In recent years there was a surge of popular interest in the
use of crystals for healing purposes, harking back to ancient
times when priests and shamans of many cultures used crystals
for healing, as well as for summoning the dead and scrying (i.e.,
crystal gazing) to obtain knowledge of distant events or to foretell
Quartz crystals are a natural product formed by movements
in the earths crust. Silica in a molten state is moved toward the
earths surface. When it rises and cools, it changes structure,
forming crystals on surrounding granite or sandstone cavities.
The molecular structure of quartz crystal involves a perfect
alignment and symmetry and imports unusual physical properties.
Crystals can receive, amplify, convert, and focus energy, or
store an electrical charge. If an electric current is passed
through crystal it vibrates. If rubbed, a crystal generates an
electrical current. Such properties have made crystals essential
components of many modern devices, such as phonograph
needles, watches, and microcomputers. Lasers use quartz crystal
to convert electrical current into light and focus it as a beam
of great intensity. These many interesting scientific properties
and technological uses underlie much of the recent metaphysical
attention to crystals.
Much of the modern interest in crystals in the New Age
movement is rooted in the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce. In
his readings mentioning Atlantis, Cayce described a large crystalline
structure that supplied the power to run the Atlantean
culture. He also spoke of the use of various crystals for individual
personal needs. The references to crystals were later compiled
in a booklet, Gems and Stones Based on the Edgar Cayce
In 1976 psychic channel Frank Alper began to convey a series
of readings said to be from spirit entities. These readings
were later published in a three-volume set and described the
power system of Atlantis and the use of crystals in great healing
temples. Alper claimed that crystals can actually absorb and
store energy, which can later be discharged as a healing power.
Crystal Healing Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
According to Alper, crystals come in different shapes and
sizes. Those with many facets are best for storing energy. Some
crystals in the form of inverted pyramids were supposedly used
for surgery on Atlantis. Flat, rectangular-shaped (emerald cut)
crystals were used to filter light that rejuvenated the body.
Alper also described the way in which a set of small crystals can
be placed on or around the body of someone who desires to use
the crystals energy to either restore the body or elevate the
Alper provided a comprehensive text on crystals. Through
the 1980s his work was the basis of numerous texts on crystal
power and elaborate speculations on the properties of crystalline
structures. In his wake a considerable body of theory and
practice has grown up around the use of crystals for healing
Marcel Vogel, a former research scientist at IBM, established
a Psychic Research Institute in San Jose, California, to
study, among other subjects, the claimed healing effects of crystals.
He developed special techniques for balancing and harmonizing
the bodys energy field by means of crystals and
claimed that many physicians and other healers were using
such techniques. He videotaped his own experiments with hundreds
of individuals and alleged improvements in relieving a
variety of diseases, including Parkinsons disease, bursitis, arthritis,
chronic back pain, and even blindness.
In spite of the efforts of people such as Vogel, however, acceptable
evidence for the use of crystals as powerful storage batteries
was not forthcoming, and only claims of its spiritual and
metaphysical properties survived. Supporters still claim for example,
that a crystal placed in a room will bring harmony and
peace to the environment, in drinking water will improve the
flavor, and set in a refrigerator will help keep food pure. Crystals
are also believed to relieve mental and emotional tension
if held in the hand and to bring about harmony and clarity if
worn during meditation.
For such applications, the crystal must first be cleared,
that is, subjected to a process to neutralize existing vibrations
and energies, usually by placing the crystal in a clear running
stream, soaking it in salt water, or charging it with ones own
breath. A new word, crystaphile, has been coined to indicate lovers
of crystals who believe that they may have occult applications.
Without scientific backing for crystals physical properties,
however, interest in them largely died out by the beginning of
the 1980s. As William Jarvis of the National Council Against
Health Fraud in Loma Linda, California, has noted,
As far as I know, there is no convincing published data to
indicate that crystals have any efficacy in healing. The effects
that are claimed are more in the realm of the metaphysical than
the physical. They cannot really be measured, and can be readily
understood as placebo effects. Until there is scientific documentation,
these treatments should be presented only as medical
experiments, not as valid medical therapy. Meanwhile, the
Chiropractic Board of Examiners in Massachusetts has banned
the use of crystals in chiropractic work in the state.
Baer, Randall, and Vicki Baer. The Crystal Connection A
Guidebook for Personal and Planetary Ascension. New York Harper
& Row, 1986.
Bonewitz, Ra. Cosmic Crystals Crystal Consciousness and the
New Age. Van Nuys, Calif. Newcastle Publishing, 1983.
Gems and Stones Based on the Edgar Cayce Readings. Virginia
Beach, Va. Association for Research and Enlightenment, 1960.
Gold, Gari. Crystal Energy. Chicago Contemporary Books,
Raphaell, Katrina. Crystal Enlightenment The Transforming
Properties of Crystals and Healing Stones. Sante Fe, N. Mex. Aurora
. Crystal Healing The Therapeutic Application of Crystals
and Stones. Santa Fe, N. Mex. Aurora Press, 1987.