In her ongoing pursuit of Zen, Holly O’Neill seeks out the latest wellness treatment promising to harness the power of crystals.
A few weeks ago, I spotted a Claddagh ring with a purple stone set into it on my friend Conor. “I was at a dinner party recently with a woman who can palm read,” says Conor, who frequently says things like this since moving to London. “She said that I need to wear an amethyst stone at all times to keep me centred.”
In terms of fad wellness trends, crystals hit all the benchmarks: the Olsen twins gave them out during their show in 2019, Silicon Valley CEOs love them, and the cheap ones have probably been sourced unethically.
If you’ve had the pleasure to meet yoga instructor Sinead Mooney of Moons Yoga, chances are you’ve probably thought, “I’ll have what she’s having”. At the 2019 IMAGE Beauty Festival, she had an enormous rose quartz crystal swinging from her neck. “I wear it for cultivating healing and for strengthening any relationships that might be a bit wobbly,” she tells me. “I charged it up at the last full moon and I swear, the shift in relationship dynamics that has happened for me in the last month is phenomenal.”
Crystals are compartmentalised in my brain somewhere between “things that look nice in your Pinterest interiors board” and “bizarre cultural phenomena like standing desks”, but now that I have three friends who definitely don’t know what Goop is and who get through their days with a healing crystal on their person, I feel like crystals have officially hit the mainstream. So what else is on the menu?
Chakras and rainbows
I’m in Donaghmede, about to reach Nirvana with something called crystal light therapy. Flor Sylvester has that same Sinead Mooney energy – whatever she’s having, I’ll have a double. She’s a massage therapist and does crystal light therapy from her home. “I come from a Native American tribe from Venezuela and Colombia, and since I was small, I’ve had a knack for finding people’s knots and sources of tension and pain,” she tells me before we get started. “Crystal light therapy works on our energy system, which underlies our physical system. When we work on the system that’s beneath that, the energy can bring about changes not just in our physical world, but in a lot of different aspects of our lives.”
I’m lying on my back on a therapy bed, underneath a fluffy blanket. Suspended above me is what would look like a machine at the dentist’s if it weren’t for the row of seven-pointed quartz crystals. Each one points to a chakra, of which there are seven (honestly, a whole other column), and each crystal lights up in a different rainbow colour (each chakra has its own colour – do keep up).
I lie motionless for half an hour, scrambling up and down my body to see if I feel anything. I have a faint ringing in my ear. Are these my chakras screaming at me for not giving them enough TLC? I also feel very relaxed. Maybe because I’m lying on a bed or perhaps it’s my energies getting whipped into shape.
The background story of crystal light therapy is about as mad as the therapy would suggest. “There’s a place in Abadiânia, Brazil founded by a man called John of God,” says Flor. “People would travel from all over the world for healing, and he would do ‘spiritual surgeries’.
He discovered after they bought the land that they were sitting on a reservoir of quartz crystals with great healing potential, and says that through his communications with healing spirits tied to these crystals, they came up with this therapy. It requires a bit of letting go and belief. I was sceptical, but when I tried it, there was no doubt that there was a benefit. A lot of people experience different things, some will physically feel pressure or energy moving. Our bodies know what the best thing to happen next is in order to facilitate our wellbeing, and the more we listen to that, the more transformation we see in our lives.”
Later, I google John of God (real name João de Teixeira de Faria) to discover that he is currently facing trial on allegations of rape and sexual abuse, with more than 600 women accusing him of sexually assaulting them while they were searching for spiritual guidance and treatment.
Nonetheless, Flor says her crystal light therapy is more popular now than it ever has been. “All kinds of people come here. It’s hard to go for something that’s intangible, but it does help with sleep, calming the mind, and more. A machine like this works so subtly. They’re very big changes, but if we’re not still enough, we can’t feel those. It can be hard to quantify that in terms we’re used to.”
Once I read up on John of God, my ability to be open-minded shuts down, so post crystal light therapy, I can’t say I felt a change in myself. Perhaps the change is too subtle. I’m certainly not Gwyneth Paltrow Zen just yet, but I may pick up a few crystals. Do you reckon they make Claddagh rings with rose quartz?
Crystal light therapy, €20 for 20 minutes, florsylvester.com