The Dark Stones: Deepening Our Roots

During the summer, one of my favorite distractions from work is watching fawns dance in my backyard. Their grace is impressive, but I am most moved by their exuberance and vitality.

I've lived in the country since 1992, and I sometimes wonder if I'll ever stop being thrilled by the fawns, or the sight of squirrels racing up trees and leaping from branch to swaying branch, or the silhouette of a hawk riding the thermals. Will I ever grow tired of hearing robins chirp brightly when evening falls?

I intend to nurture my sense of wonder, because it reminds me that physical existence is a gift to be celebrated. That's what I and most other humans need to know.

The Human/Animal

If we would only remember we are also animals, if we experienced ourselves as part of the earth, we would more easily adapt ourselves to its rhythms and seasons. We would rejoice in the mystery of night. Many of our physical ailments would disappear if we learned to allow earth's healing energy to flow through us. We'd be comfortable in our physical bodies and treat them well.

Instead, we are the animals who have lost or unknowingly rejected our natural connection to earth. Entranced by the wonders of our minds, we've allowed our equally miraculous physical senses to atrophy. Mesmerized by the electronic marvels of television, film, computers, and other mechanical devices, we may be too busy to watch a sunset or feel the magic of the changing seasons. Nor do we often consciously experience the energy of the earth and recognize in its deep rhythms our own.

Because we distance ourselves from nature's energy, we experience it as unreliable, threatening, and hostile. We may be angry that we can't control it for our convenience. We may dread winter and be afraid of the dark.

We may feel that our physical bodies are equally unreliable, betraying us with illness and pain. For all our love and understanding of electrical machinery, we don't realize that, just as an electrical appliance which isn't plugged in won't work, so we, when we're not connected to the source of energy which embodies us in physical existence, feel that life doesn't work.

Power Lines

The act of disconnecting ourselves from the energy which, unobstructed, which would naturally be flowing into us, is also an act of resistance. Resistance creates tension. In addition, the blockages which result from resisting the natural, balancing flow can make us feel emotionally and physically unbalanced.

One of these imbalances is fear. So many of our uniquely human fears and anxieties stem from our resistance to the natural energy of physical existence.

Fear produces physical and emotional stress and tension. Muscles tighten, the heartbeat quickens, the body fuels itself with anxiety-producing adrenaline. Unlike the animals, who rarely experience fear without a sound basis for it, we humans imagine reasons to be fearful. We visualize scenarios which usually never come to pass, but the stress and anxiety produced through our imagining is part of our physical reality.

Our fear of and isolation from nature can also make us feel isolated from other humans and fearful about their intentions towards us. Because we haven't learned to experience and incorporate the power of nature, we use force and manipulation in our relationships with others.

When we explore our inner worlds, we also learn our deepest fears may be of the unknown aspects of ourselves.

The Gift of Darkness

Nature, however, is kinder to us than we often are to it. for it has provided us with resources for reconnection: the dark stones.

Before I describe these stones, I would like to note that all crystals, being of the earth, help us to connect to its energies. The dark stones, however, are associated with the first chakra, which governs our relationship with the physical world and our bodies. These crystals have the special effect of deepening our connection to all things physical and also help relieve us of fears specifically associated with physical existence.

Black Tourmaline: The Energizer

I used to call black tourmaline the Manhattan stone because I found it very effective in shielding me against the bombardment of energy so characteristic of my former home. (I understand it works equally well in other cities).

black tourmaline

I don't mean only negative energy, but high-pitched, frenetic energy. Anyone who has ever been with small children having a great time together will understand. Sometimes more energy is floating in the atmosphere than one body can absorb, and black tourmaline is a useful antidote.

Like other members of the tourmaline family, black tourmaline is rod-shaped and has parallel ridges (striations) along its sides. Because these ridges conduct energy, tourmalines are very helpful in smoothly conducting energy and in breaking up energy blockages. Thus, they are effective in relieving stress, tension, and the feeling that your head is going to explode if you don't get some relief.

Black tourmaline is particularly effective in terms of protection against the energy produced by anger, anxiety, fear, and other emotions we prefer not to experience -- whether these emotions come from other people or within us.

While this crystal deflects negative or excessive energy, it at the same time grounds spiritual energy. Carrying it or wearing it is the best way to make use of its shielding properties. For grounding spiritual energy, it is recommended that it be placed on the first chakra (which basically includes the lower back, legs, and feet). I like to place two black tourmaline rods at the base of each foot.

Black tourmaline, like the others in its family, also helps us to move beyond limited ways of thinking in order to embrace a greatly expanded concept of reality. It teaches us that we are light beings in physical form, and helps us to experience the physical and spiritual worlds as one.

Hematite: For Emotional Sponges

Are you the kind of person upon whom others unload their troubles? Do you hang up from a phone conversation with an unhappy friend or family member, feeling just as miserable as they sound? Do you in general or at times have difficulty separating your emotions from those of others?

hematite sphere

If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, welcome to hematite.

Like black tourmaline, this is a shielding crystal, one whose function is to help you set up emotional boundaries. The Romans used this stone's shiny and reflective surface as a mirror, and, mirror-like, it reflects people emotions back to them.

Some people resist the idea of being shielded from others' emotions. They believe boundaries are barriers and are fearful they will lose their ability to experience compassion for others. Actually, the opposite is true. Just as you can't save someone from quicksand by jumping in with them, so sharing someone's unhappiness doesn't pull them out of it. When we are able to maintain our emotional boundaries, we can far more effectively communicate compassion and love. We are usually better able to view their situations objectively and suggest solutions.

When we take on someone else's mood, it's almost as if we've surrendered our will to that of someone else. Hematite, as a power stone whose purpose is to deepen the connection between spirit and body, helps us to keep our sense of self and sense of purpose firm.

This, too, is grounding. When we are clear and focused, we walk on sure feet through the physical world.

Obsidian: Meeting the Shadow Self

The first chakra is associated with survival, and for humans, survival has a social nature. As young children, we realize our parents' love and approval are necessary to our survival, and we learn that their love is conditional. We discover that various beliefs, attitudes, and behavior result in the withdrawal of their love.

obsidian pyramid

Many, if not most, children decide love and approval are more important than exploring and expressing their individuality. They (not always consciously) store the unacceptable aspects of their personalities into a place called the shadow self. Freud called it the id, and you may also find it useful to think of it as a dark, locked closet.

As adults, we usually forget what we stowed away in that closet. Its contents may star in our dreams, and we may awake feeling disturbed without quite knowing why. We may feel as if aspects of ourselves are missing or feel a lack of access to creative energy. We may feel as if we've lost ourselves.

Obsidian unlocks the closet, throws open the door and reveals the shadow self. There is nothing subtle or gentle about this crystal. It is actually volcanic glass, and has been used by many native cultures to make knives. Like a knife, obsidian cuts to the heart of the matter, sometimes, it seems, without the use of anesthesia.

Several factors can diminish or eliminate the trauma of the obsidian experience. Its blade can be blunted by using it in conjunction with aventurine, rose quartz, and chrysocolla. As members of the quartz family the first two stones help to dissolve what obsidian surfaces. Chrysocolla is a warm and nurturing stone which makes the truth easier to hear. One can also work with snowflake obsidian, which contains some quartz.

Helpful as these crystals are, the most powerful way to soften obsidian's impact is to desire to regain the exiled parts of self and thus become whole.

Smoky Quartz: Grounded in the Light

One of the functions of the first chakra is manifestation: translating our dreams and visions into physical form. (This is also associated with the third chakra). When we have energy blockages, we find it difficult to manifest. This may make us feel depressed.

smoky quartz

Depression itself is an energy blockage of the densest kind. Think about the phrases which are used to describe depression -- heavy-hearted, beneath a black cloud, mired in misery -- and you'll see that they all suggest a sluggish, a slowed-down flow of energy, reduced sensation, a diminished ability to feel. It is as if people in a state of depression, having decided that feelings hurt, remove themselves from the flow of life around them and retreat to a dark cave of the psyche. Depression can take the form of being unhappy about physical existence.

While I note with care that any suggestions I make here about depression are not intended to replace medical or psychological assistance, I do recommend working with crystals, especially those of the quartz family. One of the most useful is smoky quartz.

This stone comes in various translucent shades of brown. Because of its clarity, it's considered to be capable of channeling the white light of the crown chakra (represented by the top of the head) into the first chakra (base of spine, legs, feet) to help root an individual in the physical plane. It can quite literally make one happy to be alive. It can help to restore one's confidence in the ability to work with the laws of physical existence in order to manifest the conditions which will renew joy.

One of its special gifts is to dispose of psychic waste. Very often old beliefs and emotions prevent us from experiencing life fully. This stone helps us to process and release that which is no longer needed. As we release these blockages we find that we have space in which to grow an earthly garden in which our dreams flower.

Related Essences

Clematis (Bach) This is the remedy for the seriously ungrounded. Extreme examples are people who spend most of their time in a world of imagination, only occasionally checking in on the physical plane. They are often highly creative, but they lack the focus to manifest their visions. The Clematis remedy, without robbing them of their imagination, enables them to ground their mental creations on Planet Earth. People who experience milder versions of this condition can also benefit from Clenatis.

Yarrow and Pink Yarrow (FES) are floral equivalents to hematite. Yarrow is for general shielding against the emotions of others. Pink Yarrow is recommended when you choose to stop absorbing the emotions of those to whom you are very close.

Agrimony (Bach) has the closet door-opening qualities of obsidian. It is especially recommended for people who pretend to the world and themselves that everything is fine. They tend to be very well-liked, but the price for their popularity is inner agony. Even if you don't answer this description, you will find Agrimony helps to reveal the shadow self.

Mustard (Bach) is the essence recommended for the kind of depression which settles over and into one like San Francisco fog. The depression's source is unknown, but it often occurs during periods of intense emotional or spiritual work. People who experience it may become intensely aware of their spiritual and energetic disconnection and seek to restore it. This intention, in combination with Mustard, can turn depression into a disguised blessing.


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