‘Contagious magic’: Religious studies professor details what’s behind the enduring popularity of crystals

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‘Contagious magic’: Religious studies professor details what’s behind the enduring popularity of crystals
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As New York City mayor Eric Adams attends ribbon cuttings, marches in parades and bulldozes dirt bikes, he wears an energy stone bracelet that his supporters gave him. In a recent interview, Adams discussed his belief that New York City has a “special energy” because it sits atop a store of rare gems and stones – the so-called “Manhattan schist,” which is over 450 million years old and contains over 100 minerals.

Adams isn’t the only one imbuing rocks with metaphysical significance. During the first year of the pandemic, the crystal industry boomed, with customers hoping the gems might relieve their anxiety.

Some people might be confused about the allure of these stones. But crystal enthusiasts aren’t deviants. Current ideas about crystals come from a larger tradition called “metaphysical religion” that has always been part of the American spiritual landscape.

Technically, a crystal is any matter with a repeating pattern of atoms or molecules. The crystals for sale in shops are known as euhedral crystals because they have well-defined surfaces, or “faces.”

For centuries, people have attributed special properties to crystals. Scientist Carl Sagan, in his book “The Demon-Haunted World,” traces their modern popularity to a series of books written in the 1980s by Katrina Raphaell, who founded The Crystal Academy of Advanced Healing Arts in 1986.

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