As I life-long rock collector, I have periodically run into folks who get all atwitter when they see my collection. Yes, my specimens are beautiful, but that’s not what they care about. They instantly begin talking about all the healing properties said rocks have. At which point, I’m not sure what to say. (A rare occurrence for me, but there you have it.)
Now, to me, my rocks are glorious bits of natural art, one-of-a-kind pieces in every color and shape you can imagine. However, in the interest of fairness, I popped on my reporter’s cap and did a bit of sleuthing, a dive that took me to one site espousing the following: “Crystals were the source of power in the ancient civilizations of Lamuria and Atlantis. The Altanteans developed patterns that created numerous forcefields of energy to serve a wide spectrum of needs. These people misused among others the crystal energy and it caused the disappearance of Atlantis.”
Um…I was a history teacher for a brief spell, so you can see why I might question such a goofy statement. Still, there’s no doubt that humans have been attracted to bright, shiny rocks probably since we lived in caves. The dazzling colors certainly excited early man, but the seemingly unnatural crystal forms probably gave people the idea that certain specimens were otherworldly. Today, all of those geometric shapes—tetragonal, orthorhombic, hexagonal pyramids, to name a few—sometimes look manmade, but they’re not.
According to the websites I visited, humans have, for millennia, believed that certain minerals have specific qualities that can improve both one’s physical and mental health. Jasper, for example, is said to eliminate stress. Bloodstone will improve circulation. Citrine will help your concentration and enhance creativity. Turquoise will soothe you when you’re feeling down. Tiger’s eye will provide motivation and lesson fear. And, the big gun, quartz crystal, is said to be a master healer.
Another popular mineral is amethyst. With its striking purple crystals, it’s considered the most powerful and protective of all stones. The name comes from the Greek “amethystos,” which means sober. Grecians believed the mineral could prevent drunkenness, among other things. However, I know from, um…personal research…this is not the case.
But before we start snickering at those crystal-healing believers, consider that WebMD—my go-to site when I have the sniffles—has a page devoted to crystals as medicine. And the folks there admit that, yes, it seems there is some truth to the idea that minerals can make people feel better. While there’s no scientific evidence proving that a hunk of crystal might heal your aching bones, neuroscientists and psychologists believe cuddling a rock just might lift your spirits.
“The placebo effect is almost certainly at play,” said psychologist Stuart Vyse, author of Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition. “And the mere act of doing something to take control of your destiny can often boost hope, brighten mood, and improve your ability to cope with a chronic condition. There is no scientific evidence to support the medical effectiveness of any of these remedies. But there is the possibility that they might have an indirect psychological benefit.”
And here is where I must admit that the alternative medicine folks might be right, because I can’t think of anything more uplifting than digging a beautiful rock from the earth. The feeling of joy is palpable.
So, perhaps, I shouldn’t throw stones. (Couldn’t help myself there.)
The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.
February 2, 2022
In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.
Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.
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