Quartz Crystals: Form and Structure
The word crystal comes from the Greek word "krystallos", meaning ice. The Greeks found quartz crystals high in the frigid Alpine mountains, and Pliny (c. 62-113 A.D.), the foremost historian and mineralogist of his time, believed quartz crystal was ice that had frozen so hard it would never thaw.
One common legend is that crystals were originally heaven’s holy water, poured out by God into the aethers. As the holy quintessence descended toward the Earth, it froze into ice in outer space, where it was petrified into permanent solidity by angels so that when it fell to Earth it would be available permanently for the protection and blessing of mankind. [See “Rock Crystal: Nature’s Holy Stone”, by Frank Dorland]
Quartz is the low-temperature stable form of silicon dioxide or silica.Silicon and oxygen are the two most common elements in the Earth's crust.Quartz crystal is perhaps the most common mineral found on the face of the Earth. Sand and sandstone are considered “clastic” forms of quartz by mineralogists, meaning that they are formed of fragments of pre-existing rocks.
Although quartz makes up a large portion of the Earth's surface, there are only three places in the world that have enough high quality quartz crystal to warrant mining. These are Brazil, Madagascar, a small island off the coast of Africa, and Mt. Ida in the Ouachita Mountain range of Arkansas.
The remarkable geometric patterns quartz crystals form in nature have been the subject of scientific inquiry for centuries. In 1660, Renaissance Saint and scientist Nicolaus Steno conducted precise measurements of quartz crystal structures and found that regardless of their source, the angles between corresponding quartz crystal faces are constant. This became known as Steno’s Law of crystallography.
In the next century, the Abbé Haüy formulated the geometric law of crystallization. His work led to the modern definition of a crystal: any substance in which the molecules or atoms are arranged in a regular, ordered way in three dimensions.Crystals formed of the same mineral occur naturally in many different shapes, but all share specific internal structural characteristics.
There are believed to be seven shapes, or "systems" into which crystals can form. They include cubic, hexagonal, tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, and triclinic. Quartz manifests in hexagonal crystalline systems, commonly having the form of a six-sided prism terminating in a six-sided pyramid.
Modern science has discovered that quartz crystal, silicon dioxide (SiO2), contains 46% silicon and 53% oxygen. Each tetrahedral quartz molecule is composed of four atoms of oxygen and one of silicon. Chains of tetrahedral quartz crystals bond in spirals which in turn link to form a precise, repeating latticework of molecules. This latticework creates the macroscopic geometric quartz crystal structure.
It is the oxygen "bridge" bonds between silicon atoms that give SiO2 many of its unique properties. The bond angle Si-O-Si is nominally about 145 degrees, but can vary from about 100 to 170 degrees with very little change in bond energy. Furthermore, rotation of the bond about the axis is almost completely free. This means that quartz crystal can grow into many different possible crystalline structures, and can also easily form amorphous materials with no long-range order.
Because of the variability of their molecular geometry, which depends upon the angle of the bridge bonds between oxygen and silicon, each quartz crystal is unique, and quartz crystals often fail to conform to the ideal geometric structure.
Twins are common, and considered by spiritually minded crystallographers to have unique metaphysical qualities. Both single and double terminated crystals abound.
Quartz may be transparent, translucent, or opaque; it may be colorless or colored. Many varieties of quartz occur around the world because quartz forms in so many different geographical climates and rock formations. Varieties include: ordinary colorless crystallized quartz, or rock crystal, rutillated quartz, rose quartz, smoky quartz, milky quartz, and amethyst.
They may contain streaks, lines, rainbows, metallic flakes, clouds, water bubbles or other inclusions. The inclusions are of two primary kinds -- metallic flakes and clouds. Clouds are created by tiny bubbles or flows of fluid entering the crystal during the period of its formation.
The beauty of the inclusions can add to the value of the quartz crystal, depending upon the nature of the inclusion, its visibility, and overall appearance of the crystal.
Inclusions do not diminish the utility of the crystal for spiritual or energy work, and often inclusions will enhance the efficacy of the crystal, imparting specific metaphysical properties that are prized by healers and energy workers.
Quartz crystals have a unique ability to convert electrical energy to mechanical energy and vice versa. This is called the piezoelectric effect.
“Piezoelectricity is the ability of certain crystals to produce a voltage when subjected to mechanical stress,” according to the open-content online encyclopedia called the Wikipedia. “The word is derived from the Greek 'piezein', which means to squeeze or press. The effect is reversible; piezoelectric crystals, subject to an externally applied voltage, can change shape by a small amount. The effect is of the order of nanometres, but nevertheless finds useful applications.”
“In a piezoelectric crystal, the positive and negative electrical charges are separated, but symmetrically distributed, so that the crystal overall is electrically neutral. When a stress is applied, this symmetry is destroyed, and the charge asymmetry generates a voltage. A 1 cm cube of quartz with 500 lb (2 kN) of correctly applied pressure upon it, can produce 12,500 V of electricity.”
“Piezoelectric materials also show the opposite effect, called converse piezoelectricity, where application of an electrical field creates mechanical stress (distortion) in the crystal. Because the charges inside the crystal are separated, the applied voltage affects different points within the crystal differently, resulting in the distortion.”
“The bending forces generated by converse piezoelectricity are extremely high, of the order of tens of millions of pounds (tens of mega newtons), and usually cannot be constrained. The only reason the force is usually not noticed is because it causes a displacement of the order of one billionth of an inch (a few nanometres).”
Pierre and Jacques Curie first demonstrated the piezoelectric effect in quartz crystals in 1880, stimulating a flood of technological advances utilizing quartz crystals.
The piezoelectric property of quartz crystals enables them to receive energy, process it, and transmit the oscillations outward in precise patterns of vibrations.
Quartz crystal’s piezoelectric properties became the foundation of post Twentieth Century technological society. Scientists found that the vibration patterns quartz crystals receive and transmit could be manipulated to augment, store, amplify, transfer, transform and focus other vibrational frequencies of energy, including sound, electricity and even information in the form of precise periodic pulses.
Sonar, radios, cigarette lighters, transistors, computer chips, liquid crystal displays, digital watches, cars, satellites and many other technological pillars of today’s global society utilize quartz crystals in their manufacture.
In 1917, Paul Langevin, a French inventor, introduced an ultrasonic submarine detector called sonar, which utilizes a quartz crystal inducer to generate high-pitched sound frequencies which are transmitted through the water and bounce off objects to return to their source, where they are detected by a hydrophone.The time it takes for the sound waves to return is a measure of the distance from the sonar device to the objects in the water.
Quartz crystals were used in ham radios for the first time in the 1920s and 1930s, transmitting and receiving the human voice and music across vast distances. Between 1935 and 1940 Motorola made crystal control the foundation for a system of two-way radios that would work in a wide range of temperatures. The US military made the decision to incorporate crystal control into all their communications systems in 1939, and military historians say this decision contributed greatly to the Allied victory in World War II.
Pressing the button of a piezoelectric cigarette lighter squeezes a quartz crystal, and the resulting high-voltage discharge of electricity ignites the gas in the lighter as the spark jumps over a small gap.
Piezoelectric sensors power the amplifiers in electric guitars and powerful microphones.
Imagine a bell shaped by grinding a single crystal of quartz. “It would ring for minutes after being tapped,” explains Douglas Dwyer, the founder of Frequency Precision Ltd, a company that provides consulting and design services to the world-wide electronics industry. “Almost no energy is lost in the material. A quartz bell -- if shaped in the right direction to the crystalline axis -- will have an oscillating voltage on its surface, and the rate of oscillation is unaffected by temperature. If the surface voltage on the crystal is picked off with plated electrodes and amplified by a transistor or integrated circuit, it can be re-applied to the bell to keep it ringing.” This unusual property of quartz is the basis for the manufacture of digital watches.
“Quartz clocks employ a tuning fork made from quartz that uses a combination of both direct and converse piezoelectricity to generate a regularly timed series of electrical pulses that is used to keep track of the passage of time,” explains the Wikipedia. “The quartz crystal (like any material) has a precisely defined natural frequency (caused by its shape and size) at which it prefers to oscillate, and this is used to stabilize the frequency of a periodic voltage applied to the crystal.”
“The same principle is critical in all radio transmitters and receivers, and in computers where it creates a clock pulse,” according to the Wikipedia. Both of these usually use a frequency multiplier to reach the megahertz and gigahertz ranges.”
Tiny quartz crystals now comprise the heart of all digital electronic devices. “Currently, quartz crystals -- precision-cut and polished single-crystal silicon dioxide (a main ingredient of sand and window glass) -- serve as the clock source,” reports Sandia National Laboratories. “A piezoelectric material, the crystals expand and change shape when an electric field is applied, storing up electric charge. When no current is administered, the crystals release the charge. Electrical energy sloshes back and forth at a fixed frequency between the crystal and the timing circuit in a feedback loop. This fixed frequency generates timing signals, which allow calculations in digital electronics to occur in synchronized steps.”
Computer chips have a fascinating birth history. Silicon dioxide forms naturally as quartz crystals. Over time, quartz erodes into beach sand, which is the non-crystalline form of silicon dioxide.
Computer manufacturers extract pure silicon from the sand, heat the silicon to 1,500 degrees Celsius, and dip a tiny quartz crystal into the super-heated solution. The crystal is rotated and slowly extracted from the mixture, creating a larger mass shaped like a cone. The cone is turned on its side, and sliced into flat disks, which are then sub-divided into the tiny computer chips so ubiquitous in our homes, offices, cars, airplanes and briefcases.
It is no exaggeration to say that the digital age is the age of the quartz crystal.
Metaphysics of Quartz Crystals
Quartz crystals have been used by healers, spiritual teachers, and scientists of the sacred throughout history to receive, transmit, store, focus, amplify, transform and balance the various forms of energy found in our Universe, all of which can be considered to be interchangeable forms of Universal Light.
Quartz crystals have this marvelous ability because, metaphysically, quartz crystal expresses the unity of the five elements (Earth,Air, Fire, Water, and Ether or Spirit).Crystals grow deep in the earth and form much of the earth’s crust, yet crystals, like the element air, allow light to pass through them. Crystals are fiery in that they have piezoelectric properties yet they are watery in their hexagonal molecular structure which resembles snowflakes, and in their ice-like appearance. Crystals are quintessential expressions of the element of Ether or Spirit, which is synonymous with Universal Life Force Energy, the fundamental energy that sustains all forms of energy in the known universe.
Thus crystals represent the unity that underlies the apparent multiplicity of material creation, the unity of both material and spiritual worlds.
From a metaphysical viewpoint, quartz crystals are cosmic tuning forks, harmonizing the soul, mind, heart and body of the user with the vibrational frequencies of Spiritual worlds – which are after all simply realms of light resonating at a much higher frequency than the material world.
From the standpoint of quantum science and sacred geometry, everything in the known universe can be seen as a wave form.Sound, light, radio, microwaves, cosmic rays, and electro-magnetic energy, all consist of waves of energy, differing by amplitude, frequency, velocity, wavelength and other qualities.
To the metaphysician, material objects consist of crystallized light energy. Scientists have found that physical objects can be seen as particles or waves, and either model works perfectly well. Quantum physicists say that any given object can be viewed as a collection of particles, in which case, the laws of physics can predict that object’s behavior. Or the same object can be viewed as a waveform. In that case, the laws of physics can predict the object’s behavior according to that model.
Metaphysically, Universal Life Force Energy is considered the Source of all creation. This Universal Life Force Energy is called chi by the Chinese, prana by the Hindu rishis, and is the energy found in the “zero-point field” that fills outer space, according to modern American astrophysicists. These astrophysicists believe that everything that exists in the universe, from light waves to material objects, originates in the Zero Point Field, and is constructed of energy. For these scientists, like metaphysicians, energy is the primary building block of all that exists in the material Universe. Mass, inertia and physical objects are created by a universal field of energy and constructed entirely of energy. Energy is primary. Physical reality is, from their point of view, a useful illusion. In this sophisticated view of the material world, these scientists agree with the metaphysical viewpoint expressed in the world's ancient spiritual wisdom teachings.
Animistic indigenous cultures around the world have always had an intuitive, holistic view of nature and of spiritual worlds. Their wisdom traditions grasped the Gaia Theory thousands of years ago, and venerated the natural world as a Goddess. Nature’s multitudinous manifestations, elemental, mineral, vegetable, and animal, were recognized as a congregation of living, spiritual beings, and treated with appropriate respect.
Chief Seattle, in his famous 1852 letter to the white men who were to buy Indian lands said, “This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. One thing we know: our god is also your god. The earth is precious to Him and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. . . .As we are part of the land, you too are part of the land. This earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God. No Man, be he Red Man or White Man, can be apart. We are all brothers after all."
Native Americans revere quartz crystals as the brain cells of Grandmother Earth. Viewing the Earth as a living organism, primitive stones such as granite and sandstone comprise the skeleton of the organism, the Earth’s crust is the skin. Vegetation and water channels make up the lifeblood of Earth’s body, and metals and minerals function as glands, nerves and sensory organs.
“The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors,” Chief Seattle explained. “If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the lives of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father. The rivers are our brothers, They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.”
Quartz crystals, in this worldview, act as the Earth’s brain-mind, through which Spirit, the Universal Mind, maintains communication with all parts of Earth’s organism, equilibrating the earth’s temperature, moisture levels, and other important variables. In addition, quartz crystals and other gemstones collectively create and modulate an electromagnetic field around the Earth, which is a vital component of the Earth organism’s auric field, and clear quartz crystals, identified with white light, represent the unifying vibrational frequency that harmonizes the seven rainbow rays of Earth’s many varieties of gems and minerals, within that auric field.
Thus in the Native American tradition, any human being who can attune to the power of the quartz crystal is in tune with Grandmother Earth, and obtains the ability to communicate directly with Spiritual worlds.
Shamanism and Quartz Crystals
In animistic cultures, shamans and priestesses have always been the scientists of the sacred, entering into ecstatic trance states to venture into the world of Spirit and return with visions, messages, and healing energies. In the realm of Spirit these custodians of humanity’s spiritual spark enact rituals of discovery, propitiation, cure and salvation. They retrieve lost souls, healing the mind, the body and the soul of the afflicted. They operate as guides of the souls of the dead into the manifold worlds of Spirit, and communicate directly with the elementals, devas, angels, gods and goddesses whose activities affected earthly life, health and fertility.
Extending far into pre-historical times, in these ways, these practitioners of Sacred Science were the first Light Workers, spiritual warriors defending humanity against spiritual affliction, disease, death, and disasters.
The archetypal cosmology of shamanism depicts crystals as solidified Light, originating in the realms of Spirit and manifesting on Earth as a bridge to the powers that create this world and all its inhabitants. Crystals are given to shamans and priestesses in many traditions on all continents of this world upon their initiation into the mysteries of Spirit.
The shamanic initiatory process can be described as a “death” of the egoistic self and a rebirth into a “body of light”, and during this process, crystals have often been abraded, swallowed, or inserted into the initiate’s body.
The anthropologist Mircea Eliade describes the process in his book “Shamanism”. “. . .[The initiator] throws the candidate into the sky, ‘killing him’. Once they are in the sky, the master inserts small rainbow serpents. . .and quartz crystals (which have the same name as the mythical Rainbow Serpent) [p.132]. . .The candidate must silently submit to an operation performed by two old medicine men. They rub his body with rock crystal to the point of abrading the skin, press rock crystals into his scalp, pierce a hole under a fingernail of his right hand, and make an incision into his tongue. [p.47]”
Other traditions involve “singing” a piece of crystal into the initiate’s forehead or pouring “liquefied quartz” over the candidate’s body.
Australian shamans are self-selected members of the tribe, according to Joseph Campbell, who describes the shamanic initiation rites of various cultures in his book “Primitive Mythology”. These would-be shamans enter a sacred cave, and go to sleep. While they sleep, a spirit comes, and pierces the candidate with an invisible lance, which passes through the back of the neck, piercing the tongue, and leaving a hole big enough to pass the little finger through. A second spirit lance pierces the candidate’s head from ear to ear. The candidate falls dead and is carried into the depths of the cave, where spirits live. The spirits remove his intestines and replace them with a new set of intestines, composed of quartz crystals.
The new shaman returns to the tribe, in a state of insanity.
Eventually, he “graduates”, and attains the powers of the medicine man. Then he is able to project the quartz crystals into other people, with results operating for their good or ill, depending upon the shaman’s intention.
The archetypal theme is the same. The candidate dies to his egoistic self, and his dead body is refashioned into a “body of light” by the incorporation of the solidified Light of quartz crystals into his own body. This new body of light is the initiate’s Higher Self, the rainbow bridge that connects the initiate to Higher Worlds and enables the initiate to see, feel, hear and speak in the worlds of Spirit.
Crystals are quintessential shamanic power objects, perceived by initiates to be living beings who operate as their allies in the realm of Spirit. In medicine bags, crystals emanate Light,infusing all the power objects in the medicine bag with spiritual power. In ecstatic trance, crystals are used as a bridge to the realms of Spirit, empowering the initiate to communicate with beings in other worlds.
Other Quartz Traditions
In the oldest sacred writings on Earth, the Sanskrit literature of ancient India, quartz is named bhisma-ratna,and is sacred to Sri Shukra deva, the planet Venus. In the Vedic tradition, clear quartz crystal is considered 1/100 as powerful as a clear diamond.
Quartz crystal is often considered one of the seven precious substances of Buddhism. These are: ruby, emerald, sapphire, diamond, pearl, coral, lapis lazuli. Sometimes, silver, gold, crystal, turquoise, or amber are substituted. One often sees quartz crystal “dorjes” or thunderbolts, called “vajras” by the Tibetan Buddhists, crystal conch shells, crystal mandalas, ritual crystal daggers, and crystal stupas on Tibetan Buddhist altars, along with chunks of unpolished rose quartz.
Both Hindu and Buddhist traditions place great importance on the “diamond” or “thunderbolt” body (vajra), which the yogi, the meditator, the advanced spiritual practitioner, achieves through arduous exercise, purification, renunciation and Divine grace.
Incan, Mayan and Egyptian civilizations possessed a sophisticated knowledge of crystal technology, which they used in conjunction with their great pyramids.
In all these cultures, the initiate dies to the world of the flesh, the materialistic conception of reality, and is reborn into the world of the Spirit, a Self-conscious soul able to operate with equal facility in both worlds – the material world and the world of Spirit. The attainment of the spiritual initiation is associated with the clarity and luminosity of quartz crystals.
Quartz crystal is set in the breastplate of the Hebrew high priest in the Bible. Violet quartz, or amethyst, is found on the Pope’s Fisherman’s Ring.
Alchemists in the Western mystery school traditions have used quartz crystals, especially amethysts, as powerful amplifiers, modulators and projectors of focused thought-forms and cosmic energy, although, like the Hindu rishis, they favored precious gems over semi-precious stones for their workings.
Medieval and Renaissance diviners used crystal balls for “distance viewing” of events in other places and times, enabling them to foretell the future through the use of these sacred stones.
Fairy wands and wizards’ staffs, such as that of Tolkein’s Gandalf the Gray, are reflections of this archetype.
Working with Quartz Crystals
“The crystal is a neutral object whose inner structure exhibits a state of perfection and balance,” according to crystal researcher Marcel Vogel, a senior scientist with IBM for 27 years. “When it's cut to the proper form and when the human mind enters into relationship with its structural perfection, the crystal emits a vibration which extends and amplifies the powers of the human mind. Like a laser, it radiates energy in a coherent, highly concentrated form, and this energy may be transmitted into objects or people at will.”
Quartz crystals found within the Earth are charged and attuned for a sacred purpose, equilibrating the Earth’s auric field, and acting as a bridge between Universal mind and the Earth’s native intelligence. Quartz crystals on the surface of the planet absorb energy from the sun and moon, and from lightning discharges in thunderstorms, so crystals found in the wild may be fully charged from these natural sources of energy.
Quartz crystals are very sensitive to ambient energy fields, and can pick up both energy and “information” from their environment. In the course of being mined, transported, and passed from hand to hand during their journey from their natural habitat to your home, crystals can and do pick up and retain both beneficial and detrimental energetic “information” in the form of human intent, human emotions and thought-forms generated in their environment. Often the crystals are handled by individuals who may not be aware of or who may not be respectful of their true nature, and in such cases, the crystals may be filled with “dirty” energy, detrimental emotions, base, egoistic intent and greedy thought forms incompatible with the energies of unconditional love and Higher Mind, the energies required of any successful healer and of any individual seeking to bond with a crystal for aid in meditation or other spiritual activities of any kind.
This is why quartz crystals should always be cleansed prior to use. Quartz crystals obtained at the SatyaCenter store have all been cleansed thoroughly here at Satya Center.
Crystals can be cleansed in a number of ways. We utilize specially prepared crystal and flower essence infused quintessences and pomanders from Aura Soma, our own specially prepared flower and crystal essences made from Jane’s garden, and Reiki energy to cleanse new crystals entering our premises. If we feel the crystals have absorbed substantial “dirty” energies, we place them in salt water for a period of time, then rinse them with clear water and proceed as above.
Then we place the crystals outside to absorb energy from the sun and moon and the earth itself for a period of time, usually from one to two days.
Crystal-lovers who are not Reiki practitioners can use other methods of cleansing and clearing crystals.
You can place the crystal in a bowl of salt water, then utilize the power of prayer to ask for cleansing and clearing, and place the crystal outside in the elements for a period of at least eight hours, preferably in full sun and moonlight. Place the bowl on the earth itself if possible.
Some crystal healers believe that crystals should never be placed in salt water, but we have had very good results with this method of cleansing and clearing. (You may want to perform a new “attunement” of your crystal to charge it and prepare it for your work after using salt water to clean the crystal. Methods of attunement are discussed in detail later in this article.)
Crystals absorb the energy contained within the bio-energetic field or aura, of the human being using the crystal, and then this energy can be focused, amplified and transmitted utilizing the power of breath and intent, along with specific techniques for transmitting Universal life force energy taught in various spiritual traditions, including shamanic traditions, Reiki healing traditions, yoga, t’ai chi and other energy disciplines.
If you know specific techniques to build up your life force energy, such as power breathing, breath of fire, or meditative techniques, utilize them to build up your inter