Despite the wide variety of gems and crystals available for magical working, it is the quartz element of granite that reconnects us with the spirit within the landscape. In Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones, I use the words of my old tutor, Mériém Clay-Egerton, who was an accomplished occultist and, having a doctorate in geology, was fascinated by the fact that for millennia humanity and quartz had interacted with each other. She wrote that our ancestors recognised the qualities of quartz was and used it, not region by region, but over the entire area of the British Isles: “Everywhere there are clear distinct traces. To people who know its potential, it was clearly no accidental employment of any material to hand. It was sought out for use. Why?”
Quartz is solid silica and if it did not crystallise when it solidified it is known as flint, and everyone knows that two flints struck together will produce a spark. What is not generally known is that all quartz pebbles will do the same and often produce bigger and better sparks. Clear quartz, or rock crystal, will produce an orange spark if two pieces are struck together in a darkened room, together with the smell of burning and this can be viewed as magical fire from the very Earth itself
Quartz is the most common constituent of rock, having three molecules arranged in either a right or left-handed spiral form, which has the power of polarising light in more than one direction: “When light enters a crystal it splits into two beams, due to the differing speeds of the light’s velocity being refracted back from the different vibration of the crystal’s lattices, and their own individual refracting indices. In certain circumstances, the crystals can act as ‘windows’ to ultra-violet and infra-red wavelengths. In addition to these scientific points, we may also hear quartz crystals hum or ‘sing’. We can also see quartz crystals displaying piezo-electric effects.”
These are scientific terms for what our ancestors knew: “Burial chambers with quartz kerb-stones were commonplace, as were the pits used for inhumations, which were sprinkled with quartz chippings, both whole and broken. There is a school of thought that these were used to either keep the individuals concerned safely at rest, or to permit the living to contact spirit entities when they were in a correctly attuned state.
On a magical level: “Standing stones (some of which are made of quartz, others may contain a high percentage of it), are accepted by psychics [and magical practitioners] as being able to act as conductors of ‘earth-force’, such as that encountered at nodal points for energy lines. If they are acting like natural ‘acupuncture needles’, then it is not surprising that they should be as pure a substance as possible and with natural powers of their own. Many circles in the south-west of England appear to have been originally constructed with a central point; other phases being tacked on afterwards. A quartz stone, or stones with high quartz content, will often appear in such a prominent position, having superseded the original wooden post.
And much closer to home: “Nowadays, we protect our water with chemicals to make it fit for us to drink, but in ancient times folk made offerings to the guardians of holy wells. Some were simple things, others were valuable objects that had been ceremoniously broken; it is strange how often white stones, and quartz in particular, figured highly on the list of offerings. As the wells were quite often used in fertility and healing rites, then I suppose we should naturally expect quartz to be a frequent gift. Today, crystal healing is still practised; and quartz plain or coloured, is one of the principal stones used — yet another relic of our past.
Quartz is one of the most popular of ‘crystals’ and pebbles having quartz as their dominant constituent are to be found on almost every beach, the differences in colour and appearance due to varying amounts of other minerals in each one, and also the way in which the quartz has formed. Despite all the wealth of the world, for the magical practitioner, natural quartz should remain the most precious gift of all.