When Spiritual-but-not-Religious is a load of crap

or, “How I found myself back in that damn box after clawing my way out”

It’s ironic. Years ago an article came out decrying the “spiritual but not religious” seeker. I can’t remember who wrote it and it doesn’t really matter, but for a while it drew people into a debate about how SBNR folks don’t get it and are deluding themselves; that being in community – the supposed purpose of religion (debateable unto itself) – was key to true spiritual growth. When I read that article, I wrote a response to it on my old blog and I pushed back a little bit. But there was something deep down inside of me that was saying, “You know, they aren’t wrong, but they aren’t right about the what.” But I couldn’t define what rankled me either and I think it was because I was only just beginning to catch glimpses of the religiosity of SBNR communities and people.
Now, years later I can identify the what. Until now, I didn’t feel it was my place to call anything into question broadly. And I was scared. I’m still a little scared, but not scared enough to not put this out there. (And I’m going to start marking my articles NSFW when there is language. When I’m with people I trust, I use “colorful” language so you might be seeing that NSFW more often because hey, if you can’t trust me and I can’t trust you, what are we doing here? I’m exhausted of policing my language for reasons that will become evident further down, should you decide you can roll with it).
Background which informs the present

I was raised by various people, and by my culture to believe in a doctrine ruled by a God which was slightly influenced by Prosperity Theology. For example, one of the versions of God I learned about was the God who punished me with clinical depression and crippling anxiety because I didn’t have enough faith, or because I didn’t study my Bible every morning the week previously, or because I skipped Wednesday night’s small group. That same God also tended to reward people with cushy, medical-issue-free lives when they were faithful to the tithing plate, to their daily Bible readings, and to showing up for small group. When there was any struggle (whether it be medical, financial, emotional, or other), it was explained by the authority/expert/chosen one that it was because I sinned and was too prideful to walk away from that sin and/or I wasn’t serving the church enough. (I mean cause and effect, right? Nope. Just plain old manipulation). There were creeds and doctrines and beliefs – checkboxes that if left unchecked, landed me in hell.
And purity was a BIG DEAL. There were a lot of rules around appearance and language and consumed media choices and sex and just everything. Everything was under a microscope and up for review. We were also always confessing our sins – to God, to each other, in prayer, in song, in everything we did there was sure to be a sin because we were born of sin so just hedge your bets and always be asking for forgiveness and never relax. Ever because – purity, but also, Jesus could come back at any moment and you don’t want to get caught with your pants down. (Gee, I wonder where the depression/anxiety combo came from)? It was very performance and image-based, despite being told that we were saved by faith, not works.
The environment was also extremely insular and therefore isolating which made us dependent on one another in unhealthy ways. We were told to “be in the world but not of it.” I learned that we had to suffer through being in this sinful, dirty, horrible world, with sinful, horrible, dirty people, and that to the best of our abilities, we were never to engage with it or them. (Unless of course, it was to save them). The church was comprised mostly of middle-to-upper class white folks. I was allowed to be a part of this group because I checked the right boxes on the form, and hey, I also happened to look like them and have the same privileges as they did. What does that teach us, even if inadvertently? Well, if the “rest” of the world is sinful, dirty, and horrible, and we are not because we are saved, then anyone who doesn’t look like us, live like us, and have the same privileges as us must be “of the world.” Dirty. To be avoided. (Again, unless we’re saving them).
I can’t forget to mention the ever-looming rapture theology where Jesus could come back at any moment, but not before a lot of really bad shit goes down like martyrdom. (Oh the stories I could tell about “preparing” for this). Watchfulness and readiness was a BIG part of my life. And I was already raised by a police officer who couldn’t help but bring home his constant surveillance skills, knowing what he knew (he was trying to keep us safe). (Gee, I wonder where I get my propensity for picking up on subtle cues and body language. I wonder where the crippling anxiety came from)?
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being groomed to become a privileged, “clean,” white savior of a world she was simultaneously encouraged to turn her back on. Confusing, no? I was taught to avoid critical thinking and to only engage in self-inquiry when it resulted in self-flagellation and continued servitude to the powers that be. I was taught to willingly hand over my power. I was to never trust my mind or to learn discernment through my heart; nor was I to come to my own conclusions or find my own answers based on my own inquiries and experiences. And it was very subtle. Most of the time.
The in between insanity and sanity
Yes, I had cognitive dissonance all the time, which I repeatedly shoved to the back of my deep, privileged, walk-in closet because if I questioned the teachings, I was warned with a small, disapproving frown, that this indicated a lack of faith and the devil was trying to steal my soul. And you don’t want to take a beat to allow a question to linger in the ole brainbox because what if you are questioning and then BAM! Jesus comes at that moment, or BAM! you get hit by a bus?
That cognitive dissonance didn’t stay hidden. The depression and anxiety didn’t leave me alone either – no matter HOW faithful I tried to be. I got married and moved away and before long I was in an existential crisis. But something great happened when I married too (in addition to being married to my husband who, in case you’re wondering stuck around despite the following). I moved from a very conservative state and insular experience to a very liberal state with nowhere to insulate myself. And thank God, because that forced me to meet people who were different! Like, pagans, people of different ethnicities, alternative wellness practitioners, atheists, libertarians, Unity church goers, non-church goers, gay people, democrats, people who lived together without being married, socially liberal conservatives, women who weren’t married and had kids, women who were married and didn’t want kids, women who had abortions, women who told their male partners what they thought and often took the lead on decisions big and small.
These people seemed pretty happy and they had what they needed. Things weren’t adding up. I was miserable and doing everything “right,” (I was saved) and these people, according to the teachings of my church, were doing it wrong and were happy. It’s hard to unsee a thing once you’ve seen it, so I left: the church, the association, the label, the doctrines, the misogyny, the patriarchy, the false image of God who was a bloodthirsty yet somehow unconditionally loving granter of goods and services only to the faithful. (My head still spins at that last one – what does unconditional mean)? I was miserable with anxiety followed by dark and long periods of depression followed by more crippling anxiety and obviously couldn’t meet God’s requirements anyway so why the hell was I trying so hard? For what?
Put another way – I was so desperate and miserable that I was willing to roll the dice on an eternal life of torment without access to God. And roll the dice I did.
Lest I give the impression that I “just” left
When I say I left, I mean that for 12ish years I continued to have crippling panic attacks while reading scholarly articles and books about the history of Christianity and the Bible, as well as dipping my toe into the history of other religions and spirituality in general (uh, that’s a big no-no where I came from). At the same time, I placed every single thought and belief I had ever acquired on the table for dissection and when exhaustion from that settled in, I would go into a 1-2 week depressive episode.
I forced myself to change ingrained, unhealthy mental habits like constant watchfulness for signs and constant self-doubt. This felt like wearing a 25-pound pack and scaling a mountain every moment of every day. All while also struggling with suicidal ideation because the question, say it with me, fellow Religious PTSDers, “What if they are right?!” lurked in the back of my mind the entire time, trying to lure me back. By then I knew too much to be able to go back, yet that question haunted me.
12 long years. 12 painful, barely-made-it-through long years where childhood and high school friends walked away from me because I was now “of the world” and a host of other personal and family difficulties arose.
I can’t believe I’m being pulled back into this again!
About 9 years ago I found myself empty. I had shed a lot and was asking, “Now what?” because there was a problem. If I hadn’t had some experiences throughout my life that were mystical and sacred, I would have rebuilt my perspective around a completely rational, scientific, possibly humanistic worldview. But I did have those experiences and continued to have them (huh, interesting, “God” or Source or whatever didn’t leave me!) and so I went looking for community and landed with some people who listened to me without judgment and had an accepting nature I had never before experienced. I could QUESTION! I could THINK! I could EXPLORE! I could have an OPINION!
At first.
We who have left organized religion, but have since found ourselves in spiritual groups, can often carry an air of self-congratulations and relief because, “Thank God we’re not still following THAT.” Yeah. Go us. Except for when we are.
The longer I hung around new age/metaphysical/energy healer groups, the more classes I took, the more books I read, and the more social media groups I joined, the more I noticed that much of what I had just extricated myself from had been relanguaged, rebranded, and was being taught and sold in the spiritual communities.
  • Talismans and prayer for stuff and security? Check.
  • Priests and go-betweens? Check.
  • Appearance expectations? Check.
  • Purity expectations? Check.
  • Rituals to appease or attain something from “Source”? Check.
  • Creating victims and then blaming the victim? Check.
  • “Gifts” given to the special chosen few? Check.
  • Defending one’s healing modality as the “right” or superior modality? Check.
  • Requirements to work with and be in communion with Source? Check.
  • Duality? Check.
  • All while preaching unconditional love, self-acceptance, and nonduality? Check, check.
(Dare I bring up the extreme pendulum swing of misandry while simultaneously bemoaning that more men weren’t spiritual in a few instances? Yikes, no. We’ll leave that for now).
So when I read the following in Rachael Rice’s article:
There’s also a military fuckton of Law of Attraction stuff that’s basically repackaged Christian Prosperity Theology for new agers without critical thinking skills….It’s an entitled orientation towards the extraction of resources because “I deserve it and the Universe is waiting to bestow wealth upon me” with little regard for how those resources were accumulated and are distributed. Wealth is de facto proof of being “in alignment with your soul’s purpose” irrespective of how grossly stratified wealth actually is. The inherent racism, classism + other -isms of LOA and The Secret, and other “mindset” and “manifesting abundance” programs are rarely thoroughly confronted.
I sighed with relief. I cried a little bit because she had the guts to call us out on our bullshit. We cannot heal until we’re willing to see our own bullshit.  The LOA has been problematic for me since day 1 and she encapsulates the reason so perfectly. I can imagine people thinking, “That’s not the LOA I follow.” Good! Then start sharing your more nuanced, deeply personally responsible, and widely accessible brand of LOA with the rest of us. Don’t hide that light under a bushel!
But also, can we take a moment to contemplate why we are so focused on manifestation and are so needy for stuff? What do we imagine X is going to solve or heal? What is our obsession with the idea of being able to attain a “perfect looking or perfect feeling life”? Why are we not working with what we got, allowing what Is Now to be our teacher?
Are we brave enough to ask ourselves, “Do I really need that, or am I using this activity of striving to achieve something as a distraction from the real work of healing myself?” 
Honestly a whole host of other questions about self-validity and self-empowerment opens up for us around these concepts, classes, workshops, certificates, and rituals. Trust me, as someone who teaches a course, I’ve thought about this a lot. And I turn people away who think that if they just take this course, get this certification, something will finally be fixed in them. Or they will finally find THE answer. Nope, you don’t need my course or to spend money to access yourself. But more on that later down.
To the person who is following LOA/The Secret and not experiencing abundance: it’s not your fault. You aren’t faithless or unworthy. It’s not necessarily because you haven’t been generous enough in your own life. In the same way that when I had severe depression, it wasn’t because I wasn’t a good enough Christian. You have been misled. Just as I was misled. In the awareness, what do we do next?
Here’s what we (broadly speaking) don’t seem to want to acknowledge: it’s not all Love and Light. It’s not all effortless and dreamy if we just think the right thoughts or clear our auras. When we heal ourselves it is WORK – especially in the beginning. Why? Because we are going against every innate and learned defense mechanism our brains, bodies, and conditioning can throw at us, trying to stop us from honest self-inquiry: a willingness to SEE and ACKNOWLEDGE our honest thoughts, feelings, and motivations to stop us from doing something about it. 

“Everybody wants to be perfect. Nobody wants to be reformed.” 

Carmen Spagnola of the Numinous Podcast (#67)
Do we want to be comfortable and superficially accepted, or do we want to be reformed – changed? Are we willing to do the work it takes to uncover and heal our karma, to learn how to be truly vulnerable and intimate with one another, to experience healthy community, creative expression, and self-actualization together? Are we willing to screw up in front of each other and let that be an opportunity for growth? Are we willing to learn how to observe our thoughts, to learn how to reshape them? Are we willing to stay in the room and learn from each other? Are we willing to learn how to embody love and compassion for ourselves and for each other? Do we want to be happy from time to time, or expand our perceptions such that we can access joy always?

If we are using spiritual principles and rituals as an escape hatch from reality, responsibility, or honest self-inquiry, it’s no longer spiritual.

There are other aspects of bad religion that has been relanguaged and rebranded so that it can be sold in spiritual communities. Another portion of Rachael’s article struck a nerve for its similarity to the messages I walked away from:
Anything you dislike in others is a reflection of something inside of you that needs healing. See also: you have a “story” resulting from a “core negative belief” about yourself
Oh the self-righteousness. Sometimes BS needs to be called out. And sometimes we are the creators of said BS. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world when we come into a realization that we’ve perpetuated BS. Nor does it mean we have to agree with the assessment! And our job is to stop, listen, and consider instead of manipulating the story to serve our egos. Let’s be compassionate with each other and honest. We can be both and if we don’t know how to be both compassionate and honest at the same time, well, it’s time we learned.
You should [have the means to pay and time to] try Landmark / Ayahuasca / Sweat Lodge / fancy detox / healing program / pilgrimage to a shaman / yoga or meditation retreat / Tony Robbins coal walking / etc. and fix your faulty “stories”
For the love of all that is good and holy, don’t let ANYONE ELSE should you. You’re probably shoulding yourself quite enough. And also? Our stories getting fixed – that’s an inside job. You need you. And a supportive, wise friend. But mostly a willing you. There’s not enough money in the world to fix us (thanks, Wall Street for proving that). Money and certificates and experiences can be helpful tools, but they are not necessary. And this is an uncomfortable truth because it reminds us that we can’t blame our lack of growth on not having enough money or enough opportunities to have mystical experiences.
Separation is an illusion; politics is separation consciousness, above these perceptions is unity consciousness, and you’re just bogged down in duality + divisiveness (the unity / oneness bypass in spiritual bypassing*)
Sometimes we talk about big ideas in very concrete and assured ways AT other people instead of with other people in a communal exploration. We aren’t even experts of ourselves. What makes us think we have the answers for other people? This, I believe, is a problem derived from our “insta-certified” culture. Just because we take a class and get a piece of paper doesn’t mean we are experts at anything, (or even qualified to start a practice in any way) and it also doesn’t necessarily indicate that we’ve evolved one iota.
And to be clear, I’m not claiming that I understand nonduality 100%. But I will tell you that what I do know about nonduality has a lot to do with humility and taking personal responsibility – two topics people do not like to talk about because it doesn’t feel “Light” and doesn’t make us feel warm inside. Nonduality encompasses it all. We have to be willing to see and engage with our shit. See our culpability with the problems within ourselves, our relationships, and our communities. But that isn’t fun, sparkly, rainbow-laden, et al. So we accept half-baked growth and evolution. Shame can be an important teacher.
Critique/anger/judgement are conflated with “fear” and are assigned “low vibration” energy
High vibration is not better than low vibration. If we understand nonduality and are truly viewing the world through nondual lenses, then why do we keep perpetuating this ascension and high vs low vibration myth?  Answer: to escape. The ascension talk I hear in some circles is a new brand of rapture theology. And rapture theology is very much about escapism from the pain of this world and taking any personal responsibility in working in community to heal it. Plain and simple.
While I was becoming acquainted with my new community of “spiritual but not religious/New Age/Alt Wellness/etc.” (I’m not being flip – it’s a WIDE umbrella which is part of its appeal) I started hearing other things that sounded similar to the old Christian paradigm I had just spent over a decade extricating myself from.
When someone got sick, I would hear, “Oh, what do you think the root emotional/spiritual issue is?” Huh, weird. That sounds an awful lot like, “You have depression because you don’t have enough faith.” Why can’t we ask, “What do you need? How can I help?”  instead of asking someone who already is struggling to stop and do a personal inventory and critique themselves. It’s not our job to assume that role. (I’m calling this out as someone who has done this to others).
Or, “Oh, you want to take that class but can’t afford it? Set up a manifestation grid!” which sounds an awful lot like, “Pray about it and leave it up to God.” It makes me itchy because while creating a crystal grid (and prayer) could be a great ritual to help someone get clarity around their intention and the motivation behind it, we need to also encourage each other to take actual real-time, physical steps to proactively create their reality, you know, changeand then take responsibility for it. We’re not victims of the universe or of God. Also, can we stop making things into tools that do our bidding? Crystals and God? Can we reframe our relationship with the world and each other as co-creators rather than as a means-to-an-end?
“Carry this crystal for protection,” is a different version of “Say this prayer and you’ll get to skip hell.” Why are we afraid of self-inquiry? Why are we afraid to explore why we feel we need protection? Why are we afraid to look at and be with and learn from things that make us uncomfortable?  By all appearances, we don’t really want to be in true communion with each other. We want to slap a Band-Aid on each other, and get on with our lives where we’re very busy distracting ourselves from our own shit.
And I’m going to say it because why not, I’m probably already up a creek with zero paddles… the whole concept of psychic attack and energy hooks and energy vampires necessitates duality, perpetuates self-victimization, is disempowering, and ignores free will. It smacks of the satan and demon talk which was used in my former life as a scapegoat for taking responsibility, and as a way to keep people disempowered and in fear. When are we going to step into our own inherent power and take responsibility for our actions, and how we choose to interpret our experiences?
I also started to see people talk about the “right” way to practice a ritual or healing modality, and the “right” teacher to study from, and the “right” tools to use. (See also “Original” or “true”). I watched on social media as energy healing practitioners went after each other for deigning to practice energy healing without having had an “authentic” attunement ceremony. Again, this sounds an awful lot like needing to pray the right prayer and needing to be in the right religion and needing to studying under the right pastor. Who do we think we are? And what lie are we perpetuating within ourselves that we think we’ve found the one and only, the “right/true/pure” Way?
Which leads me to learning about energy healing tools by relying on an “expert’s” personal channeled experience. We do not need a go-between to access God or energy or the universe. We do not need a go-between to learn about crystals. We do not need someone else to lay hands on us so that we might have access to the Light. We do not need to keep giving our power away. Look, sharing with each other is one thing – it’s a beautiful thing in fact. Attunement ceremonies can be beautiful, empowering rituals of celebration. But crowning myself or crowning someone else the expert or keyholder of X – that’s the old paradigm. That’s religious paradigm. That’s hierarchy. That’s a powerless people relying on a powerful few. Be willing to have your own experience without external validation. You can do it. You are worthy of it.
And the purity aspect. You know, at first I could not figure out why I got twitchy when I would read or hear someone insist that we had to be “clear channels” before doing energy work. Or that we couldn’t do or eat or drink off of a long list of don’ts. “Don’t eat meat! Don’t drink alcohol! Don’t drink caffeine! Don’t eat sugar! Don’t eat wheat! Don’t watch TV! Don’t don’t don’t don’t don’t.” All this in order to supposedly “be a clean and clear vessel!” Gosh, that sounds an awful lot like purity laws from the Old Testament and the purity laws instituted in 20th century religion.
It also sounds like there’s an expectation that everyone is living in the same body and having the same life experiences. (A la Rachael’s primary point). If we waited till we were “clear” channels, none of us would ever facilitate a healing session. Ever. And if someone has the self-righteousness to believe they are “clear” enough to facilitate a healing session? Are any of us totally reconciled unto ourselves? Are we suggesting that it’s possible to have looked under every rug and into every dark corner? Are we suggesting that in a human lifetime, a person can achieve perfection? Is perfection the goal? Is purity the goal? Is positivity-at-all-costs the point?
This has been there in the back of my mind for years. I haven’t written about this because I don’t want to come across as harsh or confrontational or… who knows how someone perceives this? That’s up to them. I share this from the perspective of someone who has been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Who has also found herself caught in one trap or another and brought others along for the ride before becoming aware of what I was doing.
So many times I’ve wondered, “Do I completely extricate myself from this community?” And, “Do I say something? Do I dare to offer a different perspective?” A couple times I did cautiously say something and that went over as well as you’d expect it to. So I did start to back away from the spiritual and new age and crystal healing Facebook groups. I unsubscribed from newsletters. I stopped going to circles. Not because I’m better or I have things figured out. In fact, it’s precisely because I don’t have everything figured out that I had to back away. If I’m going to continue being an open, honest, self-inquiring seeker, I better find open, honest, teachers and fellow sojourners who are also doing their own self-inquiry. What I was finding in this “spiritual and unaware of their religiosity” crowd was more of what I had just spent over a decade escaping and deprogramming myself from.
If you find a fire breathing dragon in one cave and have the good luck to escape that cave, when visiting another cave if you notice a sudden gush of heat that nearly knocks you over, you are going to slowly back out of that second cave. Even if that dragon’s fire might be glittery and magical. Even then.

 


Joy and Grace in Nondualistic Healing

Joy and grace can be present in difficult experiences – healing from a non-dualistic perspective.

I was listening to On Being’s podcast the other day, excited because Krista Tippett interviewed Richard Rohr. His newest book, Divine Dance, was recently released and Ms. Tippett asked him all manner of important questions and referenced his earlier works as well. As I always say after listening to an interview of Fr. Richard Rohr – I highly recommend it. (He has also been interviewed by Rob Bell and I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve listened to that one interview 7 times. So far). I try not to fangirl over people. I recognize it’s not healthy for me or for the person I’m feeling awestruck about. Richard Rohr would be the first to agree, but if I had a chance to meet Fr. Rohr, well, that would be something else.
In this interview, he shared an experience that resonated so deeply with my experiences that I had to write about it immediately.
MS. TIPPETT: Just coming back to this both/and thinking that is a quality of the second half of life, of spiritual deepening, you talk about this quality of “bright sadness” that in that deepening, there is a gravitas and a lightness both. Say a little bit about the bright sadness.
FR. ROHR: I remember some of the times when I was most happy, after — I used to spend the whole of Lent in a hermitage alone, and I’d come back just sort of glowing, like a bliss ninny, for the next couple weeks. But when people would look at me, I remember again and again, they said, “Richard, you look sad.” And I said, “Oh my gosh, do I?” Because in fact, I’m feeling exactly the opposite….So it’s the strangest combination of being able to hold deep sadness and deep contentment at the very same time. So I discovered that in myself, and my most wonderful moments were also my most sad moments, which leads you to a kind of participation in what I called earlier “the one sadness,” that your very fact of enjoying grace and love carries with it a dark side that I didn’t deserve to know this, I didn’t earn this, and most people think I’m crazy if I try to talk about it. So the two intense emotions very often coexist in the contemplative mind.So that’s what taught me this both/and world view, that opposites do not contradict one another. In fact, they complement and deepen one another.
The act of intentional healing does not wipe away sadness or the other uncomfortable feelings. Rather, in my experience, as I heal, I learn to hold many seemingly opposing emotions or energies altogether, at the same time. Each is informing the other. The more grounded, Light-conscious energies are present and informing the other, less grounded, blurry energies. What is healed and balanced brings what has been in darkness into the Light so that more balance can be experienced. But this doesn’t eradicate pain or the shadow.
I recently wrote an article about depression and uncomfortable feelings. I shared a personal experience I had in early April with depression, including the depressive episode’s conclusion and lessons learned. I received a few messages from people who, after reading the article, wrote to express concern and care for me, hoping that I was feeling better. It’s very kind and I’m deeply grateful that I have people in my life who do care and are willing to express that. But I was also surprised to get this kind of response. In the article, I had shared that the experience was past-tense and even more important – it taught me so much! That’s a cause for celebration!
In trying to be a more succinct writer, I sometimes leave out important bits. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to stay on topic, maybe it’s because trying to put words to these types of experiences is very difficult. What I didn’t share about that depressive episode is that, in addition to it being a teacher, there was an enormous amount of Grace present. While it’s true that I didn’t – couldn’t – feel anything, still I was aware in a way I hadn’t ever experienced before during a depression, of an overwhelming okay-ness. I couldn’t directly access it emotionally, but I was aware of its presence and it was bigger than me.
As I’ve healed my emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects over the years, I have fallen into the trap of thinking after a particularly difficult lesson, “Okay, whew. That’s over and I’ve learned my lesson so I won’t have to go through that again!”  But that’s not how healing works. It’s not dualistic. It’s not linear. It is never completed – as in, “It is finished.” Nope. How many times have I had a particularly challenging time, gotten through it (rather than skirted around it), and thought “that’s over!” only for that lesson to reappear weeks, months, or years later? Many times. Depression and anxiety are two such lessons.
But! (I know, it sounds so dreary. “You mean this difficulty will never go away?” Well, no. But …).
The Big But is that as we intentionally heal and become more aware, we can’t help but experience each instance differently than we did before. Ten years ago, a depressive episode would have knocked me flat on my ass. I would have experienced what the pros call “suicidal ideation.” This time, many years and many similar-but-always-different experiences later, this depression was simply noticeable. This time, I didn’t think about death, rather, I noticed my previous aliveness and knew that would return. I thought, “Oh, you know what’s coming, that ALIVE feeling – pay attention and notice it more deeply this time!” I found the event so interesting even though it was a very detached interest. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have taken a shower for days on end, and I wouldn’t have left my room. I would have slept weeks away. This time, I allowed myself to relax, but I was still engaged with my life.  I slept normally. And instead of weeks, it lasted a total of 3 days.
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because I don’t think we’re used to hearing or reading about our teachers’/healers’/coaches’ difficulties. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable when the “person in charge” doesn’t have their act together. Many of us have that inner aspect I call the, “Who do you think you are?” aspect. We ask it of ourselves and we ask it of others. Prove it! Prove your knowledge/health/awakeness/education/joy/etc. Prove to me that I should pay attention to you and what you say. Prove to me that you can help me heal/grow/learn. Prove it! And the Prove It mentality turns in on us too, and if we’re unaware of it, it can keep each of us from becoming more and more of who we are when in community with one another. If I can’t prove that I’m perfect at X, I can’t teach X or help others learn about X!
And so we expect that people who are in any type of leadership have it figured out. People who are in positions of leadership in the healing community  (especially?) let followers see only one side of their lives and only when that side is nice and shiny.
I am very wary of the teacher who stands (or sits) in front of a crowd and doesn’t express him or herself authentically – who doesn’t let imperfections and quirks shine. I’m confused at the idea that I’m supposed to learn how to be a healer from someone who doesn’t continually seek healing for him or herself. And so, I share my experiences with you not to make anyone uncomfortable, but because this is what is true. And I just so happen to be in a place in my life where, as I heal and expand, I can see it and learn from it and then share it with you. Leaders don’t lead by example by being perfect. Leaders lead by example when they are fully present, fully authentic, in their healing work.
I won’t ever share to garner sympathy or pity. By the time I can write about it, I have gone through it and have lessons-learned to share with you. And trust that even as I am going through my stuff, though perhaps not accessible in the same way, joy is present. And Grace. I am experiencing both/and. It is a bright sadness. And it is a holy moment.
We don’t need to require perfection from one another. We don’t need each other to always be happy and pleased and peaceful. We don’t need our teachers/leaders/coaches to have everything figured out. We can be authentic with each other, holding a space of compassion for ALL of it, without fear or pity, without extending sympathy. We do not have to feel responsible either for fixing anything or helping anyone figure out their stuff. This is a beautiful time of learning how to hold a space of compassion for each other and for ourselves. Allowing, allowing, allowing. This is where the both/and blooms.
With deep gratitude,
Tana

 

Depression and other uncomfortable experiences

As we await the end of this long winter, as we learn to maintain presence in a world that appears to be going mad, and as we deal with our own private lives and the issues we personally face, we might be experiencing spiritual, emotional, and mental discomfort more acutely. I have chatted with a few people in the last couple of weeks who have shared that they have been experiencing low-level anxiety, agitation, anger, and depression, for what appears to be no reason.
When people ask me, “How do I get rid of this?”, one of the first questions I like to ask is, “How does this experience feel in your body?” In other words, where do you feel tension or discomfort, irritation or inflammation in your physical body when you are aware of these feelings? What does it feel like? How do you respond to these physical expressions?
Turning toward the body and extending it care and rest can have a huge effect on the experiences listed above. It is unusual for most of us to do this however, because we are a thinking species. We are quite proud of our mental faculties and our abilities to analyze and plan and fix and solve. When these uncomfortable feelings arise, we tend to go to the mind for answers to “fix” whatever is “broken,” bypassing the body altogether.
Always be willing to question the premise.
What if nothing is broken when these experiences come? What if there is nothing to fix because these experiences play an important role in our expansion and evolution? What if everything is exactly as it should be? What if, instead of going to the mind to ask, Why is this happening? How do I make it stop?  we chose to be present, focus on the breath, and get in touch with our body?
Choosing to pay attention to the body can help us ground and connect more deeply to our Heart. The mind can take a rest. We can stop thinking for a second, stop analyzing, and stop wondering why or asking how. When we are focusing on care of the body, our attention is diverted from self-judgment. And we can give the brain a little break from trying to form an escape plan. 
Many times over the years, when I have shared that I had a cold, felt blue, threw my back out, had a headache, or stubbed my toe with well-intentioned fellow healers, I have been asked, “What do you think the root emotional/mental/spiritual cause might be?” Many believe that mental and physical maladies are untreated subtle energetic imbalances in almost all, if not all cases. The idea is that if we identify the emotional, mental, or spiritual imbalance, by identifying it and then healing it, we resolve the physical issue.
On the face of it, it makes sense. I think how we go about it might not. What this well-intentioned inquiry does is remove me from my physical body and places me in the seat of the mind through self-inquiry. It puts me in the roles of Identifier and Fixer – mind activities – when my body is asking me to be with the body. Awareness is wonderful and can be very healing. I believe in the power of self-inquiry and a willingness to be with and examine myself. But I believe there is a time and a place for this and that it must be done through the Heart. When the body is crying out, when a person feels like they are in survival mode – this is the time for rest, love, support, compassion, grace, and above all else – no judgment.
And sometimes a stubbed toe is just a stubbed toe. We are human beings living a human life on this planet where everything we do affects one another and sometimes stuff happens. Determining whether or not an experience is a “stuff happens” moment, or the result of imbalance in the subtle anatomy, for me, involves surrender and time. If there is something deeper to explore, there is no forcing it. To become aware of the unconscious, “deeper” underlying issues that might be present, I have to trust that I will become aware of those when they are ready to appear. In the meantime, I care for my stubbed toe, stay present, and breathe.
My personal experience – with depression, anxiety, sadness, grief, and more – has taught me that there is no real and lasting escape plan that the mind can offer and that there is no eradicating the issue through the mind. In fact, trying to out-think (run away from) an uncomfortable experience can intensify and draw out the experience. I think this is because the energy wants to be seen and acknowledged through the Heart with compassion and faith. Sometimes a willingness to stay in the room and be with that feeling is all it takes for it to dissipate. Other times the energy desires more attention and time, and if we allow that – if we surrender to it, the experience is a lot less painful. There is more grace and compassion present.  
My recent reminder….
A few weeks ago, on a Thursday, depression descended out of nowhere. It had been years since I felt that plummet but suddenly down, down, down I was falling, unable to breathe deeply into my toes and suddenly unable to bring myself to care about, well, anything. I couldn’t make weekend plans with my husband because I didn’t care and I didn’t foresee a moment when I’d be getting out of my chair in the near future. My brain started to send warning messages, “If you don’t snap out of this, your students and clients are going to get upset!” and “Oh no, remember last time? This could last WEEKS!”  But it was too late – I couldn’t care. It’s not that I didn’t care. I literally couldn’t care – about anything. Depression is a strange and difficult thing to experience let alone explain. 
I had been here before. I recognized it immediately. Though I was surprised that it felt the need to visit, I shrugged, opened the door, invited it in, made it sit right in front of me so that I could look it in the eye and acknowledge it. “Hi. You’re here. It’s been a while. I see you.” And then I let myself off the hook, trusting that nothing lasts forever – even when it feels like it will never end (kind of like this past winter). I chose to focus on my physical body, turn the mind-games off, and just exist as-is. I decided to be be with that energy as long as it wanted to stick around. I decided to be kind to myself in the process. 
Over the next couple of days I noticed moments when my mind would try to sneak in and “take care of it.” How can we get rid of it? How can we heal it? What’s wrong with you, Tana, that this is here? Identify that and BAM! Problem solved! Each time my brain tried to elbow its way in, I felt the sensation – or lack of sensation actually – weigh more heavily. I backed off each time, saying, “I see you, you are here and I am here and we are here together.” I stayed with it, giving it and myself compassion and grace.
On Sunday evening of that same weekend, just as quickly as it arrived, it left. I caught my breath and I suddenly felt everything again  – concern, awareness, motivation, responsibility, desire, movement, appreciation. I also noticed something re-enter which I wasn’t aware of before the depression visited: feelings of insecurity I had been holding, worry that I was inadequate in a certain area of my life, and anger seated from a place of judgment I was holding against myself which I was extending , as tends to happen, to others. In this particular case – there were underlying issues that I wasn’t aware of that wanted to be brought into the Light for healing. I can promise you that had I tried to force myself to make inquiries or tried to “fix” the depression, I would have missed the awareness that arose as the depression lifted. 
That experience lead to writing this blog post, Burning Man – on being a healer and our responsibility to self, in which I share, “Love and Light” is a phrase often used. And it can have tremendous potency when uttered by a person who is intimately aware of their own capacity for “Hate and Darkness,” as well as all the energies in between. I have since learned that nothing can truly be swept under the rug or warded off with spells or talismans. The energy is present and it wants to be seen. This is the Age of the Mirror.” 
People sometimes look at me like I’m crazy. “Just BE with it? That’s your big solution? That’s how you heal?” Yes. It’s part of my healing. And it took years of clearing thought forms and beliefs, of learning how to ground in my own body, of experiencing the Heart and learning how to become more and more intimate with and trusting of it before I could “just” be with it. I fought it for a long time. There were a lot of thoughts and beliefs I needed to clear or transmute. The experiences of depression and anxiety showed up for me time and time again – giving me ample opportunity to lean into them and learn how to exist differently, how to shift my perspective, how to surrender and find in that surrendering great freedom.
I relied on mentors and guides and healers and teachers who helped me to reframe or release my inquiries, to show me where my thinking was blinding me from the Light of my Heart. It was a group effort, make no mistake. Can we go it alone? Sure. Sometimes we even have to. When we can ask for help though, I believe we thrive when we do. Asking for help is a lesson unto itself. As much as we’re wired to think our way through “problems,” we’re also conditioned go it alone. But that doesn’t make it the ideal way of being in the world. We’re allowed to buck the system. In fact, I strongly encourage it. 
If you’ve been struggling with finding your footing in the midst of challenging emotional, mental, and spiritual experiences, I encourage you to reach out. Find a heart-centered mentor, healer, coach, guide, counselor – someone with compassion and grace, who understands the role of the mind in relation to the Heart, someone who will be neutral and honest with you. Someone who will help you see the gifts of self-care, as well as self-inquiry. Someone who will help you consider when to cut yourself some slack and when you can dig deep. You can begin this search simply by asking your Source to send someone your way. Healing – it can be simple. And sometimes it is not. Both are accepted. Be kind to yourself in the meantime, and don’t forget to breathe.
With gratitude,
Tana

Burning Man – on being a healer and our responsibility to Self

One of the Practicum Assignments I ask practitioner candidates to complete is an essay that poses the following questions: “What does it mean to you to be a healer? How has your understanding of this role changed throughout the course? What responsibilities do you believe you have to yourself and to each of your clients as a healer?”
I ask this question because it’s important to get clarity about the roles the ego and the Heart might be playing as we begin to work with others. It is important to realize that our personal healing work is not complete and that in fact, the practice of healing we are about to embark upon is one of the biggest Mirrors we will face in our lives.
When I first started working with others in my healing practice, I was a different person than I am now. I took too much responsibility and in all of the wrong areas. I assumed too much. I spoke a lot of things at people and I didn’t ask enough questions. Subconsciously, I created goals for each of my clients. “They should be X instead of Y for optimal living and we have to get them there.”
I didn’t see that I was working from an immature perspective. I couldn’t see that truth because I hadn’t yet burned myself up – not enough anyway. Because make no mistake, I’ll never be done burning.
healing healer
Being a candle is not easy; in order to give light one must burn first.
~ Rumi
My candle was still fairly new looking.
I have experienced Grace through many experiences over the years. These experiences have shown me that healing isn’t about performance. There are no benchmarks to success. Healing isn’t a simplistic cause-and-effect, one-and-done experience. Healing is a process of becoming more and more familiar with the self, bringing forth all of our difference aspects, including what we might label the “shadows,” with gentle compassion and inviting each into the Light. Sometimes to be integrated. Sometimes to be released – to burn. Not having done enough of that in the early years myself, there was no way I could offer myself as a witness holding a space of compassion for others in their own burning.
That’s not to say it was all for naught. How else do we learn but by being in the experience? In each session, with each client, there was a give and take: each of us learned something from the other and in so doing, learned something about ourselves so that we might bring an aspect of ourselves into the Light. So that we might sit down with that aspect and look it fully in the face and say, “Hi, I see you. It’s nice to meet you. I’d love to know more about you – to truly see you so that you might be integrated more fully into my experiences, in a healthier way.” 
“Love and Light” is a phrase often used. And it can have tremendous potency when uttered by a person who is intimately aware of their own capacity for “Hate and Darkness,” as well as all the energies in between. I have since learned that nothing can truly be swept under the rug or warded off with spells or talismans. The energy is present and it wants to be seen. This is the Age of the Mirror. In my brief lifetime, never before has the collective consciousness been so exposed. And we have never been so ripe for our own healing – if we are willing to see ourselves in “the other.” To see ourselves not as separate or above or better than or smarter than – but to see ourselves as a part of our community – the whole, inclusive community.
In our personal work of healing – of Being Deeply with Ourselves – full of Grace and Compassion, we walk into the darkness sometimes. The grace and compassion, which sees and quells the Fear, comes from walking into the darkness, holding our candle with one hand and offering our other hand to our neighbor. (Feel free to bring a backpack of extra candles).
With gratitude,
Tana

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.

Why Crystal Prescriptions Can Leave Us Wanting More in Crystal Healing: An Allegory

Zina and her struggles with Crystal Healing

Zina, was struggling to know what her purpose in life was, so she went to her favorite crystal prescription book, looked up “purpose” in the Index, and…. Uh oh. It wasn’t listed. Okay, maybe “destiny.” Nope. “Fate”?  No, not listed either. Hmmm. Well, Zina knew from past experience that the next step was to scan the Index until she found a keyword that might apply. Then she knew that she’d find either a short list or a very long list of crystals associated with that keyword. She would then have to go look up and read about each one and try to determine if the general properties listed would help her with her specific and not-at-all-general situation. She could also do a Google search and see what various people on the Internet had to say – often contradicting and confusing, or she could try another book which usually bore the same results.

Zina loved working with crystals. She felt a deep connection to them and couldn’t give them up, even when it felt frustrating and fruitless. She wished there wasn’t so much mystery.  She didn’t want to have to rely on what other people said crystals “do” – especially when they don’t explain why and how. Moreover, she had a suspicion that crystals were not magical talismans meant to be carried and poof! problems would disappear but that’s the only kind of information she could find.

Zina has a lot of questions:

What exactly is crystal healing? 
What relationship do crystals have to our subtle anatomy and healing? 
How then, do we work with them from this paradigm?

The first thing Zina already knows but hasn’t realized she knows, is that crystals are not cure-alls. Anyone who has begun the study of healing knows that there is no such thing as a magical cure-all for any emotional, mental, or spiritual wound. That means the “carry X Crystal to experience Y result,” is too simplistic. It’s ignoring the energy from within that wants to be seen and engaged with. In other words, it’s a form of spiritual bypassing. (A quickie explanation of spiritual bypassing is  when we use spiritual/religious practices and beliefs to avoid the hard work of personal and evolutionary growth. Robert Augustus Masters has more recently written on the subject, since the term was coined in the early ’80s, and you can read his blog here).

In my personal healing work, it has always been through the pain, not around it, that has brought clarity and peace. The times I’ve either knowingly or unknowingly tried to bypass the work of healing have resulted in frustration and confusion and sometimes anger. The symptoms of imbalance get more pronounced.

When I agree to meet the symptoms of imbalance face-to-face, from my Heart, it might be uncomfortable at first, it might even be painful, but I also pass through a level of my study a stronger, more Heart-centered, more grounded person.

Most crystal resources present crystals as tools for spiritual bypassing, not healing. Have a headache? Carry Bustamite. Feeling blue? Carry a Lithium Quartz. Need a new job? Wear Citrine or create a citrine grid.

Not only that, these “need this, carry that” prescriptions are based on subjective, personal experience that’s been passed around long enough to have turned from “an experience” into “fact.” That’s happened with a lot of crystal lore that has been passed down through the ages as well. Not only are both of these resources highly subjective and too general (which limits our ability to fully work with them) but they are sometimes downright wrong depending on the individual seeking healing support.

Most of the time, Zina has much better luck choosing to work with a crystal intuitively yet she’s still wondering what more she can know about the crystal that is such a help to her. She wants to be more deeply connected to the mineral kingdom she so loves. Zina wants to understand crystals more deeply.

crystal healing

Cathedral Quartz – Pakistan

What exactly is crystal healing? 

Crystal healing is the practice of working with the intelligence (energy = information that vibrates) of the mineral kingdom to support us in our healing work and evolution. Crystal healing is energy medicine. We come into relationship with the energy of the mineral kingdom to find support as we do our healing work within.

This means that we have:
1. agreed to do our deep study, our deep healing work
2.already identified imbalances and areas that we need to pay attention to when we approach the crystal
3. taken responsibility for our healing and come into relationship with the crystal as an energetic ally.

Crystals are tools in our toolbag: ancient, powerful subtle tools from the Mineral Kingdom that deserve our utmost respect.

What relationship do crystals have to our subtle anatomy and healing? 

In crystal healing theory, of all the natural world, crystals emit the most stable vibration. Humans on the other hand have the least stable vibration. We take a cue from the concept of entrainment and, when applying the stronger, more stable vibration of the crystal into an aspect of our subtle anatomy (auric fields, etheric field, chakras) we suspect that the crystal’s stronger vibration guides the weaker vibration into resonance with itself.

How then, do we work with them from this different paradigm?

A key difference between the current, popular Rx approach to crystal healing and the crystal therapy approach outlined here has a lot to do with the level of personal responsibility someone believes they have in their healing work and how we each relate to the guides, tools, and teachers available to us. If we’re looking for a quick fix, a savior, a guru, dare I say a bypass…. the Rx model is the model that will be the most attractive to us. There is still a lot to be learned through that model. It’s where a lot of us start out.

If we understand that there is no quick fix or guru and that the work to heal comes from within, we can begin to relate to our external modalities, tools, and teachers in more authentic, deeper, richer ways.

Mineral Kingdom. I love that it’s called the Mineral Kingdom. Picture the Kingdom of Minerals in your mind’s eye. Who sits on the throne of this Kingdom and rules? Who are the lairds? (Yes, I’ve been reading too much Outlander). A world-renowned crystal author? A crystal healing teacher? A book? Or did you picture a crystal sitting on the throne of its kingdom? Crystals running the hamlets (mineral classes) and guiding the subjects?

In the library of this kingdom, do you see shelves lined with books written by people outside of the kingdom describing the Beings within the kingdom? I don’t. It doesn’t make sense. Autobiographies are so much more interesting than biographies. Why? Because I’d much rather hear from Shirley MacClaine herself about Shirley MacClaine’s life and experiences than I would anyone else who could only tell us how they interpret the life of Shirley MacClaine.

When I work with a crystal – the crystal is the guide: the teacher. I am the one doing the work, the digging of the well so to speak, and the crystal is the Director.

Every time I’ve tried to force a crystal into someone else’s box (X does Y) – everything goes radio silent. Crystals instruct me by “speaking” to me through the field of my Heart. Since I began to approach them based on what they tell me about themselves both physically as well as intuitively I have been able to work with them in deeper and more expansive ways than ever before. Confusion? Gone. Self-doubt? Gone. Lack of resonance? Gone. Before I found what I call the “Gienger Method,” I was frustrated by this feeling that I was missing some really important piece of the puzzle. That frustration is gone.

Crystal Power Crystal Healing, by Michael Gienger, teaches us that the crystal, through its own numerous physical aspects, tells us directly what its healing properties are. No middle man. No confusion. No generalities. When we understand what the physical aspects of the crystal are telling us about the subtle energetic aspects of the crystal, our work with them becomes more and more refined. We understand the various ways to work with crystals, why we’re working with them for a specific purpose or in a specific way, which crystals would work well together as an energetic ally with a singular purpose, and more. When we intuitively pick up a crystal, we do so understanding on a much deeper level what that crystal is offering to us.

crystal healingI encourage you to find Michael Gienger’s Crystal Power Crystal Healing if you’ve experienced the same kind of frustration Zina has had. It’s a required textbook when you register for the comprehensive, in-depth course that bridges crystal healing with the subtle energetic realm, the subtle energetic anatomy, personal healing, professional healing, and more. This course will not make you reliant on me. Its whole purpose is to empower you in your healing – personal and if applicable, professional. See more here: http://tanaschott.com/crystal-therapy-certification-course/

 

Crystal Healing and Citrine

Choosing and Working with Citrine in Subtle Healing

 Natural Citrine is difficult to find these days and when one does find it, it is usually quite expensive. Most of what is sold as Citrine in metaphysical and crystal shops is actually heat-treated amethyst. These heat-treated amethysts should not be as expensive as naturally occurring Citrine because amethyst is an abundant crystal and the treatment is not expensive. Additionally, I would assume that unless a piece is labeled as “natural” that it is not – so buyer beware.

Amethyst gets its color from iron – Fe2 or Fe4. Michael Gienger gives the exact same chemical composition for Amethyst as he does Citrine, noting that the difference is in how many valences the iron is lodged within the crystal lattice. Because the chemical composition of Amethyst and Citrine is the same, I personally do not have a problem working with a baked amethyst as a Citrine piece. The process of Amethyst changing to Citrine is the same whether it happens naturally in the earth or by human hands in an oven: it requires heating.

But what is Citrine when it is found and sold as a naturally occurring crystal? If you do a message board search in www.mindat.org, you’ll notice that there are on-going debates about what exactly counts as Citrine: which trace element included in the SiO2 changes Quartz to Citrine Quartz (Al or Fe3+?), and how exactly it is included into the atomic structure of the Quartz. What we realize is that among mineral collectors of all stripes, what counts as “true” Citrine is debatable and on numerous levels.

So is all yellow Quartz Citrine? Some say yes, so long as the Quartz is not made yellow by an external iron dusting. Others say no – that there are more qualifiers that must be met.

Does it matter?

For crystal healing therapists: does it matter if we are working with yellow Quartz or Citrine? In recent years within the crystal healing community, naming has become quite important – so important that some have created trademarks on the names given. I sometimes wonder if this focus on nomenclature might sideline our personal and practical progress toward healing our Selves and helping others to heal. When we work with a crystal, are we working with it because of what someone else calls it? Or are we working with it because of the subtle energies we sense? Does the name determine those subtle energies present, or does the crystal itself declare its purpose?

In the crystal therapy world, color is a big deal because chakras each have their own color assignment which correlates to the visible spectrum of light: ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Crystals are essentially Light information. One of the ways (there is more than one way) this information from a crystal is organized and conveyed (its purpose being declared) is through its color. (Recommended: What is Light? by Jonathan Goldman of The Essential Light Institute.)

Yellow is the color ray of the Solar Plexus Chakra. This is the chakra where the energies of destiny, personal will, emotional baggage, fear, Who Am I questions, ego, and personal health tend to reside. When this chakra is imbalanced – more specifically, underactive, the color yellow can be applied with the intention of boosting that energy – re-reminding that chakra of its role in a healthy, balanced state.

Crystal Therapy Practitioners turn to yellow crystals to help clients in a type of color therapy. Can we work with any yellow crystal to help bolster the solar plexus chakra’s energies? Sure. So in one respect, it doesn’t matter if we’re working with yellow Quartz or Citrine. However, we could get a little more refined in our approach.

 Let’s get refined

Consider what yellow Quartz is: SiO2 with impurities in the atomic structure and according to the mindat.org thread on the topic, these impurities could be from Aluminum (Al) or Iron (Fe). What subtle energies are carried in the elements Aluminum and Iron? This is when I turn to Michael Gienger’s book, Crystal Power Crystal Healing. (When we look up the roles each element plays in the realm of biology and physics, we begin to understand the connections being made on the subtle energetic level between elements and our subtle well-being.)

Gienger assigns the following properties to Aluminum (Al):

  • Calming effect on nervousness, fears, and feelings of guilt
  • Encourages the expression of feelings and releasing of behavioral patterns of holding back and holding onto things

To Iron (Fe), Gienger assigns the following properties:

  • Stimulating, activating effect
  • Encourages activity, initiative, dynamism, endurance, willpower, the ability to assert ourselves and more

We can see how, based on the subtle energetic roles of the Solar Plexus Chakra, either Aluminum or Iron could be helpful aids in reestablishing a healthy, balanced Solar Plexus depending on the unique situation and needs of the client.

I’m not a geologist – how would I know what elements are present in my yellow Quartz?

If your approach to crystal therapy is like mine, it is ideal to purchase a crystal knowing its chemical composition. This is why I prefer to purchase crystals from rockhounders, mineralogists, mineral hobbyists, and geologists. I purchase crystals from reputable, knowledgeable metaphysical dealers too. Of course, sometimes I purchase a crystal from someone who does not know the chemical composition and I can do some mineral testing or I simply can’t know for sure what I am working with. In those cases, other energies are drawing me to work with the crystal and I don’t have to know the elements present – it’s not important.

Just as we can get caught up in nomenclature, so too can we get caught up with any other aspect of a crystal, including chemical composition – sidestepping our personal healing by getting distracted. If we can’t know, we can’t know. When we can know – we work with that knowledge to help us refine our art.

 A baked Citrine druse:

citrine and subtle healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A natural Citrine point, likely from Zambia:

citrine and subtle healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Not Citrine. This is a “golden healer” or yellow Quartz from Arkansas:

citrine and subtle healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Citrine cluster from DRC (Congo):
citrine and subtle healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about my Private Practice and Crystal Therapy Course offerings, please visit www.tanaschott.com

© Copyright, All Rights Reserved, Elemental Healing Arts & Training, LLC 2015

What’s so great about Black Tourmaline?

Why do so many people talk about Black Tourmaline being important? For many, it’s THE go-to crystal for grounding, earthing, protecting. Why might that be?

Black TourmalineTourmaline is both pyroelectric (generates a charge when heated) and piezoelectric (generates a charge with applied pressure). These qualities are notable in subtle energetic healing practices when we wish to transmute energies that no longer serve. There are well over 4,000 named minerals on planet Earth. Of those, only a handful of common minerals are both piezo- and pyro-electric.

Black Tourmaline is a basic sodium iron aluminum boro-silicate. The primary elements in Black Tourmaline are Na (Sodium) and Fe (Iron). Iron is believed to make up 80% of the Earth’s core and has magnetic properties providing us that grounding energy we sometimes need when we haven’t spent enough time in nature, away from electronics, or when we’ve spent too much time inside our heads. Sodium and boron are known for their cleansing, protective properties giving us the support to transmute energy which no longer serves.

Fun fact: both Sodium and Iron are found in the stars and the Sun.

Black Tourmaline can be found in both igneous and metamorphic rocks. Igneous formation is, simply put, liquid turning into a solid. Sometimes our energy is like uncontained liquid – all over the place. Igneous formations carry an energy of regrouping and reorganizing into a productive form. Metamorphic rocks – nothing remains as it was before. Sometimes we need change – transformation – and with that transformation comes pressure. Black Tourmaline offers a reminder that it is entirely possible to survive major pressure and transformation.

© Copyright, All Rights Reserved, Elemental Healing Arts & Training, LLC 2015