Have you ever really looked at a gemstone? The facets sparkle and shift colours as you turn them around in the light. It’s like holding a miniature rainbow. Even unpolished crystals and igneous rocks are like pieces of magic. But why are we so fascinated with them? If you think about it, rocks and gemstones are everywhere in our lives. We give diamonds to people we love. We use rocks as decor. We even have special affinities for rocks depending on our birth month!
Personally, my love of rocks goes even further than that. Like thousands across Canada, I am a “rockhound.” Rockhounds are people who go to public digging sites known for mineral and gemstone deposits and literally dig for rocks. I’ve found pyrite (otherwise known as “fool’s gold”), peristerite (which is an iridescent feldspar), and all kinds of quartz! Digging a gemstone out from the dirt with your own hands is akin to becoming a witch, finding ingredients for a spell. In fact, some people believe that rocks and gemstones actually possess magical powers.
The reported healing and enhancing abilities of gemstones have normalized New Age culture to the point that there are even stores dedicated to selling gemstones. Rock shops, as they’re called, can be found across Toronto. Some popular stores include Happy Soul, Geologic, and her sister store here on the Danforth, Gifts from the Earth. Rock shops, such as these, tell patrons how different rocks and gemstones can help them with health issues, personal problems, or achieving their desires.
Rock shops list the gemstones alongside their meanings and the chakra (energy circles which, in Hindu belief, control different body parts) that the stone corresponds to. In doing so, these stores fully embrace the idea of magical gemstones and arguably use their “powers” to sell them. Is this a marketing strategy based on exploiting people’s desperation, or is it simply fulfilling a wish for meaning and balance in a society rife with upheaval and uncertainty?
In order to answer these questions, I decided to do some research. What are the best-selling gemstones in Toronto’s rock shops? What benefits are people looking for in these gems? I searched the online stores of Happy Soul, Friendly Crystals, and Gifts from the Earth. The best-sellers are as follows: citrine, amethyst, clear quartz, rose quartz, pyrite, carnelian, and agate (specifically blue lace agate).
After discovering the most popular gemstones, I wanted to know what it was that made them best-sellers. I researched a variety of websites that detail the powers and meanings of each stone, as well as which chakra the gemstone corresponds to. I began to see an overlap between the benefits that each stone offered. It seems that people are looking for clarity, creativity, confidence, vitality, and the manifestation of their will.
So, why are people looking for these specific benefits? Personally, I think this is a reflection of our society, as there is constant pressure to be unique, outgoing, and enthusiastic. Our workplaces, schools, and even our peers expect us to find new, innovative ways of thinking and doing things. People who are confident are also considered more valuable in both their working and social environments. It’s no wonder that people are turning to magic to make themselves more desirable and to improve their own sense of self. The concepts of clarity and will-manifestation are also representative of our current society, as people are constantly under huge amounts of stress, and therefore desire relief and wish fulfilment.
In my research, I also discovered that each stone caters to one or more chakras. If someone were to purchase all seven of these gemstones, they would have a full set. The popularity of using gemstones for chakra balancing is evidence of commodified culture, but it also shows the desire to be “balanced” in a world that is anything but.
I appreciate that gemstones help people find this peace and comfort. I do, however, think that marketing gemstones as tools for healing might be misleading to those looking for tangible cures for their health issues. That being said, I don’t think it’s wrong for people to want some magic in their lives. The benefit that gemstones ultimately give to the people who believe in their powers is hope. Isn’t this true of all forms of spirituality? In this way, gemstones can truly be magical.
Image from Pixabay—no copyright infringement intended.