reality with wisdom for the advance of human evolution. Many say the Lemurian and Atlantean races originated in the Pleiadian star system. In some cases, these interactions with humans were sustained and great knowledge was brought through and encoded in human memory—Thoth and Hermes Trismegistus are such characters existing in the intermediary space between Heaven—the stars—and Earth. The Emerald Tablet of Thoth—an ancient hieroglyphic document invested essentially with the wisdom of the Universe—exists not in the physical world, but in the etheric realms, the less dense ripples—the folds and unfolds—of the curtain—the veil—undulating through what we experience as primary, focused, observable reality. These documents are apart from what we can measure, name, categorize, and quantify.

Lemuria is important because it teaches us not to accept things as they are—that we—as humans—possess abilities to alter our consciousnesses enough to manifest diverse and multifold realities. Dissent is breeding in the collective psychology of an entire generation, seeking alternative models. These legends of the Lemurians and Atlanteans provide inspiration that shifts in our collective behaviour and understanding are possible. That in our ancient genetic blueprints are models for the possibility to shift away from power-over models and step into individual empowerment—to allow unuseful paradigms to slough away.

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Golden Healer Lemurian cluster

The Lemurian crystals themselves are very special, high-vibratory quartz from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. New beds of Lemurian quartz have been discovered elsewhere, however, the original deposit was unearthed in Brazil. Lemurian crystals themselves are quartz from special beds that were deposited and encoded on Earth with the wisdom of these beings. They were planted specifically for that purpose—to hold for humanity the wisdom that characterized these mysterious, ancient peoples. The crystals themselves are often etched with barcodes—striations across the crystal’s face—creating a palpable series of ridges that can be read by touch. The faces of Lemurian crystals also often contain record-keepers—small pyramidal etchings onto the crystalline surface. These unique features of Lemurian quartz encode it deeply with subtle information—the Lemurian crystals are teachers and guides awaiting to be uncovered and brought into communion with spiritual seekers.

LemurMainDepending upon the presence of other minerals and elements within the quartz itself, many Lemurians have subtle, yet distinct colouration. From tangerine, to lemon yellow, and rosy pink, Lemurian quartz is available in a wide range of energetic frequencies to aid very particular spiritual work. These colourations are due to the presence of iron ores such as hematite and limonite within the crystalline structure. Tibetan quartz is another of these specialized quartz crystals encoded with extra-dimensional information. Found exclusively in the Himalayan mountains, Tibetan quartz is clear with inclusions of carbon, giving the crystal ink-like wisps of black throughout its structure. It is very grounded and detoxifying. Overall, Lemurian quartz carries the vibration of pure light and perfection. In this way, it irradicates doubt and fear, creating space only for love to exist. They are crystals intentionally encoded and left with information and wisdom for future species on Earth to read and use. Conveying crucial information via download, Lemurian crystals are bringers of significant wisdom for our time. To work personally with a Lemurian or Atlantean crystal is to welcome powerful insight and propitious change into your life. The amazing aspect of the Lemurian quartz is its ability to then provide you with the emotional and psychological support to receive this change into your life openly and with grace, maximizing the potential for shift and development. In the same way reality shifts from perspectives in the mind, so do the Lemurian and Atlantean crystals aid the possibilities to perceive and build things anew.

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crystal healing, Holistic health and wellness

Labradorite: A Stone for January

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Polished labradorite palmstone

Labradorite is a majestic stone of strength, protection, and transformation. A member of the plagioclase family, it is comprised of feldspar and was named by Moravian missionaries to Labrador in 1770. This stone’s remarkable physical appearance lends to its magickal and spiritual applications. According to Inuit legend, the aurora borealis was once trapped inside this stone, until some of its light escaped into the sky and became the magnificent northern lights. This legend speaks to the play of light and flashes of colour within labradorite’s structure. The stone itself is an unremarkable grey-green colour and somewhat translucent. The wonderful iridescent display—specifically called labradorescence—is the result of separated and layered intergrowths within the stone. The depth and orientation of these layers, along with the angle of the light source, determine the effect. The colours range from bright blues to sea green, golden yellow to copper, and sometimes even violet. While first identified by Europeans in Labrador, it has since been mined throughout the world. Much of the labradorite on the market today comes from Madagascar. It is a very popular semi-precious stone used in jewelry, and has also more recently been used to produce stylish floor and kitchen tiles.

aurora borealisOne of the primary energetic qualities of labradorite is its capacity to aid us in finding our own inner spiritual strength. The bright colour display of this stone emanates from deep within its crystalline layers. In this same way, it can become a powerful ally in our own journeys to discover the radiance within. When observing the stone closely, the emergence of colour and light informs each stone’s individual quality. A piece displaying mostly blue will have a slightly different personality—or energetic signature—than one rich in yellow tones. No two are alike. Forging a relationship with labradorite can also be a journey in discovering our own latent spiritual gifts. For me, a primary keyword for labradorite is Protection. By this, I mean it strengthens and fortifies the aura, bolstering it from within so that you may deflect negative, inappropriate, or unwanted influences. We are always in co-creation—sharing healthy amounts of energy with one another and all of Nature—however, some empathic and highly sensitive types have much more permeable energetic boundaries. If you sense that your empathic nature drains you, labradorite can be helpful in constructing a more autonomous field. This is not to say that you must sever bonds with the world around you, but often we can be unaware, or unconscious, of unbalanced energy exchanges, especially over long periods of time. For those in unhealthy relationships with others—or oneself—this is very important. Only in understanding and strengthening our boundaries are we best able to discover our true selves. So often we fall into relationships that demand we mask or hide our authentic selves for the sake of a job, to satisfy family members, to please a partner, to meet the expectations of self. Working with labradorite can help the process of finding your voice and identity in a world of others seeking to do the same, which often results in many adhering to models set by popular culture and mass media. By strengthening the auric field, we establish safe space within our own being to be unedited and inhabit if the energy of others is too draining or demanding. This personal space is so important to allow breathing room to assess ourselves fully and honestly in a way we don’t often permit or find time for. By projecting a strong auric boundary—strengthened by labradorite’s shimmering light—we can grant ourselves the freedom to be vulnerable and explore insecurities that have perhaps long haunted us.

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Polished labradorite sphere

The shimmering flashes of labradorite connect us with Bifrost—the rainbow bridge between Heaven and Earth in Norse mythology. Being a channel—a conduit—between the archetypal essences of Earth and Sky—Yin and Yang, etc.—is the primary goal of much shamanic practice. The shaman—the magickal practitioner—seeks to balance within their being these energies; to possess the ability to shift, to step from one world to the next—from one mode of conscious awareness to another—with grace and ease. All is subject to the shifting, changing flow of the Cosmos—from the grand scale of galaxies, to all minute, atomic structure—and we are as much participants as observers in the fluid Universe. I consider labradorite to be one of the prominent shamanic stones—a crystalline guardian to altered states of awareness. Becoming acquainted with the nature of shapeshifting is to initiate oneself into the realms of the non-linear and the non-local. Labradorite can help with becoming accustomed to inhabiting this transitional space. Just as in the light the appearance of the stone shifts to reveal rich flashes of colour from what before was a dull grey surface, so does our being shift and metamorphose as we explore our existence among levels of consciousness. As we awaken Kundalini and explore the Tree of the Life within our own being, our vision can be trained to turn inward and gather insight from our subtle bodies and the non-physical world. Versions of ourselves exist on the Inner Planes as much as the outer, 3D reality of Malkuth—Muladhara, the Root Chakra—that we inhabit throughout normal, waking consciousness.

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Ajna Chakra

Shapeshifting can be a vital lesson in non-attachment—that the true nature of the Cosmos is not concretely objective. It is this changing perspective—evolving modes of seeing—that links labradorite, for me, to Ajna Chakra—the Third Eye. Associated with pure Light, Ajna means “Command” in Sanskrit and is the seat of our mental command—the centre of pure intuitive, spiritual knowledge. The lotus of Ajna Chakra has two petals representing the union of Ida and Pingala nadis as they rise up the spinal column and unite in divine wisdom at the energy vortex of the forehead. This reflects the perfect synthesis of polar forces, just as the union of Sky and Earth in shamanic practice. From this place of balance and awareness we may begin working to see with inner vision and learn to trust our intuitive, innate wisdom to create change in our outer lives. The ephemeral veil of the aurora borealis as it shifts and dances across the sky can teach us to release our dependence on concrete answers and finite, observable reality. Rather, it can aid in opening us to the realms of divination, imagination, and dreams. By trusting the world of our inner dreams and desires we become the Fool of the Tarot. The Fool is 0, the empty capacity of all things to come into being. The Fool is not silly or aimless, but rather bravely inhabits the process of the journey fully, setting foot out the door, embarking along the path ahead with intuitive trust, openness, and wonder. This is a fitting match for the month of January and stepping into the new year. January is named for Janus, the two-faced Roman god of transition and the new year. Janus looks back from where he’s come, but also casts his gaze to the future, inhabiting both to gather wisdom and clarity. Janus inhabits all worlds, accepting plural realities and the possibilities of All. This is the wisdom of labradorite. It can teach us to hone and develop our inner vision—building intention in the Astral Field so that it might manifest in denser form upon the Material Plane. Now that 2016 has dawned, we step into the growing light of the Sun as it waxes toward the Vernal Equinox in March. Harness this energy to develop your psychic sight to align the highest desires and greatest joys of our inner being with the world around you and walk the bridge between dreams and reality. Embrace change as a means for growth and expansion and work with labradorite as an ally to fortify your personal light as it mingles with the light of All That Is.

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Janus, Roman god of the new year

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crystal healing, Holistic health and wellness

Selenite: A Stone for December

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Rough clear selenite

Selenite, sometimes called Satin Spar, is a crystalline form of gypsum that is extremely unique in its structure and capabilities. When you hold a piece—a sphere or palmstone—in your hand it will quickly absorb your body heat and seem to radiate energy itself. A 2 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, it is so soft it can be scratched by a fingernail and will slowly crumble if left in water. Because of its soft, pearly white lustre, selenite was named after the Moon, selene, in Greek. The goddess of the moon, Selene was the daughter of the Titans Hyperion and Theia and sister to the sun god, Helios, and goddess of the dawn, Eos. Selene was given the epithet Phoebe, meaning bright. Selene herself is one guise of a triple lunar goddess—Selene is the face of the full moon, Artemis the waxing crescent moon, and Hecate the waning crescent. In legend, Selene fell in love with Endymion, a mortal shepherd. In order for her to be with him, Zeus caused a death-like sleep to fall on Endymion, who Selene nightly visits in an eternal tryst.

4931: Selene and Endymion (ceiling). Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

Selene & Endymion, Erasmus Quellin 1897

Likewise, the mineral selenite can bring to our unconscious selves, our subtle bodies, and psyche great peace and tranquility. It is an indispensable spiritual tool for soothing and calming any stale, outmoded, or negative energy. The story of Selene strongly connects the mineral with the magick of moonlight—the Otherworld, the Astral, the non-physical. By clearing our energy fields and providing a suitable, sacred environment it connects us with the Higher Self—the Holy Guardian Angel according to the Theosophists. This is the extent of our personal etheric body, it is the most angelic, Christ-like nature of our individual consciousnesses.

Selenite, because of its ability for absorption and diffusion, will radiate pure Light through the darkest period of the solar year. As the Sun approaches its nadir at the Winter Solstice, selenite will aid in providing a soft and kind reminder that the shadows of winter are not all-encompassing—that on the longest night, when the darkness seems impenetrable, there remains a soft, silky flicker of white light. Selenite can be used to cleanse and charge the aura with this pure Cosmic Light. It will work to bring space to the auric field, decompressing any densities that have accumulated during the active part of the year. Here at the Winter Solstice, we find ourselves in moments of quiet stillness as the light of the Sun decreases, the seasons of snow and rain commence and we turn inward to reflect on the preceding season of growth and activity. The darkness of the Winter Solstice—Yuletide—is an appropriate time to begin work to remove lingering shadow elements from the psyche. The rebirth of the Sun is an auspicious time for new beginnings and the setting of intentions. It is important to harness the natural energies of the Cosmos to aid and guide our own journeys. Work with selenite to remove stale influences, unproductive thoughts, and addictive patterns.

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Carved selenite spheres

Selenite wands can be extremely helpful with clearing unnecessary and unwanted energetic blocks from the personal auric field. Because of its natural structure, selenite is very readily carved into long wand-like shapes. The purpose of the magick wand is to act as an extension of your own will, to gently command your intention into being by channeling it with the flow of Universal Energy—prana, qi, or ki—through the wand. A selenite wand itself will draw in and collect energy densities in the same way cotton candy sticks to the baton. Whenever I feel an incorrect energetic build-up around me, I like to scan my body with a long, flat selenite wand. As I do this I imagine in my mind’s sight that the soft, shimmery selenite is dissolving all worries and concerns, leaving space available in the field for new growth. As a result of this work, your aura will scintillate, expand, and hold a greater affinity for newness and initiation. Where space has been created, new energy will flow. This method of aeration will bolster and buffer your own energy field— if you feel depleted it can refresh and tone the energies in your life. The power of selenite to then dismantle and dissolve the densities it absorbs from your field is nearly miraculous. It is often called the only self-clearing crystal. While this is said by many, I still clear selenite with sound every time I use it. In my experience, I have found that because of its softness and tendency for simultaneous absorption/diffusion, selenite itself is a vulnerable substance to the influence of the energy around it. For that reason, I always clear selenite with the crisp sound of Tibetan tingshas.

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Raw selenite wand

I’ve been combining my work with crystals lately with elements of practice from Tantra and Kundalini, namely mantra and pranayama. Both of these spiritual tools will increase the flow of energy in and around your aura. Both focusing and controlling the mind and breath with these techniques, you can infuse your intention for the new year with the power of your vital essence. Pranayama—breathwork—and mantra—chanting—work to manipulate and increase the flow and quality of prana. In Vedic tradition, prana is not just the breath, but your vital life force, what in China is called qi and in Japan ki. One of my favourite ways of balancing the energy channels of the body is Circular Nostril Breath pranayam. This simple exercise brings balance to the central energy highway of our bodies—the spinal column—by charging us with alternating breaths from each nostril. The left nostril is associated with Yin—Ida nadi, the Feminine—and is named Chandra bhedana after the Moon. Likewise, the right nostril is linked with Yang—Pingala nadi, the Masculine—and is called Surya bhedana after the Sun. Circular breath is accomplished by sitting in a comfortable cross-legged asana with the tongue pulled to the roof of the mouth. Close your eyes and focus your inner attention at the Third Eye in the centre of your brow. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Draw breath in through your left nostril, hold. Remove your thumb from the right side, and now close your left nostril with your index finger. Exhale through your right nostril. Keep the left side closed, and inhale through the right side. Release the left nostril and continue to repeat the process for as long as you need. Three minutes is long enough to put you in a refreshed and transformed state.

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Om Mani Padme Hum

A pranayama practice can be combined with mantra to further enhance the experience. Chanting mantras stills and focuses the mind. The slow vibratory nature of the chants refreshes the aura with our own unique pure sound. You can recite chants along with music, or entirely on your own. You can chant silently in your head, or out loud, depending on your needs and desire. The mantra gives our mind something to focus on with sacred intent, allowing the accumulation of hectic mundane reality to fall away and recede for the duration of the practice. One of my favourite mantras is to the Bodhisattva of Compassion—Avalokitesvara—who is depicted with 1000 hands as a gesture—mudra—of limitless and enduring blessing. OM MANI PADME HUM are the six sacred syllables of this Tibetan mantra which means “I honour the Jewel in the Lotus.” The jeweled-lotus is an image of the bodhisattva, and also refers to our inner reflection—that the innately distilled jewel within each of us illuminates the world. There is also a longer version of the Avalokitesvara mantra that I have become particularly fond of:

Namo Ratna Trayaya, Namo Arya Jnana,
Sagara, Vairochana, Byuhara Jara Tathagataya,
Arahate, Samyaksam Buddhaya,
Namo Sarwa Tathagate Bhyay,
Arhata Bhyah, Samyaksam Buddhe Bhyah,
Namo Arya Avalokite, Shoraya Bodhisattvaya,
Maha Sattvaya, Maha Karunikaya,
Tadyata, Om Dhara Dhara,
Dhiri Dhiri, Dhuru Dhuru,
Itte We, Itte Chale, Chale,
Purachale, Purachale,
Kusume, Kusuma, Wa Re,
Ili Milli, Chiti Jvalam, Apanaye Shoha.

Mantras can be recited with a mala—prayer beads—to count the 108 standard repetitions per cycle. By adding these simple practices with crystals, breath, and sound to our daily lives we can begin to usher in new modes of consciousness, new understandings of self, and, as a result, new understandings of each other and our relations.

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Avalokitesvara—bodhisattva of compassion

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Obsidian: A Stone for November

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Tezcatlipoca – Aztec god of magic

Many of us are familiar with the smooth, glossy black stone called obsidian. Truly, obsidian isn’t a stone at all. Rather, it is a naturally occurring glass that forms when lava from a volcano has cooled under special conditions. Because of its fragile nature, obsidian fractures with sharp edges which is why it was used as a weapon by ancient indigenous peoples who fashioned obsidian shards into arrow and spearheads. Among the Aztec culture, obsidian was sacred to Tezcatlipoca, the god of magic and divination. Large black mirrors were made from obsidian that were used for prophesying during shamanic ceremonies. The black jaguar was sacred to Tezcatlipoca and, because of its colour, was connected with the magical associations of obsidian as the black mirror used to pierce through the illusions of the world to see our true, refined essences. The tectonic crucible from which obsidian originates also links it with Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. Lava was sacred to Pele as the primordial matter that is always regenerating, melted down deep in the earth’s core. As raw, kinetic essence, it bursts forth in grand spectacle, often clearing whatever path is necessary and then shapeshifting once again. Congealing into solid form, it takes on a new identity as a shiny, smooth black glass—the mirror of the magician. The stone of the shaman—the jaguar shapeshifter—obsidian today is especially appropriate and appealing for those who walk the boundary between definitions, refusing categorization—holding a space of openness, one-ness.

Obsidian arrowhead

The mirror-like quality of obsidian draws energy in, much like a black hole, to be devoured by its intense gravity. That’s how I perceive obsidian—a strong, yet gentle magnet that has the ability to dampen and absorb those energies no longer serving positive change. When working with obsidian it becomes impossible to remain stagnant, it doesn’t allow indulgence to linger. This is why I have chosen to discuss obsidian at this time of year. It embodies the type of shadow work I addressed in my previous post regarding the darkening part of the year as experienced in the months of October and November throughout the northern hemisphere. During this time of repose, it is fitting that obsidian offers us a true reflection of self—in its black mirrored surface we are given an unadulterated view of ourselves, a holistic view containing our strengths, glory, failures, and weaknesses. In its reflection we are able to perceive the shadows that hide in daylight. Obsidian allows us to peek behind the curtain of our preferred constructed identities and glimpse those elements that only come out at night, those fears and worries that came out of our closets and from under our beds as children when the bedroom lights were turned off. By working with obsidian we can foster a healthy relationship with these energies. Obsidian allows us to discern through the shadows, bringing them into awareness but while also acting as a sentinel to keep them in check. Just as Cerberus, the three-headed hound guards the realms of Hades, so does obsidian help keep these energies, thoughts, memories, or worries from taking over. Obsidian is, in a sense, dark matter. It represents all the unseen forces at work in the Universe, giving us structure and shape. What, to the eye, we consider empty space, is a vast world of dark energy and dark matter—the stuff of our dreams and nightmares. These ancient myths and fairytales exist in the vast chasms between the churning neutrons, electrons, and protons within the very atoms of everything we see and touch.

Obsidian outcrop

Obsidian outcrop

Obsidian can be readily found in most metaphysical shops. It comes in a wide variety of forms from small tumbled pieces, to raw specimens, to beautifully carved spheres and large mirror discs. I would recommend working with a piece of obsidian around this time of year in the following way: every night before bed sit with the stone in the palm of your hand, preferably by candlelight, firelight, or moonlight. Use the stone as a physical mirror, gaze into the light glinting on its dark surface, as if it were the vast reaches of outer space or the dark still waters of a lake at night. As you are gazing into its depths consider your dark energy. What does it look like? What is its source? When does it emerge? Does it ever get out of control? What do you fear could happen if it did? What holds you back? Keep a journal to answer these questions if you like. The act of writing in itself is sometimes enough to excavate and purge unwanted energy. As you contemplate what you see in the mirror, develop a relationship with the obsidian, it is the gatekeeper for you to acknowledge and contact your shadow self. As the month progresses use the obsidian in different ways: keep it beneath your pillow, place it in your water bottle, bury it in your garden, or place pieces in the corners of your bedroom and note the ways it speaks to you, the dreams you have, shifts in mood, etc.

Obsidian, because of its close ties with deep earth energy, is also extremely grounding. In this way it can send, like a taproot, any residual negativity or unwanted energy deep into the abyss to be broken down and regenerated. If you ever need to access this stabilizing power, reach for a piece of obsidian, carry it in your pocket, and visualize a great root descending from your sacrum and coccyx, down through your legs and the soles of your feet, into the tectonic forces of the earth. Visualize this mighty personal tendril anchoring into the very core of the earth itself. Here you are anchored, empowered by the gravity of the planet on whose surface we walk. This image can be called upon whenever you feel anxious, nervous, distracted, or unsettled. Simply close your eyes for a moment, bring awareness to your breath, stand or sit and bring the above image to mind and hold a meditative intention. Obviously, this type of visualization would be most advantageous if done outside on the ground, at the beach with your feet in the sand, or at the base of a tree.

Apache Tears

Lastly, a particular variety of obsidian, known as Apache tears, are well suited to issues of grief and recovery. Apache tears are small nodules of translucent obsidian found throughout the Arizona desert. So named because of an armed conflict between the Apache nation and the US cavalry in the 1870s during which the Apache were defeated. The tears of the mourning families were said to have turned to stone upon falling to the ground. These stunning specimens carry a very uniquely powerful energy to aid in expressing and transmuting grief and sorrow in both a literal or metaphoric sense.

As with any energy-based work, it is important to remember that crystals and stones are simply tools to be used to aid creative intent. With continued practice, intent is all that’s necessary, however, using objects like crystals and stones is appealing because of their beautiful and unique energies and qualities. Developing relationships with individual crystals and stones is an extremely rewarding experience, an experience I’ve been exploring most of my life.

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