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.

Protection and Shielding – part of our healing and evolution?

protection shielding Protection and Shielding – part of our healing and evolution?

“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
~ Hafiz
Words are incredible tools that reveal conscious and subconscious thought patterns. We carry these thoughts (forms of energy) around with us always, until we determine that the energy no longer serves us and we seek healing. Our thought fields are really subtle energetic manifestation generators. This means the words we choose to describe our experiences are important symbols.
I engage with people who are in the spiritual/metaphysical/healing (SMH) community-at-large and I read SMH blogs and articles. The SMH community is filled with people who express an authentic desire to help other people heal and to work on their own healing. They see this Earth and their life in it as a school of sorts, designed to provide opportunities for evolution.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed one particular recurring theme that reveals a need to shift subconscious thought patterns so that we can more accurately convey to each other and to ourselves what we desire – which is our personal healing and the desire to help other people experience healing. Metaphysical-based healing talk can have a self-victimizing energy. Here I’m speaking specifically to the concepts of protection and shielding – a belief that we need to protect or shield ourselves from “negative” energy. Whenever we point outside of ourselves for how we feel, we dis-empower ourselves and we bypass our healing work. Blaming external sources for our discomfort subconsciously perpetuates the idea that we are not fully responsible for our lives and how we choose to experience them.
I do think much of this is subconscious because when I speak to other subtle energy workers or clients of subtle healing, no one says they don’t expect to take responsibility for their lives or that they are looking for “easy healing.” Many acknowledge that this experience of healing is not for the faint of heart. People are willing to do the work.
I think what has happened is that humanity has evolved but our language has not. I think our realization of Oneness has blossomed but we’re still using duality-based, tribal language. What once felt empowered now creates a defeated and passive energy because we haven’t updated our word processing software.
Let’s look at some examples:
“What crystals should I carry to protect me?”
“How can I protect myself from energy vampires?”
“How can I shield myself before going into a store/session/family gathering?”
When someone asks me how to protect or shield, I ask, “What do you believe you need to protect yourself/shield yourself from?” and, “Why or how does X feel threatening for you?” I want to help the person (and me) get clarity about exactly what they are seeking to change and why. Through discussions I come to understand that the real opportunity for each of us is to learn how to maintain our energy and space by knowing ourselves deeply and authentically. Usually the person isn’t seeking protection or shielding at all; especially when their overarching desire is to evolve and heal. Protection and shielding are separators and rely on a foundation of dualism. To learn and grow, we require integration – being fully present in the classroom with everything that is present.
Let’s talk about separation for a minute. People who work with subtle energy experience physical time/space and subtle time/space. Physical time/space – our 3-dimensional reality of time – yields birth and death, growth and decay, and is dualistic in nature. Separation abounds. Subtle time/space is Oneness. It is where everything nearly exists simultaneously in harmony. All options are available, popping in and out of existence at faster than light speed. There are variations on this theme, but this is the gist. Subtle time/space is where we do our work, the “place of understanding” from which we experience healing. It is everywhere and nowhere. We experience our lives in multiple dimensions simultaneously so paradox, which is “both/and” is natural. This is important in healing work.
In The Gift of the Body, Jonathan Goldman writes, “The heart is truthful and clear; it refuses polarization.” When we are living from our Heart space duality feels uncomfortable. That feeling of discomfort is a signal that we’re being given a choice to move from response to reaction, from Heart space to ego. Duality is firmly in physical time/space and we see it being lived out in the way people choose to live and view the world. It is perpetuated by philosophies such as nationalism, tribalism, and is found in religion. Humanity is slowly shifting from dualism to integration. But we’re in Redwood seedling stage and we’re still relying on old dualistic language to talk about integrative, Heart centered healing.
Protection and shielding are words that by their definitions create “us versus them” energy which is a dualistic approach to a situation perceived as a threat. It is a reactionary stance. Seeking protection or shielding indicates you need to defend against someone or something that can harm.
Think I’m being overly pedantic?  (It’s entirely possible. I was an English major who wanted to focus on Rhetoric. Because there are so many career opportunities for English majors with a concentration in Rhetoric). But just for grins, let’s imagine we are standing in a park. You are barefoot, feet in the grass, at peace, enjoying the view. Someone walks by and says to you: Protect yourself. How do your body and mind react to that phrase? Do you take a boxing stance? Think of all the exit strategies out of the park? Cower? Look around for a table to hide under? Panic and wish you had a weapon?
Shielding is the act of creating a barrier between a person and something else for the purpose of providing protection. Its definition is also defensive, creating a dualistic and reactionary attitude.
“Wait,” I can hear people saying. “Are you suggesting that we not protect ourselves? Are you suggesting we actually interact with that which we perceive as harmful?”
Buckle in because yes, that is what I am suggesting – most of the time and when we are feeling strong enough to engage. Why would I suggest such a thing? Because perceptions are not necessarily truth and we are rarely in actual danger. There are certainly experiences which can end life or severely cripple us in some capacity and no, I am not suggesting we run toward that. However, we need to ask ourselves, for the sake of Heart-centered healing, whether we truly require protection or if we are simply uncomfortableThere is a natural tendency to treat anything that makes us uncomfortable as a threat. But 99% of the time, it’s simply a natural state of growth. Learning and growing and healing are uncomfortable experiences. If we are comfortable all the time, we’re in stasis.
When people ask me how they can energetically protect themselves and I ask from whom/what? The answers are usually something along the lines of:
  • I don’t like how I feel when I go to someone’s house/a public place/etc.
  • A person really makes me uncomfortable and drains me of my energy.
  • I don’t trust the energy of that person/place/thing.
What I’m hearing is, “I feel uncomfortable, I don’t feel like I’m in control, and I don’t know how to process it.”
“I don’t like how I feel at…” is an example of not feeling sure how to stay firmly Heart centered and grounded no matter where I am at.
“A person really makes me uncomfortable and drains me of my energy…” is an example of not feeling sure how to stay firmly Heart centered while being clear about my boundaries.
“I don’t trust the energy of that person/place/thing (or the energy is really negative/evil)…” is an example of not feeling sure how to stay Heart centered and grounded in my truth no matter where I am or who I am with.
When we are willing to face what we fear or what makes us feel uncomfortable and work toward understanding it, our perception of it changes and we open ourselves up to healing and transformation. To approach something from the space of our Heart requires letting our guard down. If we’re healers and we’re shielding ourselves, how are we engaging with our clients’ energies? I know it can feel scary to feel other people’s stuff or unfamiliar energies. But we need to be willing to learn to discern between feeling scared of what actually helps us do our work, and feeling scared because we are actually in danger.
As a subtle energy worker, I don’t teach people shielding visualizations. I personally find the practice disempowering. That is my personal experience. I know it is a helpful practice for others and if you practice shielding and it is helpful – I’m not telling you to stop. I tried to learn how to shield for a couple of years after I was first told that I was an empath because it was what I was told to do. I felt frustrated and stopped trying to learn the technique when I realized that in order to heal I needed to be with what made me feel scared. For me, shielding (or attempting to) kept me in a state of fear of the unknown which was actually quite knowable and usually not at all scary once I came face to face with it. The energies that made me uncomfortable for so long just wanted to be seen. All I had to do was look and acknowledge it and the fear dissipated.
As a crystal therapy practitioner/teacher, I don’t recommend crystals for protection. I don’t view myself or others  requiring protection and in my practice, crystals are not worked with as talismans. Crystals are fantastic subtle energy tools for those who are sensitive to them. They offer much in the way of subtle energetic support when worked with for the highest good of all. In my practice crystals help us see ourselves more clearly, help us get in touch with our subtle anatomy, our emotions, mental processes, and spiritual development as well as offer energetic support as we work toward healing. Crystals can help us transmute unwanted energetic patterns, yes, but before we can work with a crystal for that purpose, we need to understand what we want to transmute and why. If you ask me, “What crystal would you recommend to me as I learn how to become less fearful,” I can help you with that with some discussion.
So, okay, you won’t recommend a crystal for helping me protect myself, and you don’t teach shielding exercises. So what do I do?
Creating healthy boundaries is about becoming familiar with your own energy, learning how to maintain Heart-centered groundedness, and being clear about what energies you are willing and ready to work with. When energy you don’t want to engage with arrives, you can say, “I see you. Not now,” without experiencing fear or self-doubt. It’s the difference between feeling fear and victimization, or being firm in one’s autonomy, willing to take responsibility for their experience of life. That’s what we focus on when I work with people.
Someone asked me, “What is the difference between setting a boundary and shielding?
When I visualize an energetic boundary, I see it as a wooden fence a little lower than shoulder height. Similar to the fences people erect to discern property boundaries. (This is my dance space. This is your dance space. Let’s cha-cha.) I can easily talk to my neighbors over the top of the fence. Sometimes I open the fence gate and invite them in for coffee, dinner or game night. Other neighbors who meander by are acknowledged from my Heart space, but are not invited in because I know that in that moment I’m not up for it and I am respecting myself by not engaging out of shame or guilt. But I see them and they see me. We smile at each other. There is still movement and interaction between me and what is on the other side of the fence.
When I was taught to shield, it involved visualizing being completely encompassed within a golden egg of light. I know there are variations on the theme, but this is what I was taught and when I couple that with what I envision when I hear the word shield: I see myself crouching behind a big metal plate, sword drawn – it just doesn’t feel fluid enough for me. To me, shielding feels defensive and carries an energy of survival – it’s either it or me. While setting a boundary feels both/and to me. I’m still available for engagement with whoever comes along if I decide I am up for it, and I’m also responsible for how I choose to engage and for how long. Again – that might feel pedantic to some. That’s okay. My point is – are we being defensive or open? Are we honoring ourselves without shutting down or shutting out?
This is a lifelong process and we can expect to change our boundaries to accommodate new findings and growth. For the person who desires to heal – there is no getting around the work. It involves learning to be honest, vulnerable, living with integrity and in your truth. Regardless from where or how the work arrives – it often involves feeling uncomfortable and even sometimes existentially scared. But we are not alone in this work. We have each other and if we are willing to be vulnerable with trusted fellow journeyers and honest with ourselves, the experiences of this life can be infinite and expanding in ways we can’t even imagine.
In gratitude and Love, Tana

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

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