Cleansing and Charging your Crystals
BEFORE WE GET INTO THE DETAILS of the different kinds of metaphysical crystals and how you can use them to heal yourself, it’s crucial to understand the importance of cleansing and charging your crystals.
Crystals by themselves are like ingredients in your pantry: It’s not until you do something with them that the magic happens. It is only when you work with crystals with attention and gratitude that you allow your energy to collaborate with the energy given off by the stones. In this harmonic dance, your energy initiates a movement that the crystal can shape and form through its stable pattern of energy. The crystal feeds this renewed energy back to you, which you then accept, experience, and project as an evolved energy back to the crystal. Thus, in order to receive a crystal’s energetic benefits, one must engage with it in a continual interactive relationship. If a person ignores this interaction, there will be no energy for the crystal to work with. This is the reason why someone can spend their whole life around crystals yet not experience any healing benefits from them. For although they share a physical space with crystals, they are not energetically working with them.
But even if you have been consciously interacting with a stone, after some time it may seem as though the crystal has stopped working. This is because, like a stuffed-up nose, your crystal has become energetically clogged up and has no space to continue working with your energies.
CLEANSING YOUR CRYSTALS
From a chemical standpoint, a solid is a substance whose chemical bonds hold atoms and molecules in a rigid shape. If this solid is specifically a crystalline solid, it means the atoms are held in a highly ordered structure in which billions of identical molecules are stacked upon each other in an orderly way, resulting in a crystal’s overall shape.
But crystal building is not a perfect process. Occasionally in the crystal’s lattice, atoms get substituted or sometimes go missing altogether. But these empty spaces within the crystalline lattice are precisely where the energy of your intention is held by the crystal!
In addition to the intention you put into the crystal, the crystal takes in energies from you. As you work together, your energy leaves artifacts within the spaces of the crystal, and over time the crystal can get clogged up with this old energetic information. As it runs out of space to transmute your energies, the crystal becomes energetically weighted down and can no longer do its job with ease. Just like a machine that has a lot of gunk jamming up the gears, a crystal will run more smoothly, powerfully, and efficiently when it is cleansed.
With all methods of crystal cleansing covered later in the chapter, your intention to cleanse the crystal is an integral part of the process. No matter the method, the physical act of cleansing is an empty motion without the intention to cleanse the stones, for it is the energy behind the intention that activates and catalyzes the cleansing process. This is why stones can be cleansed solely with pure thought. But because it takes a bit of Jedi-level training for your intention to be that clear and focused, it’s far easier to cleanse stones in conjunction with a physical technique, for the movements within the physical task will help keep your intention focused on the stones.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLEANSING AND CHARGING
Like getting your car washed versus filling it with gas, there is a difference between cleansing and charging crystals. Cleansing a crystal clears it of energetic debris, which allows the crystal to project its energies at its purest. When the crystal has been cleared of all other energies, it is at its most optimal state to have an intention put into it. Charging gives a crystal additional energy, allowing your crystal to work with more vibrancy and for a longer duration before it needs to be cleansed again. Charging can also increase the intensity of any intention placed into the stone.
While cleansing your crystals is absolutely necessary, charging your crystals is not—it is an optional process. However, if you are intending to charge your crystal, it’s imperative to cleanse your crystal first so that any old energetic gunk does not get in the way of the intention you have set. Of these two practices, you will spend much more time cleansing than you will charging.
Some of the methods I describe below are purely cleansing or charging, but there are also methods that are a blend of both. Understand that these processes of cleansing and charging fall on a continuum, and much as the energies of crystals interact differently with you as an individual, so too do these cleansing and charging methods. To begin, you may find it’s easier to use separate cleansing and charging methods (something I especially recommend for beginners) rather than methods that do both.
Each technique will align with the different elementals of earth, fire, air, and water—so depending on any astrological and/or natural energetic tendencies you have, you may find that certain types of cleansing or charging will be more suited to you than others. But it is only after you work with all the techniques that you will discover what you and your stones respond best to.
HOW TO CLEANSE AND CHARGE CRYSTALS
Leaving your crystals alone in a dark place for a long time will both cleanse and charge them. But since this process can take years, we need other ways to energetically cleanse and charge our frequently used stones.
There are numerous ways to cleanse and charge crystals, but the following are the core techniques to be familiar with. Though you are likely to have an affinity for certain techniques over others, you will still need to research each crystal you treat to make sure the method you use does not physically damage the stone.
Smoky quartz scepter, cleansed by sage smudge
In addition to their medicinal healing properties, plants have vibrational qualities that can be used for energetic healing. One of the more familiar ways plants have been used energetically is through smudging—the ceremonial act of burning sacred plants. It’s a method that invokes the use of the earth element (represented by the plant), the fire element (represented by the burning smoke), and the air element (where the smoke drifts through). Each smudge has a different energetic purpose and may be specifically used for cleansing, sanctifying, or welcoming good energies, or a combination of these purposes, depending on the specific energetic traits of the plant.
Sage, sweetgrass, palo santo, cedar, and juniper are some of the better-known sacred plants used for smudging. While these plants are easy to purchase as smudges, it is to your benefit to connect directly to the energies of a smudging plant by seeing it grow and move through its life cycle within the ecosystem it is a part of. This gives you a deeper understanding of the plant itself and leads to a better understanding of its energetic properties, while also further grounding and connecting you to the specific part of Mother Earth you live on.
So, if you are serious about using smudge and using it in a sacred way, learn about the sacred plants that grow in your area. You may not live near where the more popularly known smudges grow, but wherever you are there will be plants that can be used for smudging—they just may not be as well known.
If you want to learn about smudge and other sacred plants that grow around you, the best information will be found with the indigenous groups in your area who have worked, with deep honor and respect, with the plants that have been native to their land for generations. They, and the herbalists who have learned from them, are the greatest resource about a plant’s medicine, both physical and energetic—and will also hold wisdom about the plant’s life cycle and its place in the ecosystem. Learning this kind of information can make you more conscious of how to harness the plant’s smudging energy so that it can be used in the most powerful way. Additionally, a responsible teacher will show you how to harvest the smudging plants that grow in your area in a sacred, respectful, and ethical way, with minimal impact to the plant and environment.
Smudging is a valuable tool because all things, including you and the crystals, have an auric field that can capture energies. Sometimes auric fields will capture negative energies, and the use of a cleansing smudge can help “unstick” these energies from these fields. A crystal’s auric field will collect energies that will need to be cleared before the crystal can fully express its healing energies again. If you have a crystal that seems to have become “sluggish” and is not working so well anymore, it’s likely that it is becoming bogged down by other unhelpful energies and needs to be cleansed. But you don’t want to use just any kind of smudge to cleanse your crystal. You will specifically want to use what is called a cleansing smudge to clear the energies around your stone.
Of all cleansing smudges, sage is the most widely available and well known. But when it comes to smudges, sage is a bit of a catchall term, since it can include plants from either the Salvia or the Artemisia genus. However, it is the smudge from white sage, Salvia apiana, that is regarded as the most cleansing sage of all. This is the variety I most recommend to cleanse your crystals if you are not using a cleansing smudge plant native to your area.
When you cleanse your crystals, treat them like babies you are giving a bath. In the same way you wouldn’t watch TV while absentmindedly bathing a baby, you do not want to be distracted while cleansing your crystal. Just as you would be present and focused when washing a baby, you need to be present and focused when cleansing a crystal. This means not being preoccupied with thinking about other things, such as what you need to do or a conversation you had earlier that day.
When you smudge, you don’t need to create huge clouds of billowing smoke to cleanse your crystal (unless you want to trip your fire alarm). All the smoke you need can be produced from as little as one tiny leaf. As long as you can see and smell the smoke, it is enough to cleanse the stone.
To smudge, internally acknowledge the presence of the plant’s energies and then gently circle the stone with the smoke. Imagine that you are giving the crystal a bath with the smoke. Have a clear intention that you are cleansing the stone so that any lingering negative energies that have been attached to the crystal’s aura can now detach and allow the crystal to project its healing energies outward again. Remember, your presence and intention with the stone as you smudge make the process into a ceremony of respect. And it’s the combination of your focused attention with the smudge’s energies that produces the cleansing result.
One of the biggest benefits of using a cleansing smudge is that it can be used to cleanse all crystals. And because it works so well for clearing lingering energies, sage or any other cleansing smudge can be used to cleanse a crystal without losing any intention you may have previously set in it.
“There must be something strangely sacred in salt. It is in our tears and in the sea.”
—Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam
Crystals cleansed in water sprinkled with sea salt. Clockwise from top left: petrified wood, quartz, apatite, dalmatian stone
You can use water to cleanse your crystals physically, but did you know you can use water to energetically cleanse them as well? Water cleansing resonates with the water element, which rules emotions and the unconscious. Since so much of crystal healing involves processing these two aspects, water-based cleansing is an ideal way to cleanse crystals that have been energetically weighed down because of them.
Below are several different ways you can cleanse your crystals using different kinds of water.
SEA SALT AND WATER
Billions of years ago, our planet began as a ball of water. From the great watery expanse came single-celled life-forms that fed off the energy of the sun. From them, even more complex life-forms began to evolve to live on dry land. Dinosaurs gave way to mammalian life and then, over time, to us. Our species exists because of this lineage from our evolutionary oceanic ancestors who were birthed from Earth’s waters, which cover approximately 71 percent of the crystal ball we call Earth. Of this water, 3.5 percent is freshwater, while the remaining 96.5 percent is salt water.
Salt water is the amniotic fluid of Earth. Even now, more than four billion years after the birth of our planet, ocean plankton begins the food web that weaves through every ecosystem on our planet, affecting every subsequent living being in the food chain. And all the water on this planet eventually flows back to the oceans, to be filtered and recycled again into new forms. So all life on this planet begins with Mother Earth’s salty water, for it is the medium that holds her powerful energies of birth, nourishment, and renewal.
To cleanse a crystal using this potent method, all you need to do is to submerge a crystal in water that has been sprinkled with sea salt. For routine cleansing, let the crystal sit in this bath for at least twenty minutes. If the crystal needs a more thorough cleansing, keep it in this solution overnight or longer, until it feels cleansed.
Though it is not as powerful as the living water method described below, the sea salt and water method is powerful and works relatively quickly, and, because of this, is the cleansing method I recommend the most.
While sea salt and water is my favorite way to cleanse crystals, if you are in a situation where your crystal needs to be cleansed but you are not in a place or do not have the time for other, more deeply cleansing methods, simply placing your crystal under running tap water will give it a quick and temporary cleanse.
There are times when you are going to be working very intensely with a stone and will have little time to cleanse it. This happens most often with stones you work with every day, like pocket stones, or stones whose persons are dealing with a lot of negative energies, like black tourmaline. Though you will eventually need to cleanse your crystal with a method that cleanses it more deeply, by rinsing the crystal under tap water you will keep the stone’s energy going for another day or so.
The most powerful method of water cleansing involves the use of living water from nature. Any water that comes directly from Mother Earth—like a clear running stream, a pocket of seawater left in a tide pool, gently lapping waves on a lake, water flowing out of a natural hot spring, or rain coming down from the sky—has her energetic signature written on it. Because it is created by, and comes directly out of, the vibrant, living body of Mother Earth, it is considered living water and carries Mother Earth’s water-healing energies at her purest and most powerful.
Living water will both cleanse and charge crystals. If you place your crystals in a body of Mother Earth’s water, the freshness of her energy combined with the movement of her water will cleanse the stones, while her undiluted energies will charge them. Because of how powerful her energies are, the crystals will quickly be both cleansed and charged, most of the time intensely so within just a few minutes.
A couple of caveats: First, if the water is polluted, don’t use it for cleansing your crystals—it won’t have the energies you’re looking for. Second, don’t contain the water (meaning, don’t scoop up the water into a bucket or some other container and place the crystals inside)—you want the water to remain connected to the Earth. This may mean placing the crystals in a shallow crevice or holding your crystals as the water runs over them. Be careful, though—sometimes the crystals are so excited about feeling Mother Earth’s healing energy in this way again that they are compelled to leap from your hands, back into the water where they will return to their cozy womb in Mother Earth. So pay attention to where you choose to place or hold your crystals when using this method, because you may potentially become separated from them. But if you do and are unable to find the crystals again, do not be upset. Though you may have paid for them and cared for them, they have always been on loan from Mother Earth, so if they should choose to return back to her, release them freely with love and gratitude.
This beautiful and rare halite should not be cleansed by water, because the crystal will completely dissolve: its chemical formula is NaCl—also known as salt!
Not all crystals are physically compatible with water cleansing because some crystals will dissolve in water. Halite, for example, is literally naturally crystallized salt and thus will dissolve completely in water. Other minerals, like selenite, may not dissolve as quickly but will become permanently dulled if left in water for too long. Even if the crystal itself is not water soluble, if it is in the form of a mineral specimen it may still be susceptible to coming apart at the joins where the different individual crystals come together. So it is imperative to research if your individual stones can be water cleansed if you want to keep them intact. And if you are in doubt, choose another, non-water-based method.
A selenite rod cleansing some brochantite
In the world of metaphysical crystals, selenite is used to describe all forms of the mineral gypsum—from clear to fibrous and from colorless to tinted. While some varieties of selenite have color, for the purposes of cleansing crystals you want to use the untinted variety that is either clear or translucent white.
What’s special about selenite is that it doesn’t need to be cleansed. Selenite continually channels large amounts of high-vibration divine energy through itself, and this keeps the stone naturally cleansed. This movement of energy is so constant and powerful that in addition to cleansing itself, selenite can energetically cleanse other stones too!
To cleanse with selenite, place the crystals to be cleansed very close to or touching the selenite as shown in the photo on the previous page. Leave them next to the selenite, in sunlight if possible, for a day or more, depending on how much cleansing the crystals need. Like sage, selenite is a great way to cleanse all stones. The larger the selenite is, the more effective it will be for cleansing, so opt for a large specimen if you are getting a selenite specifically for this purpose.
This amethyst was cut in half and one side was put in the sunlight. Because amethyst is light-sensitive, after a year of exposure, the right-hand side lost virtually all its color.
People often tell me that they wait for the full moon to cleanse their crystals. Although placing stones in moonlight is a method of cleansing them and a beautiful way to ritually connect with moon energies, if you’re waiting about once a month for the full moon you are probably not cleansing your heavily used stones frequently enough. Crystals you are using intensely (which is often the case with stones like hematite and black tourmaline) will require more frequent cleansing, sometimes even daily, to work optimally, so cleansing once a month is not enough.
In comparison to other cleansing methods, the energy of moonlight is very gentle, which makes it ideal for cleansing stones that have gentle energies too. It’s also a great method to use for crystals whose color would otherwise fade and/or permanently change when exposed to light.
Most crystals that are sensitive to light are pale-colored and transparent, though even a dark-hued crystal like amethyst can fade in bright light. In the case of amethyst, exposure to light slowly changes the crystal from purple to colorless, a shift that changes the chakra the crystal resonates with. So if you have chosen a crystal specifically for the chakra it works with, you are likely to want to cleanse it with methods that keep its color intact, like moon cleansing.
Rather than using moonlight for cleansing, I prefer to work with moon energies as a way to charge stones and give them a soft and gentle boost of feminine energy. Moonlight energies work well for facilitating transitions, like breakups or moving from one home to another, or for situations where introspection and quiet inward understanding would be helpful. In these cases, I would use moonlight energy to charge my stones.
Each phase of the moon brings different energies to the cleansing and charging of your crystals, so if you’re going to be working with moon energies it is important to learn about the respective energies each of the different phases brings. In brief, the full moon brings waning energy, which is an energy of release as the full moon shrinks into the blackness of the new moon. The new moon (when the moon cannot be seen and is at the beginning of its journey to enlarge into a full moon) brings an energy of growth. Each phase’s energies can be then used to enhance (or charge) the intention you put into your crystal.
In contrast to the gentle, soft, and feminine energy of moonlight, sunlight is the masculine counterpart of celestial light energy. Sunlight energy is strong and vibrant. Its energy feeds, strengthens, and moves forward. This makes sunlight’s masculine energy ideal for charging stones. As long as your crystal is not sensitive to light and has been cleansed in advance with another method, you can put it in the sun to charge.
Direct sunlight can also be used to assist in cleansing your stones, in conjunction with the sea salt and water method described above. Again, as long as your crystals are not sensitive to either light or water, you can submerge the crystal in a bowl of sea salt and water and then place it in bright sunlight. The sun will further energize the cleansing water itself, and as the stone becomes cleansed, the sunlight will begin charging the stone.
How much time this takes depends on how much sunlight there is, what kind of sunlight it is, the kind of stone you have, and how much you want to charge it. This process may take a few minutes or a lot longer, depending on what your circumstances are and how much you want to charge the stone. Simply hold your crystal and intuitively feel if it has been charged enough for you.
Because solar and lunar eclipses resonate with the energies of dramatic shifts of change, they can be used to charge stones with this kind of energy. Thus, if you feel your life has become too stagnant and wish for it to be different, you could charge your crystals with eclipse energies to begin shaking things up in your life and go on a grand adventure of change! While any eclipse energies will initiate shifts, lunar eclipse energies catalyze internal shifts that cause radical changes to happen with yourself, while solar eclipse energies facilitate external shifts, bringing intense change to outward aspects of your life. If you choose to charge a stone with eclipse energies, be prepared for a potentially turbulent but worthwhile ride!
An ideal stone for eclipse charging is clear quartz. Choose one that can be kept close to your skin, like a pocket stone, so that the energies stay near you as you go through the process of change. Before the eclipse, go outside, light a candle, and place your cleansed crystal next to it. As you smudge the crystal with a sacred herb, set the intention of change you want to manifest. Hold this intention as the eclipse passes over the crystal. Then get ready for some (eventually) fun experiences!
Sometimes a stone becomes so energetically heavy that it needs to be returned to Mother Earth for healing and rejuvenation. You can bury a stone directly in the earth, or you can elect to bury it in a box for later retrieval. How long it needs to be buried depends on how heavy the crystal’s energy has become. It may need to be buried for a week, a month, a year, or more, depending on how much it needs to be cleansed.
For example, you may find a crystal in an antiques shop or be given a stone that feels energetically heavy or like it has been used or preprogrammed in some way. If all other methods of energetic cleansing do not erase the programming or heaviness of the crystal, you may need to bury the stone and give it back to Mother Earth to be cleansed.
Understand that this process of cleansing a stone by burial may take longer than your lifetime, so you must be prepared to let go of the stone to allow it to become fully purged and cleansed. And this may be the very reason why you have come across a previously owned stone: By attracting you to it, the crystal has gotten your attention and subsequently your assistance. If you have resonated with it, you will have an easier time connecting with the crystal and being sensitive to its needs. You can be of service to the crystal by helping it heal so that it can become energetically vibrant again. Other times, by burying it, you are helping the crystal get to the right person. Burying the crystal gives it time to be cleansed and then at some later date to be found by the person who is actually supposed to work with it. In both cases, in a small but significant way, you help to raise the collective energy of the world by raising the energy of the crystal.
If you are planning to bury a crystal, ask Mother Earth where the right place to bury it is. Allow yourself to receive either an intuitive sense or a picture of where the crystal should go. Or you can bring to mind a place you are considering and see if the impression you get is positive or not. If it isn’t, wait patiently until a place comes to mind that you have a strong feeling about. Remember that you will need permission from a property’s owner or caretaker in order to bury crystals on their land.
You may also elect to return the crystal to Mother Earth by releasing it into deep living water. This also is a way to return a crystal back to Mother Earth for healing.
HOW OFTEN DO I CLEANSE MY CRYSTALS?
Q: Now that I know how to cleanse, how often do I cleanse my crystals?
A: On an as-needed basis.
In our modern world, we gravitate toward prescriptions. Because we are busy or perhaps a little lazy, we want someone else to tell us how to do things so we don’t have to think about them. But to develop your skills with crystals, you have to discover how they work for yourself. Rather than relying on me to tell you that you need to cleanse your crystals once a week or once a month, you need to get to a place where you intimately understand when a crystal needs to be cleansed. After all, you are deepening your relationship with the crystals by learning to make one-on-one connections with them, so learning how to listen to them is essential for your crystal intuitive development.
Let me put it this way:
Q: How many times should you pee?
A: On an as-needed basis.
You pee when you need to go. If you drink a lot of water, you’ll need to go more frequently.
Q: When should you wash your dishes?
A: On an as-needed basis.
Maybe you’ll wait until you’ve run out of dishes, or maybe you want to do it more frequently because you want a clean, tidy kitchen.
Q: So when do you cleanse your crystals?
A: On an as-needed basis!
My favorite story about when to cleanse crystals happened with a client who had a young child with recurring bad nightmares. I recommended to the mother that she place a black tourmaline underneath her child’s pillow. Months later, when browsing social media, I saw she had posted a photo of herself at the breakfast table doing crafts with her daughter. In the caption the mother wrote that her daughter had begun having nightmares again, but she realized she hadn’t cleansed the black tourmaline underneath her daughter’s pillow recently, so she cleansed the stone. For the next couple nights, her daughter had slept so soundly that early that next morning they were able to do crafts!
Cleanse stones when they need to be cleansed. If you’re using a stone intensely, you’ll need to cleanse it more frequently. That may mean once every three weeks, once every three days, or every day, depending on how much you are leaning on the stone and how much the stone can energetically handle. The easiest way to figure out if your stone needs to be cleansed is to ask yourself:
1. Does the stone seem like it has stopped working?
2. When was the last time I cleansed the stone?
As in the case of the mother and child, if your stone has stopped working it’s likely because it needs to be cleansed. If you’re in doubt, just cleanse it. If after thoroughly cleansing your stone you still feel as though it is no longer helping you, it may mean you need the energies of a different stone altogether. The only way to know is to experiment. Any experience you have will benefit the development of your intuition with the crystals. So get out all your crystals, cleanse them, and see what happens!