So one day, I was talking to
my homegirl "T", and She Said:
"It's only those over-the-top new agey white people who use crystals!"
Eh? Without words, I gestured contrarily to my three clear Quartz bracelets, my Black Obsidian pendant, and carnelian-embedded waistbeads. What'chu mean?
“Well, *you* do. But it’s not really *our* thing as a whole.”
I took the opportunity to point out her 4 fly ass princess-cut Diamond rings, her 24k solid gold tennis bracelet, and her Emerald birthstone studs.
Diamonds and Emeralds are crystals too, boo! I reminded her that precious metals like gold & silver have been used by Africans for generations, as both beautification and for metaphysical purposes.
"...True, true. We have been bling-blinging since like the beginning of time."
The little “T” engraved into her Gold-plated front left tooth glistened in the sunlight.
we have always used crystals, y'all!
WE ALREADY KNOW THAT AFRICAN PEOPLE WERE THE FIRST PEOPLE TO DECORATE OUR BODIES WITH MATERIALS FROM THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT – AND WE DO IT SO DAMN WELL!
We show off our style with brilliant bird-feather headdresses, we jingle with musical cowrie shells and metal beads, we carve sacred tusks and bones into jewelry as expressions of our beautiful, natural lives.
We used our ancient bling to represent our connection to deities, spirits, our homelands, and the tribes that bore us (it’s still a tradition on my paternal side, to give all of the new babies “gold nugget” rings). My point?
Melanated People have BEEN using the inherent beauty in Mother Nature's minerals to adorn ourselves.
Everybody knows that.
why is there this unspoken idea that healing with crystals originated in the “New Age movement"?
"New Age" is an often culturally-appropriative "movement" of white folks in america, that involves poaching another culture’s ancient spiritual beliefs and practices to use as their own financial and spiritual gain (i.e. The Yoga Industrial Complex, "yer chakras", "american tribal bellydance", fuckcetera).
The white western discovery of the medicinal powers of stones, came like waaaay after everyone else. And like every other westernized “thing”, it comes with the capitalistic, objectifying, pharmaceutical mentality that often pervades western culture.
I know what kind of white folks my homegirl “T” was talking about back then. This “white-american-new-age-quasi-liberal-we-are-one-#Idontseecolor” crew loves to pack pounds of crystals into their pockets, often as an instant gratification attempt to achieve a healing that they don’t have the patience to cultivate (and DO have the privilege to run away from).
I get it. I’ve spent enough time in white Metaphysical shops. Hearing folks barf into each-others mouths about “the friggin most powerful piece of labradorite” that they used to attract a silk bowtie for their Chihuahua, feels ridiculous and off-putting for a reason…It’s because they’re doing it wrong.
Historically, white people deal with the natural world differently than we do.
history of crystal usage in africa
OUR ancestors knew that metals and gems like Gold and Lapiz Lazuli were not commodities to obsessively steal and/or hoard. They were sacred, precious minerals to be mined, crafted, and used with spiritual intention. For Example:
Crystals in Kemet:
The Ancient Kemetians (“Egyptians) were not shy about showing their spiritual connection to crystals. In addition to building monumental pyramids out of Granite and limestone, our Ancestors also:
- Wrapped and buried loved-ones with Quartz over the third eye to assist with after-life navigation.
- Used powdered Red Carnelian in drinkable elixrs to heal the body.
- Created colorful eye-makeup out of Lapiz Lazuli to promote psychic vision and clarity.
- Embedded crystals into our spiritual tools (scepters, thrones, crowns) to activate and balance the KHAT, KA, and BA energies within our bodies.
- Used “Neb” (Gold) for crafting sacred funerary masks and deity sculptures, not currency.
Crystals in Western Africa:
- Gold was used as adornment for rites of passage and Bridal ceremonies, from The Ivory Coast to Angola further south.
- Red/Pink Coral beads are a common favorite amongst women for its ability to stimulate blood flow and assist in healthy fertility (Nigeria).
- Amber and Copal jewelry was worn to invoke pride, strength, and positive character in the wearer (Mali).
- DIAMONDS. Need I say more?
Crystals in Southern Africa:
- The majority of the most popular crystals we know today, form abundantly in South Africa, Madagascar, Namibia, and other southern African countries.
- Ummm...Fluorite, Rose Quartz, Quartz, Ruby, Topaz, Malachite, Azurite, Rhodonite, Aquamarine…
- Citrine found in the Congo is said to be the most powerful and sacred types.
And don’t even get me started on the Moorish empire, Ethiopia, and the Dogon peoples of Mali!
(Also, don’t get me started on european imperialists using Black bodies to cheaply mine expensive gems and metals for pennies on the hundred-dollar. That’s another blog post).
it's your birthright to know the earths gem and mineral medicines.
I implore all African (Black) peoples to re-connect with the crystals that we’ve BEEN using for centuries to heal ourselves and our people!