Introduction to Crystals with Judy Hall


I just completed Judy Hall’s online crystal healing course, “Introduction to Crystals”, so I thought I would give a little overview and review of the course for those of you who might be interested in taking it.

First, a bit about the course itself. The course is entirely online, available through HayHouse, and all materials are provided when you sign up (except the crystals, of course!), so there are no hidden expenses. As of this writing, the course costs US$49.99. It consists of the following lessons:

Welcome/History of Crystal Healing (1 video)

Lesson 1: Choosing Your Crystals (3 videos, 1 PDF)

Lesson 2: Cleansing, Programming & Grounding (3 videos, 1 PDF)

Lesson 3: Crystal Shapes & Formations (2 videos, 1 PDF)

Lesson 4: Crystal Essences (2 videos, 1 PDF)

Lesson 5: Space Clearing & Protection (2 videos, 1 PDF, 1 audio meditation)

Lesson 6: Using Crystals to Heal (5 videos, 1 PDF, 1 audio meditation)

Lesson 7: The Crystal Skull Teachers (3 videos)

The PDF files are available to download. The video and audio files are available to watch anytime via your account at Hayhouse.eu.com.

The videos range in length from about 3-15 minutes each, so even if you’re very busy, they are easy to squeeze in. You can watch from pretty much any device, which is also very convenient – I completed the entire course on my iPad, with no troubles at all. The PDF files not only contain some important points from the videos, they also contain some extra information, for example: a crystal glossary with photos & info of nearly 40 different crystals; charts & information about 8 chakras, their functions, and some suggested crystals to use at each one; several crystal grid layouts, and more. There are also two guided meditations in the course, one for earth healing, and one for self-healing with a Brandenburg Amethyst crystal, both of which were quite enjoyable.

I have already received crystal healing certification through a very in-depth course of study, but decided to take this course for two reasons: 1) I enjoy learning, and everyone has a slightly different method of using crystals. 2) I am a fan of Judy Hall’s Crystal Bible volumes 1, 2 and 3 (in fact, they were my first books about crystal healing), so I was very interested to see what I could learn from her. And, I feel like I learned quite a lot! This was a very interesting, informative and enjoyable course, I am sorry it’s over! My only real complaint about it is that I wish it were longer, or maybe the first in a series, because I was enjoying it, and I like to study things in great detail. Also, ideally I would like to be able to download the video and audio files to keep as a reference, and to be able to use them offline. 

But, all in all, it was a very good course. If you’re new to crystals, and looking for an affordable introduction to crystal healing, with a very well-known teacher, this would be a wonderful choice. Or, if you’re like me, and just want to continue learning, and get a different viewpoint on how crystals can be used, again, I would highly recommend this course. If you like crystals, I think you’ll have a lot of fun with it!

Amber and Copal


Baltic Amber formed naturally in a wide variety of colors, a small sampling of which is shown here. (Photo by Michal Kosior, in the Public Domain)

Crystal System: Amorphous (does not have a crystalline structure)

Hardness: Amber: 2-2.5, Copal: 1.5-2.5

Colors: it is said that there are over 250 different shades of Amber. Some of the better known colors are: honey, lemon, cherry, green, and the rare blue.

Amber is a fossilized tree resin that has been known and used, both decoratively and medicinally, since Neolithic times (approximately 10,200 B.C. – 2,000 B.C.). The resins that form Amber are from the vascular tissues of trees. Many different types of trees exude this substance when they are injured, or during times of extreme climate change, as a self-healing mechanism. In the case of Amber, it must have been somethings pretty extreme (one theory was a period of global warming, another suggests that the trees were affected by some as yet unidentified disease) for that many trees to exude the resin in such huge amounts at the same time. Whatever the cause, at the time that this all happened, that sticky, fragrant resin would have been everywhere- coating the forest floor, hanging from the trees, just covering everything! Some of the massive lumps of Amber that are still being found today support this, as they can weigh 9 pounds or more.

But, just trees exuding resin, even in large amounts, does not necessarily mean that Amber will form. The resin has to undergo a variety of physical and chemical changes, under rather specialized conditions, for many thousands of years, before it becomes Amber.

Copal, on the other hand, is not considered a “true” Amber. Yes, it is a type of aromatic, gummy resin secreted from trees in times of distress. But, it is not as old as true Amber. In fact, Copal is an intermediate stage during the formation of Amber. Today it is oftentimes sold as Amber, but true Amber is a little bit harder and a lot more valuable. Copal is usually from Mesoamerica or East Africa.


Copal specimens from Madagascar, with inclusions of a variety of insects & a flower. (Photo by Didier Descouens, distributed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license)

Amber is mined globally, with Baltic Amber being the most well-known. Caribbean Amber is also quite famous, partly due to the unusual and rare colors that have been found, such as fluorescent green and blue. Blue Amber is found in the Dominican Republic. In artificial light it looks like a regular piece of Amber. But, hold it in the sunlight, and it glows an intense shade of fluorescent blue. Held under ultraviolet light and it turns a bright milky blue. When blue Amber is cut, it emits a very distinctive, but pleasant odor, which is different from other colors of Amber. Blue Amber is very rare.


A raw piece of Blue Amber from the Dominican Republic. (photo is in the Public Domain)

Real green Amber is also quite rare, and completely different from the green Amber commonly found for sale today. That “green Amber” has been treated in some way to get the green color (I’ll talk more about that in a minute), which is beautiful, kind of a medium olive or mossy green. Real, natural green Amber is a mix of clear Amber, and Amber that is a pale yellowish-green. It’s a very distinctive color, very different from the treated green Amber, and so it is easy to identify even if you haven’t seen it before. There is usually a lot of sediment and other organic material present in the natural green Amber as well. Because of this, it is sometimes called “earth Amber”.


The two photos above show a flower pendant made of different colors of Baltic Amber set in Silver. All the Amber shows signs of heat treating. The green pieces have been blackened, as is very obvious from the back view. When held up to the light, all the Amber in this piece is transparent except for the two green pieces. This is what you typically get when you purchase “green” Baltic Amber, particularly in jewelry. 

Most Amber, particularly that used in jewelry, has been heat treated. This is done to improve the color and clarity, as most raw Amber is opaque. Heating can also add “spangles”, those little glittering spots, to a piece of Amber. It also makes the stone a bit more durable, which is important since Amber is very soft. Another treatment occasionally done to Amber is called “pressed Amber ” or “amberoid”. Pressing is when small pieces of Amber, or Amber powder, are melted down (usually only partly, unless powder is being used) and pressed together to create a larger piece. This usually improves the clarity of the stone, without changing its other properties, but, sometimes a color or dye may be added during this process, so I personally would avoid it. Unfortunately, it is a rather common practice. More rarely, a piece of Amber will be dyed or stained to improve its color. Again, I prefer to avoid this if possible.

The treatments discussed above are applicable to pretty much any color of Amber, but there are certain treatments that are more color-specific. Green Amber, for example, is not always naturally green. It is frequently created by applying low heat and pressure in an autoclave. This simulates a rapid aging process, while also creating the green color. It also helps to give Copal a stability similar to that of Amber. Occasionally, green Amber is also created by blackening (with jeweler’s paste) or painting the bottom of a cabochon of pale honey colored Amber. Another method of blackening is to burn the back of an Amber cabochon, so that from the top it appears to be some shade of green.

Another treatment which can be applied to any color of Amber is the creation of a doublet, although this is not done very frequently. This may be called a “doublet” or it may be called “assembled”. Basically, they take a thin slice of Amber and attach it to a thin piece of some other material, often manmade. This is done to improve the color, but it should always be disclosed- usually you can tell by a close examination of the stone whether this has been done or not. However, I feel it is unnecessary to do this with Amber, and usually is a sign that the stone is of very poor quality. So if it has not been disclosed up front, that really raises a red flag to me.

You need to be very careful when purchasing Amber, not only because of the treatments, but because there are a lot of fakes out there. Many “Amber” beads are just Amber colored plastic. Also, be aware that many specimens and souvenirs of Amber that have insects or other creatures trapped inside may not be genuine- some of them are plastic or synthetic resin (which is also a kind of plastic) that has actually been poured over the creature while it was still alive. It sickens me that anyone would do this, I cannot begin to say how much! But it has been documented, and I think it’s very important to be aware of it so that you can avoid accidentally purchasing something so terrible. Again, this is why it’s so very important to find a dealer you can trust, instead of just buying the first thing that catches your eye. One shop I have found that is actually certified as using only genuine Baltic Amber is Andzia’s Amber Jewelry. I have ordered from them before, and was very happy with the items I received, as well as with their customer service.

Because Amber and Copal are so soft, you need to be very careful with them. Don’t leave them sitting in direct light for any length of time, and be sure to keep them away from any heat sources. Do not let them come into contact with anything abrasive. Avoid contact with perfumes, lotions, solvents (including chlorinated water),alcohol etc, and never use an ultrasonic cleaner. To clean Amber or Copal, just wipe it gently with a soft, slightly dampened cloth. These stones can be scratched very easily too, so take care when wearing or handling them. If your Amber seems to be losing its luster, I have heard that rubbing it with a drop of olive oil on a soft cloth can restore it.

Amber and Copal have a long history, and quite a bit of lore surrounding them. I will be covering those fascinating aspects of these beautiful stones in my next post.

Charoite Healing Properties 



My beautiful Charoite cabochon.

Chakra: Crown, Third Eye, Solar Plexus 
Astrological Sign: Sagittarius, Scorpio, Virgo, Aquarius 

Element: Water, Air

Charoite has not been available for long commercially, but it is already well-known for its many healing properties. Because it works so well at transmuting negative thoughts and emotions, such as fear or anger, into positive ones, it is sometimes called the “stone of transformation” or the “stone of power”. It helps you to release those negative emotions and move forward.

Charoite is also known as the “stone of inspiration” because it enhances creativity and spiritual growth, and can help bring new insight into old situations. It enhances self-esteem by allowing you to see situations more clearly. This can also bring courage, inner strength and assertiveness when needed. It is very helpful during times of change. 

It can help you to accept others as they are, and it also helps to stimulate unconditional love.

Charoite can help you to have a more relaxed attitude, by reducing stress and worry.

Psychically, Charoite can enhance clairvoyance and prophesy.  Meditate with it to release your fears. It can help to cleanse your aura, and accelerate spiritual growth. It can also be helpful when trying to determine the source of a disease, so that you can treat the cause and not just the symptoms.



Charoite (photo by Piotr Sosnowski, distributed under a CC by 3.0 license)

Physically, Charoite is often used in treating ailments of the eyes, head, heart, liver, pancreas and the skeletal structure. Personally, I have found it to be very useful in treating migraines, and calming an accelerated heartbeat.

It is recommended for detoxification, particularly from food or alcohol. It is also said to be beneficial in regulating the blood pressure. Charoite is sometimes used in treating nervous system disorders, as well as depression, bi-polar disorder, autism and ADHD, as well as muscular cramps.

It is said that Charoite can protect from radiation. Because of this, it is recommended for people who work with x-rays and other machines that put off high levels of radiation.

Charoite is said to regenerate the body in times of fatigue. It has been used to treat insomnia in adults and children. It is also used to treat nightmares, or fears that appear in your dreams. To do this, it is said to be most effective if you place the Charoite, along with a piece of Amethyst, under your pillow while you’re sleeping. (I do not recommend placing stones under your pillow if you are a very active sleeper, nor do I think it’s suitable for young children. In those cases, placing the stones on a bedside table should work just as well) It is said to induce powerful, but positive, dreams. (I recently tried doing this, and I had a very interesting dream the first night, so it’s definitely worth trying!)



Charoite Bowl & Beads (photo by Piotr Sosnowski, distributed under a CC by 3.0 license)

Charoite also has many applications in Chinese medicine. It is said to resonate with communication between the Heart and the Kidneys due to its purple color. It is used frequently in treating the Large Intestine.

Because it is a rock it can contain a wide variety of trace minerals (which was discussed a bit in my last post), which also influence Charoite’s healing properties. For example, the calcium and fluoride content in Charoite make it very effective in treating the bones. Because it contains electrolytes, it can be used to support fluid metabolism and conduct Qi. The fluoride, in combination the purging effects of the hydroxy group contained in Charoite, makes it an excellent choice for drawing toxins out of the body.

In acupuncture (or acupressure), Charoite resonates with the Governor Vessel (Du Mai), and also supports Divergent Meridian treatment.

Because it regulates the waterways in the body, and encourages fluids to expel pathogenic factors, it is good for treating congestive heart failure, fluid retention (particularly in the chest), common cold, and any kind of radiation exposure, such as x-rays, EMFs or ultraviolet radiation.

Physically, it is also used to treat tightness in the chest, menstrual cramps, cirrhosis of the liver, neuropathy of the feet and legs, skin cancer caused by sun exposure, lower back pain, jaundice in newborns, leg cramps, facial tic, Bell’s Palsy, ADHD, and autism in children.

Mentally, Charoite is used to treat poor concentration and confusion.

Emotionally, it is useful for treating stress, fear and insecurity, particularly those related to changes in life. It is particularly useful for easing the pain of separation and parting, and for letting go of sadness that you may be holding onto from past losses. It is also useful for feelings of apathy, or the belief that nothing in your life can (or will) ever change. Charoite not only promotes physical detox, it is effective for promoting cleansing in the living environment, of the emotions and thoughts, etc…

It is recommended to wear Charoite jewelry when receiving x-rays.

Charoite is used topically for injuries and cramping, as well as cirrhosis of the liver, or insulin dependency of the pancreas. In these cases, just place the stone on the affected area.

A Charoite elixir is used for detoxing, but always use the indirect method of preparation. Not only can the stone be damaged from prolonged periods in the water, but one of the possible impurities in Charoite is aluminum. If aluminum is present in the stone, it can leech into the water of your elixir, and this is very toxic.

Charoite is often used in combination with other stones, here are a few combinations to try:

– use with Selenite and Smokey Quartz to flush out dead tissue and direct Kidney Qi to the Spleen. This is used when treating a damaged pancreas.

– if you are performing a Divergent Meridian treatment, the effect of Charoite will be increased when users in conjunction with Fluorite or Apophyllite.

Disclaimer: Crystal healing is meant to be a complementary, supportive therapy. It is NOT a replacement for medical care. If you are experiencing health problems, please see a doctor. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes, it does not constitute medical advice.


Charoite closeup (photo by Piotr Sosnowski, distributed under a GFDL license)

Charoite


Closeup of Charoite (Photo by James St. John, distributed under a CC by 2.0 license)

Crystal System: Monoclinic 

Hardness: 5-6

Colors: violet to deep lilac 

Charoite is a rare silicate mineral with a very unique composition. It is currently only found in one place on earth, the Chara River (from which the name Charoite is derived) in the Sakha Republic, Yakutia in Siberian Russia. It was first discovered in the 1940s, although it wasn’t available commercially until 1978. 

Although Charoite is a distinct mineral in its own right, the Charoite normally available is classified as a rock, because it contains other minerals. Usually these rocks are mostly Charoite, with slight traces of microcline feldspar, aergirine or tinkasite. 

It is formed through a process called “contact metamorphism”, which occurs when deposits of limestone are transformed through heat, pressure, and the infusion of unique chemicals, in this case alkali-rich nephline syenite intrusions. This process is actually a rather common geological phenomenon, which makes Charoite’s rarity something of a mystery.

Charoite has been described as “unnaturally beautiful”, and is often mistaken as being synthetic. One of the main reasons for this are the intricate swirling patterns, which are considered a signature trait of Charoite. These swirls are caused by the interlocking of complex fibrous crystals, and are completely natural. It is common for there to be several shades of violet in one piece, all mixed together. Streaks of orange, black or green are also seen quite frequently, these are caused by the tinkasite and/or aergirine impurities within the stone. Adding to the “unnatural” appearance of Charoite is the fact that many stones exhibit a slight natural chatoyancy. This is also completely natural.


A Russian postage stamp from the year 2000 featuring Charoite (this photo is in the public domain according to the Russian Post/Почта России)

Unfortunately, due to the rarity of the stone, and the ever increasing demand for it, some people are afraid that the only known source of Charoite will soon be mined out.

Most Charoite is untreated, but occasionally you may run across a piece that has been stabilized (this generally involves the stone being injected with some sort of plastic, and is commonly done to stones like turquoise). I have only run across this once, when I was looking for Charoite beads for a project I was working on. Personally, I don’t like stabilized stones, so I passed on the beads. As long as you are buying from a knowledgeable and trustworthy source, they should be able to inform you of any treatments that have been done to a stone. So just be careful who you choose to do business with!

Although Charoite wasn’t officially discovered by scientists until the 1940s, it was known to the native peoples of the area for much longer. It was carved into decorative objects by the Mongols. On special feast days, they would boil a piece of Charoite in tea, and all the members of the family would then drink it. This was believed to strengthen family ties, and protect those who drank it from evil. Charoite also has many healing properties, which I will write about in my next post…

Book Review: Stone of Kings


 “Stone of Kings: In Search of the Lost Jade of the Maya” by Gerard Helferich

Jade has been considered a precious material since ancient times, often reserved for royal use only, and has been particularly well documented in Asia. But archaeologists in Central America have uncovered numerous jade artifacts, beautifully carved, yet no one knew where this jade came from. Some people speculated that the Chinese brought it. Others say that it came from citizens of the lost city of Atlantis. Still others believed that it had to have come from local sources. But no one could say for certain because, shortly after the Spanish conquest of Central America, the secrets of  jade were forgotten, lost in time. But that didn’t stop people from wondering where it came from, and it didn’t stop them from searching for it either.

I like that this book not only covers a rather obscure topic, but that it has a little something for everyone: adventure, archaeology, geology, history, politics, biography. It has a brief history of the Olmec and Maya peoples, and of Guatemala. There are descriptions of archaeological finds and artifacts. Want to know the difference between jadeite jade and nephrite jade? How jade is formed in the earth? Or how jade is carved? You’ll find the answers here. There is a brief, but interesting, talk about how the Mayans used numbers and recorded time (it’s complicated!). The book touches briefly on metaphysical and medicinal uses of jade, particularly in ancient times. Not only do you read about the people searching for the lost jade, you get little mini biographies of them too.

I only have two complaints with this book. In a few areas, it did get a little draggy to me. Luckily, those parts didn’t last too long! And, my main complaint is that there were not enough pictures, especially of the jade! Don’t get me wrong, I’m interested in seeing photos of the people I’m reading about. But let’s face it, if you’re reading this book, it’s most likely because you are interested in jade, so it’s a pretty safe assumption that you expect to see some, right? Unfortunately, you’re not going to see much here.

That said, I still found it to be a very interesting book, with many fascinating little tidbits to be found throughout. So, if you’re interested jade, or any of the subjects I mentioned above, I think you’ll want to give this book a try…

In the following links, you can see some examples of Mesoamerican jade artifacts. Because after reading this, I really wanted to see some!

Met Museum Jade in Mesoamerica
 Mesoamerican Jade at Authentic Maya

Also, in my search for photos of jade, I discovered the website/online store for the jade company that Mary Lou & Jay Ridinger founded – several chapters in “Stone of Kings” are dedicated to their story and discoveries, so I think it’s worth sharing here. Their company is called Jade Maya .

Cavansite Healing Properties 


My pretty little Cavansite ball, mined in India.


Chakra: Throat, Third Eye 

Astrological Sign: Aquarius

Element: Air

Beautiful Cavansite is a stone of purification and regeneration. It enhances the intuition, psychic abilities (particularly clairvoyance and clairaudience), and communication. It helps you to combine intuition and logic, reminding you to think before you act. It is also helpful in addressing destructive behaviors and ingrained thought patterns, encouraging self-reflection and self-respect.

This stone can help you to feel better both mentally and physically. Mentally, because it supports optimistic thinking and inspiration, and promotes new ideas, while dispelling negative thoughts. Physically, because it energetically encourages the release of endorphins in the brain, which brings about feelings of happiness and general well-being.

Emotionally, Cavansite is very soothing, and calms frazzled nerves. It also provides a joyful curiosity towards life, and a desire for new and exciting things to happen.

Cavansite is a very protective stone, and is particularly useful for protecting healers during a healing session. It is also good for empaths, as it can help shield them from the emotions of others.

It is also said to encourage an appreciation of the beauty around you, and makes you aware of the need to care for and protect the environment.

Physically, Cavansite can be used to treat migraines, tinnitus, sore throat, disorders of the bones and teeth (including osteoporosis and calcium deficiency), joint flexibility, and issues with the bladder, blood and kidneys. It can be used to stabilize the pulse rate, and assists the endocrine system. It can also be used to help prevent recurring diseases from returning, and in healing damaged DNA.

Cavansite can help you with healing on all levels because it raises your vibration, making you more attuned to a healing response.


Cavansite on matrix from Wagholi Quarry, Poonah District, Maharashtra, India (Photo by greenzaku on deviantArt)

Cavansite also has applications in Chinese medicine. Because of its vanadium content, it is said to be anti-inflammatory, and particularly beneficial to the circulatory system. It supports communication between the Heart and Kidneys, stimulates the Spleen, and brings energy to the Kidneys. You can place the stone on the body over areas of inflammation, for example: place over the lungs to treat coughing, or over a tumor to treat it. Some other conditions that can be treated with Cavansite according to Chinese medicine include: osteoporosis, anemia (due to loss of blood), hemorrhaging, poor vision, hearing loss, and eye irritation. When treating eye irritation, it is recommended to make an elixir using Cavansite and clear Quartz to wash the eyes with (do NOT place the stones directly in the water, always use the indirect method of preparation). You can also drink this elixir to help remove excess Heat from the body (again, always use the indirect method of preparation). Emotionally, Cavansite is beneficial for people who resist change, and have trouble moving forward into a new phase of life. It can also help strengthen the throat chakra, enabling you to release emotions through speech. The effects of Cavansite can be strengthened by clear quartz, or any stones that affect the Kidneys, such as blue apatite or blue lace agate.

Disclaimer: Crystal healing is meant to be a complementary, supportive therapy. It is NOT a replacement for medical care. If you are experiencing health problems, please see a doctor. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes,  it does not constitute medical advice.

Cavansite 

Cavansite cluster on matrix, from Wagholi Quarry, Pune (Poonah) District, Maharashtra, India (photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

Crystal System: Orthorhombic 

Hardness: 3-4

Colors: Blue, Greenish-Blue, Teal

Cavansite is a fairly rare mineral, first discovered in Malheur County, Oregon in 1967. It did not garner much attention at first, though, as the specimens discovered were small and pale, and so not considered to be a very great find. But, when some very pretty, richly hued specimens of the same mineral were discovered in the Poonah District in India in 1973, interest in Cavansite grew. It has since been discovered in New Zealand and Brazil as well, but the best stones are still from India.

Cavansite on Stilbite from Owyhee Dam, Lake Owyhee State Park, Malheur County, Oregon, USA (photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

The name “Cavansite” is derived from the chemical composition of the stone: calcium vanadium silicate. The gorgeous blue color is a result of the vanadium content. It forms in crystal aggregates, most often little spiked balls. It occurs as a secondary mineral in basaltic and andesitic rocks, and is often found on a matrix of zeolites or Apophyllite. 


Rare Cavansite in stalctitic formation from Wagholi Quarry, Pune (Poonah) District, Maharashtra, India (photo by Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com, distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license)

It is somewhat brittle crystal with a vitreous luster, and is found in gorgeous shades of electric blue and blue-green. Because it is somewhat brittle, rare, and not very hard, it is not often used in jewelry. When it is used for jewelry, it is generally a piece of Cavansite in matrix (zeolite, for example) that is used, and, more often than not, it is made into a pendant. Pieces of Cavansite in matrix are also sometimes tumbled or cut and polished as cabochons, usually to be sold at crystal shops for healing purposes.

Unfortunately, because it was discovered so recently, there is not much to tell in the way of history and lore about Cavansite. But, it does have many uses in crystal healing, so be sure to check back for my next post, which will cover the healing and metaphysical properties of Cavansite!