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.

Other ways to connect…
Like my page Crystal Concentric page on Facebook.                                                          Pinterest profile Crystals Power
Twitter: @CrystalsPower

Why Rock and Why Now?

Why Rock…and Why Now?

To start with a Religious Tradition – since that’s most people’s “gateway drug” into (or away from!) Spirit – you might know (or want to know) that in Judaism, there is an annual celebration of The Trees. It’s called Tu B’Shvat…and yes, I’m talking about the actual “arbors” growing tall and green, particularly in the summer, and out of doors.

trees in autumn

Trees in Autumn (c/o Google Images).

If that’s acceptable, and Christians have adopted the pre-Christian tradition of creating a shrine with a pine at Christmas, then why shouldn’t there be an annual “turn-over” time for “The Stones,” or Rock? I’m not talking about bringing a cairn indoors (though I do take one specific New Hampshire smoky onto my porch at this point in the year). The idea is not necessarily to create a ritual or celebration for the occasion (though both are certainly in order!).

What I’m talking about is sensing and acknowledging a particular time of the year for its unique, transformative quality, and pairing that time period with the bedrock and craggy backdrop of our lives. Rock is beneath our feet, all around us in the hills, and above us in the highest mountain peaks.

Not to be spooky, but this recently snapped image of tombstones reminds me of how they're employed to signify the eternal memory of a gone soul, and yet the grander context - the eternal cliff behind them - bears testament to why we even choose grave stones to be remembered by...they'll always be around (photo by Kyle Russell).

I’m proposing that this begins within days of October 20th. Maybe that’s on account of my living in a place – New England – that’s truly witness to the 4 seasons. The harvest time is pretty much done, and Halloween (or All Souls Day) is nearly upon us.

The Pagans previously (and still) – as well as the Christians (in a secular capacity) mark a time when “the veil” is thin between the worlds, and spirits are to be pacified with treats (or offerings), lest they turn on (or trick) us. Hence: the festival of “trick or treat.”

Rock (yes, down to those small pebbles we trod on outdoors) predates every human imagination by innumerable eons. How can we pretend to be more important than them?

This vocanic plain in Galapagos symbolizes the original rock face of the planet, and being relatively "young" geologically, it shows - as do everything from earthquakes to tsunamis - that the earth is still in geological flux (photo by Kyle Russell).

I don’t mean to anthropomorphize – as if the hills had eyes – but I’m simply trying to attempt to identify the strata of rock as a whole to be a witness, an entity considerable in and of itself, as materially AND spiritually significant.  If time were a test of meaning, value and significance, surely our paltry spot on the historical time line would sideline us as being irrelevant, except, perhaps, for our unusual capacity (as a species) to bring the planet to its untimely (and undeserved) demise.

I realize the human race has MANY other redeeming qualities, which make it’s relative newness to the scene pale by comparison with the wonders the human race is capable of. Our capacity for love, thought, language, and compassion are paramount. But that’s not my focus here.

...from an aptly named emporium's entryway (photo by Kyle Russell).

As you can see from the title of this posting, I ask the question: Why Rock? And the name of this Blog? It’s Crystal Concentric. It’s a long story, but I’ve become a bit of a rock hound, and more than that, have been exposed to the notion (eegads!) of “Crystal Healing.” Which means, for the purpose of this particular “chapter” of my expression, that I take rock more seriously than merely as something to walk over.

More to come on the “Why Rock?” but now for some more on “Why Now?” The latter is timely (necessarily), the former is timeless. If time is the current moment, every other moment – past and future – partakes of the timeless.

As in the case with the ground itself (which is a blending of organic – dead, previously living matter – and the inorganic worlds), the first frost is “felt” deeply everywhere the Mercury dips down towards freezing. It’s a logical, scientifically measurable happenstance. Earth and stone get colder when the sun shines less on them. They “feel” different, even to our touch.

Plant growth is halted by the oncoming season - the leaves turn read - only the rock face stays constant (photo by Kyle Russell).

The longest day has passed and daylight is waning. No longer is stone a repository of the Sun’s heat (even during the day). It’s every mammal for itself – reptiles and fish will go dormant – many birds fly South. The leaves fall, and most plants will withdraw energetically into themselves. The stone – which remains (as it always has) – is the enduring foundation of the world. Through all the seasons, though it’s eroding gradually, it remains a constant nonetheless.

From a macro perspective, the world itself is an orbiting rock, a great big stone with a molten core, rotating around an even bigger, all-molten fireball of elements. Yet our planet is blue from afar, holding water on its surface. The water is shared in a give and take with the atmosphere. Life is safe (or in any case IS) here. As far as we know (scientifically), this is the only spot in the cosmos capable of hosting Life. That would make this great big rock we live on (and all its component pieces) a kind of significant phenomenon, well worthy of note.

Earth from Space (c/o Google Images).

I heard an interview on NPR with the author (Leslie Marmon) of  “The Turquoise Ledge,” and she mentioned the possibility that extraterrestrial life might have evolved differently elsewhere, choosing to lodge itself in mineral form instead of organically (to thus be more hearty over time and distances), but we wouldn’t think to look there (in stones) for signs of intelligence). Yet don’t we keep time with the steady vibration of quartz? And aren’t all computer components made up of earthly extracts?

Truly, the chance of there being extraterrestrial life is much higher than the likelihood of there NOT being extraterrestrial life (given the number of suns, planets, and galaxies out there). But the power of stones does not rely on the possibility of there being extraterrestrial, or perhaps even terrestrial intelligence lodged inside them. Nor does it rely on the perception of G*d (however defined) – or any holy books – to ascribe value or meaning to it. We hold THESE truths to be self-evident.

Goddess in Stone at Kripalu Institute (photo by Kyle Russell).

If G*d created us in “his,” “her,” or “it’s image,” then surely stone has got to be a primary key to that reflection.

The mere fact of the earth’s rocky crust being the foundation of everything we see and know, even as we gaze out towards the heavens, is intrinsically meaningful (and I would argue: valuable + spiritually salient).

The food we eat is organic, to be sure, but chock full of vitamins and minerals, which are technically non-living elements. All that is can be broken down to these elements – excepting spirit, our sense of meaning, G*d – and the energies that move the atoms within and betwixt one another.

Where do we draw the line between the fixed and the moving – the Creator and the created – the animate and the inanimate? Why is a galloping horse alive and the wind is not? That is not really a question for this (semi-)“treatise,” but it’s a valid one nonetheless, and one worth at least posing here (although just in passing).

Let us come back to “civilization” for a moment. Where does oil come from, all plastics, precious metals, gems and jewelry…things that make the world economy go round and round (and surround our artificial lives in nearly every way)? The earth, that’s where they come from.

What is the Lost City of the Inka if not a montage of painstakingly carved and laid stones (photo by Kyle Russell).

And what is the hardest, most solid, most eternal concretization of the earth’s image (or identity)? It’s stone.

Coming back again to society, where do we live? Figments of our imagination: architectural concepts are realized with iron beams, poured concrete particulates, hewn cliffs and quarries made habitable. The greatest skyscrapers and cathedrals are made of what?

What is the remaining vestige, for all to see, of the great pyramids, the Maya, even the Temple of Solomon…all are stone, all are rock.

So without getting into any additional spiritual conversation or overlays – discussing the potential personal utility of “power stones” to effect any kind of “change” in our lives – let us end this first communication by resting our case: that rock is worthy of a second look, not to be taken for granted, and certainly not to be trifled with.