An Illustrated Guide to Crystals

All illustrations by Allegra.
All illustrations by Allegra.

Let’s talk about crystals! No, not the sparkly little gems you put on your nails—I’m talking about stones that are formed in the earth! Powerful stones, that many people (Buddhists, certain Catholic nuns, Hindu healers, witches, me, etc.) believe have healing properties and positive energies.

Crystals and gemstones have been used for centuries for meditation and in medicine and rituals. Each type has its own characteristics and, some say, its own unique vibes. Some are said to be good for grounding yourself when you feel out of sorts, some for easing sickness, others are supposed to bring you luck in areas like love and money. There’s no scientific proof that they have these powers, but in my experience, carrying a crystal is like going to a psychic or keeping a vision book. Sometimes they’ve helped me get the results I’m looking for.

Briana Luna, aka the Hood Witch, is a Seattle–based crystal enthusiast. She says that “each crystal has a purpose. The ones we are most drawn to are the crystals our bodies need the most. They are gifts from the universe, asking us to never forget her and to use her wisdom to create happier and more balanced lives while we’re here.” They’re nothing but good vibes, so why not? Here’s a guide to some of my favorites crystals and gemstones, which are also among the easiest to find (you can buy them inexpensively in places like yoga studios and stores that sell dream catchers, tarot cards, etc.).

final_small_tigerstoneTiger’s eye. This gemstone got its name from its resemblance to the actual eyes of actual tigers. It’s said to grant power and protection to those who carry it. According to Luna, it can also assist you in resolving problems objectively, unclouded by emotions. If someone is giving you the stink eye or putting you down at school, try carrying this stone around to help summon your courage. I like imagining that RuPaul lives in a castle made out of tiger’s eye, and I carry one of these gems when I’m feeling nervous about something and want to be FEARLESS like Ru.

final_small_amethystAmethyst. The word amethyst is derived from the ancient Greek word amethustos, which means “sober” or “without drunkenness.” That makes a lot of sense, because this stone is supposed to protect people from overindulgence. I have an amethyst necklace that I wear every day—except for this time I went to a party (last night) and basically ate a block of Manchego cheese by myself. I mean, we ALL LOVE CHEESE, but I was like a starving madwoman who never had cheese in her life! I could have used some help there. Then again, NO REGRETS. I just know how to party, oh-kaaaay! Amethyst is also rumored to enhance psychic powers! That’s actually why I wear it—gotta strengthen the old third eye.

final_small_rosequartzRose quartz. Chances are, you’ve heard of or maybe even already own a piece of rose quartz, which is known as the ultimate “love stone.” Have you ever heard of chakras? In Hindu, tantric, and a few other spiritual practices, they are thought to be hot spots in the body where paths of energy meet up. Each chakra (most traditions identify seven) connects the body to a different part of the conscious mind, like willpower, creativity, compassion, and love. Some people believe that rose quartz’s vibes can help stir up energy in the heart chakra, which would help a person open themselves up to giving and receiving love. Maybe that means connecting more deeply with friends and family. Maybe it’s attracting this week’s crush? I’ve definitely experienced more love and healthier relationships since I’ve used rose quartz in my meditation practice. Now let’s see if I can get Donald Glover to appear on my doorstep holding a bouquet of roses and a Taco Bell party pack.

final_small_sunstoneSunstone. This crystal is purported to bring good fortune and abundance, and for any of you who happen to be living through what feels like month 100 of winter, Luna says “it’s also believed to help lift dark moods and be beneficial for seasonal affective disorder.” Why not just carry this one around all the time? I always feel a bit happier when I have some sunstone on me.

final_small_clearquartzClear quartz. “These crystals are excellent at tuning in to our own energy, as well as filtering out unnecessary distractions,” says Luna, “which is why they make for wonderful meditation tools.” Or, I’d extrapolate, studying tools? Hold one in your hand while you meditate on all the information you want to remember. You never know—the quartz could help you soak it all up! I mean, I’m fairly certain that my having committed the lyrics to every single Prince song to memory is attributable to my clear quartz stone!

One last note about crystals, which I’ve found to be croosh: People who believe in their powers insist that each new crystal needs to be “cleansed” before you try to use it, because they’ve soaked up the energies of other people who handled them before you. I bought a piece of flourite (sometimes referred to as the “genius” stone) a while ago to help with writer’s block, but it just made me feel weird, and like I couldn’t concentrate. That was before I learned the importance of cleaning your crystals. There are lots of cleansing methods that are said to be effective—leaving them under sun- or moonlight, burying them underground, etc.—but plain old water seems to do the trick, in my experience. You can use water from a natural source like a river, stream, waterfall, or rainfall, “but tap water works just as well,” says Luna. Again: this isn’t science. But really, if a lot of people have handled something before you acquired it, it’s just generally a good idea to wash it before you carry it on your person.

I’ve been meditating with and carrying crystals for about three years, and honestly, they’ve helped me grow spiritually. They are a physical tool that helps me connect to a positive mental shift. I’ve gotten the side-eye from plenty of skeptics, but who cares what anyone else thinks? I’m gonna keep ignoring the naysayers and trusting myself. ♦

As Luck Would Have It

Illustration by Leanna
All llustrations by Leanna.

I believe in luck. I was born on Friday the 13th—most people consider that hellishly unlucky, but it’s always been a lucky day for me. My birth date could be the reason I have a thing about the number 13: I have 13 ear piercings, and on the days when I need the most luck I make sure I’m wearing jewelry in all of them. I also have a lucky necklace that I wear all the time, a couple of lucky bracelets that I wear when I need a boost, and a lucky coin that I keep in my wallet. I mostly think these items are lucky because the people who gave them to me are like my guardian angels, but I also think it’s OK to just decide that certain things are lucky, and I do it all the time. If I have a particularly awesome day while I’m wearing a certain shirt, dress, pair of earrings, or underwear, I tend to decide that those items are lucky, too.

We’re usually taught that luck is not within our control, but I absolutely maintain that you can create your own luck. I do that quite literally sometimes by making charm or mojo bags to tap into my strengths, something I learned from looking at a few different Wiccan and Pagan books. I sort of make up my Wiccan practice as I go along—I’ve always been interested in it, but I’m not necessarily practicing regularly—so it feels even more like I’m creating my own magic. My charm and mojo bags are filled with herbs that are supposed to help your creativity (laurel, valerian, lavender) and stones that are said to bring prosperity and luck (moonstone, adventurine, citrine, jade). I put these things in a yellow or gold bag (those colors are connected to creativity and prosperity), then I put that bag in a black bag (a color indicating neutrality and protection). I write a little blessing before I start—just some good thoughts I have about myself—and say it out loud as I assemble the bag. Sometimes I say the blessing again when I feel like my luck needs to be recharged. When my bag is finished, I sleep with it under my pillow, carry it with me when I feel like I really need luck, or keep it near my writing desk for the creative charge. Carrying my charm bags makes me feel stronger, and it’s a special kind of strong because I know I channeled energy from the best parts of me when I made them.

I was curious about other people’s lucky charms, and asked some of the Rookie staff what items brought them luck. —Stephanie