Crystal Clear – the healing powers of crystals

Diamonds may be a modern-day girl’s best friend but the fact is that gemstones, crystals and minerals have been mankind’s friends for millennia. Not only have they long been appreciated for their dazzling beauty, but their health benefits have been an open secret down through the ages. And now more than ever, people are waking up to what ancient cultures have known for centuries – crystals are more than just pretty trinkets; they have the power to heal.

Rose van As (57), a bookkeeper from Cape Town, decided to try a crystal healing session when she tragically lost her son-in-law. “It was a very uplifting and peaceful experience,” she says of this little-understood therapy – which Rose maintains helped her accept her loss and move on with her life.

And Rose is not alone in turning to a therapy outside of mainstream healing. People are increasingly broadening their spiritual horizons, expanding their consciousness and exploring new ways of being. Sometimes that wave of discovery lands them on the shores of subtle bodies, chakras and auras, and they soon realise that the human body goes beyond the physical. They want more than a prescription: they are searching for a healing experience that treats the root cause of their illness and not just the symptoms. This is where crystal healing comes in.

Crystal Mechanics


The Greek philosopher Plato said “The cure of the part should not be attempted without the treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul…this is the error of our day, that physicians first separate the soul from the body.” Over 2000 years later and Plato’s wisdom still holds true; conventional healing still sees disease as being of purely physical origins. Crystal healing is different to conventional healing as it treats the root cause of the illness and not just the symptoms.

In order to understand just how crystal healing works, we need to understand metaphysical beliefs about disease. Health is not perceived as wholly physical as we are not solely physical beings. In metaphysical teachings it is believed that we consist not only of a physical body, but of subtle bodies too: emotional, mental and spiritual at their most basic levels. These subtle bodies surround our physical bodies in layers, and make up the aura.

Imagine that the body in it’s entirety is an apple, with our physical body being the core. A negative emotional or mental experience can be likened to a worm burrowing into the apple, leaving a tunnel in its path. This little worm will continue it’s tunneling until it reaches the core, damaging the apple’s centre. That core is our physical body: it may take time for the negative experience to filter down through the subtle bodies, but when it does, it will manifest as physical symptoms.

Crystal healing is believed to correct the original emotional disturbance on an energetic level to heal the physical symptom. So, in theory, you could experience a crystal healing session to quit smoking but leave the session having dealt with an emotional memory from your past that will enable you to effectively quit your nicotine addiction.

But what is it about a crystal or stone that brings about healing? According to Simon Lilly, author of Crystal Healing (Element, 2002), “A crystal will always have the fundamental internal order of atom structure lattices, no matter what it looks like.” This means that, when compared with organic, carbon-based matter, crystals are one of the most stable forms of matter on earth.

And within a crystal’s structure there are occasionally extra atoms that don’t contribute to that structure. Thus, when energy is introduced into the crystal, these spare electrons become excited and begin to flow throughout the crystal lattice. This means that crystals can effectively conduct and transform energy.

How does this apply to crystal healing? Cape Town crystal healing therapist Markus van der Westhuizen believes that “stones emit radiation [energy] and, being extremely durable and permanent, they emit the same information in a very constant way.” Markus further likens crystals to “radio transmitters that constantly broadcast the same programme”, with each crystal and gemstone having its own “programme” that naturally has the ability to heal. Each crystal and stone is unique to its mineral structure, and it is that uniqueness, on an energy level, that brings about specific healing.

The Healing Session

Chakra Stones

If you are considering a crystal healing session, but have never tried one before, then you may have some reservations. What happens during the session? How long is it? Do I keep my clothes on? These may be just some the questions you may be asking yourself. Crystal Healing therapist Markus van der Westhuizen explains that the session is about the client- their comfort is key to creating a session that is relaxing, effective and allows for healing.

Prior to a client’s arrival, Markus selects the crystals and stones for the session based on knowledge, experience and intuition. This done, he cleanses and clears the chosen stones of any energy that does not form a part of their original energy patterns. The session starts with an informal discussion, which as Markus explains, helps both the therapist and client ascertain the focus of the session. With the client lying on the therapy bed, the therapist then strategically places the selected stones on key points of the client’s body. Known as crystal grids or layouts, these geometric layouts of crystals are often changed as the session progresses.

In most cases clients leave their clothes on, but as Markus says, “If you work on clothes, then stones tend to slide off easily and it just conducts the energy so much better if it has skin contact.” Ultimately he leaves the decision in the client’s hands, whether they wish to experience the session clothed or semi-clothed (and covered with a towel).

A session can last anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes, during which the client can experience a variety of sensations. As Markus says, “You may feel yourself move into a quiet meditative state, the place where deep healing occurs.” But you may meet your higher self, recall past life memories, or encounter guides and angels during the course of the healing session. And sometimes these beings provide the client with insight into his or her current situation, Markus says.

Whatever the client experiences during the session, Markus believes that it is the practitioner’s responsibility to gently guide him or her through their healing experience so that any emotions or energy that are no longer serving the client may be released. But ultimately the effectiveness of the session rests with the client and how open they are to being healed.

Everyday Crystals


One of the joys of crystals and their metaphysical aspects is that experiencing them is not restricted to formal healing sessions at the hands of a crystal healing therapist. In fact, most people who explore crystals are not crystal healing therapists, but everyday people from many walks of life.

Pieter du Toit (50), a chemical engineer from Cape Town, has had a fascination with crystals since childhood, but it has only been in the last six years that he has begun exploring the esoteric side of crystals. This was as a result of a gift voucher for a massage he received: after the massage, the therapist asked him if he would mind if she put crystals on his body as she said his chakras were not balanced and open.

As sceptical as Pieter was, he decided to try the impromptu crystal healing session. “When she put the crystals on me, I started seeing colours,” he recalls. And after the session, when he mentioned this to the therapist, he learned that the colours he had seen were exactly the same as those of the chakras that she had balanced and opened.

“This experience prompted me to start collecting books and reading material on the subject, and to learn the general healing capabilities of each stone,” Pieter says. Today Pieter’s home is full of crystals and stones, and, he says, “In my lounge I have two bowls of small tumbled stones and small crystals. It always amazes me to see people sticking their hands into the bowls and comment on the relaxing feeling they get.”

Retired Port Elizabeth Librarian Noldy Lennox (50) is another staunch crystal convert. She started beading as a hobby seven years ago, initially using synthetic beads such as Czech crystals and Swarovski beads. But she found herself drawn to the semi-precious stone beads: “I can’t explain it, but my hand seemed to choose them over the sparkly stuff.” Like Pieter, Noldy’s fascination prompted her to start reading about the esoteric uses of crystals, and to test out the theories for herself. “I came to appreciate the miracle of their growth, and the magic of all this happening underground, unseen,” she says.

Whether you decide to explore crystals by way of a crystal healing session, or dive into the world of crystals of your own accord, one thing is for sure: it is a journey that takes you beyond everyday experiences. And whichever way you do experience crystals, remember to keep an open mind and allow yourself to feel not only with your hands, but with your heart too. As Pieter says, “No two crystals are the same. Each is perfect in its own way. Love your crystals, talk to them, respect them, as they are millions of years older than you and they will be there millions of years after you have gone.”


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