The New Age movement has placed great emphasis on one particular type of power instrument ? crystals. These attractive chemical solidifications are now regarded as being the wonder substance of New Age belief, and have permeated into the world of popular culture. The celebrity world is awash with high-profile, spiritually-aware people who attest to the positive power of crystals. They believe these substances direct and control energy flows in the body and promote physical and emotional well-being. But do crystals really provide magical support for people or is this effect merely an unsubstantiated craze?
A crystal is a solid ?rock? created by chemicals solidifying in a solution. Its chemical construction is particularly special because it is formed by regularly repeating patterns of atoms and molecules, and the crystal particle is pulled together by flat external forces. Like snowflakes, they are a naturally occurring phenomenon where each one created is unique, and crystals occur in any number of shapes. They are highly aesthetic and prized for use in clothing and jewellery.
Throughout history, crystals have also been regarded as having magic properties and were often believed to hold bizarre paranormal powers. Ancient races considered crystals to contain the power of Mother Earth as they originated in its crust, and the energy of the sun because they were seen to reflect light in bizarre ways. Crystals were also supposed to show the future and give people superhuman powers, with the use of crystal balls by psychics being a deliberate choice.
Modern New Age enthusiasts believe the power of the crystals lies in their ability to regulate, calm and heal the body. They are believed to channel good energy, ward off bad energy and are also said to ?vibrate? at frequencies which compliment natural body functions. Lifestyle gurus declare that crystals promote self-expression, meditation and creativity, and that a full complement of different crystals is needed to engage with all a person?s needs.
Different crystals are said to affect the body in different ways. Amethysts are believed to help headaches, eye and hair problems, balance blood sugar levels, increase psychic abilities and reduce anger, impatience and nightmares. Emeralds apparently increase the efficiency of a body?s respiration, heart and blood systems, lift depression and insomnia and evoke peace, harmony, patience and love. Finally, diamonds increase clarity, confidence and trust, clarify attitudes and thoughts and develop prosperity, generosity and love.
In recent years it has been fashionable to employ crystals in jewellery, not only for aesthetic qualities, but so as to have beneficial power sources near the body. A chiropractor called Charles Brown developed the Bioelectric Shield ? a piece of jewellery that has crystals arranged in such a way that they protect people from all the many harmful electromagnetic forces in the modern world: mobile phones, computer screens and power lines. These ?shields? are said to be medically proven, and are even worn by Cherie Blair, the wife of the British Prime Minister. The different constructions of these shields are said to provide protection for different things.
Unfortunately, these assertions are not based on any sort of scientific basis. Indeed they are based on nothing more than blind faith. Sceptics believe any reaction they do have on human beings is the result of selective or wishful thinking, more self-deception and placebo effect. But crystals do have many vital roles in our modern world. They are important components in electronic, optical and communication industries, and feature in many types of high-tech equipment. These functions are due to one special function that crystals really do have. In 1880 Pierre and Jacques Curie realised that certain crystals produce an electrical change when they are compressed. This discovery was termed the ?piezoelectric effect?, and now crystals are used for highly scientific purposes.
However, the piezoelectric effect has no effect on the human body, and crystals provide no protection from illness, calamity or misfortune. That does not detract from their beauty, but as far as science is concerned the magical power of crystals is completely unfounded.