Living at the foot of the Rocky Mountains where unusual geology isn't too hard to find, it only makes sense that many Coloradans enjoy the art of healing gemstones.
For thousands of years, humans have used gemstones for healing and decorative purposes. Each type of stone has its own interesting history. So how can crystals help you be healthier?
"To understand how crystals are effective in therapy, we need to understand that the human body is made up of energy fields – auras, energy centers or chakras. Crystals emit different vibrations which affect this energy flow," said Linda Sands, RN, a long-time gemstone enthusiast.
"Crystals vibrate at a constant rate, at their own natural frequencies. That's what makes them the ideal tools for balancing and harmonizing the body, and enhancing the natural healing abilities," Sands said.
Healing qualities aside, gemstones look great around the house. "You can place gemstones around your potted plants. Animals like the emitted vibrations, too. You can combine gemstones with any other treatments," she said.
One of the most common healing gemstones is quartz. Historical clues suggest quartz has been used for making tools, weapons, decoration and jewelry for more than 4,000 years. While ancient people believed that the crystals were permanently frozen ice – quartz has high thermo-conductivity, which makes it feel cool to the touch – it is actually composed primarily of the two most abundant elements in the earth's top layer: silicon and oxygen.
Quartz is generally considered to be a transmitter and amplifier of healing energy and clarity. It is thought to be an all-purpose "programmable" healing and balancing device, channeling universal energy and unconditional love.
Two common species of quartz, rose quartz and smoky quartz, have more specific metaphysical uses. Rose quartz has been used to help treat lymphatic cancer and circulatory problems. It is also purported to dissipate anger and tension and to open the heart chakra. Smoky quartz can draw out distortion on all levels and can be used to increase grounding and combat hyperactivity and excess energy.
"I had a smoky quartz – a virgin piece mined in Nevada – that got lighter and lighter in color. It took in a lot of the negativity and it changed in color," Sands said. She added that it isn't a good idea to have quartz around babies, or people with heart problems.
Transparent purple quartz is known as amethyst, and it is widely considered the most important quartz variety used in jewelry. "I love amethyst. I have it all over my home," Sands said.
The Greek mythological origin of amethyst is a tragic tale. After being angered by a mortal, Dionysius the god of intoxication created three fierce tigers to avenge his anger on the next human he came across. The unlucky passerby turned out to be a beautiful young maiden named Amethyst, who was on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. When the tigers attacked, Diana turned Amethyst into a quartz statue to prevent her from suffering a violent death. Dionysius realized what a jerk he'd been when he saw the statue, and wept purple tears of wine that stained the quartz.
The gem became known to encourage celibacy and act as an antidote to drunkenness. As a healing gemstone, it is used to treat headache and blood sugar imbalance, and can aid in healing, inner peace and meditation.
Topaz has a long history of metaphysical power. The Egyptians thought topaz' amber gold hue was the glow of the mighty sun god Ra, so they wore it as an amulet against harm. The Romans linked topaz with their own sun god, Jupiter.
The ancient Greeks took topaz one step further – they wore it to increase strength and because they thought it would make its wearer invisible during an emergency. The gem was said to change color in the presence of poisoned food or drink, and could allegedly cure insomnia, asthma, hemorrhages, improve eyesight and dispel enchantment.
Today's metaphysical uses include balancing emotion, calming passions, increasing poor appetite, tissue regeneration, spiritual rejuvenation and endocrine system stimulation. It's also used for gout, blood disorders, hemorrhages and tuberculosis.
Lapis Lazuli, a blue gemstone considered a powerful aphrodisiac by the ancient Romans, is found in few places in the world. Chile, Afghanistan and Siberia are the remote areas where it can be mined, but small amounts are actually extracted from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, too.
The stone's name comes from the Latin for "blue stone," and ground lapis was the secret pigment ingredient in the blue paint used by artists up until the nineteenth century.
In the Middle Ages, lapis was thought to keep the limbs healthy and free the soul from error, envy and fear. Today, metaphysics use it for neuralgia, melancholy, fevers, inflammations and sore throat. "I don't use it very often. I use it to amplify other stones. Lapis is more expensive, too. It costs a lot more than quartz," she said.
For those wanting to further investigate gemstones and their healing affects, Sands recommends a trip to the bookstore. "The psychic type bookstores usually have a great selection of books. Some of them will have stones, as well."
Gemstone shows usually come to the Denver area once or twice a year, and attendees can get beautiful stones at low prices, Sands said. "Go and pick up whatever catches your eye."
Stones are always available for the picking out on trails and in the woods.
Sands said that hikers can find a lot of pink quartz. The best part? They're free. "You don't have to have expensive gemstones," she said.