BY JENNY SADRE-ORAFAI
When I was young and anxious, I read the Maya Angelou poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” over and over in my bedroom. It was a prayer I kept in my mouth just in case. “I've got a magic charm/That I keep up my sleeve/I can walk the ocean floor/And never have to breathe.”
My first crystal was an amethyst. I read on a beauty blog of all places about how crystals heal people from various ailments. I learned that the amethyst is good for people with addictive personalities and who suffer from addiction. I ordered it two days before I went into outpatient treatment for my eating disorders. I walked in crying and ready.
Periodically you should clear your crystals since they absorb negative energy and are no longer as potent. There are many ways to do this—a moonlight bath, burying them in earth, placing them near selenite or burning sage or palo santo over them. I gather my crystals up, my protectors, and place them in a colander that would be used for rice or pasta if I cooked. In the kitchen, I wave a wand of lit palo santo over and under them. I set my intention. I only ask that they do what they are meant to do. The smoke holds its breathe over the room.
I was running four hours a day, drinking seven doses of laxatives, and taking fiber pills when I ordered the necklace. I was afraid, I was ashamed, and I was dying. I had been dying for twenty years from my eating disorders. My closet was filled with piles of exercise clothes, running shoes, and waist trainers. When attending a conference this past summer, I snuck out of my room at 2 in the morning, went to the kitchen, and stirred the laxatives into water in a plastic cup I packed. I drank it there in large gulps, such large secrets, as fast as I could. I softly walked back to the room I shared with another poet and tried to sleep in a bed that was too big for just me.
According to Hawkins’ Scale of Consciousness, shame and guilt are the lowest vibrations (at 20 and 30 respectively). Conversely, crystals have vibrations that alter one’s energy. Every day I carry an amethyst around my neck, citrine (a yellow, jagged dagger for success and making sure the other crystals are doing their good work), rose quartz (a see-through pink coin for unconditional love), black tourmaline (a small black island for protection and healing), obsidian (a black eye for removing negativity), and mangano calcite (a white egg for cleansing and healing).
Every night I sleep with howlite and moonstone in my pillow—both so white they fade into the pillow. I meditate with a pink and clear nirvana quartz, one of the highest vibration crystals. Since holding them during meditation makes me dizzy, I ground myself with smoky quartz palm stones, bringing me back into the planet, the continent, the country, the state, the city, the room. I keep an amethyst cluster on my nightstand, a range of mountains or a small city, and I look at it as I fall asleep on my side, my mother’s birthstone, and think I hear it humming.
My whole life I’ve avoided medicine. I liked to think that I was strong enough to handle whatever pain I endured. Part of me also was fearful of needing something outside myself and then not having access to that thing. This fear kept me from recovery. I learned how to surrender 105 days ago. I learned to accept help. I believe that crystals are part of my healing. They are not responsible for all of the healing though. Since I’ve found crystals, I have carried them in pockets of dresses, in stiff shirts, and in my tote bag with my grade book. I have also taken baths with them and showered with crystal soap. I take all the vibrations they send, absorbing them into the deepest parts of me.
The necklace was another attempt at avoiding self-destruction. It isn’t especially beautiful to most people. The amethyst isn’t polished glossy purple like in department store jewelry. It’s more of a pointed hunk of faded lilac with white at the top from where it was excised from the earth. I touch it like a I touched a pulled tooth from my childhood.
I lost a rose quartz tumble stone three times—buying a new one every time they disappeared. Some people believe that a crystal leaves you when you no longer need it. The last time I bought and lost a rose quartz, I gave up and bought a different stone for my heart chakra. One morning I shook loose the howlite from my pillow only for a stone to fall on the floor beside my bed. I knelt down to pick it up and found a rose quartz in my hand instead. The rose quartz came back to me when I was struggling with self-doubt and self-esteem. I palmed it and held it tight tight.
Your crystals like to be seen and kept out. When I get home and unpack them from my clothes and bags, I lay them down to sleep, a rainbow or language for healing.
Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of Paper, Cotton, Leather and four chapbooks. Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Cream City Review, Ninth Letter, Tammy, and Linebreak. Her prose has appeared in The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review, The Toast, and South Loop Review. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly, a VIDA counter, and an Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University.