Alchemy and Crystal Healing: the story of the Cinnabar Skull

Alchemy and Crystal Healing

I woke up one morning this past December, and in my mind’s eye I saw a crystal skull of Cinnabar in Dolomite staring at me. It was the first image I saw, it was the first thought I had that day. This is strange for 3 reasons:

One: My first thought upon waking is always, “Coffee. Now.” I would love to say that my first waking thought on any given morning is gratitude or compassion or a prayer for peace for the world. But no. It isn’t. It’s coffee. You should know this about me if we become friends.

Two: I hadn’t thought about or seen this particular skull in nearly a year. It simply wasn’t a part of my consciousness.

And three: I don’t relate to crystal skulls like other people do. I got the first (and I thought only) crystal skull because of a message I received. “It’s time to work with skulls.” I thought, okay, maybe students will start asking about them soon, and I need to know more. I’m not naturally drawn to them. I respect what they represent to many people. They can be excellent examples of gemstone art. But I’m typically not drawn to the more enigmatic aspects of crystal healing.

Because I want to become more and more open, listening and trusting, I texted D that same morning to tell her what happened and after a short conversation, she set the skull aside for me to pick up when next I visited her studio.

In the world of crystal healing, being called to a particular crystal is an honor. It means a lesson has arrived and we are ready to learn it with the subtle energetic support of the elements of the Earth. It’s a privilege: not everyone is drawn to crystals in this way. This has happened with many minerals – I’ve been called to them and then we do healing work together. I felt off-kilter about not being excited about working with this skull. Skulls have a magick about them that I can’t seem to grasp onto. And that’s okay – each of us has our “thing.” Skulls aren’t my thing, except they seem to be: there are four staring at me right now, after all. Perhaps my job is to provide a home for them until the person who is meant to work with them comes along. Who knows? In the meantime….

After the waking vision in December but before I actually picked up the skull in mid-January, I began re-reading the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. When I bought the Cinnabar skull, I was still in Book 1, A Discovery of Witches. A couple of nights after I brought the skull home, I was getting ready to read before sleep. I had placed the skull on my bedside table and there it was staring at me when I read this line:

“It is a wedding – the chemical marriage of mercury and sulfur. It’s a crucial step in making the philosopher’s stone.” (page 444 on my Kindle app).

Cinnabar, with a chemical composition of HgS (what the skull pictured is made from – cinnabar in dolomite) is mercury and sulfur.

I know it is fiction, but Deborah Harkness’ doctoral degree focused on the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700 (from her website). And fiction or not, I’ve learned to not only recognize but also appreciate “coincidences” wherever they occur and follow where they lead. We are being given opportunities to expand at every turn. It’s up to us to recognize them and follow-up. So of course I opened webelements.com and looked up Hg and S.

Mercury – “It is a rather poor conductor of heat as compared with other metals but is a fair conductor of electricity. It alloys easily with many metals, such as gold, silver, and tin. These alloys are called amalgams. Its ease in amalgamating with gold is made use of in the recovery of gold from its ores.” (https://www.webelements.com/mercury/)

Sulphur – “…is essential to life. It is a minor constituent of fats, body fluids, and skeletal minerals….Sulphur is found in meteorites, volcanoes, hot springs….Jupiter’s moon Io owes its colours to various forms of sulphur. A dark area near the crater Aristarchus on the moon may be a sulphur deposit. (https://www.webelements.com/sulfur/)

(See how understanding the chemical composition can be so helpful in crystal healing)?

Historically, the philosopher’s stone is essentially a quest to overcome death. It was a thing that was believed to be able to transmute base metals into gold or silver and heal any illness, prolonging the life of anyone who partook of it. Many alchemists throughout human history sought to create the philosopher’s stone.

For me, the philosopher’s stone is an important symbol. The sought-after riches and health represent a potential born only from a simultaneous awareness of death while at the same time living life fully present in the now through an open heart. What are we the most afraid of? Death. And what is death if not a loss of control. At a time when fear is running rampant throughout the States and echoing throughout the world, now is the time to look death in the face and say, “Come at me.” The Philosopher’s Stone’s offering of overcoming death represents a life lived fearlessly.

When my gaze rests on this interesting piece of art, I am reminded that in every moment I am offered a chance to transmute and resurrect. That’s powerful stuff.

An aside: Deborah Harkness and Diana Gabaldon have ruined my experiences with other authors and book series. This is a compliment to them and also a shaking of my fist at the sky.