Shiny, beautiful, magical little pieces of rock that the spiritual beings in us are attracted to.
We use crystals within our spiritual practice to guide us towards where we need to be. These intuitive tools can assist us to attract the vibration we need to be on, to manifest that which we are seeking in our lives. They are beautiful aesthetically and spiritually, and owning your first crystal can be the beginning of your spiritual awakening.
Crystals have been used by healers, meditation leaders, and spiritual guides, for centuries. Now, the everyday person is becoming more open to the idea of crystals and their properties, and those who have been skeptical in the past are coming to recognise how crystals can enhance their life and wellbeing.
As a spiritual person, I am, of course, please that more people are coming to accept the power that crystals hold. However, I am also fearful for the impact that this increase in interest in crystals, and therefore the increase in demand and subsequent supply, will have on others and the planet.
Like diamond, gold, coal, or any other mineral, crystals are a natural resource. Therefore, they have to be taken from the land, and if you want to own crystals then you have a responsibility to research where your supplier sources them. If you do not, then your spiritual growth can come at an awful cost to others.
The importance of ethical crystal mining does not only concern the planet, but the people and communities who mine or are affected by the mining. On a more personal level, the mining of the crystal itself affects its healing properties, which is something to keep in mind when you want to integrate crystal healing into your practice.
Unethical Crystal Mining Industry: Where Do Your Crystals Come From?
When you first try to research the crystal mining industry, you will come up against many roadblocks. It is a very closed off industry, and with so many crystals being so easily available both online and in store, people usually do not even stop to think about where their crystals have come from. However, a writer at the New Republic, Emily Atkin, did stop to think about where her crystals originated. When she could not easily find an answer, she decided to investigate this and the crystal industry as a whole. On deciding to investigate the crystal mining industry, Emily said:
"The first thing I thought was, 'so that is a rock, so it was mined somewhere, right? So, what kind of mine does a healing crystal come from? That question just sent me down this spiral of mystery,"
Emily Atkin focused mainly on crystals which are sold solely online, and sold in the US.
"I would say that the majority of people who sell crystals online actually don't know where their crystals come from,"
It comes as no surprise that Emily found many issues with crystal mining. She found that a lot of crystals are by-products of larger scale industrial mines, so if you are against the mining industry but use crystals then you are enabling the very industry you are fighting against.
Happiness For You, But At What Cost?
The dark side of the mining industry didn’t end there. Emily discovered a crop of crystals which originated from a mine in Utah, which had been cited multiple times for polluting the drinking water of local Indigenous communities. On top of that, there is the issue of child labour. Some of the most sought-after crystals can only be found in places with little to no mining regulations for children, and so they can use child labour to get you the stone you want.
There are so many poor working conditions for mine workers, from poor vision, to deafness, to the more hash conditions of child labour and forced labour.
The negative effect of mining does not end with those actively parking in the mining industry, but extends beyond, to those simply existing in the surrounding communities. Mining industries cause pollution. They contaminate water sources. They destroy sacred land that has existed for tens of thousands of years to mine minerals (yes, Rio Tinto, I’m looking at you).
So what does this mean for you?
It means that the crystal that you use to manifest love into your life has been mined in a way that causes heartbreak. The crystal you use in that wealth spell contaminated the only safe drinking water of local Indigenous communities. And the crystal that you - well, I think you get the point.
This is not to say that this is done on purpose. The crystal shops where most online purchase occurs, such as small sellers on Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon, don't usually list the sources of their stones at all. That is simply because they don’t know.
But those larger sellers - the likes of Goop - they should be sourcing their crystals ethically. They have the money and resources to trace their crystal lineage. To sell healing crystals to customers who have no idea about the way in which they were mined is unethical and irresponsible.
“It would be a great shame,”
says Sophia Pickles, the campaign leader at Global Witness,
“if consumers buying goods that they believe help them ‘connect with the Earth’ are, in fact, making purchases that are connected to grave human-rights abuses, environmental destruction, conflict and corruption. Unfortunately, this is a very real risk for products like crystals.”
So you’re using these crystals to heal yourself, your life, your loved ones, to access a higher vibration and make your world a better place. But if you don’t know where your crystals are coming from, then your own happiness is coming at the expense of real, dangerous situations for those mining them and those affected by the mining.
How are Ethically Sourced Crystals Collected?
Due to the conditions surrounding mining, it is difficult to say what an ‘ethical mine’ looks like. First and foremost, an ethical mine should have good safety standards in place to protect workers.
As crystals are sourced worldwide, the enforcement of safety standards varies widely. To begin, when sourcing crystals the buyer should study the local government and it’s reputation for corruption - this will offer up important clues about what is actually happening in the country rather than relying on news articles that have been tampered with.
In regards to the mine workers - in some cases, mining jobs offer a higher daily wage than other options available to rural and unskilled labour populations. This is a good sign that the mining operation is ethical. Another sign of ethical mining practice is the use of proper safety equipment for staff, including eye-protection and respirator masks for hand-polishing crystals.
Lastly, consider how the mine affects the surrounding environment. Look at the mine’s location, size, and purpose.
How Mana Moon Sources Their Crystals
I do not have many crystals, but the ones that I do come from Mana Moon. That is because I trust Mana Moon and the way in which they source their crystals. Mana Moon rehomes anywhere from 500-1000 crystals a week, and I spoke with Tash about how they source their crystals.
‘I work with only a few trusted suppliers. I keep my supplier list small so that I know exactly where the crystals are mined from. They have been in the game for many years and we have built up long lasting relationships- such as our smoky Quartz spheres. They are mined and shaped by a grandfather and grandson team in Bahia, Brazil.
Our Herkimer diamonds come from a family home in Herkimer County where the family only mine the diamonds at certain times of the year.
It takes more than just a “good deal” for us to source crystals. We do our research and have many conversations with our suppliers over treatments- our main factory of shaping crystals have some of the highest standards of work wear and health checks in their country.
It takes months and even years to build these relationships, and there are no shortcuts to finding ethical crystal suppliers. There are costs involved in healthcare for mining workers, overtime pay, correct pay, and this all gets passed down to the wholesaler. If the crystal is cheap, then you have to ask yourself why.’
How to Ensure Your Crystals are Ethically Sourced
Now that I have told you all of the terrible ways in which crystals are mined, how do you make sure that the crystals you are buying are ethically sourced?
There are only a few ways to do so:
One- literally own the mine and use highly ethical practices
Probably a reality for the majority of us, but we can dream.
Two - Trust your sources, cross your fingers, and ignore what makes you feel uncomfortable.
This is having your cake and eating it. You rely on what your sources tell you even though that nagging feeling in the back of your mind tells you that something is up.
Three - Do your own detailed research on mining, geology, and lapidary practices in each region. Investigate the current socio-economic-political situation. Ask hard questions, and weigh up the answers.
It’s not perfect, but nothing ever is. At least in this scenario you have done the work. You acknowledge that crystal mining comes with costs and that in order to own crystals in an ethical way you must wrestle with uncomfortable questions and take time to find a supplier who you trust.
So it comes down to this - ask your sources, then double-down on the research. Finally, trust your gut - if a supplier ever tells you that their crystals are 100% ethical then they are just saying what you want to hear, as unless they own the mine then they cannot guarantee how ethical the mining practices are.
If this is a topic that is shocking and new to you - do not beat yourself up over not thinking of this sooner. Crystal mining is often an issue that gets swept under the rug. If this topic has crossed your mind before, then take this as a sign to review your purchasing practices.
Make a commitment today to use ethically sourced crystals in your meditation and healing practices from this moment forward.