Anatomy of a Meditation, what is Real? The Power of Metaphor (from Microcosm to Macrocosm)

This blog came out of a desire to capture a recent group Meditation – for reference – and as an enticement for folks considering coming out to one. I wanted to flesh out the event topic “New Beginnings: Clearing, and Opening” – and I do that – but not without delving into a plethora of other relevant topics: the Concrete vs. the Ephemeral; the Medical vs. Metaphysical Model; having a mission vs. playing it by ear (Improvisation); and so much more…

[a note about quotes: single quotes denote a concept, double quotes identify something actually said]

the mysterious ilvaite - with curvy, bowing terminations - representing a more proactive energy than black Tourmaline

the mysterious ilvaite – with curvy, bowing terminations – representing a more proactive energy than black Tourmaline

Anatomy of a Meditation, what is Real? The Power of Metaphor (from Microcosm to Macrocosm)

I usually don’t preplan (‘to the T’) my in-person Meditation events. I generate the concept for it about a month out, looking ahead at the calendar – inspired by the seasons – foraging for whatever ideas feel relevant to explore in the moment.

I recall whatever else might have been taught recently – what prospective attendees may be interested in – and in any case, try to push our studies to the next level. My own learning is included, as important, because I don’t know everything (surprise, surprise).

As it gets closer, I start to pick out the appropriate stones, and begin formulating the progression of the usually 3 Meditations-within-the-Meditation that I do. By taking different ‘side roads’ during the course of our main journey, a broader level of awareness is reached. More ground is covered (and that’s a good thing!). A single Meditation, with long silences, is not my style (though it certainly has its place).

As the main concept for each segment comes into focus, I make sure to leave the event open for intuitive ‘light bulbs,’ or last minute, in-the-moment inspirations about whatever else I might dream up, on the fly.

Rocks in a Box - personal pieces - selected for a specific event.

Rocks in a Box – personal pieces – selected for a specific event.

By taking this approach, I’m not being flighty or flaky – winging it – I’m just being aware of the need not to be rigid. I think it’s important to go into a situation with a clear mission, and to welcome opportunities for expansion and evolution as they present themselves along the way.

For example, I have to be open to new stones I can bring in (even as the event is unfolding). That’s why I keep my For Sale & Personal Session pieces close by. I won’t think twice about leaving out stones I’d had originally picked for the occasion, even if it means they’re sitting it out sadly ‘in the box.’

Occasionally, I’m lucky enough to have an attendee take a bird’s eye view of what’s going on, and report in real time what’s happening – as it’s happening – from their own ‘objective’ viewpoint. Most recently, I was praised as a “master of metaphor,” which felt great (and seemed appropriate, given my whole approach – which is becoming clearer – even as I write this). Indeed her statement can fairly be said to have been a prime impetus for this whole Blog post.

Symbols stir up our subconscious, delivering experiences we would otherwise ignore, not notice, and be unaware of. It’s my job to ‘go there,’ for the sake of the community. As in any field – the full time practitioner should be relied upon to pioneer at the cutting edge – identifying new and different stones (in my case), and ascertaining how best to use them. When you buy a stone from me, or pay in to attend an event, you’re contributing in your own way to that much larger responsibility I’m bearing.

I most definitely use stones as both metaphor and actual representatives for all kinds of key (and essential) energetic nuances. We stimulate the imagination with Crystals & Metaphor – make use of what’s there, inside of us – and create new associations. It’s kind of exciting…like a song being written as it’s performed!

A small Meditation gathering (I'm the one guy).

some of those in attendance at a Meditational gathering (I’m the one guy)

I hope you can see that in describing how I go about ‘building’ an event, that my most recent Meditation topic “New Beginnings: Clearing & Opening” is being addressed (albeit circuitously). As some say: “how you do anything is how you do everything.” And yet – how it feels live – during an in-person event of mine – is totally different from how I present a webinar, or write my Blogs. That’s the beauty of working with me in a few different capacities. Each medium has its unique offerings, appeal, and gift.

In writing, I’m much more self-conscious, I’m not channeling – or ‘streaming’ – as I do in other situations. I revisit my words many times – blogs can take weeks to complete – I’m ever fine-tuning and developing them. I’m up to 15 revisions here, and counting…

So my blogs are more for the readers amongst you, perhaps even ‘the intellectual.’ And yet I’m not much of a reader myself. I do lots of editing beyond this, but the real challenge is getting it all out. For whatever reason, I have a lot to say – to share – and feel like in doing so, some pretty substantial light is being shed on this field of Crystal Healing.

Once I press Publish, though, I’m confident that my writing covers the ground needed (and I imagine it being a chapter in some future book). So I apologize if these tomes seem long – some have suggested I write shorter pieces more often – but it takes awhile for these statements to percolate. If folks want pithier expressions, they can check out my Twitter and Facebook pages (that’s what they’re for).

I’m certainly not as left brained as I sometimes think I am. I’m not, after all, a statistician or accountant. I infuse my efforts with an artistic sensibility. Intention and focus are are definitely hosting my events – but inspiration, flexibility, and adaptability crash the party every time – that’s what makes it fun & interesting!

Amber - by its lighter density - automatically creates a magnetism, or pull, from the more dense, to the less dense.

Amber – by its lighter density – automatically creates a magnetism, or pull, from the more dense, to the less dense.

So we’ve ‘established’ that working with Crystals is all about Metaphor. And Language as well, by extension [don’t get me started, that’s a whole other blog topic in itself]. They each represent something about our Consciousness (The Ethers) and Physicality (being themselves, quite tangible). This enables us to use and experience Crystals in ways that illustrate, bring out, and underscore our own important ‘inner workings’ – which ultimately manifest in in ‘the real world’ – and vice versa! This takes on a very personal and uniquely individual dynamic for each of us.

In different words, what I’m saying is that Crystals “are the thing” (meaning, they embody or contain within them certain energies, intrinsically) – but they are also “about the thing” (ie. representing of a concept, or vibration).

Rose Quartz - represents and emanates -Unconditional Love.

Rose Quartz – represents and emanates – Unconditional Love.

 

 

 

Take for example Rose Quartz. It’s said (by me) to bear the essence of Unconditional Love. I just noticed someone else saying that on Pinterest (“Love” I’ve heard before, but not my wording: “Unconditional Love,” until now). I’m glad to say that it feels like my framework for understanding Crystals is getting out there (little by little).

But can that possibly true? Can a rock be all that? I argue (elsewhere) that the Crystal Lore has gone overboard with making impossible (or excessive) associations. And yet, I’m all in favor of making leaps of faith. I believe that once you make an association (between object and and outcome, or meaning) – and it resonates for you, then YES – a rock can be all that. The keys are resonance – complementarity – a sort of call and response between you and the Crystals.

The sign of the swastika has come to carry and mean a whole lot more than a few lines scrawled on a wall (every picnic table at a campground I went to this Summer, had them carved in centrally). In its case, hatefulness overshadows its original import, as a mystical symbol from India.

Oppositely, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” When you love someone, you can easily disregard their foibles…the warm glow of your rose tinted glasses gives the object of your desire an elevated standing…in almost everything they do.

My point? That ‘objective reality’ is often neither. And people who claim it’s all there is are deluding themselves.

Entire societies function on a vast web of presuppositions and assumptions that shape our every move. What makes some consider Terrorism a perfectly logical course of action tells you something about their surrounding ethos, and circumstance. Likewise, the confluence of beliefs and prejudices prevailing in 2003 led the U.S. to invade Iraq under completely false pretenses.

Going further back – slavery was once considered an indispensable part of the economy – just as energy waste and global warming are considered acceptable side effects of modern life. It didn’t have to be that way, it doesn’t have to be this way. Our spiritual practice should enable us to increasingly think outside the box…how it could and should be, are items seriously worth considering…on the regular!

It is white, is it beige - is the pattern natural or real - what is the play of light here (on this Zebra Jasper)...

It is white, is it beige – is the pattern natural or real – what is the play of light here (on this Zebra Jasper)…

Who’s right and who’s wrong – that’s not for me to say in this context – but I bring up these points to illustrate how powerful and significant ideation (ideology), accepted world views, and yes: Imagination can be.

Ultimately, you believe in what you believe in – and that carries all the weight it needs to – to ‘get the job done.’ It’s what can lead us to start wars, stay in a marriage, keep going in to work every day – even hate – or love ourselves. It can hold such sway in superstitious societies -that a hex can kill you – if you let it (or believe it will).

We live in a world defined in large part by mental constructs. Let me say this again: there is no ‘objective’ reality to be had. Perhaps ‘things’ – material objects – all that we can point to as being real, are truly real? But how much more important is what they mean to us! A flag, a rock, a bus stop – each is not merely an object to us – each immediately initiates a cascade of associations. Meaning is everything.

The relationship between things and concepts is much much more fluid (both loose and close) in our world than we give it credit for. There’s so much more gray than black and white. I say this over and over again – especially to people who look to me for a quick health fix – as they say on Facebook, about relationships – “it’s complicated!”

Disease doesn’t just pop up out of a box. You can’t just stuff it all back in – or get rid of it like that. One thing Modern Medicine has done, is to give people that illusion…that they can be “fixed” – like cars. And one of the greatest pieces of misinformation about Crystals, is that they can “do this” and “do that,” performing similar, instant cures.

the unusual red (and power) of a flare / Diamantina laser

the unusual red (and power) of a flare / Diamantina laser

Crystals are not our minions, doing our bidding, like slaves. That gives them no credit or dignity, and gives the challenges facing us zero standing, in their own right. Fixing a human being is a lot more sophisticated, and ought to be handled on multiple levels, that no quick fix can ever hope to deliver. You can’t simply change out a light bulb and make everything okay.

How is it that Religions can so easily buy people’s loyalty by relaying miracles? Are we such simpletons? Would it not be better to preach the old adage: “pray, but move your feet.” Yes to the magic of inspiration, and Yes ALSO to the power of action!

Returning to my color metaphor, look even at the shades of Red. You can say “that’s red” – and on the surface of it – we’ll know what you mean. But the Artist in you knows how many variations (or shades) there really are on the theme. There’s a pale, almost pink tone; dark burgundy, like a wine; fire engine red…the list goes on. Likewise, there are gradations – quantitative (not just qualitative) delineations – between The Real and The Imagined.

A Fantasy can turn into a motion picture, from which are created memories. Images and Messages (‘the moral of the story’) can change lives, both during – and beyond – the experience of watching a film. Everything partakes of (and contributes to) Reality – from the dryest of rational views – to the wildest drug-induced hallucinations.

Indeed the most brilliant scientists will tell you that the more they learn, the more they realize they don’t know. Each perspective has meaning and value, regardless of how ‘tangible’ it is. And when we die, everything disappears (even though many of us think of the Soul as living on).

This is why I laugh when I hear the notion that Energy Medicine is irrelevant, and that ‘Traditional’ Medicine is all that matters. Never mind the fact that (by true definition) ‘Traditional Medicine’ – which would be ‘that which precedes Modern Medicine’ – was often about the energetics of a person’s condition. Herbalism, Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine – all these are truly traditional medicines – that take this approach (thinking about our functioning holistically), and they’re all still in use today (as they were a thousand years ago).

Basalt - one of the more ancient of stones - here shattered and polished by the wind and  sand over eons, to make a ventifact that is powerful in clearing and excising.

Basalt – one of the more ancient of stones – here shattered and polished by the wind and sand over eons, to make a ventifact that is powerful in clearing and excising.

What I’m saying is that the opposition between Allopathic and Metaphysical medicine is something I think of as made up – it’s artificial, imposed – and not helpful. Though I suppose, for folks those whose imagination is limited, it works out just fine – to see just one way to legitimately help folks.

“Only a doctor can cure you!” they say. “Yeah, yeah” I say. How many ailments leave doctors befuddled!?

At the same time, it cuts both ways – Alternative Health nuts can fail to see the very real benefits of going to the doctor – and that doing so certainly has merit.

For example, I know someone (who knows someone) who’s dying from Cancer. The patient refused to work with today’s conventional medical establishment, or to accept the many interventions it has to offer…and now she is paying the price (by dying prematurely).

A lot of suffering can be avoided by taking advantage of what’s been scientifically proven to help people.

Science, Medicine, and Energy Healing are all good!

Whatever the source of Healing, I say “Let it begin – it’s all G8D’s gift – receive it and LIVE!” Heck, I had Cancer twice – and was saved by surgery – which helped me live to tell the tale. To be fair – and to take some credit as well – I also changed my attitude and my diet (which were no mean feats), resulting in a life extension of decades.

The choices I made – the shifts in worldview that happened (about myself and everything around me) – all prepared the way for my pursuit of Crystal Consciousness. And then I had a major revelatory experience, but that wasn’t everything. People cheat themselves when they think of the universe as either mundane or sublime. It’s both, to be sure!

Remember, if you can, the story about the guy who drowned – reaches Heaven – and berates G8D for not saving him (with a miracle). Miracles are overrated! G8D respondes (and I paraphrase): “You’re wrong to think I wasn’t trying to save you – I sent you a life preserver, I sent you a boat, I sent you a helicopter – how many more tools, or ‘signs’ could I have offered?!” G8D does not only work in mysterious ways. Sometimes, Salvation can be quite simple, straightforward and practical.

In tying together many Quartz crystals in this double terminated formation, this amalgamated cluster represents a multiplicity of forces, or possibilities.

In tying together many Quartz crystals in this double terminated formation, this amalgamated cluster represents a multiplicity of forces, or possibilities.

But I digress, not to put you off – Pagans and Atheists – with my mention of Deity. I actually think our world views are more similar than we might admit. I’m no holy roller, and I certainly don’t believe that there’s only one way of understanding Reality. That’s a revolutionary statement, in a rigid, doctrinaire world.

One has only to look at Politics – especially during an election year – to see how violently people hold to their beliefs and convictions. Can they all be right? Or does nobody have it all figured out?

Indeed, there’s no monolithic Reality to be had [I’m giving it a new name, beyond the concept of ‘objective reality,’]…except, perhaps…for the Totality of Multiplicity (which is some people’s view – including my own – of G8D).

“Universal Energies” is another way to refer to an All-Inclusive Reality, within which everything is subjective – except, perhaps, the collective summation of all realities – which we cannot grasp or comprehend – as mere mortals.

The ‘exception’ perhaps, in identifying ‘what is real,’ might be those certain things we cannot all of us deny – like a Tsunami, Death, and taxes…oh well…I guess even those we try to bargain with & negotiate around, wherever possible.

Let’s get back to my Meditation – OUR meditation, really – because the shape and contour of each event, while set in broad strokes by me (and shepherded through, by my own Guidance), takes on new directional subtleties when each individual present Shares what’s happening for them – what the given “journey” has brought up inside of them – and how they’ve been impacted by the whole process. What everybody has to say is an important contribution to the overall experience.

The trait or gift of Compassion is manifest in milky stones, and very well by this pair of candle Quartzes.

The trait or gift of Compassion is manifest in milky stones, and very well by this pair of candle Quartzes.

We’re always (pleasantly) surprised by how unexpected (and welcome) others’ feelings become. That is one of the key benefits of being in a safe and healing environment. People expose their vulnerabilities – places where they feel hurt or alone – and without suffocating, others ‘come running.’

It’s heartwarming how willing – and quick – people can be to offer succor (in the right circumstances).

Indeed, I think it’s harder to embark on new beginnings without reaching, or starting from this place of relative Soul comfort. It’s not impossible – just harder – and it happens all the time, regardless. But in the context of a ‘controlled’ environment – a small group of like minded people gathered, with good intention – that definitely ‘provides the space’ for people to get in touch with their (and THE) Spirit.

Two other key factors contributing to our experience in these Meditations, are of course the world-class Power Stones brought into play (which, unlike museum pieces, are meant to be held and used) – as well as my own knowledge base regarding the many varieties and uses for Crystals. My understanding regarding the dynamics of human learning & experience, also comes in quite handy.

Foggy (or Girasol) Quartz represents the unknown, or unknowable, and is (as such) oddly reassuring, in the shape of a Heart.

Foggy (or Girasol) Quartz represents the unknown, or unknowable, and is (as such) oddly reassuring, in the shape of a Heart.

In order to begin again, or start over – even take any step into the future – I think it helps to make some kind of peace with uncertainty…the unknown…and the unknowable. Some shamanic practitioners speak with certainty about outcomes, or diagnoses, as if they know without a doubt. And that’s lovely, for them (and their clients?) – confidence and clairvoyance are wonderful attributes – but I question their infallibility, and take a more humble approach.

Here, my deistic perspective comes in again. Give G8D his or her [I’m uninvested in ascribing gender to the Over Soul] due. Honor G8D’s role and authority in being ‘the ultimate decider.’

I do not imbue any one stone or type of stone with G8D-Essence, Knowing, or the capacity for Arbitration (that is to say, intercession on our behalf). That, to me, would be idolatry.

We do not pray to the stones, we pray with them. They are not our “little friends” – nor are they generally (although they sometimes can be, in the case of Entity Stones) – possessed with little anthropomorphic “fairy spirits.” That’s one of the several bones I have to pick with the existing Crystal Lore, but it’s not in itself worthy of further discussion at this point.

What is important – at first – is that we acknowledge, and coexist with Uncertainty, which can be attempted by interacting with Girasol, or what I call “Foggy” Quartz. It is neither clear, nor Rose Quartz…it is its own variety [and comes mostly from Madagascar]. It is ideally not completely see through – though it is often gemmy (or glassy inside) – and milky/opaque. By sitting with it, and following a progression of guided Meditation, we were able to lighten the load of pressure we feel to ‘have it all figured out.’ The hidden benefit here, is that by loosening the grip of expectation – we can be open to G8D’s intercession – and our own inspiration.

this is a closeup of the giant Amethyst cluster - showing its Yin & Yang color variation - one side being more matt, and the other glassier

this is a closeup of the giant Amethyst cluster – showing its Yin & Yang color variation – one side being more matt, and the other glassier

Next, and this was our second Meditation – we explored clearing – with a great big Amethyst cluster. As discussed in my “Amethyst & the Purple Sages of the Higher Spirit” webinar, Amethyst clusters (as opposed to points) have the special capacity to cleanse us, spiritually. So we imagined the whole piece (about 2′ long) bubbling with a lavender mist – filling and permeating our being (like Sage smoke) – and flushing out unwanted energies from its furthest recesses.

To further effect the outcome of clearing (and cleansing) – we each used (and shared) a few naturally smoothed basalt shards – passing them over our entire aura (while seated) to protect and restore our periphery and core [one is pictured earlier in this blog].

Ruby Crystal - the super earth grounder - displaying its red & purple color combination.

Ruby Crystal – the super earth grounder – displaying its red & purple color combination

It had been discussed that it was hard to Open without Clearing – because of the fear of letting in unwanted energies – or destabilizing one’s system. That is part of why grounding stones were placed between each person, alternating Tiger Iron and Ruby. By clearing, centering, and grounding first, it becomes possible to open up more successfully.

Finally, in our 3rd Meditation, a ‘constellation’ was brought into play. My goal is to have people experience themselves first; then add stones to the mix, to further their own Spiritual pursuit; and to finally create a collective, galactically connected layout that aligns our individual experience with that the Universe. That’s what I mean by Microcosm to Macrocosm.

I make my layouts simple – I don’t call them ‘grids’ because that seems limiting – almost like using a stencil to make a drawing, or connecting oneself to ‘the grid’ – when this whole energetic exercise is designed to take us out of, or give us relief from the societal grid – and to connect us to something bigger.

3rd Meditation layout, New Beginnings: Clearing & Opening event

3rd Meditation layout, New Beginnings: Clearing & Opening event

I generally don’t allow attendees to take photos at our gatherings, because I have some proprietary interest in keeping what we do private. At the same time, pictures do make things a lot clearer, and I’ve been describing this Meditation thus far by only showing examples of the stones I’m discussing.

The bamboo sticks are neutral place holders, but they do create space, and in this case both an emanation from the center, and an evocation of a galactic swirl (because of the angles at which they come in, or burst forth from the center).

I also use just the minimum to achieve the desired effect. A lot of layouts I’ve seen are over the top – too much going on – a cacophony of energies. I think they’re more attractive as artworks than as functioning ‘constellations.’

In the center is the amalgamated Quartz DT cluster, representing the new possibilities we face at the Gateway of the Future…things we want to see come into being, or that will become manifest regardless, going forward. It behooves us to ‘get next to’ these potentialities, even advance of their appearance, so that our Soul may attune to them and thrive in their company.

4 Jets - the Openness Stone - combines cleansing with spacious opportunity.

4 Jets – the Openness Stone – combines cleansing with spacious opportunity

Then come a ring of geometrically cut Obsidian pieces [in the layout, but not pictured independently] – which invoke the power and expanse of open space – the ‘Black Before Creation‘ (also of night, Outer Space, and potentiality).

And lastly – what people held in their hands (one in each) – were Blue Lace Agate (self forgiveness and self expression), and Jet…a personal openness and safety stone, different from Obsidian…because it’s more “right here” than “out there.”

Thus completed our exploration of “New Beginnings: Clearing & Opening.” I realize that this verbal explanation – even enhanced by photos – cannot do it justice. And everybody’s input is not transcribed here.

However, I did get a memorable testimonial – which will show you, in someone else’s voice – what it was like:

Blue Lace Agates - soothing but weighty - and gently colored, as should be our self talk and assertions to the world.

Blue Lace Agates – soothing but weighty – and gently colored, as should be our self talk and assertions to the world.

“Last week I attended my first Crystal Meditation group meeting, New Beginnings: Opening & Clearing. Going to the event I was certain of two things: there would be crystals and guided meditations. I was not aware of the intensity I would experience as the evening progressed. I was first taken aback by a room full of crystals. Some of the most beautiful, colorful, expensive stones I have ever experienced in my life. Just standing in the room I began vibrating. There was a chatty meet and greet time provided so the attendees could connect and re-connect. Then the Circle was gathered. Kyle led us through three meditations during the 2 hour meeting; each accompanied by crystals and stones appropriate for the intended visualization. I found myself easily falling into a distant meditative state. By the last meditation I felt a definite shift in my being: I had received messages and felt very different in my body compared to when I walked in off the street. Kyle provides a wonderful calm space free from distraction, enlivened with the vibration (songs) of a diverse rich collection of gem stones and crystals. Kyle is a Crystalline Being in flesh.”

You can see more accounts of others’ experiences on my Testimonials page (also on this site). I can’t say any more on this subject (these subjects!) at this time. What I hope I’ve achieved here are several things: educating you about specific stones, and their ‘functions;’ how they come together for a specific Meditation; and how all-important it is to not see Reality as something fixed. It is our role to pursue our goals, but to flow also like a river, not just taking the path of least resistance. 
I have identified the respect needed for G8D (or what is beyond our control) – and the process by which we can energetically embrace New Beginnings – through Clearing and Opening. It is only by blurring the lines between The Real and The Imagined – that we are able to bring into being great changes – on a grand or personal scale.
Kyle Russell in front of pyramidal Granite

Kyle Russell in front of pyramidal Granite

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rather than repeating the snapshot of myself you may have seen in other blogs, I’m writing a fresh account of where I stand today. This is a recent photo (from a few days ago), in front of a boulder of Granite that caught my attention. The Mica, Feldspar, and Quartz are more separated than uniform. It inspired me to want to tackle and separate some of the grand concepts I’ve addressed in this blog. Posts on Facebook have been paused, other priorities set aside. Since I write these only every few months, each has to bite off a pretty substantial chunk, and each has to reveal something new and different, evolving, about my understanding, overall. I have chosen to pursue both paths – of acquiring and selling Crystals – and of sharing and advancing the more esoteric knowledge about them. I’d hoped to publish a book this Fall, but instead am working on a set of Crystal cards, hopefully to be printed by November. In the meantime – and this is a first – I have full season mapped out: Expos for vending; Meditations; Webinars monthly; and even my annual “Wonders of Quartz” workshop. Check out my Events Page listing, and don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback or inquiry, to CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com. 

 

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Crystal Pricing – it’s in all the eye of the beholder

Boston Mineral ClubPART ONE – the principal of it

I joined the Boston Mineral Club recently, and overheard one of the elder gemologists say “unlike in most industries, there’s no standardized system for pricing minerals.” A lightbulb went off for me. Of course, I thought – that’s so true!

Diamonds may have a ‘universal’ price code – but even there – you can find a lot of variation in cost-for-product…and if you’re not an expert yourself, who can you trust?

Folks you know – folks you’ve seen demonstrate their knowledge, experience, and selection – you can (and should) trust them. And trust yourself, over all. If you think it’s worth it (to you) – and you have the money – they go ahead and buy it…without any regrets!

question mark diamond

question mark diamond

But who really knows what a Crystal is worth? If there was some ONE person who knew it all, it wouldn’t be much of a game anymore. It’s ultimately “all in the eye of the beholder.”

The Seller is the gate keeper – the ultimate “decider” – but every one has their bottom price. Unlike mainstream shop attendants, most dealers have the flexibility to give you a break. So play with them…bargain. Worst thing they can say is “no!”

I’ve done that plenty myself – making preposterously low offers – it can’t hurt. But I never question people’s prices – especially in front of others, or on Facebook – I think that’s a big no-no.

I asked one such naysayer “why would you want to ‘yuk someone else’s yum’ – I mean – if that’s what they’re charging, it’s their business (after all), and if someone’s gonna pay what they’re asking, then more power to the both of them!”

a decent sphere - like this golden rainbow Calcite sphere - should cost over $100

a decent sphere – like this golden rainbow Calcite sphere – should cost over $100

I’m not into the high end, jewelry or gem stone business, preferring minerals. I do specialize in finer specimens, but within the (I think) more modest range of $30-$200.

I think of that as “affordable” – and that if you can’t spend that type of change on something that really matters to you – then perhaps you should find a cheaper hobby.

Amazingly, a lot of people think that is a lot to spend. I don’t know what that says about our economy, people’s living conditions, or our priorities. People are spending $50 a week on coffee and donuts…so it’s hard for me understand why they can’t seem to find the same amount for something that’ll last forever…and give them satisfaction many times over.

I feel like I’m holding the torch solo – sometimes – for people respecting the value of good Crystals, and the effort that goes into finding, and presenting them in a way that truly honors their special value.

Aragonite 'sea horse' floating cluster

Aragonite ‘sea horse’ floating cluster

The reason my prices aren’t what you’ll see at a local rock shop (or gem show), is that I am neither. This is a boutique operation. Every piece is hand picked because of some unique quality, and my prices reflect that TLC.

A wholesaler I met with recently said “I can’t go there – I can’t look at individual pieces – everything has to get marked up by weight only.” How could I compete with – and why should I be compared to – folks buying directly from the source?! That’s not my place in the pecking order – my ‘ecological niche’ is post miner, post international shipper – serving up that special sauce for retail buyers with great taste.

All and still – and excuse me for tooting my own horn here (if I don’t, who will, aye…though you may want to look at my Buyer Testimonials) – but I’m pretty confident that I have a broader variety of true power stones than most operations I’ve seen out there – be they online or in person – mom and pop or major importer.

Every time I leave a gem show or wholesaler – I thank my lucky stars: I get to walk away with the good stuff – while they’re stuck with literally tons of 2nds and 3rds…stuff I wouldn’t even want to give away…but their margin (hello, everybody’s got ’em) takes that into consideration. Plus, they have volume on their side.

Have you seen some of the truly high grade stuff displayed at Museums, and even Gem Shows? It’s on sale for really big numbers? People are asking $800 for a pebble here, and $4000 for a cluster there. Try complaining to those guys about pricing.

I’m the little  guy, here. How is it fair that I should occasionally get grief for charging the cost of a good meal on arguably outstanding product?

worthless lot I returned

worthless lot I returned

Let me tell you a little story about unreasonable pricing. There was a guy I bought a whole parcel from recently, for $140 online. I failed to get dimensions, trusting the source – but when I got it – the little ‘puddle’ was worth $30, maybe. There were tiny points that looked huge in the photos (which is why every piece I sell online is photographed ‘in-hand’ – to show relative size). Others were broken. The Citrine was all irradiated (undisclosed by the Seller), and the ‘Lemurians’ turned out not to be. He didn’t even have an “All Sales Final” clause, but he wouldn’t take them back! I put them in the mail and said “don’t even refund me – keep the money as a cushion for yourself, or give it to a charity – I could never accept this overpriced garbage.” The black Tourmaline was all I wanted to hold onto, but to do so would only suggest the legitimacy of any part of the transaction.

I don’t know if it’s yard sales, volume sellers, or rock hounds who can offer great selections for under $30 – but if they’re out there – have at ’em.

As I say to some folks: “you can find another stone like this out there – but you won’t find this one anywhere but here, today.”

One of the favorite claims made (and I hear this one a lot) is: “I have one just like that” – or better yet, with additional glee: “and I paid $4 for it!” Awesome, I’ll say: “show me a photo of it.” And they disappear into the ethers.

You know what they say about opinions…

it's just a $3 tumbler - right(?) - wrong: it's a hand polished Celestite, worth a lot more

“This is just a $3 tumbler – right?” Wrong: it’s a hand polished Celestite, worth a great deal more.

Sometimes what I buy costs me more than someone else may have found it for. I’ve heard braggadocio like “I can get that for this amount.” I’m like “cool, let’s talk, maybe I should be buying it from you!” Again, the magic vaporization trick.

Some folks just like to hear the sound of their own voices…

In addition to my markups reflecting the considerable time spent choosing ‘greats’ from lesser pieces, they reflect miles driven to faraway places (you know the price of gas!); hours spent sorting through what’s been gotten; the cost of storage bins; display boxes…this isn’t an overhead-free business.

I see plenty of shop owners buying keystone, and charging a standard markup, but that doesn’t do justice to specifically selected stand-outs. And that’s not even taking into consideration a piece’s metaphysical attributes!

awesome Smoky Elestial I saw in a 'local rock shop' with a price tag of $150 more than I'd sold a similar piece for

awesome Smoky Elestial I saw in a ‘local rock shop’ with a price tag of $150 more than I’d sold a similar piece for

I also find myself in stores scratching my head – “why the heck are they charging so much for this?” Tell me that hasn’t happened to you! And yet…they must have their reasons.

Sometimes a rock is just plain worth more, or the seller has put a premium on it, they just don’t want to part with it for less. That’s their prerogative.

Again, you do have choice. You can buy anywhere. Let me repeat, this time for all vendors: “if you want this stone, from this source, this is what it’s going to cost you.”

PART TWO [optional] – the nitty gritty (behind the scenes)…fine print details

awesome, giant Scheelite I have my eye on

awesome, giant Scheelite I have my eye on…it’s here for no other reason than that I like it

I’ve covered some important ground, so far, but I want to address (in this Blog) some more topics that have come up through feedback from customers and the curious. They’ve inquired about pricing on my For Sale page: www.Facebook.com/PowerStone.

As you can see, I have more to say than will comfortably fit on a Post or Comment, so here goes. I so love the flexibility of being able to ‘stretch out’ in my Blogs.

Facebook iconTo begin with, the question: “to price or not to price?” Why I never used to, and why some people still refuse to do it publicly (like on Facebook)…is for a bunch of reasons.

Unlike on one’s own site – mine is www.CrystalConcentrics.com, but I haven’t yet launched my new shopping cart system…it mostly just hosts my blog) – Facebook is (pretty much) an open book. That means that any and everybody can comment (and they often do).

Heckling on price or steering customers elsewhere happens, and it’s not cool. That’s why, even though I used to publish a range (“under $50” or “under $400”) – I have always urged people to “DM” me – that is, direct message me for details.

“DM” is my own challenge to the generally accepted “PM” or private message abbreviation most commonly used. Although I have this request on virtually every item description, I’m astonished that people still prefer to Comment with questions, instead of writing me directly, as I’ve requested. The result – regrettably – is that I don’t notice their outreach till months later, if at all.

Moving on: wholesalers (even from other countries) have been known to come in and try to undercut you to the interested party, or separately message them, trying to steal the sale. Also not cool…and it doesn’t serve anyone, in the long run.

I learned this lesson the hard way – a LONG time ago – when I had 2 retail stores selling international clothing and jewelry. My suppliers started opening up direct-to-retail shops in the neighborhood. What happened? The bottom fell out of the market (for me and for them).

Jewelry show display

Jewelry show display

Sure, I want to get buyers the best possible prices, but after awhile, know that if the margin becomes too slim, it becomes pointless even to carry the product (never mind photograph it, post it, talk about it, etc.).

Remember, all vendors also have to have a huge amount of money tied up in inventory – to stay stocked – so they’ve got to believe in their product (and the pricing they’ve chosen).

In my case – you’ll also have to take into consideration that when I walk into a private healing session with a client (or a class) – sporting thousands of dollars in stellar material – that stuff will never be sold. It’s being held strictly for therapeutic purposes. It’s like water being tied up in the glaciers, never being turned over, even for the price that was paid. Think of all that capital out of circulation.

I can’t sell any one piece for less that I think it merits. That being said – you should know that my regular customers sometimes enjoy major discounts – as much as 30-40% off! It’s, ultimately, about making the sale – having product move, in the larger flow of Life energy – and creating the space for new and different items.

One more factor the Buyer should account for: privately held collection pieces not earning for the Seller. One wholesaler I met doesn’t have that problem – he saves nothing – but I can’t think of many who can resist holding onto some precious Crystals for themselves.

How do you even begin to price a giant elestial double terminated quartz(?!)

How do you even begin to price a giant Elestial double terminated Quartz(?!)

In all fairness, you (or I) really have no idea what the Seller actually bought the merchandise for, or what their overhead may be.

Just today, I bought some pieces Retail, because they’re that special. I was willing to ‘overspend’ because I know those pieces have their ‘rightful owners’ out there, and I’m their steward (until such time).

I can’t speak for others – but I spend a lot of time dealing with product – I take photos of everything; have paid for a sophisticated in-the-cloud inventory system; and have many other time and material costs which are incurred (behind the scenes) to bring you the best selection I can.

I am prepared to sit on an item if it doesn’t sell (cause it’s that good) – and if it does go (especially if it’s unique) – I may have a real struggle trying to replace it. So sometimes, it’s better to hold something until the right buyer comes along. Thankfully) they are out there. I am so grateful for the discerning customer!

Volume, which is the lifeblood of wholesalers, is not the prime motivator of this metaphysical retailer (though it is for some). If you have a storefront, and lots of folks coming through, you want to move as much product as possible. My goal here is to focus on quality over quantity, and to match the buyer with the right stone for them, regardless of price.

I take extra time talking or emailing with people – to make sure we ‘get it right’ – and that’s part of why I have a 100% satisfaction rate. When a total stranger (online) makes an inquiry – I do ask for their email, to followup – and build the relationship. If they refuse to share that with me [I’ve never abused someone’s contact information], chances are: they won’t be that great to do business with. Another way of thinking about this is – what if someone walked into your store with an invisibility cloak – and balked at you asking them to remove it before talking to them?

As stated, valuation is not a rigid science – costs can change over time. I wouldn’t want to be held accountable for outdated pricing (“but in November, you said this cost such-and-such”)…especially if later, I find that the piece has become that much harder to find (or sudden abundance lowers the price it can command). Not posting exact numbers used to give me the flexibility to bargain, too – if it made sense – or I’d just hold out for my highest asking price.

purple Flourite bowl

unique purple Flourite bowl

Having been in the business 25 years, I’ve seen a LOT of rocks, from what’s in the shops, to gem shows…a great gamut of retail and wholesale offerings. I’ve even sampled what the museums are sporting (though I’m sad that it’s always behind glass)! I’ve got a pretty good sense of what is out there, what’s not likely to come around again, and what’s a fad.

Yes, even in the crystal world (or especially?), there are phases and fashions. New finds get milked (become all the rage, like Fluorite bowls – a purple example pictured here – were “happening” just a few years ago…and then they’ve disappeared since. Am I gonna charge more for something like that? You betcha.

New Age names & qualities (like the “Auralite 23” phenomenon) get slapped onto pieces that had otherwise gone unnoticed. These in particular – end up fetching a ridiculous premium – but oddly, I find myself liking (and buying) them regardless. If it’s worth it, it’s worth it.

I have priced pieces for the long run, not just based on what I paid for them. I have to take into consideration what I estimate their long term value will be…mindful of the current market, but also of its future.

pair of Saphires

blue and yellow Sapphire

I do get some surprises, at times. Because much of my stock has been accumulated over 10 and 20 years, even my pricing can get out of date.

Take for example these Sapphires (pictured left and available here, on Facebook). I don’t even know what I paid for them – an I was willing to basically give them away – but now, they apparently fetch upwards of $50 a gram(!), currently.

Some vendors are in a hurry for turnover – others like attracting the lowest bidders – not me. That’s part of why I don’t do auctions. I’ve held some stones a quarter century, and don’t mind holding them some more. I’m really not comfortable ‘giving them away’ to someone who doesn’t truly appreciate their value.

That can happen after I’m gone. But if I have anything to do with it, I’ll have all my inventory properly codified and transferable, so anyone can know from looking at my archives what these pieces should sell for.

I passed up the 18 carat Gold bracelet I once wanted, and any big rings, for this diversified investment in a different kind of earth bounty. I give thanks to Mother Earth, Gaia and “the G*ds” – however you want to call him, her, or them – for giving me the eye (and occasionally, the full wallet) to have come this far in my collecting. I’d like to think what’s happened up till now is the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.

As you can see, I value my time and inventory highly. The reason I’ve taken so long in writing this Blog post – days, probably, over it’s various incarnations – is that it really matters to me what you, the reader, think. I have to present every angle I can think of, to make sure you can see my nuanced perspective (and become as informed as possible).

twin pair of giant Candle Quartz

twin pair of giant Candle Quartz

My mission now, is to share and to educate, so that more people will appreciate the worth of Crystals – not just for their rarity (or beauty) – but for their unique energetic qualities (even if that lends a financial boost to their price tag).

I boast a piece’s metaphysical merits only when I have personal experience indicating this would be appropriate, as opposed to some others’ making claims, attributing to them a laundry list of supposedly scientific and magical attributes.

Ours is a fine line – the metaphysician sellers’ – between what is, and what is imagined to be. Sometimes how we feel matters most. I just want to be wary of the “Emperor’s Clothes” syndrome – where everybody believes something just because everybody else believes in it – or some “master” went and put it down on paper. That feels spurious, and not sufficient basis for a shared belief.

There are treasured varieties out there that I just ‘don’t feel’ – but again – I won’t ‘poo-poo’ another’s gig. If it’s working for them and their customers, then as I’ve heard said: “who G*d bless, let no man curse!”

———————————-

blogger Kyle Russell, also founder of Crystal Concentrics and Power Stone Crystals

blogger Kyle Russell, also founder of Crystal Concentrics and Power Stone Crystals

Hope to connect with you, email: CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com

Facebook Pages:

http://www.Facebook.com/PowerStoneCrystals (strictly For Sale items)

http://www.Facebook.com/CrystalConcentric (new modality, inspirations, and personal collection pieces)

Facebook Profile: http://www.Facebook.com/CrystalConcentrics

Facebook Group 1 (for New Englanders):                                       http://www.Facebook.com/Groups/CrystalsNewEngland

Facebook Group 2 (for chronic rock spenders):                                       http://www.Facebook.com/Groups/Gemoholics Anonymous

Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/CrystalsPower

Twitter: @CrystalsPower

Thought-Provoking Gem Show Conversation

quality (and lower quality) beads by the thousands

I found my favorite retailer at the Marlborough gem show this weekend – and of course went through all their cardboard ‘flats’ – the name of the industry standard 1.5 foot by 2 foot cardboard boxes replete with minerals. These folks are generally the only ones selling specimens in the whole show (of maybe 150 vendors). It’s really 98% jewelry, not even cut stones that much…and a lot of trinketry too.

I overheard Rick [even my son remembered him when I got home (and he didn’t even come with me this time), as having the build of a wrestler, and – my edit – the spirit of a Viking]…I’m changing his name because this isn’t an official interview. I’m editorializing, and I don’t know that he cares to share all these perspectives publicly. I do, however, because they’re edifying (and interesting).

At the moment I came up, Rick was disabusing a picky customer regarding her predilection for American mined stones, basically telling her to get over it. But I didn’t hear the whole conversation. So there’s not much more I can say about that…my conversation with him was grist enough for my own mill.

class flier for Crystals Demystified, register at http://www.bit.ly/KRCDHEC

First, I handed him the info sheet to my upcoming Crystals Demystified class (being held Sunday, 12/2/12, from 1-3pm). He had an opinion (of course). My sense was that he was invested in sharing some of his own ideas with these ready listeners – through me – and I guess that’s what’s happening.

We sparred over polished vs. natural stone. Specifically, I was saying that I’m seeking rough Sugilite, and polished pieces won’t do. The same is true – for me – with Lapis. He took umbrage at the notion that one (rough, he assumed was my favorite) is superior to the other.

tumbled (polished, but not glossy) chunk of Jet, with interesting creases

Rick argued that polishing is merely the rubbing of finer stones against others (what could be more natural?) – and that it’s not an adulteration or diminution of their value, energetically. I couldn’t agree more, actually – and as usual (‘in my book’) – it depends on the piece. Certain stones, you can ‘access’ their energy better if they’re polished…others less so. I know which is which, for me, but time didn’t allow – and it wasn’t called for – to have me enumerate which was which.

He said: “to all those people who want to be snobby about their ‘natural’ pieces” [and I paraphrase here, as I have been throughout], “I want to empty a wheelbarrow of muddy, silty mine-fodder in front of them and say ‘how’s that for natural’?” Many of us want our stones washed and tidy, which is a form of processing in itself.

I myself would rather wait and sift through gem show collections than go sling a hammer in the field. I’ve done it – a little – at the public Herkimer diamond mines. I admire (and of course respect) those who do…who get and convey all the stones I’ve ever seen ‘to the table. But that’s not my role or specialty in this ‘business.’ I put quotes around ‘business’ because it isn’t really a business, only…it’s a passion, and a mission (for some of us).

collection of pieces I purchased this last weekend

I’m a selector, collector, and conveyer of information, teaching, and process…that’s by ‘job.’ I quote ‘job’ because it’s not a J.O.B. – it’s a calling.

Now back to my account. Rick admitted that as someone who buys and sells rocks full time, he’s got a vested interest in getting his head around the metaphysical piece. But before he got into that, he had some more schooling for me.

We talked about the various techniques by which balls are polished out of chunks (and cubes)…including by hand (where electricity is less reliable than person power). The 3 Jet balls I purchased – nowhere have I seen any, but small examples of them before – these were clearly hand wrought (and from Poland, which is unusual, as I haven’t heard of Poland being a source for Jet, previously).

I learned that most of the Afghan Lapis comes from three mine shafts into the ‘blue mountain’ – apparently visible as such, from miles away – during Biblical times. These mines date back to before the Egyptians. Each delivers a different grade of Lapis. I bought a sliver of ‘midnight grade’ Lapis Lazuli – the only one he had on display (or maybe the only one left, as I arrived on the afternoon of day 3). I haven’t decided whether or not to sell it. For now it’ll accompany my own, similar piece…but check it out (in the picture here, to the right)!

Going back to his diatribe about ‘rough’ vs. polished – Rick made a couple of references to his analogy that turning someone on to a raw fish & vegetable diet that they hadn’t ever tried before – would surely result in upsetting their stomach and turning them off to the whole idea, healthful as it may be. He said basically: you have to crawl before you can walk, and small, cheaper, easier to hold tumbled rocks do just fine as ‘gateway’ crystals.

Then we got into something really quite interesting. He said “if I put a chunk of Plutonium in your bed, you’d start losing hair and bleeding from your gums in a few days. Yet you can’t see it’s energy, or even feel it. I’d like to try that on someone who says they don’t believe rocks have any energies. If one element can do that much harm, there’s got to be other rocks that can have the opposite effect on your well being. Problem is, how can I prove the well being piece? It’s easy to show that something killed you – but you can’t easily show that something healed you” – or reproduce the results handily, from one person to the next.

Funny (sad, really) how much easier (or reliable) it is to destroy than to create. And yet, I’m astonished how some homeless people – who I know are living the hard life – survive year in and year out. We are a resilient race – some of us survive even the worst tribulations – while others succumb so easily to them.

Another example of how/why rock power is a force to contend with: Rick said “during the Great Depression, some women in Appalachia were called crazy for eating dirt…yet their diet was devoid of iron. They needed it for their metabolism, even though they didn’t know the real reason they were drawn to eat dirt.” Rick said: “we’re eating dirt ourselves, only in the form of the plants and animals that are able to transform its various elements into digestible, assimilable nutrients. Our bodies are filled with elements, metals, and minerals” – they’re called mineral supplements, aren’t they?

yellow Calcite votive candle burner

Yet people feel a disconnect. They’re like – yeah, but that’s food – these are just rocks. Some of them are – with no perceptible energetic ‘value.’ And Rick said as much. But to not recognize the unbroken continuum between us and the very material that makes up our planet (and our bodies) – which preceeds us by millions (and billions!) of years, is kind of like living with a huge blind spot in front of us – don’t you think?

I watched the Lincoln movie last night, and there was dispute on the floor of the Congress about whether full equality under the law, for African Americans, would lead to full voting rights, representation, and intermarriage…or even votes for women (still 50+ years away from that discussion in 1865). Those attitudes now seem embarrassingly outdated – but that’s what some people thought (and truly believed) – just like the folks 500 years ago, who scoffed at the notion of the world being round, or its revolving around the sun.

I used to – and still kind of do, physiologically – think the human being stopped evolving some time ago. Sure, there are modern pathogens, GMO’s, and electromagnetic bombardment. Those must be having their effect, changing us in ways we don’t know.

optical Calcite, cut to resemble a Quartz generator, with phenomenal and layered rainbow action

There doesn’t seem to be any ‘survival of the fittest’ dynamic at work any more – everyone lives long enough to reproduce – whether they choose to or not, is another story. Our bodies are essentially as they were 100,000 years ago. But after watching the movie “Happy” – which showed the radically different brainwaves and cortical activity of someone in a meditative state – I’m starting to think it’s possible that our brains can evolve, even in our lifetimes, as we pursue discipline,training our capacity to apply our mental abilities in new and different ways.

This is promising, and encouraging to us, as a race. We have the power to adopt new mindsets, make whole different outcomes unfold in the world (and our lives!). There’s a reason it’s said that G*d created the world out of sound, or ‘The Word.’ That is the power of our imagination, and intention.

Flight was impossible till someone thought about it seriously, and put mind to machine, making it happen.

We’ve realized that our body is made up of billions of organisms – not just one – because of the important role of co-habitating bacteria in our gut (and all the outcomes beyond genetics, that impact our health, as a result of that). We are not in this alone – not just inside of us – but outside, above, and all around us. What I’m saying is that we are inextricably bound up with the world around us – not just an island, cut off – and our willpower can move mountains.

But I digress – though the above is important – and certainly part of my own, ‘unfoldment’ recently. Our consciousness is like a flower, first a tight and impermeable bud, but then developing into a beautiful flower, before withering away, and leaving only the memory of its splendor, in the words, works, and impressions we’ve made around us.

Ours is a powerful instinct to seek out what we need. People often say “you teach what you need to learn.” I have a powerful desire to connect and be grounded to earthly things (and vitality). That is because I’ve had the tendency (and constitution) to be airy and slothful at once. You might not believe it – and I have to remind myself: I can go that way – but it was my original constitution, which I’ve taken years to transform (over the past 30 years).

I’m still working out my process, fighting certain battles, trying to improve my self.

Rick’s point, in addition to all the above, is that you really have to tune into yourself, find out what it is that you’re craving (or need), and pursue it open mindedly. Don’t be dogmatic or limited. Say you need vegetables in your diet – but you only eat broccoli – and there’s no broccoli around – what do you do…starve yourself of vegetables, holding out for that broccoli, which simply isn’t available?

As the 60’s tune goes: “if you can’t be, with the one you love – honey – love the one you’re with.” Not that I’m advocating for infidelity. You have to take the sentiment with a grain of salt. Seriously: take advantage of what is, don’t get hung up on what isn’t, because the here and now is all we really have.

Yes, there’s memory, longing, and wishful thinking – but hear me out – there’s a specific point we’re making here.

Smoky oval…beautiful color & energy

It’s a pet peeve to Rick (and to me too) when people say – “I’ve heard this is ‘good for’ such and such, and ‘that’s all I’m really looking for” – to the exclusion of all the other stones before them.

Rocks come in and out of ‘season’ (ie. vogue, or availability) or simply aren’t in stock at any given time. Different stones can ‘do’ the same things for you –  or close enough. It’s not wise to be limited by what’s written in the books. Experiment – get in touch with the energy (or ‘nutrient,’ to use the dietary model) that you’re seeking – and latch on to whatever matches that, feeds that, serves that desire. It may be a totally different variety, size, shape, or color than you expected. And connect. Take advantage of it. Use and savor what it has to offer!

To find out more – please email me at, Kyle Russell – at CrystalConcentrics@gmail.com.

If you’re Metro-Boston, please Register to take my class “Crystals Demystified:” Sunday, December 2nd, from 1-3pm (in West Concord, at the Healing Essence Center)…here’s the info link for the class.

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