Dark crystals
September 17, 2019 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Dark crystals: the brutal reality behind a booming wellness craze. A Guardian article by Tessa McClure on the healing crystal industry.
posted by tavegyl (18 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I thought of this as more like an late 80's/early 90's thing, that had subsided down to a core of New Age types patronizing those strip mall mystic storefronts in the suburbs - I had no idea it was back in a big way.
posted by thelonius at 8:27 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah, it’s been a thing for a while — sort of in tandem with a lot of occult/witchy stuff that’s also become more popular.

I don’t believe in any of the woo around crystals, but I do like sparkly rocks, and I make jewelry with gemstone beads. Gonna have to take a harder look at my sourcing, from now on.
posted by nonasuch at 8:34 AM on September 17, 2019 [7 favorites]

If anyone wants to start a sustainable crystal business, I'd like to point out that you can grow large, optically clear urea crystals. "From your body... for your body." not just taking the piss
posted by phooky at 8:36 AM on September 17, 2019 [30 favorites]

phooky Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

> I had no idea it was back in a big way.

Crystals, horoscopes, and tarot all seem to be popping up with young people these days. I await the return of macrobiotic food, and bancha twig tea in ceramic travel mugs with big bases.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:12 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

If crystal woo was an easy way to take money from gullible rich white people and transfer it to economically disadvantaged areas of the world, I'd be all for it. But surprise surprise, the money always sticks to the hands of the middlemen, the consumers get fleeced and the producers get all the risk and no reward.

Hooray capitalism.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:27 AM on September 17, 2019 [9 favorites]

Crystal wok is both fascinating and hilarious. I was just reading about the crystals of Atlantis and all they can teach us what with their special crystalness. There is also the whole industry of crystal healing and of course you need a wide array of crystals that have been filled with a special energy that you can only get from space. Seriously, crystals are one of the most interesting of rabbit-hole keyword searches you can do to kill some time.
posted by misterpatrick at 9:27 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Is crystal wooOooOooOoo still a thing? Wow. I thought we'd moved on to other horseshit.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:03 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you're tired of the ordinary crystal woo, may I recommend the high-tech dizziness which is ARK Crystals: "The world's first fully electro magnetically modulated quartz crystal." It allows you to "harness the quantum vacuum" via a "harmonic flux resonator". You can supercharge water! For growing plants! They have a free ebook! It's aammaaaazzzziiinnnnngg
posted by phooky at 11:04 AM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

I'm sorry, I forgot to mention that these will also assist you in "Achieving Business Coherence".
posted by phooky at 11:07 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had no idea it was back in a big way.

Oh boy, come to Asheville and try to date or rent an apartment. In the past several years, I've given so many crystal compliments out of politeness, and then the self-deprecating response is kind of like "Oh, these old things? They haven't been charged in a week!"

So then I also have learned that it's optimal to charge your crystals, either by placing them in the sun (or ideally in moonlight during the phase that is best suited to the crystal's temperament), or, in a pinch, you can bury them in the earth for a while.

And I like pretty stones as much as the next person, so I can't be too snarky. I have a few and I'm aware of all the places around town that sell them. But boy, there are a lot for sale. And most are not very expensive. And we're in a rocky, mountainous area, but I'm pretty sure you do have to go to Madagascar for some of the crystals I see for sale around here.

Reading about the stones' journey to market is eye-opening, and probably not conducive to imbuing the materials with good energies:

And if some of the conditions are truly awful? “Awful is relative, remember,” he shot back. The volume of his voice rose slightly, but he was still smiling. “Your job looks horrible to me. I feel for you. I’m glad that you’re willing to do it, because we need people like you to do it, but I ain’t fuckin’ doing it, no way. I would rather die in a mine, any day, no doubt. Holy shit. No. Not happening. Spell check? You’re out of your fucking mind.”
posted by witchen at 11:59 AM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]

Years ago I heard a story about a kid from Santa Cruz whose "healing crystal" focused as a prism to concentrate UV on a specific spot on his chest, resulting in a melanoma.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:30 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Huh. I had just assumed they got them from Arkansas.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 12:59 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

The labor aspect of this story is hideous.

But, er, this bit is different: “to give the vibration of self-love”. I think that refers to another, more reliable consumer product.
posted by doctornemo at 2:21 PM on September 17, 2019

Spencer Pratt: Anytime I encounter a cynic, I say I’m definitely not the smartest person on earth, but one of the smartest people is Nikola Tesla! He says – I don’t have [the quote] memorised but you can find it on Google (it’s “In a crystal we have clear evidence of the existence of a formative life principle, and though we cannot understand the life of a crystal, it is nonetheless a living being.”). If that guy – who pretty much invented electricity – believes in crystals having energy, I’m gonna go along with his big ass brain.
posted by unliteral at 4:41 PM on September 17, 2019

Reading about the stones' journey to market is eye-opening, and probably not conducive to imbuing the materials with good energies

Indeed. A bit disappointing that most of the discussion here is about crystalwoo rather than the very real economic and environmental implications of the consumption of 'wellbeing' as described in the article. I should perhaps have framed the post a little better.
posted by tavegyl at 6:31 PM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]

It seems like with any consumer fad for a specific natural resource, whether renewable or not, the rush to make money makes exploitation or externalities inevitable when there's a sudden spike in demand for exports. Sandalwood and quinoa come to mind. We want our luxury good, our superfood and we want it NOW.

I'm also a little surprised and then feel surprised I am surprised that the Nicholas Kristof-esque argument that an exploitative job is still a job and yay jobs is what crystal sellers are telling themselves.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:05 AM on September 18, 2019

The article is pretty interesting, although if you know much about mineral extraction none of it is particularly surprising. I do think the crystal woo people very much ignore where their rocks are coming from, but it sadly seems like a drop in the bucket compared to the environmental and human devastation incurred extracting e.g. tantalum or tungsten.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:41 AM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

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