Deep Mining, Deep Questions: Inquiry toward the Ethics of Mining of Metaphysical Crystals

On my mind lately has been the subject of the ethics of crystal mining. Nature has always been my first and foremost teacher, and from a young age the mineral kingdom has been a mainstay in my study and fascination. I still remember my first crystal (Tiger’s Eye). One of my first toys was a rock tumbler. My crystals are at the front center of my altar, and I attribute much of what I have learned and have been able to accomplish for myself today to crystals and their vibrational assistance. It’s fairly safe to say that I’ll be using crystals or rocks until I leave this earthly plane. Yet, seeping into my mind have been some questions…

How ethical is it to blow apart the Earth’s most ancient, sacred spaces to re-distribute the crystals?

How much is Earth hurt by this, and are the practices sustainable?

Do the spirits of the land approve of the taking of the crystals?

Is our use of the crystals the right and true plan for the fate of the crystals?

Are the crystals conscious of how we use them?

if so, is this a consensual act? In all cases, or just some?

if not, is the process ethical, or can we make it so?

Can we be more ethical about our purchasing/acquisitions?

What are our intentions in acquiring crystals, as a human family and as individual crystal practitioners/collectors?

This is a vast topic, and one that is not often addressed in spiritual or pagan communities. With the exception of diamonds, most don’t consider the ethics of the acquisition of their crystals much at all. We can see this simply by the sheer size of the crystal industry in spiritual, pagan, new age, and esoteric communities. Those that do consider the ethics of crystal mining often take a “mine it yourself or know your miner” approach, but for casual practitioners (anyone besides those who already have an established professional life in crystals, and can manifest the resources, know-how, labor, time, and logistics to do so) this is quite impractical. Some common witchcraft resources, including in Wiccan and Druid communities, will flat-out condemn crystal collecting as essentially unethical due to its contribution to and/or co-dependence with massive destruction to the Earth.

This article will not be extensive enough to answer the questions we are posing, but is intended to bring up the issue as something to acknowledge, to present some varied arguments, provide further inquiry, and create a bridge for information.

The Google-able online written discourse on this issue is limited, but I found more relevant information in a few community discussions on youtube:

The Ethics of Buying and Mining Crystals: This is a short video and the current first google result for “ethics crystal mining.” At 1:10 she reads from a Wicca text by Kaatryn MacMorgan-Douglas that, although biased, gives a well-condensed primer of many elements of the reality of the crystal mining industry. 4:00, she goes back to her own commentary, providing insight as to how the information is relevant today and reinforcing the essential ethical question at hand.

Every Witch Way: An Interview with Hibiscus Moon of Hibiscus Moon Crystal Academy: A well-handled interview with a prominent video podcaster.

Hibiscus Moon conveys a lot of valuable information in this video interview. One of the more interesting points in the beginning of the video is that most of our metaphysical rocks are not mined specifically, but are by-products of industrial mining. She points out that, in consultation with geologists, that she has learned that the mining processes from which we acquire our metaphysical crystals are exclusively secondary – that is, the operations are to acquire industrial ore, and that our Quartzes and Amythests have never been the single subject of a mining project. Some other crystals that are direct by-products are Tourmaline, Turquoise, Malachite, Azurite, and Chrysocolla, all of which are found during copper mining (10:30 – 11:15). This is even more simple than it sounds, as she points out in her mention of the anecdote of the “Miner’s Lunchbox” – a crystal literally snatched up by miners during the normal course of their day (18:40-19:10).

Although her information and references seem sound, I question the applicability of this claim in all cases. For instance, Lapis Lazuli is mined specifically and with intent, without its mining being associated with ores or other stones. This is the case in Chile as well as Afghanistan, in which there are 6 Lapis Lazuli mines that have been excavated up to the past 6,000 years (Wikipedia, “Lapis Lazuli” and “Mining in Afghanistan”).

Without extensive and exhaustive research I cannot substantiate nor deny Hibiscus’ Moon’s claims as being generally valid. However, even assuming that what she says is so (with a few exceptions such as Lapis), this does not eliminate or excuse the environmental impact of the entire operation of crystal mining. It does, though assuage a fear that our secondary acquisition and actual use of the crystals are a direct cause of harm, or if they are, then arguably much less so than some of the other aspects of our daily contemporary technological existence, such as computers, gasoline, cell phones, and plastics.

Also notable is Hibiscus Moon’s point that shallow crystal-mining operations that involve the clearing of trees and carving into the ground rock is, in the long-term scheme, comparable to the effects of a natural event such as an earthquake – the natural systems re-establish in only a few years, and although crystals seem like a non-renewable Earth resource to us due to their life spans being much, much longer than ours, they are still being created in the Earth right now and will continue to be long after we as a species have disappeared or evolved into something else.

Finally, Hibiscus Moon advocates crystal collectors to acquire them through attending Gem Shows and purchasing Hand Mined Crystals from the folk that actually go out there and mine them.

 

These two vlogs alone present a wide range of issues and perspectives. As intentful and conscientious pagans, we seek to honor the importance of ethics, and the chain of effect created by our decisions. May this review of information help you in achieving the utmost of judicial examination of the issue at hand. Yet, we have not truly begun to consider the more spiritual questions, such as whether the Earth, the crystals themselves, or the spirits who protect the Earth (including various deities, the fae, etc) approve of or condone what is happening. Perhaps these are questions best left to an entry that is composed as a transcript of a channeled transmission, a treatise, ethical editorial, formal argument or otherwise opinionated mode.

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3 comments

  1. I’m a Christian and I try to think of the earth as a living being God created. So it worries me when I see all of these harvested crystals and other gem stones. Sometimes I fear their vibrations could be the suffering the earth felt when the gem was extracted. Ugh I have so many dilemmas with gemstones and my own desire to wear them. The older I get the more I’m staying clear of them because of these thoughts in the back of my mind. I think this is accompanied by me trying to eat less meat and be conscious of everything I buy and use. I really envy those who can afford to truly live cruelty free.

    • Thanks for the comment, Bre Aer! You have a really good point about the suffering of the stones. The vibration tones/frequencies of the crystals are because of their molecular structures and the sacred geometry inherent in those shapes, but I can definitely understand and agree with what you are saying. It is almost as though they are crying out, and their strength of frequency may be because they are pulsating with love and yearning to go back to the earth. As I get older and more involved in my Christianity I also have been paring down my stones. There are some that I still hold on to – they tell me when they need to be released back to the earth or passed to another person for lessons to be learned, but eventually I can foresee that I will probably not acquire stones anymore. They are very heavy, dark magics. Now, the ones that have already been harvested deserve to be honored, just like any meat that exists deserves to be eaten and not eliminated in vain, but I have declared that I will never buy silver again, for starters. After having a special stone wrapped in Silver recently was when I made this decision. I felt the severity and pain of it during the process and now that I have it, my family will keep it for as long as we can, but I now know that these acts are not to be taken lightly. The way I see it, if you are aware of the suffering of the stones, you are better suited to care for them more than your average handler, and in fact use their energy to contribute to the healing of the Earth that really needs aware spiritual people to help right now. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, right?

      I also feel similarly about meat – I was vegan for almost a year and have been on and off vegetarian for 20 years, as well as an outspoken veg-activist at times, but I found that in many situations, I have to eat meat to survive – there’s just no way around it in some areas and in some parts of my life path. Same thing with the stones. The stones have saved my life, but I know the cost. I believe it’s more fair to commit these acts of murder against animals or theft of stones if entered into with knowledge and solemnity. Education is so important here. Most people have no idea. How many women wear diamonds and have no idea how they are acquired? Or even care? Ethics primarily is knowledge, then decision. Yes, I also have come to realize that living a cruelty-free lifestyle is a luxury. There have been times where I have had all the time in the day to prepare full vegan meals in a proper kitchen with wholesome organic ingredients, but there have also been times where I have had to live on the streets and if it’s my choice between bread and scurvy, or chicken and survival, I’m going to choose chicken and survival every time. Blessed be to you.

    • An update to my last response, that I wrote well over a year ago. I understand that some of the statements I made in my March 17 comment were strong and unusual, to say the least. In particular, my statement of crystals being “dark magics” was not fleshed out, and could have led to much misunderstanding. What I was attempting to communicate is actually a much vaster comprehensive view on age of life on Earth, and our universe’s balance of light and dark in general, and a fully comprehensive theory would take a long time to delineate. Simply put, the word “dark” can be terribly misconstrued. Yet, I chose it because it was the only word that summarized the idea, in its seed form, simply. In fact, I had just been introduced to the idea not too shortly beforehand by someone else, and was still having issues processing it. Perhaps I still am.

      Anyway, let’s begin with the origins of the stones Geologically. They are extremely ancient. They are the compressed, and metamorphosed, remains of the earliest life on Earth we can access. Perhaps Lava, which comes out of the earth as Magma, is even older, because it comes from the core. We can’t touch that though, until it becomes Obsidian. Thus, Obsidian is actually “instant crystalized” life source from our Mother Earth. But, we’re not talking about Obsidian. Instead, we are talking about minerals that are mined either by explosive, machine, or hand-tool.

      Those minerals are produced in similar ways as Obsidian, but whereas Obsidian is instant, like a Polaroid, other stones are made over a longer term process. There is tremendous pressure and therefore heat involved. And even still after being made into crystals, many claim that they are still alive (most mainstream contemporary Scientists deny this claim, but some, such as Nassim Haramein, and the late Masaru Emoto, claim that they are very much alive. Crystals grow, organically and yet remain like their seed-self, like a tree, do they not?). But, that is besides the point, here.

      Why are crystals “dark?” Well, simply put, they come from the darkest (as in, dictionary definition: no light) places of the Earth. Even the deep Ocean has more light than where these crystals come from. As such, we can argue that they don’t need to be “charged” with Sun or Moon light – ever. They have been sans-light for millions of years, honey!!! They didn’t need it then, and they don’t need it now.

      Also, yes, “dark” in the sense that they are encoded memories of, simply put, an extreme amount of suffering. Not only the suffering and DNA memories of all of the countless beings that used to make up what is now the crystal (and it’s many – because of the condensing of the pressure effect – think topsoil and all of the plants and animals that make up the soil…then the bedrock… etc)

      But also, as referenced before, the suffering of the process of the Earth making the crystal, AFTER the already-suffered life of all of those beings.

      This process we can imagine as like being crushed in the hottest Hell – forever. Until you cease to exist, but you still exist, except you can never, ever, ever do anything except just exist in a totally static, fixed, unchangeable form ever again. You’re it, mate!

      So, yes, if you are very sensitive, and using crystals, you are “tapping in” to memories of Earth life that are so primal, so ancient, that they are incommunicable with words. They are not only pre-human, they are pre-everything.

      So, when we “collect” stones that have been mined, we are essentially “disturbing dragons.” How would you feel if you had been sleeping, feeling pretty, for millions of years, and all of a sudden BOOM and all of these insane violent creatures with fingers started grabbing at you? Your pure crystalline being that had finally gone to rest, being called upon again. Basically, the crystals are the ancestors of ALL of us. They are the ancestors of a place, that have finally unified, after going through Hell on Earth. For us to use them without a deeply felt and internalized appreciation for the gravity of what they went through, we are doing a terrible dishonor to what we have been gifted, and also a terrible dishonor to our future, because we all have a crystalline destiny. Even people who are cremated, or buried at sea, will eventually have their body become one of the mass again, and over time, all of that organic material turns into a crystal again.

      Many practitioners of nature traditions only get as far as “dirt worship.” Of course, the soil is our most immediate mother – the first-generational, and even more than that – many of us still can visit the exact resting places of our great- or great-great-great grandparents (many cannot, but some people on the earth today CAN trace their lineages back quite far. This goes WAY beyond dirt. So many, even experienced Witches, even ones who make Crystal healing their primary focus, have a perception that crystals are “pure light that cannot harm you.” Some even are totally ambivalent in terms of moral judgment. And of course, some people just collect them, and then many of them are used for industrial purposes in other fields. Most don’t give a second thought. Your average person doesn’t even understand that crystals have the uses they do – they are just pretty, and it’s “woo woo” to “believe” they have “powers.” Of course, quartz is in their watch and computer, and Kyanite in their spark plugs, and etc… but anyway, I digress. The point is, there are levels of initiation into the mysteries of the stones. To FULLY GRASP that crystals ARE in fact beings of DARKNESS, and not of LIGHT, is the first step. They LOOK amazing in the light, and can work with the light – in fact, with light is where they truly “shine.” However, they don’t need it. Copper doesn’t need to see the light to work – in fact we wrap it in rubber so we don’t get shocked. And, a diamond does not need light to cut glass. Of course, there are some things that crystals cannot do without light – such as the refraction. But, you don’t need light to lay-on stones on a body for healing, for example. The VIBRATIONS of the stones are enough.

      That’s enough on this for now. I will also want to eventually address why I claim Christianity AND Pagan Rites, and also I will be addressing my long and complex relationship with Veget/Veganism. All in time.

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