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.

selenite spheres

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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Citrine: A Stone for December

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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.

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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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