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Chrysoprase: A Stone for March

Polished chrysoprase

Polished chrysoprase

Chrysoprase is a rich leafy green stone of the chalcedony family. The name itself comes from the Greek roots chrysós and prasinon meaning “golden” and “green”, respectively. This name perfectly describes the incarnation of vital Source Energy—prana or qi—in all of Nature. Chrysoprase embodies the warm golden light of divinity manifested in the plants, trees, and flowers—the living green elements. As the Sun begins to warm the Earth at this time, the energies of fertility and growth are awakened and the photosynthetic cycle begins to gather momentum. This season is marked by the Vernal Equinox, a time of perfect balance. As the Sun aligns with the Equator, the long winter nights shorten, the light grows back, and day and night are of equal duration. This phenomena is matched by the Autumnal Equinox in September when the reverse is true—daylight shortens, darkness grows longer, and Nature sheds itself in preparation for the Northern Hemisphere’s winter season. These seasonal tides of change are powerful moments for magical contemplation as they reflect, on a dramatically visible scale, the ever-changing face of the natural world. The symbol of the equinoctial shift is the equal-armed cross—or solar wheel—the planetary glyph of Earth itself. This symbol is one of great strength and power. The four arms represent the four seasons, the four cardinal directions, the four classical elements. The intersection of the vertical and horizontal axes represents the union of Heaven and Earth—the divine crux—the Sacred Heart. The cross is bound and unified by the circle, the shape of infinite movement and growth. This magical glyph represents the equinoxes and solstices because it speaks of a state of balance and shift—between Light and Dark—Sky and Earth. It is also present in the Wheel of the Year of Neopagan tradition, as well as the Medicine Wheel of North American First Nations.

Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheel

In ancient Greece the seasonal change from winter to spring was marked by the Eleusinian Mysteries in which Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, was ceremoniously welcomed back to the land of the living following her six-month sojourn in the gloomy kingdom of her consort Hades. Originally lured by Hades into his underworld realm, she fell victim to a spell binding her to stay there half of every year. Persephone’s annual return to the earthy domain of her mother Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, marked the return of warmer weather and the renewed fertility of the fields and forests and was a time of joyous celebration and reverie. However, at the end of summer Persephone once again descends back into the land of Hades to rejoin her husband and jointly govern the dark season as the fields lay fallow. While the autumnal energy is one of solemnity, the wheeling seasons—a microcosmic reflection on Earth of the great spiralling gyres of the stars—carry the eternal promise of the returning light, the sprouting leaves and budding flowers with Persephone’s emergence from the cave.

Rough chrysoprase

Rough chrysoprase

It is in this moment of growing sunlight that the golden-green energy of chrysoprase begins to bubble from the Earth and from our bodies. It harnesses the energy of Manipura—the Solar Plexus Chakra—and channels it up the pillar of Sushumna—the cerebrospinal column—just like a seedling sprouting from the ground reaches for the Sun—the radiating energy of Tiphereth. The Green Ray energy of chrysoprase is held at Anahata—the Heart Chakra—and when it is charged with the rising energy of the season, as sap in a tree, it flourishes like the buds and blossoms of spring. The channel between Manipura and Anahata is the crux of our physical being, and as such is cleansed and strengthened by this returning flow of vital energy. It runs upward through the abdominal core along the spinal column and provides us the vitality and motivation to emerge from any energetic husks that might have formed during the cold season of stillness.

Blodeuwedd by Welsh artist Christopher Williams

Blodeuwedd by Welsh artist Christopher Williams, 1930

The burgeoning of spring heralds a moment of potential transformation on all levels—not just the obviously physical that we see all around us in Nature—but also the emotional, mental, and spiritual. The Vernal Equinox marks a time when the conscious gaze shifts from its inward focus to once again engage in external growth and transmutation. We shift our lives from the grey survival mode of winter to the fresh out-going ventures of spring. We dust off ideas and dreams that we’d been holding onto during the deep hibernation and once again allow the inspiration to flow forth. At the equinox we can harness the power of the shapeshifter—the shamanic force of slipping between worlds—between the defining guises that too often hold us captive in outmoded patterns. It is the shapeshifting Blodeuwedd from Welsh mythology who often comes to my mind during this transformative season. Fashioned by the magicians Gwydion and Math from the blossoms of meadowsweet and broom, Blodeuwedd—whose names means flower-face—embodies the gentle, lush power of nature at this time of budding and blossoming. A uniquely magical creature, she is ephemeral just as the fresh flora suddenly sprout themselves into being fed by the nimble rays of the Sun. Blodeuwedd’s corporeal form shifts from flower to human, and later to animal, as she is consequently transformed into an owl for conspiring to kill her husband.

One of the best ways to celebrate the arrival of spring is to get out into Nature however you can in your location—walk in the forest or park, visit a local botanical garden and appreciate the signs of spring. Here in the Pacific Northwest the cherry trees are in full bloom, carpeting the streets and sidewalks in pastel pink petals. The crocuses and daffodils have opened and the magnolia trees have just lent their large sweet-smelling flowers to the air. While walking contemplate this dramatic transformative display and how it can manifest in your life. Imagine your hands and fingers transforming into leafy tendrils— your feet and toes sprouting roots into the moist soil and moss—your face, the flowers drinking the fresh spring rain. Shapeshift your being in and out of what you’ve come to know. You can easily bring this fresh and vibrant energy into your living space by creating an altar to the muses of spring—Persephone and Blodeuwedd. Gather some fresh running water from a spring or brook in which to place some wild harvested flowers. Whisper to them your affirmations for change and sleep with a chrysoprase beneath your pillow. The shy Fairies will come out from their hiding places in the flower buds and douse your sleeping mind with spirited inspiration for the coming months.

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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.

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