I Want to Believe is a series on suspending disbelief in order to enjoy the fruits of magical thinking.
A few months ago, in a moment of deep emotional delicacy, I purchased a two-and-a-half inch rose quartz crystal in the shape of a spear for $11 from a mystical bookstore near Union Square. I’d agreed to plans to meet friends for a quick workday lunch followed by a visit to the crystal store, which made the endeavor feel almost pragmatic, like an errand. Like it would be irresponsible to go home without a crystal. So I consulted a book called The Crystal Bible and decided what I needed was some rose quartz, stat. The description promised this rock would bring me unconditional love (both toward myself and from others), and would dissolve old fears and resentments. As a person who has muted at least half the people I follow on Twitter, that seemed like something I could use.
When I got home I put my new pink spear on my windowsill, and then I forgot about it. Until a few months later, when the same friends suggested meeting for “lunch and crystals” again, and I realized something: my life had gotten better since I bought that rose quartz. Like, kind of a lot better. My anxiety had gone missing, I was happier in my relationship than ever, and I felt a sense of forgiveness and peace about a recent professional disappointment. Later, at the crystal store, I found myself holding another piece up to my friend, insisting she buy it. Evangelizing for a rock.
I do not believe in crystal healing. Or, at least, I thought I didn’t. But the second time I went to this shop, I bought two more crystals, and I have designs on a few more. And it’s not just because I think they’re pretty. I think they might actually improve my life.
Colleen McCann, a fashion stylist turned Goop-approved shamanic crystal healer based out of New York and Los Angeles, tells me she used to be a skeptic, too. Actually, she says she used to be “the biggest fucking skeptic,” and somehow the fact that she said the F-word makes me trust her more. What changed McCann’s mind was a series of ghostly visitations to her bedroom and her local bodega (!), followed by a trip to a psychic who told her that, surprise, she was psychic, too. She then enrolled in shaman school, and worked with a number of crystal healer mentors, and now she can charge a lot of money, which I would absolutely pay, for what she calls intuitive crystal readings, in which clients select the crystals and tarot cards that speak to them, and McCann interprets what that means.
According to McCann, rose quartz is THE place to begin one’s crystal collection. This should be easy to do, because rose quartz is everywhere right now: implanted in a water bottle available for only about a hundred dollars, in facial massage rollers, in fancy body oils, and even in the form of almost $200 combs. Like others in the beauty industry, McCann says crystal products help with “circulation, skin elasticity, and wrinkles,” a claim for which there are no scientific studies, as of yet.
But another reason rose quartz is so popular is because it’s associated with love. “When I talk to people about what are the must-have crystals, what they should have in their arsenal, rose quartz is always at the top of the list,” says McCann. “Everyone needs more love in their lives, right?”
The way rose quartz is said to boost one’s self-love and love life is through a dubious process having to do with energy, and the heart chakra, which is associated with the colors pink and green. And though McCann is a true believer, she doesn’t really care that I’m not. “What I tell my clients is that whether you’re 100 percent on board, and you have the faith that the crystals each have their own energetic vibrations to them, and certain ones help do certain things, or you use the crystal as a symbol, or as a reminder of what you’re working on in life at the moment, then great,” she says. In so far as setting intentions can influence our behavior, and actions can frame our way of thinking, this much is hard to argue. I bought a rock hoping, and expecting, that it might improve my life, and then perhaps my perspective brightened, and I lived my life in such a way that it really did get better.
Whether you want to attribute any of that to the crystals or not is probably a matter of how you like to spend your disposable income. For now, I remain skeptically enthusiastic. When McCann suggests I put rose quartz pebbles in a glass of water and drink it (but don’t swallow!!), I demur. But when she suggests I also consider buying a pair of crystals called “Apache Tears” and “Snowflake Obsidian,” I write the names down, and send them to my friends, for the next time we go to the crystal store.