Citrine: A Stone for December

natural citrine

Polished & cut natural citrine point

The clear warmth of citrine motivates and nourishes us. It is the energy of Manipura—the Third Chakra—the Solar Plexus. This region of the body is our umbilical link in the womb, so too, as adults, is citrine our link to cosmic nourishment through the Prana of the Sun—the ambrosial manna of heaven—nectar of the gods. In this way, citrine is an appropriate stone to work with at this time of year because it represents the spark of light born out of darkness at the winter solstice. It is the energy of sustenance and renewal. To the ancients of the northern hemisphere December 21 marked the date when the days cease getting shorter, the sunset ceases to consume more daylight, and stands still on the horizon line for three days, until December 25, when the tide turns and, once again, daylight begins to grow. Sunset is slowly pushed back, day by day, as hope returns with the promise of spring. During this time of year citrine speaks to the allegory of the Returning Sun, the solar child born at the winter solstice. This ancient myth is still commemorated by modern Neopagans during this time of year.

isisIn this myth, the sun is the energy of the Infant Christ born of the Virgin Mary through union with the Holy Spirit. That said, Judeo-Christian mythology was inspired by the older, nearby Egyptian and Mesopotamian pantheons. Mary—Mother of God and Queen of Heaven—is a powerful remodelling of one of the greatest female deities worshipped throughout the longest periods of recorded history—Isis of the Ten Thousand Names. Herself giving birth to the solar child Horus, only after consummating with the resurrected body of her consort Osiris, she is the primordial matter—Mater=Mother—of the Universe. The story of Isis and Osiris fittingly speaks to the seasonal triumph of light over dark just as Osiris’ brother Set killed his brother and dismembered his body. Isis magically resurrects Osiris and gives birth to Horus who is hidden from and hunted by Set. This story later informed those of Cain and Abel, the child Moses set adrift on the Nile, as well as Herod’s massacre of the Holy Innocents. The Persians also had a similar story in which Ahriman—the Lord of Darkness—is overthrown by Ahura Mazda—the Lord of Light. In any of these cases, the Holy Spirit, Osiris, or Ahriman, all represent the ghost of the previous year, all that which came before. Now channeled through the dark womb of winter, there regenerated like the dismembered body of Osiris, and resurrected into a new energy to propel life forward into the coming agricultural season.

Etymologically, citrine comes from Latin and means lemon-yellow. This root, of course, also gave rise to the word citrus and, in many ways, citrine, energetically speaking, carries the same attributes as the citrus family. It is invigorating, fresh and cleansing. It is also a crystal very well suited to setting our intentions on achieving a goal. Citrine is of the quartz family, so is piezoelectric and a great amplifier of whatever intention is projected through it. I’ve carried citrine many times with me to job interviews, exams, and apartment viewings. For me, it gives an extra boost to accomplishing your own desire. Citrine could be added to an essential oil blend containing sandalwood, mandarin, and frankincense in a base of jojoba and sunflower oils. Wear it to carry citrine’s unique vibration, amplified by the corresponding oils and appropriate for the seasonal energies.

citrine 1

Heat-treated citrine

Most of the citrine on the market, however, isn’t true citrine at all. Often, citrine purchased is, in fact, heat-treated amethyst. When baked to high temperatures, the purple/lavender colour of amethyst—which is also a quartz—changes to the deep yellow/orange hue we associate with citrine. As a result this variety is more marketable. Natural citrine is much rarer, mined mostly in the Republic of the Congo, and, consequently, is more expensive to purchase. It is a mellow honey-yellow and is less striking in colour. However, the orange baked variety is much more fragile especially in cluster, or druzy, formations. In my experience, I prefer working only with natural citrine because I find the energy truer. Nonetheless, for someone just getting started with crystal work, the heat-treated variety is adequate but carries a slightly different, less genuine frequency considering it originated as amethyst, which transmits an extremely pacifying energy that when heated industrially, I feel gathers static. All that aside, if a particular citrine calls to you, natural or treated, it is your intention in working with it that matters most.

Natural rough citrine

Natural rough citrine

If you have a piece of citrine, perhaps a tumbled crystal or a even a cut citrine set in jewelry, allow me to suggest this meditative exercise to align yourself with its energies at this particular time of year. Perhaps run a bath with the essential oils mentioned earlier and focus your breath in the warm water and candlelight. Lose your current identity, shed your name, your address, your job title and flow back through time, freed from such constructs. Imagine your Paleolithic self. Find yourself before culture, before technology and industry, sitting alone in a dark cave. You are unaware of science, so nature unfolds as a grand and fantastic mythos. You’ve sat here throughout the preceding two months, gazing deeply and wholly into the pure dark, unafraid with only starlight for guidance. This has been a period of reflection and contemplation, your body tested against the harsh elements of nature, your mind tested against the terrors you face in the darkness. This darkness is both the black of night and the darkness of your psyche. You hold vigil here during the longest, coldest night of the winter solstice. The sounds of wild things carry on the icy wind outside the cave. The only defense you have is your own body. Finally, the bitter night begins to melt away and rosy hues of tangerine and pink begin to push back the wall the night. These nimble fingers of light slowly spread into the sky, until the first beam of sunlight filters into the dark cave from over the horizon. Feel the light on your face. This is the purest energy we know—solar light, prana, vitality—soft but strong. You feel something inside yourself quicken, like a tiny seed, after sitting silently in the darkness deep within you. It awakens with a soft flutter. This golden warmth on your face is the blessing caress of Aurora—the dawn—and the angel Lucifer—the Bringer of Light. Hold out your hand and allow the golden light to settle in your palm. Feel the light enter your blood and travel throughout your body, energizing it. It permeates you down to your cellular structure, nourishing you. The light in your palm begins to coalesce into a solid form. It crystallizes into a pulsing piece of citrine. Feel the essence of the newborn sunlight within the crystal structure. This will be your key to overcoming the remaining winter months and moving toward accomplishing new goals. Within the citrine’s structure is contained the cosmic solar furnace, which is every star in every galaxy, not just our sun. It is all Creation, all universal matter in microcosmic form. It is the moment of the Big Bang, it is the divine voice whispering structure out of formlessness. Feel yourself expanding with every breath, expanding with the Macrocosm. This is your motivation, all from a small golden crystal. Keep it close, it is a true treasure on a cold winter morning and remain mindful of that subtle, internal flutter and all that is represents.


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.