Tuesday, July 23, 2013

De-Fluffing Minerals: Quartz (Crystals).

The Second Most Common Mineral On Earth, 
And They Expect You To Pay How Much For It?

Quartz Crystal is a naturally occurring mineral with an impressive range of colors and inclusions. It is the second most common mineral on Earth, with the chemical formula SiO2 (Silicon Di-Oxide).  On a chemical level Quartz is identical to glass, being that glass is made out of sand, and sand is what happens to quartz when the earth does it’s normal, brutal, routine on it. The only real difference is the fracture pattern, and some places have begun faking exceptional quartz "specimens" with cut, polished, glass.

The major categories are Macrocrystalline (Crystals) and Microcrystalline/Cryptocrystalline (Masses). Dozens upon dozens of other minerals are technically nothing more than Crypto Quartz with an inclusion or impurity composed of another mineral.

Macrocrystalline Quartz also comes in a bajillion formations (often called “configurations") which are said to subtly alter the “energy" of the crystal and may include other mineral types (as above) rendering a lot of data and types and far more waffling and wall-feeling on the matter. Right now, I have balanced on my knee a gigantic mofo of a book (hint: It’s purple) with 80 pages dedicated simply to “quartz" (macrocrystalline). Lots of waffling.

For more information on the actual sciencey side of things try the amazing The Quartz Page. Nearly every fancy configuration you'll find is de-fluffed, de-mystified, and explained there in very plain, scientific, terms. That will go a LONG way in helping locate and procure high-quality, well-priced, Quartz in the future.

De-Fluffing The Hype.
Quartz has unique electrical properties. Because of this it is possible to have literally every bit of tech we currently enjoy. Quartz was recognized as something unique and special even by ancient peoples. Ancient peoples who did not have gigantic, ten pound, purple books to tell them how special it was. You don’t need one either. Pick up the rock and give it a squeeze.

Quartz has almost limitless configurations. Follow your vibes on a per-crystal basis, maybe look ‘em up online to augment. But don’t fall into the trap of “This is a $500 configuration, but this one’s a $1 configuration" - reminding everyone once again that quarz is the second-most common mineral on the Earth, and the Earth is rather big and thus rather full of Quartz. None of them are $500 configurations, “just because it’s shaped like this". It might be an exceptionally rare formation, it might be an exceptionally geologically/minerologically valuable specimen. BUT, when it comes to the "energy" side of things it’s only worth $500 if that single, particular, rock HAS to come home with you and you feel like it’s worth it.

99% of the time the crystal itself will tell you what it’s good at (or chortle at you knowingly while you flounder until you ask just the right question). Don’t limit it just because a book or website says so. Even me.

Locality Specimens are BS.

Being mined at ThunderBallsCanyonMountainAngelRidge doesn't change the configuration of the quartz, and does not make it any more or less special. Locality Specimens (named FOR their locality, rather than simply, nicely, providing it alongside the crystal) are often sold at inflated prices because of the fame or infamy of the mine's owner. The thing they don't tell you is that numerous mines are often clustered onto the same mountain, and sometimes drawing from the same open pit. In Arkansas they're also usually all being leased from the same family (The Coleman's appear to own ... the entirety of Mount Ida). TBCMAR just had the luck of getting the lease at that location, pulling that pocket, and possibly only ended up with those specimens because they traded some of their own to a nearby camp. TBCAMR's $400 "Angel Goddess TBCAMR" configuration is just an "Isis", which also just happens to be a Dauphine Habit quartz that has a five-sided face. It is a $2 crystal anywhere else.

If you went to a mine, and you went "WOW, the vibes here are just fucking fantastic." that is when a Locality specimen has merit. At which point you could simply pick a pebble up off of the ground, really.

New Age Means Higher Prices. 

Go with Rock Shops over New Age/Occult Supply, if you can.  At a mineral shop on Austin Texas I got a lovely "Harlequin" (Hematite speckled) quartz point that was about 2" long for $0.50. The same type rock is often priced nearly $30.00 at local "psychic", newage, and witchy shops. Go with Lapidary and Mineral shops FIRST. Know what you're looking for, poke around until you find it, and don't buy specially labeled/cased minerals that have their configurations listed unless you have to.

Now, I do urge people to support their local woo-woo shops, but I also urge people to urge their local woo-woo shops to stock smart, and sell useful things that can't be gotten easily anywhere else, over selling sameness at a higher price. I can get glass candle-holders anywhere, don't stock those. Stock handthrown pottery candle-holders inscribed with eldrich glyphs and festooned with pagan gods, kthnx.

Colorful Quartz And Whether Or Not It's Fake.

Smokey Quartz, Amethyst, Citrine and Rose Quartz are irradiated. Either naturally, or done by humans. The darker the color, generally the stronger the irradiation. While the majority of these have been screened before distribution, it is NOT unheard-of for one or two to still be “hot" (radioactive). So, another reason to go for rock shops. They often expressly list "Artificially Irradiated" and "Heat Treated"

"Citrine" is often, in fact almost always, heat-treated amethyst. True citrine is rare, expensive, and often so different in coloration from what most people know of as "citrine" that you'd mistake it for niccotine stains, or a very weak Smokey Quartz - which is exactly what it is.

Varieties like "Tangerine" and "Pecos Diamond" are not irradiated, but contain impurities/inclusions of iron oxide that shade them from orange to black. They're usually opaque, or at least very, very, orange.

Now That I've Said All Of That, There Are Exceptions.

There are some configurations that are something-like how they are advertised. These are usually quite common, easily identified, and seem to "stand out" - that could be because they have an affinity for me (or vice versa), but I can't exactly write from someone else's experiences.

Channeller, Transmitter and Trans-ChannellerChannellers are a quartz with a 7-sided face on the front, 3-sided face DIRECTLY opposite of it on the back. Transmitters have a primary 3-sided face, bordered on either side by 7-sided faces. Trans-Channellers have alternating triangles and seven-sided faces. These actually do seem to do something consistently across all with this configuration, and that something seems to be “access". Either it's the same action, or they are complimentary to each-other.

"Double Terminated" Crystals have “points" at both ends. I don’t know where they produce energy from, but they produce a lot of it, and it comes in steady “pulses" outta both tips. The pulse can be sped up or slowed down with good communication. Excellent for powering along a line in a sigil or somesuch.

"Key" - More accurately, Lock and Key. This is where a crystal has grown into or out of another and come loose from that hole. IMO? They work best together, because they can be used like a metaphysical padlock and key. Otherwise the usual “Keyed" (Lock. Aka the one with the keyhole or dent) can be locked and unlocked with woo/energy/power/sprowl.

"Lineated" crystals look like they have nested “clothes iron" markings on the faces. To me, energtically, these are absolutely a variety of Record Keeper. Scientifically, these are probably "Brazil Law Twin" quartz.

"Record Keeper" Crystals have raised triangles on their faces, and are supposedly used to “store" information. Lots of books waffle on about Atlantis, Lemuria and the moon-litten landscapes of Ye Olde Leng. I… don’t really believe them. But what I think is that disembodied things might be able to nudge the formation of a crystal, or maybe even decided to use it as their home. Poke around, see what comes out. It's often helpful, if not always clearly-understood. Don’t  pay an ass-ton thinking you’re going to unlock the secrets of Atlantean Dolphin Mastery, though.

Environmental Concerns.

Quartz is mined rather horribly. Rather awfully. Rather unethically. Beyond that point, the peoples of the locations where this happen often get almost nothing for their hard work. The "Noble Savage" routine is often applied to this by new-agers who think it's just smashing that it was hand-mined in a mountain by a displaced Tibetan Buddhist and dragged down in burlap bags on a yak for their privilege. I really, rather, do not enjoy that. Maybe that's just me.

So, in my opinion? The best choice is Arkansas quartz. I’ve been to mines there (SPECIFICALLY Blue Moon Mine). Yes, they use boomsplode, but the land/land spirits really don’t seem to care, and the wildlife isn't really all that bothered (deer and birds scatter, then wander back). They’ve seen worse in the course of natural geology, and our little pop-pops don’t scare them. They use small to mid-sized equipment. The land/spirits don’t really care. They sort clean and sell - the land cares a little about the cleaning process (oxalic acid, used to clean crystals, is incredibly toxic and bad for the environment), but most places sell mine-run by the bushel for a reasonable price (uncleaned, still covered in red mud).

Digging your own (been there, done that) is incredibly rewarding and interesting. You’re literally in the dirt with them. Some mines will allow you to come with them while they open a fresh pocket and you get to pick it clean (the fee is… in line with that awesomeness). You also get a feel for particular crystals shouting “DUDE, ME! GRAB ME!" and finding an amazing specimen coated in mud and grime, smiling at you happily because it waited in that soil millions of years for your slow, evolving, self.  Just the soil from these places is a treasure trove of microscopic crystals - I sat down with 600x magnification and some tweezers and located dozens of configurations (because I’m a nerd).

(from a slightly shorter post on my tumblr)