Whether you want to make a million or mend a broken heart, Californian healer Heather Askinosie believes the answer lies in the mystical energy of crystals. But is the latest wellbeing trend really a magic cure-all or simply new-age nonsense?
Once dismissed as New-Age nonsense (or simply overpriced tat), in today’s era of wellness crystals have nudged into the acceptable mainstream. You’ve listened to your mindfulness app, knocked back your turmeric supplement – so is popping a nugget of rose quartz in your handbag that big a deal?
The usual suspects – Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian – have given crystals a glossy A-list appeal, sharing how they’ve boosted their health, happiness and success. But now the trend has filtered all the way down to the humble British high street. You can buy healing crystal jewellery at Accessorize, a crystal starter kit at Waterstones. Even sensible John Lewis is getting involved: its most recent retail report predicts that crystals will be big business next year and it’s soon to stock ‘a choice of crystals that meet your wellbeing requirements’.
Google searches for ‘crystal healing’ in the UK have more than doubled in the past five years, but decades before we all jumped on the bandwagon, Californian Heather Askinosie was advocating the self-help potential of crystals. Co-founding her company Energy Muse back in 2000 (one of her earliest clients was Sex and the City actress Kristin Davis), her crystal necklaces are the gold standard for crystal converts, worn by the likes of Celine Dion, Blake Lively, Heidi Klum and, er, Gordon Ramsay.
As a pioneer of modern crystal healing, Heather, 52, has dedicated nearly 30 years to studying the power of the earth’s minerals, learning from healers around the world and working with thousands of clients with the goal of demystifying the world of crystals.
‘Crystals are a tool; they are something we can utilise – like meditation – to tap into ourselves and get to know ourselves better,’ she says from her home in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and two children. ‘They help us take action in our lives. I’m not saying pray to a crystal; it’s not a religion. Crystals are a form of energetic medicine we can use to make our lives better.’
Whether you want to boost your finances, attract love, cultivate more patience, sleep better or improve your sex life, Heather believes that crystals can help. And in her latest book, Crystal365: Crystals for Everyday Life, published this month, she’s created a practical guide for the crystal-curious. Based on decades of practice (‘you’re not in business this long if you’re not getting results’), Heather helps you get ‘straight to the healing’ by pairing crystals with specific goals, such as managing your anger or overcoming procrastination.
So how exactly does it all work? Typically, proponents of crystal healing refer to the ‘frequency’ at which crystals emit vibrations, which your body will try to match, supposedly shifting mental and spiritual blockages. Twin a personal goal with a corresponding crystal and it should ‘amplify’ the energy of your intention.
Of course, talk of ‘energetic vibrations’ and ‘higher frequencies’ always gets cynics’ teeth grinding – and Heather prefers not to get hung up on these terms. ‘The way I look at it, when I’m not feeling good, my energy is dense and heavy, but when I’m able to plug into the light, then my life is easier. I am in fluid flow. Some people might identify it as a frequency at a vibrational level – but what’s cool is you know when you’re in it, and you know when you’re not.’
Even if you’re unconvinced about the physical energy crystals possess, Heather still believes they can serve a purpose. ‘They provide you with a physical representation of your intentions and goals, something you can touch, hold on to and connect with on a daily basis.
‘Say you put the intention “I want to be calmer” into a blue lace agate – a stone associated with releasing stress – then you place it on your bedside table. You go to work, something goes wrong, your kids get sick – you get derailed. But when you get home, the minute you look at that crystal, it’s a reminder to find calmness.’
At the heart of Heather’s philosophy is that crystals are ‘allies on our journey’, not magic gems you make wishes with. ‘It’s important to remember: it’s not the crystal making the changes and doing the work – you’re doing the work,’ she says. ‘The crystal is a tool to help you get where you want to go.’
She gives another example: ‘If you’re launching a business you might keep a piece of pyrite on your desk, the stone of wealth. Is it pyrite that’s bringing you the wealth? Or is it you bringing the wealth, because you look up, spot the pyrite and think, “Ah, OK, I’ve got to knuckle down and make a couple more calls”?’
Although Heather is evangelical that crystals can help us all, she’s not particularly precious about how we choose to engage with them.
‘Some people just want something pretty in their house. That’s great! Some people want to put a piece of rose quartz in their bra when they go out on Friday night so they’ve got a little extra love on them. Some people want to be grounded, to feel the weight of something in their hand. There’s not one way for everyone. And there’s no wrong way.’
Heather discovered crystals in the early 90s, when she was in her 20s and had a successful career selling luxury properties around California’s Manhattan Beach, a hotspot for the rich and famous. Her spiritual journey started when a Brazilian businessman insisted he’d only consider homes that had the correct feng shui (‘this is 28 years ago: I had no idea what he was talking about’), and she took a course to get up to speed.
‘I learned that there was this invisible world of energy that existed. It was totally new to me. I was fascinated.’ Still, her initial attraction to crystals was purely visual, she admits. ‘I stumbled across a store and spied this pretty, sparkly purple thing across the room.’ It turned out to be an amethyst. And holding it gave Heather ‘a grounding feeling that the intellect couldn’t describe. After years of feeling like something was missing, when I got into the world of rocks, stones, Mother Earth, something finally clicked.’
Heather’s life is now full of crystals. There is no space, person or animal in her orbit that isn’t benefitting from a carefully chosen crystal. ‘They’re everywhere: in my house, in my car, my office. I wear them, I carry them, sometimes you’ll find them in my bed. My husband will roll over and say, “What is going on here?!” and I’ll be, like, “I couldn’t sleep! I needed to put the celestite on me.” I give them to my kids when they’re worrying about something. Crystals are my lifestyle.’
Right now she is particularly keen on shungite, a silvery-black stone found in Russia. ‘There’s something about the molecular structure of shungite that can protect you from the harmful electromagnetic radiation from technology,’ she says. (Many people will disagree with her on this; Heather urges ‘do your own research’.)
‘I think people need to have shungite on their modems, next to their smart meters; I have shungite covers on my phone and my children’s phones. I noticed when I started putting shungite out that my houseplants improved, too.’
There’s a chapter of Crystal365 dedicated to crystal healing for pets, and Heather’s own dog – who suffers from epileptic seizures – has a tower of selenite (a long white crystal) next to his food bowl. ‘There’s energy of healing and light there; selenite is medicine for the energetic body. And it seems to be a stone that animals love.’
Statements like that will raise eyebrows but Heather has dealt with doubters her ‘whole career’ and, frankly, it doesn’t bother her. ‘With the people who are cynical, you know, I get it. They look at life from their particular perspective,’ she laughs. ‘But sometimes we need to take things less seriously. That’s what’s cool about crystals: it doesn’t have to be expensive; you can buy a crystal for a few pounds.
‘Go outside, sit against a tree, hold a crystal and breathe. Or lay a crystal on your chest while you’re watching TV. See how you feel after five minutes. Just try it, and if it doesn’t work, you never have to do it again.’
Since she started out in the crystal healing business, Heather’s clientele has evolved from a fairly niche group of adults ‘with a bigger disposable income’ to include a much younger demographic. ‘The marketplace has moved towards people in their early 20s, for sure,’ she says – a shift that she puts down to social media. ‘It’s opened up the world and brought more people to crystals. I love it.’ (Her Instagram account @energymuse has a community of 115,000 followers.)
The number of male clients she sees has grown, too: ‘Men love the stones. I think because wellness is now a safe place, they feel as though they can be included in these conversations.’
And Heather says that Brits are particularly open-minded. ‘When I visited the UK recently, I noticed this real openness. There seems to be less stigma, and more and more people are waking up to different healing possibilities.’
Why might that be? ‘In our world we are constantly distracted; the more we are distracted, the more we get disconnected from ourselves. That’s where crystals come in; when we pick one up and hold it we get a feeling. And more than ever, we want to feel.’
Interview by Hanna Woodside