How do crystals really work?

Out of all the questions out there, how do crystals work is probably one of the most important ones, and one that I'm asked on a regular basis. I'm always trying to find ways to explain the power of crystals in a way that is easy to understand, and in a way that isn't wrapped up in the metaphysical gossamer that so much of the information out there is basked in. I hate reading something riddled in New Age jargon, too, so I hope this article gets right down to it for you.

Personal experience has made me accustomed to practicality, facts, and science -  I really like science. I've been saved by medicine, and my journalism background has groomed me to search for hard concrete facts that I can reference and rely on. So when I started exploring spirituality, my inner compass felt a little internal opposition toward these two dualities.

Spirituality and science aren't exactly walking off into the sunset, but they are deeply connected. They both are seeking answers to complex ideas. And actually, those things are the reason why I started Rogue Wood Supply.

When we're talking about crystals, science says they don't work - they're a placebo. Science can say this because they have conducted a wide array of experiments measuring the human body when it is with a crystal, stone or mineral. They haven't witnessed any physical change in the body. But spirituality says, they do work - ask everyone who has ever worked with one.

So. Who is right?

Do we have the HUMAN CAPACITY to understand crystals yet?

A really great read is Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass uses scientific botany and indigenous wisdom in an artful weaving that defends the importance and value of science and spirituality. Despite being centred around botany, this book applies to so many metaphors for life. And I think it applies perfectly to the power of crystals.

When explaining mast fruiting trees - forest trees that produce acorns or nuts - Kimmerer explains that when these trees fruit, they all fruit. There isn't just "one tree in a grove [that fruits], but the whole grove; not one grove in the forest, but every grove; all across the country and all across the state. The trees act not as individuals, but somehow as a collective. Exactly how they do this, we don't yet know." The trees could go years without fruiting. Their fruiting is unpredictable. And yet, when they do fruit, they fruit all over the globe.

How? Why?

As an indigenous woman, Kimmerer references the wisdom of her elders in order to understand this phenomenon that science can't explain. Her elders would say simply, the trees talk to each other. But science dismisses this, of course, because plant life is deaf and mute. It most certainly doesn't talk.

But are plants deaf and mute?

We assume the above is true because we are talking about the plant species while observing their potential through the lens of animal capacity. Where are the plants' eyes? Where are the plants' ears? Plants don't have these things, therefor they lack the mechanisms that animals use to speak. So they must be deaf and mute, right? But the two species are immeasurable against each other. It's like comparing a banana to a woodshed. It doesn't make sense. Plants and animals are vastly different. They can't be compared. So science can't accurately measure them.

And as mast fruiting trees would explain, there is obviously some sort of communication happening among the trees, if they are able to simultaneously fruit all around the globe, when conditions are vastly different from area to area. Communicating doesn't necessarily mean speaking, barking or yelping. But to science, it does. Because that is was animals do.

So when we're talking about the healing and therapeutic capacities of crystals, and the fact that science calls them a placebo because it can't measure any change in the person using the stone, we need to understand that science is looking at crystals through an incorrect lens. And that's not to say that science is incorrect, it's just that we don't have the correct lens yet. We will one day. But we can't measure something if we don't understand it. Science tries to be rational, neutral and observation-focused, but we still need the correct tools in order to even document information in a way that is useful. 

Would I go bird watching with a firehose? No. That doesn't even make sense.

Look, I'm not trying to sound like a scientist. But I also don't want to sound like a hippie frolicking through the woods, naked, chanting about fairies and magic and anything else you feel could be part of the plot line in a fantasy novel. When it comes to crystals, or any sort of alternative healing, really, I always feel like those are my only two options: the rational, atheistic scientific fact-hunter, or the hooey New Age spiritualist who doesn't believe in deodorant.

Can we stop doing that? There are so many of us blended in between those two extremes.

Crystals vibrate at a frequency that is nearly immeasurable. But we are getting closer. The Kirlian camera showed that by holding a clear quartz crystal, one's biomagnetic field doubles in size, generating electromagnetism... meaning, it actually gives you a bigger aura. Cool. But what does that mean? Kirlian Photography is becoming increasingly more used in alternative medicine to explore such ideas.

If we look at the way a crystal is built, their crystalline structures are "perfect" in that their atoms, or energy, or juju are very symmetrical and geometric. To understand this, imagine a bunch of lines flowing in a perpendicular, parallel manner. All this really means is that a crystal isn't as affected by outside sources like we are. Humans have a "messier" makeup in comparison, because we are so sensitive and affected by others and our surroundings. In comparison to crystals, imagine our atoms and energy vibrating in a messy, scattered, disarray - the exact opposite of a crystal.

But of course ours is messier. We feel things. Our moods change. I can tell if my sister is sad. I might take my angry boss's harsh words home with me. My body absorbs pollution. I may develop habits, like smoking, drinking, drugs or excessive eating, that affect my makeup in a negative way.

For crying out loud, we can walk into a room and feel uneasy based on something we can't see, but just based on a feeling we have. A vibe. An impression. A tickle on the back of our necks. A voice inside urging us to leave. How do we explain that? We are sensitive creatures, but we just don't truly understand why.

Sure, my body is firing off thousands of chemical reactions when I feel something - but the important question isn't what am I feeling. The important question, and the thing science can't measure, is why am I feeling it?


I've talked a lot about my journey with crystals, which you can read here, most notably the relationship with my first crystal, an onyx and rutilated quartz pendant. This pendant was a partner throughout my cancer journey. It was my catalyst into the world of crystals.

But I want to be clear about something: this pendant, this crystal, did not cure my cancer. And though it did give me immense comfort throughout a scary and painful time, chemotherapy and radiation cured my cancer. Science and medicine cured me. And maybe a little luck and magic if I'm being totally honest. But the pendant didn't magically swallow up my tumour. It's not like I could have walked around, living my life without treatment, expecting a crystal necklace to cure me of a terminal illness.

We've been groomed to give up our power; to put the future of our health and wellbeing into the hands of someone else. A doctor. A diet. And when that diet doesn't work, it's the diet's fault. It's not our fault. Or when we're feeling sad, we put our power into medication. And when the medication fails, it's the pill's fault, not our fault. We don't want to put the onus on ourselves. We don't want to make ourselves responsible. We don't want to be held accountable in case we fail. Because then we're the failures, right?

But a diet, a pill or a crystal isn't going to heal our problems. Working with crystals isn't about giving up our personal power, and expecting this crystal to be the cure all for an endless supply of ailments. That's definitely NOT how they work.


Your crystals are your tools in accountability. Working with a stone is the reminder that you need to care for yourself, and that you are the healer. I believe this is the secret wisdom that crystals hold. Every time you meditate with a stone in your hand; every time you go to bed with stones tucked into a dream pillow; every time you feel a couple lucky stones in your pocket; every time you walk by your coffee table and glance at the crystal paperweight there, that is your reminder that you are the healer.

When you read up about a crystal's properties, these are based on folk wisdom that believed these stones possessed such powers. In ancient times, protection stones were weaved into breast plates - armour for war. Peaceful stones were buried in coffins with those who passed, hoping to help them transition to the other side smoothly. Romance stones were given to young women, in hopes they would attract a suitor.

When you keep a stone on you and begin to seriously work with it - staying accountable in your ability to heal yourself - your "messy" energetic makeup begins to adopt and feel the impression of the "perfect" crystalline structure of the stone. Your "messy" makeup begins to mimic and replicate the vibration of the stone. And yes, this will definitely change how you feel.

Keep in mind: the important question isn't what am I feeling, but why am I feeling it.

In my case, cancer had nearly depleted me of my energy. I was dying. When our energy is so low and so vulnerable, it's easily influenced. Science agrees: a negative influence, pneumonia, stress, a minor car accident, could have been enough to kill me. I got a paper-cut once from a grade 12 origami art project, and I nearly bled to death because my platelets were so low from chemotherapy. I didn't have the normal strength to battle these sometimes minor ailments. And so a positive influence had the same effect. My body was easily able to adopt the crystal's wavelengths in a more dramatic way than normal. The moment I wore the pendant around my neck, in the area my giant tumour was located, I felt immediate relief.

Spiritual properties of Onyx and Rutilated Quartz:

• intense healers
• promotes spiritual growth
• helpful for energy depletion
• strength-giving during intense times of stress


Snag the e-book in our shop for a complete guide on crystal culture and how to incorporate stones, crystals and minerals into your life.

Featuring cleansing techniques, optimal crystal pairings, where to place stones in your home, demistifying gridwork and way more.

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