It was just this January when I discovered crystals. I’ve never been more relaxed.
Which is weird, because I don’t actually own any crystals or intend to own any crystals. You’ll never see me purchasing an azurite cluster in some Lower East Side “spirituality shop”— I’m spending my money on takeout orders of saag paneer, not rose quartz points or rare, heavy pieces of jade. What I like are the videos about crystals.
For the past several months, I’ve been frequenting YouTube channels where the intended audience is, umm, not me, but rather people who do in fact have crystals. Most of the videos are “how to’s,” like “how to cleanse your crystals of bad vibes,” or “how to sense your new crystal’s energy.” Other videos demonstrate how to create a grid for a new moon ceremony, what stones to use to best fulfill your wishes, or how to lower inflammation in an injured muscle using, like, tiny chips of turquoise. I watch them before bed, over my lunch break, when I’m stressed out, when I’m sad and/or lonely.
I don’t believe a word that anybody is saying, but I love it all the same.
Let me go back: I’m not a believer in the “powers” of crystals, probably because I’m not a believer in anything. Honestly, I just don’t have the personality for it. I was born skeptical and cautious. I’m independent, if you see the glass as half-full—or reclusive and a bit selfish if the glass is half-empty. And any small traumas I’ve suffered that could have possibly resulted in me seeking Jesus or the Eighth Dynamic or SoulCycle have instead caused me to further retreat from social contact, minus chatting with the guy behind the CVS pharmacy counter. I like that guy.
All of this means that if I’m going through something (and I’m usually going through something), I turn inwards, not towards the guidance of a higher being(s) or the companionship of other like-minded individuals.
But watching this stuff is deeply relaxing: The polished, heavy rocks gently knocking against each other creates this electric yet rounded chime sound. The people in front of the camera usually speak in quiet and sincere voices. And the way they handle each crystal as if it’s a sacred object — something to be loved and honored and respected — is almost intimate. All their attention is focused on this one small piece of black obsidian. And nothing else matters right now — not work, not money, not even the fact that your pants are too tight again (because cupcakes).
Furthermore, even though I don’t believe in crystals anymore than I believe in the blue IKEA mug I’m sipping green tea out of right now, I get high on the commitment and blind faith that other people have when it comes to their expensive rock collections. Probably due to some quirk in my messy brain, I find people “show ‘n telling” me things that they’re passionate about to be calming, soothing and capable of minimizing shitty feelings.
Like a saleswomen on QVC pitching foundation that will cover everything from wrinkles to rosacea to failure and despair, these crystal enthusiasts educate their viewers on the energetic properties of crystals as if they’re reciting undeniable facts: Agate enhances courage and strength, blue kianite promotes healing, smoky quartz improves your sex life, emerald brings wisdom and insight, we need water to survive, the sun is hot, rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper.
Aka, without a doubt, as long as you follow instructions, this product will change your life, ladies. You will be a new you.
In an episode of his show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld told fellow comedian John Oliver that he likes to “see what’s working for other people” — like jet skiing, for instance — although he “doesn’t expect to like it.” Although I’m not about to fill a virtual shopping cart on GOOP with $85 “medicine bags” of crystals, I can relate to this sentiment: It’s not easy being a realist. (Fine, a pessimist.) Wouldn’t it be fun and—more importantly — wouldn’t it be fulfilling and relieving to pick just one path in the pursuit of happiness, to really go for one thing, and not have that thing be experiencing panic attacks in malls?
It’s true that I can’t ever totally block out the feeling that these videos are a little silly — the same way you might smile, but also secretly snicker, at the overly enthusiastic sample guy at the supermarket . But, at the same time, I want these people to be my best friends. My sisters. I want to soak up their positive energy and clear-eyed goodness. And even though I can’t believe in what is working for them, I can believe in them.
So, no, I don’t think that amethyst or lapis lazuli or carnelian will become something more to me than beautiful and long-lasting evidence of the force of nature, which I think is enough. But if these YouTubers have found purpose and healing and strength through crystals — and why shouldn’t they have? Are intentions not everything? — doesn’t this world still have hope? Perhaps I, the doubter, can be saved from my cynicism merely by appreciating the devotion of others.
And look at that—I didn’t even have to close my eyes and take a leap into the unknown, or pull out my credit card.