What is a Crystal? Exploring the Mysteries and Magic


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What is a Crystal? Exploring the Mysteries and Magic


While the definition of a crystal is a formation in which the arrangement of atoms is arranged in a solid three-dimensional lattice structure, crystals are so much more. There are many different formations of crystals out there; although most crystals are crystalline solids, they come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes. Crystals have long been alluring, and not just down to their dazzling geometric shapes and rich colored shades. More than a pretty face, crystals also have metaphysical properties and high vibrations that can help with healing, protection, and creating spiritual connections. We take a closer look at how science and magic collide in the world of crystals. 

The Science Behind Crystals: Formation and Structure

The Composition and Formation of Crystals

Born from heat, raw energy, and the earth's pressure, crystal formation happens when atoms and molecules are arranged in a repeating pattern to create a solid structure. The word crystal takes its name from the Greek word Krustallos which means rock crystal or can also mean ice crystal. 

Crystals require certain conditions to come into formation, but most are born from just the right setting of molten liquid from the mantle of the earth, cooling and stabilizing into certain patterns that turn them into solid crystals. In short, beneath the crust of the earth is the mantle which is full of molten hot fiery magma. Magma is also full of different minerals, and as it pushes through fissures and cracks in the earth's core, the molten rock begins to cool, and with the right amount of time and pressure, the process of crystallization is set in motion. This process happens over thousands and thousands of years, and crystals can form and then pause and then reform and blend, which is why there are so many different styles of stones with different inclusions, shades, and melded energies. 

Crystal Lattices and Symmetry

Crystal lattices can be seen as the building blocks or the framework for how a single crystal come into formation. These lattices are three-dimensional and have a regular repetitive structure which adds to the geometric shape of crystals and lends to their symmetry. Here are some of the main crystal symmetries you may come across...

  • Cubic Symmetry 
  • Tetragonal Symmetry
  • Hexagonal Symmetry
  • Orthorhombic Symmetry
  • Monoclinic Symmetry
  • Triclinic Symmetry

The symmetry and periodic arrangement of atoms that make up a crystal structure not only play a role in the appearance of the crystal but can also have an impact on how light refracts from the internal and external shape of the crystal. It also impacts how the crystal operates energetically in terms of magnetic and thermal properties. 

Properties and Characteristics of Crystals

Physical Properties of Crystals

Color, transparency, and how hard they rate on the Moh's scale are three of the most common determining factors when it comes to classifying mineral crystals. 

Color - this is one of the most noticeable physical properties and is determined by factors such as inclusions, the type of impurity, and the presence of other chemical entities. Color affects the way in which the crystal takes in light and can also impact the energetic healing as different colors are linked to different energies and aligned with certain chakras.

Transparency - how transparent a crystal is will also have an impact on how the crystal responds and reacts to light. The more transparent the crystal is - the more light it allows to pass through. Translucent stones let some light through, whereas opaque crystals block that gateway. The internal arrangement of the crystal determines the level of transparency and also how many impurities are stashed within the crystal structure too.  

Hardness - the hardness of the crystal plays a big role in determining which mineral you are dealing with. The Moh's scale is one of the most popular methods for classifying crystal hardness, and this relates to how easy the crystal is to scratch. The hardness is determined through chemical makeup and the tightness of lattice bonds. 

Crystal Systems and Crystal Families

Cubic System - stones in the cubic system include diamonds. Those within the cubic crystal system have three equal axes at right angles and have fourfold rotational symmetry. 

Tetragonal System - stones in the tetragonal crystal system include cubic zirconia. These crystals have two equal axes and one longer or shorter axes with fourfold rotational symmetry around the longer axes. 

Orthorhombic System - stones in the orthorhombic crystal system include Topaz. These crystals have three different axes of three different lengths. Each axel has a twofold rotational symmetry. 

Hexagonal System - stones in the hexagonal lattice system include quartz. These crystals have three equal axes at 120 degrees and sixfold rotational symmetry around the vertical axes. 

Rhombohedral System - stones in the rhombohedral system include rhodochrosite. These crystals have three equal axes at 120 degrees and threefold rotational symmetry around each of the axes. 

Monoclinic System - stones in the monoclinic system include gypsum. These crystals have three axes of different lengths, with one of these not perpendicular to the other two.

Triclinic System - stones in the triclinic system include Kyanite. These crystals have three axes of different lengths and no perpendicular axes. They also don't have rotational symmetry. 

The Energetic and Metaphysical Aspects of Crystals

Vibrational Energy of Crystals

Like everything in this world, crystals also have their own unique vibrational energy, and all of the atomic arrangements, atoms, and molecules that make up a crystalline structure will have their own energetic signature. Energy interacts with other energy, so it makes sense that the vibrational energy of different crystals will impact your own energy. 

Crystal Healing and Energy Work

As crystals can work to raise your own vibrations, they can be effective tools when it comes to energy work and healing. Different crystals will bring different energy, and you can choose your stone based on the healing work you are hoping to do. Some crystals can be used to restore peace and calm, whereas others can awaken your chi, ground you, harmonize emotions, or offer protection.  

Common Types of Crystals and Their Meanings

Quartz Crystals: Amplifiers of Energy and Clarity

Quartz crystals like Smoky Quartz and Clear Quartz are powerful energy amplifiers. These rock crystals are famed for bringing clarity, cleansing negative vibes, detoxing the body, and aligning the chakras. The quartz family is one of the biggest crystal families and includes Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Citrine, Tiger Eye, and Ametrine, among others. All of these crystal types are known for raising energy levels and encouraging spiritual growth. 

Amethyst: The Stone of Spiritual Protection and Intuition

Amethyst is a variety of quartz that comes in the color purple. It falls under the category of the hexagonal crystal system. This serene stone is one of the most popular stones and is known for bringing wisdom, calm, and deep inner healing. Amethyst meaning is all about the power to balance emotions, clear migraines, encourage good rest, and assist in effective decision-making. You can wear an Amethyst bead bracelet and be connected to the crown and the third eye chakra, which means it is a very spiritual stone. 

Rose Quartz: The Crystal of Love and Emotional Healing

One of the loveliest members of the quartz family, Rose Quartz is associated with pure compassion, heart healing, and love and restores harmony in relationships. Rose Quartz meaning hums with gentle energy and is known as the heart stone as it connects to the heart chakra. Wearing a Rose Quartz bracelet can reduce the effects of negative behavior in love by clearing toxic emotions like jealousy, mistrust, and low self-esteem. It raises your sense of self-worth and your compassion for others, and helps with self-soothing.

Using Crystals for Healing and Spiritual Practices

Crystal Meditation and Mindfulness

Using crystals for meditation and mindfulness is a practice that has been around for centuries. Each crystal has its own vibrational energy, and you can use the energetic frequency of the stone to help still the mind, soften the edges, and bring you into a state of deeper peace and tranquility. Some stones are also able to facilitate connections with higher spiritual realms which brings an extra layer to your meditation practice and expands consciousness. 

Crystal Grids and Layouts

Crystal grids can be powerful tools when it comes to manifestation and energy channeling. It works by creating a space where the combined power of different crystals can come together and amplify each other - sending strong vibrations out into the universe and helping to attract the right energy for getting what you need. When creating a crystal grid, it's important to choose crystals that complement each other and those that align with your purpose. Examples of crystals for manifesting love could be Rose Quartz or Amethyst at the center of the grid. Make sure you have a clear intention set, and choose a grid shape that aligns with your sense of purpose. - circles, squares, flowers, etc. Visualize a clear line of energy connecting all the crystals, and take a few moments to meditate on your intention. 

Crystal Elixirs and Essences

Crystal elixirs are a formula when crystals are placed into the water so that they can infuse the water with their vibrational energy. When you drink the water, that vibrational energy transfers to you, and you get those healing properties from the inside out. When making crystal elixirs, you want to ensure that you research which crystals are safe to use, as not all stones are water-soluble and some may have harmful elements within them, making them unsafe for consumption. Generally, Rose Quartz, Citrine, Clear Quartz, and Amethyst are considered safe.

Caring for and Cleansing Crystals

Cleaning and Clearing Crystals

Keeping your crystals cleansed and charged helps them to work at the top of their energetic level. As crystals collect, store, and redistribute energy, it means that they need to be discharged on a regular basis to dump any negative energy they have collected. This will keep them humming with high vibrations and won't have a negative impact on their healing properties. You can cleanse crystals by smudging them with sage or another healing herb, holding them under a natural source of running water, or leaving them under the moonlight for a few hours. 

Charging and Activating Crystals

Charging and activating your crystals can prevent them from becoming depleted and ensures their energy is working strong and their healing powers are unimpeded. Activating and charging crystals is easy and can be done either by leaving them in moonlight, burying them in soil for a few hours, or placing them in nature. You can also use Selenite or Clear Quartz to charge up other crystals as they have big amplifying energy. 

Storing and Displaying Crystals

Caring for your crystals means storing them correctly. You want to make sure that you limit the crystal's exposure to excessive heat, cold, moisture, dust, and debris. Each crystal will have different care instructions, but it's good to be mindful of knowing which are sensitive and may fade in direct sunlight and which won't react well with water. Delicate crystals may benefit from being wrapped in fabric before being placed in containers to avoid scratches on the surface. Wooden boxes, glass cases, and fabric pouches all work well for crystals. 

Exploring the Magic of Crystals: Personal Journey and Discovery

Personal Connection and Intuition with Crystals

Working with crystals leans heavily on the idea of intuition. There is no right or wrong way to experience crystals, and its important that individuals learn to lean in and trust their own thoughts, feelings, and energetic connections when it comes to these stones. It's always encouraged to start with crystals that call to you and then hold the stone and sit quietly with it for a while so that you can create an organic energetic connection. If you are unsure where to start with choosing crystals and feel overwhelmed, you can also look to birthstones, zodiac stones, chakra stones, and more to find a starting fit. 

Experimenting and Discovering Crystal Energies

Working with crystals can be a dreamy discovery, and curiosity is needed. As mentioned, following your intuition is incredibly important when it comes to playing with crystal energies, and your inner voice will lead you where you need to be as long as you learn how to listen. You can also record your experiences with different crystals by keeping a crystal journal with notes on names, shapes, colors, and any feelings or sensations you experience while holding them. This helps you to work out which crystals are a match for your energy. Observing patterns, expressing gratitude, meditating, using them for chakra cleansing, and talking to others who share a passion for crystal energies can all help cement your knowledge and support your experiences. 

Seeking Guidance from Experts and Resources

There are many crystal experts and amazing resources out there that can help you understand and appreciate crystals even more. From in-depth online crystal guides to The Crystal Bible book series by Judy Hall, and our own blog post series on different stones and healing energies, you can get stacked on crystal knowledge with a range of websites, books, blog posts, and more. 


While the science behind crystal structures can be linked to something as simple as an arrangement of atoms, time, heat, and pressure - the narrative actually runs much deeper. The process of crystal formation is a rich world where metaphysics and mystery collide, and beyond the aesthetic art of earth-making crystals, these curious stones can bring so much more into our lives. From healing powers to aligning the chakras, helping with meditation, and more - these naturally -occurring crystals can be life-changing.


How do you teach kids about crystals?

When teaching kids about crystals, you want to keep the language simple and explain that crystals occur in nature when hot liquids cool and start to harden. You can also purchase synthetic crystal growing kits to help them visualize. 

Why do crystals grow?

Crystals grow when molten fluid or mineral-rich liquids quickly cool, and thousands of atoms rush together and create a repeating pattern. This process can happen over thousands of years and requires the right environment, time, ambient pressure, and more. 

Why are crystals so rare?

There are many crystals out there, and some are much rarer than others. As most crystals come from the earth's core and require the exact right pressure conditions to form - not to mention a unique mineral mix, to begin with, it takes time and expertise to find them and mine them. This adds to their preciousness and their rarity.

Are crystals living or nonliving?

Even though crystals are considered a growing entity, they aren't alive in the same way we consider other organisms to be alive. They do have their own vibrational energy but are considered to be nonliving entities. 


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