Stones of Wonder

Crystals have many properties in healing and communication that have intrigued humans for thousands of years

Jo Buchanan explores the multifaceted properties of crystals that have intrigued humans over millennia, from Druid ceremonies to the silicon chip

Much has been written about the healing properties of crystals but over the centuries, crystals have been used as tools for many different purposes.

From earliest times there have always been connections between crystals and religious practice. There are churches still standing today, built during the Middle Ages, where crystals were used to inlay their altars. Winchester Cathedral is built on the site of a former stone circle, the stones of which contained a wealth of natural inlaid clear quartz crystal. The early Christians built all their churches on the sites of stone circles in order to suppress old pagan beliefs and gain a captive congregation. The stone circles were originally erected at these sites because they were located on earth energy currents.

Avebury is the largest henge and stone circle ever constructed. It is the centre of an enormous landscape temple from Neolithic times, which included such huge and important monuments as Silbury Hill, Merlin's Mound and West Kennett Long Barrow. The main stone circle contained two smaller circles, a solar or 'male' circle and a lunar or 'female' circle. It is believed that it was probably connected to Stonehenge, nearly 20 miles away.

Every single standing stone at Avebury, Stonehenge and anywhere in Britain is made of crystal bearing rock. On some stones you see clear quartz crystal veins. On others, large chunks of milky quartz protrude from the surface. The combination of the crystal, stone, earth energy lines and water courses below, formed a powerful means of healing and transmission for the Druids, who used the stone circles for their ceremonies. Harnessing solar rays of the sun by day and lunar rays from the moon by night, intent on spreading healing to the earth and establishing communication to the 'otherworld', the Druids used natural forces to create supernatural events. They carried crystal as a symbol of their spiritual power and the Arch Druid Merlin was alleged to have lived in a crystal cave.

The Vikings used crystal as an aid to navigation and the Minoans watched their captives perform with bulls in the ring through clear quartz magnified lens glasses. Emerald has always been used in healing to improve eyesight but Nero used an emerald eyeglass to more clearly observe the gladiatorial events. The Ancient Romans regarded aquamarine as the Stone of the Seer or Mystic, promoting powerful clairvoyance. They also used it to treat disorders of the liver. Ruby was believed to possess the power of foretelling danger by exhibiting a loss of colour. Turquoise was used in a similar way, to warn of the presence of poison by becoming moist and also changing colour.

It is said that in early Christian times, bishops' rings were made of sapphires and used like computers to contain 'programs', storing the priests' secrets. The seal stone in King Solomon's ring was also a sapphire, used to store and seal secret information. Modern day scientists use crystals for storing records and relaying information. Their very substance, the silicon chip, forms the basis of computer memory chips. Radio, television, computers and the space shuttle would not exist without them.

Natural quartz crystal is produced by tremendous heat and pressure caused by earthquakes or volcanos. Because high quality crystal is in short supply, crystals are now grown in laboratories. Using a tiny 'seed', a crystal as large as a building brick can be grown in 30 to 45 days inside water, heated to an intense temperature. These laboratory-grown crystals may be compared to a hothouse tomato, which is grown under controlled conditions so that the end result is superior in size and colour.

The anatomically perfect crystal skull known as the Mitchell-Hedges Skull is a life-sized quartz crystal skull that was found in the jungle during an archaeological dig in South America in the 1920s. Because quartz crystal cannot be carbon dated, there is no way of knowing how old this crystal skull might be, although it is believed to be at least 12,000 years old. The only sure way of determining its age would be to smash the skull apart in order to ascertain the age of the water inclusions trapped inside it.

The Hewlett-Packard laboratory in California is a world leader in electronics, computers and electronic quartz technology. It produces the precision quartz crystals used in Hewlett-Packard oscillators and quartz crystal thermometers. When the crystal skull was taken there for testing, the laboratory performed significant tests, determining that it had been cut without regard to axis and that it was a single crystal. It was revealed that the jaw bone, which was a completely separate piece, had originally come from the same piece of crystal. The exquisite workmanship and high gloss of the finish cause it to appear brand new. It was the consensus of the lab experts that even with the high technology at their disposal, if they were given a crystal of the same size, they could not possibly produce a skull of comparable quality.

An epic poet named Claudianus wrote an illuminating and revealing impression of crystal between 365 AD and 408 AD. He was obviously aware that there existed a deeper spiritual value to crystal than that expressed in the marketplace. Translation from the Latin reads,

Pass not the shapeless crystal by.
Nor view the icy mass with careless eye.
All royal pomp its value exceeds,
And all the pearls in the Red Sea's bosom breeds.
This rough and unformed stone, without a grace,
Midst rare treasures, holds the chiefest place.

One of the most delightful experiences I have had with a crystal was shared with my daughter and a dolphin 22 years ago. In 1990, Bullen's Animal Park closed down and intended to have the last remaining dolphin, a renegade by the name of Demon, put down. Following a huge protest from the public, Taronga Park Zoo offered Demon a temporary retreat and he was duly transferred to a small cement enclosure while awaiting acceptance to a more appropriate habitat. My daughter, who had recently swum with dolphins in the wild in Hawaii with Joan Ocean, was deeply affected by Demon's plight and visited him whenever she could. Joan had told Simone that dolphins responded well to classical music, so she'd lean over the edge of Demon's tiny pool and play Mozart on her portable cassette player. On these occasions, she held a quartz crystal in her hand, believing it might help in mentally communicating with the dolphin. Depressed and lonely, Demon rocked backwards and forwards, remaining in the same position for hours, his scarred body revealing a lifetime of conflict.

Eventually, my daughter was forced to cease her visits due to a work opportunity in Queensland. After living there for a while, she was invited to swim with the dolphins in the lagoon at Sea World. I was visiting at the time, so we turned up together one morning before the park was open to the public. Hurrying excitedly to the lagoon, we were greeted by a row of wide cetacean grins. Before changing into her swimming costume, Simone threw her crystal into the water. "Here's a gift for you guys!" she called before turning to disrobe.

After disappearing to the depths of the lagoon, the dolphins re-emerged, clicking and clacking. To our amazement, the leader balanced the small crystal between his teeth, offering it back to Simone, whereupon she threw it back into the water.

Once again, the dolphin retrieved the crystal, offering it to my daughter with a smile. At the same time, an old, battle-scarred dolphin pushed himself forward.

"Demon!" shrieked Simone. She turned to the trainer. "It is Demon, isn't it?" She asked excitedly.

The trainer nodded, bemused. "Yeah, how'd you know? It's Demon all right. He usually keeps his distance from humans."

Although Demon wouldn't allow Simone to touch him, preferring to remain on the outskirts of the pod, my daughter was amazed at what appeared to be some type of recognition and has always wondered if the crystal played a role in their reunion and communication.

I believe we are all connected to each other and crystals are powerful tools of transmission and connection. The ancient Druids used crystal energy present in the standing stones to communicate with other worlds. And we know now, that the tiny silicon chip from quartz crystal plays a major role in communication. Thanks to the silicon chip, the powerful web of the internet connects people from all over the world in an instant.

A piece of prose written 7,000 years ago from the Vedas of Ancient India says it all. The title of the piece even sounds like the 'internet'.