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The heART of Ritual


My Journey To A Greener Ceremony

When considering commitment to planetary stewardship and personal goals for zero waste, I thought long and hard about additional areas I could improve on both at home and with my service. Journeying the process of awareness and the resulting changes I have made are what has inspired this deeply honest article. I share the following insights neither to cast judgement nor criticize others, rather I share my personal journey as a way of cultivating awareness and solution based dialogue, and to acknowledge my own mistakes.

For reasons I cannot explain, the sustainability of my ceremonial and ritual offerings were the very last to be considered in my personal and professional life prior to 2015. Up to that point, I had been teaching crystal healing internationally, working as a professional crystal therapist, invited to speak about crystals and energetic architecture at holistic festivals and conferences, and facilitating both large and small scale crystal installations, grids, and mandalas which I have to say, received alot of attention online.

I had always been nature based and an environmental activist, yet I had become so comfortable with having certain things to hand that I totally overlooked when it came to examining how sustainable and earth friendly my home, spiritual practice, personal prayer expression, and service to the community actually was.

What I am speaking about here goes far beyond cutting down on the purchase of devices with computer chips made from conflict rare earth elements, the use of reusable cups, cloth shopping bags, buying local seasonal produce and growing your own. It goes beyond wax wraps and recycled unbleached toilet paper, eco friendly household cleaners, fossil fuel consumption, sustainable energy, organic building materials and more - all of this had already been addressed in all areas of my life (and work) already. What hadn’t been looked at up to that point was something that was literally right under my nose, so obvious that I didn’t see it earlier - I’m referring to my ‘tools of service’.

I’ve worked with crystals and minerals my whole life long. I never purchased cut, polished, coloured and treated crystals, or lead tainted chemically bonded mass produced smelted sound tools such as crystal bowls, lyres or tuning forks. Instead I always worked with the raw form for its energetic purity and natural beauty. However, as a ceremonialist, facilitator, and teacher I was still purchasing raw minerals and crystals ever so often, and in the beginning also used imported incense and endangered non native fumigation ingredients like palo santo, white sage, and frankincense as part of my offerings for planetary healing without knowing any better. I was simply a teenager that purchased what was available at our local esoteric shop in the 1980’s and my demand was based on what they supplied - there were no discussions on cultural misappropriation back then, no information on the environmentally destructive ways these crystals were harvested, no conversation on sustainability, ethics, carbon footprint, child labour, nor how palo santo, white sage and exotic resins are overharvested and endangered species (as a result of new age supply and demand).

When I started college, having a computer in the classroom was a novelty and had a wow factor. There was no social media, and google had not gained the god-like status (as a resource) that it has today. I had felt something was ‘not right’, but as I was being told by grown ups that ‘these are the things people use for prayer’, I have to honestly say I never gave it much consideration beyond telling myself I was providing a balance by returning these crystals and exotic herbal offerings to the earth. These days there is a term for it, I was ‘spiritually bypassing’ the issue. I cannot say that was intentional, but it certainly was what I found myself doing until one day I read what was written on these products packaging and saw where they came from to get to me. Something clicked.

The thing is, the business of spirituality does not want us to know that by purchasing those tools and ingredients, we are fuelling the problem, by creating supply and demand.

When I eventually did go on to study crystals with Katrina Raphell’s academy, I remember speaking with my crystal teacher about my concern about the quality of teachings students receive with hundreds of crystal schools opening up around the world and online every day. I explained the discomfort I was feeling about how crystal healing was being taught in conveyor belt consumerist style, and how crystals were suddenly becoming fashionable and must have mainstream lifestyle accessories. It felt like this trend was providing what I can only describe as a crystal version of a McDonalds drive thru, except without any quality control or standards. I questioned how this could possibly enable humans to experience the depths of diversity of the crystal kingdom and the incredible symbiotic relationship we can share together. Her reply was that she saw it as being a good thing because it brought crystals to more people’s awareness. I can’t disagree with that, she had a point for sure, but this completely glosses over the problems this industry is perpetually feeding and being part of that, to me, was being part of the problem. And then of course there is that well known crystal book in which the author effectively renames crystals, wrote ‘ultra spiritual’ healing profiles about them in his marketing blurb, created international demand, and sold them for vastly overpriced amounts, mostly to people who don’t know any better or to collectors who have more money than sense. Exactly the same with a colored glass that is being marketed and sold worldwide as a volcanic glass from a locality in California, and nobody thinks to question how it is at all possible that such a vast array of color would occur in one place. You do not need to be a geology professor to know it is not possible. My other mentor at the time called these instances (where people get taken advantage of) ‘a case of karma’ and said those that are fooled by this are having a karmic experience. That just doesn’t wash with me either, it's down right opportunistic, predatory, corrupts and manipulates the sacred (both the crystals themselves, and the trust between the person buying one and the seller (or teacher) and confuses matters for those who genuinely wish to learn and physically experience crystals.

The fact is, no amount of prayer, good intentions, high vibes, white light, programming, new agey fluff, unicorns, or a quote some self proclaimed guru said in a glossy lifestyle magazine can nullify or fix this - nor should it - for it does little but feed complacency and ignorance.

So yes, something clicked. I realized the offerings I was purchasing and burying as gifts to ‘heal the planet’ were contributing to the destruction and suffering of the planet, environment, natural resources, and humans, the very things I was looking to ceremonially appease. From the violent methods of mining crystals (strip mining and explosives), to unethical working conditions for those not just mining crystals but also harvesting herbs and tree resins in foreign lands, the destruction of forests, the environmental impact of transporting and importing these items from the other side of the globe, the waste generated by packaging, lack of fair pay and trade, the inflated resale prices by distributors and retail outlets, socio-economic instability due to war over metals, gemstones and rare earth minerals, child labor, child soldiers, conflict crystals, the theft of ritually grown white sage off reservations, the poaching of entire palo santo trees, and more. This is the seedy underbelly of what has come to be called the ‘business of spirituality’, that which most choose to brush under the carpet and ignore. When I realized this, I couldn’t ignore it. I felt physically sick and bewildered at what I had been inadvertently doing. The thoughts of my contributions to this (through my own consumer choices) made me realize this was not something I wanted to be supporting, indirectly financing, promoting, or giving energy to.

It may seem as an extreme way of putting it, but the way I saw it, I was living a sustainable mountain life, yet offering unsustainable ceremony. I questioned the integrity of any form of ceremony when these factors played a role, and knew deep down that good will and prayer alone does not reverse the damage done, only direct action will bring about change. I was so deeply ashamed and devastated by this oversight, and I am not too proud to say I was completely overwhelmed by the extent of this ‘unsustainability’ within the realms of formal ceremony. I took a step back to look to what was within me, around me, research alternatives, find solutions, and make changes.

During this time, I decided to take a sabbatical as a crystal healing teacher and distanced myself from the traditional crystal healing methods and teachings I had trained in. I stepped back from the academy and its approach to teaching about crystals. It was a necessary move as I felt (and still feel) that these methods of teaching crystal healing encourages students to purchase vast amounts of crystals and become collectors - effectively feeding the problem. I was not looking to say that those methods were ‘wrong’, I merely wished to find a gentler, less destructive way of working with the crystalline kingdom.

My teaching hiatus gifted much needed time for me to restructure, rewrite and formulate crystal teachings in a way that more authentically reflects not just my passion for sustainability and ethical green ceremony (and the vital need for it to be included in ALL natural healing courses), but also share the self empowering way I intimately work and live with crystalline consciousness as a human crystal. I spent two years writing a curriculum, then launched my own three part Crystal Therapeutics training program. This course is a heartsong that manifested out of my own call for more ethics and duty of care being needed in the 'business of crystals' and with how crystal courses are being taught worldwide. I feel what I have created offers a solution, one that enables participants to learn with and through crystalline consciousness in a non destructive way - one that authentically and fully honors a sustainable, respectful and loving relationship with Source, the planet, the crystalline kingdom, and ultimately, with ourSelves. The ALL.

This was the metamorphosis that I needed to experience in order to blossom and move ‘beyond’. I realized the only way to ensure complete energetic integrity and benediction was to step up fully and take responsibility in all areas, to make sure all I do and share is as ethically sound and green as possible.

This was a huge undertaking initially, but in doing so, I removed the destructive aspects and brought sustainability, integrity and sacredness back to ceremony. I was no longer facilitating a ‘formal ceremony’, an event that would take place on a certain time and date, and consumed by those who attended so that they could cross off the ‘ultra spiritual’ box on their to-do list for the month. Instead, I encouraged everyday ceremony; doing all things with reverence, observing and experiencing the sacredness in all, and living prayer through all actions and non actions each day. I actively invited non-human nature inside, and humans outside, I mixed everything up in order to shake off the deeply ingrained ideas and concepts people had so that I could get them back to their own unique and stable baseline, seed, and grow from there. This seeding was certainly felt and experienced both by me and those participating, for it is a balanced exchange and nourishing on all levels. This learning curve and path grew into what is now a sacred container and statement in itself - a collective invitation for transformation and change.

The change to becoming fully sustainable ultimately deepened my relationship with the land, my immediate environment, and simultaneously enhanced the relationship with my physical and energetic Self. It became a two way continuous dialogue that over time healed my sense of ‘place’, reclaimed that which I had abandoned, forgotten about or lost, renewed my enthusiasm, and realigned the ecosystems around me and within me, on all levels. The final piece of the puzzle was in place, and I was home. I was whole, fully connected once more, and feeling very inspired and humbled.

Through the grace of this experience, I re-learned what living ceremony and mindfulness actually meant, what it is to be part of the whole and how we can work with plant and crystal consciousness in daily life, in service, and in ceremony. I relearned what it is to be a human crystal, and fully reclaimed crystalline BEing. I re-learned that our greatest song is our mindful actions, and our greatest tool, our ears.

To my surprise, I also discovered that the ‘tools’ I had been working with eventually formed a distraction too. Allow me a few moments to explain...

For years I was focused on the ‘physical’ aspect of ‘needing’ to work with a crystal (or plant) in my hands, or being with them in person. I realized that by focusing on technical placement alone, you effectively wear blinkers and are at risk of excluding all that is happening around you (and within you). When you focus fully on the placement of pre designed crystal layouts (aimed at specific outcomes) then you exclude real time assessment, you miss subtle changes, you fail in being attentive to your recipient's subtle anatomy, and because you’re trying so hard to be technically perfect and remember which crystal goes where and which direction its meant to point in, you simply do not have any capacity to listen to loud discussions going on all around you, from your intuition, your client, the crystals themselves, and more. Furthermore, I came to realize that you cannot fully explore crystal consciousness - the subtle, ‘unseen’ yet powerful aspect of the oversouls (and individual crystals) - unless you are fully present and listen, fully embody them, live, learn, and work with them daily (as equals), and essentially program yourSelf as a human crystal. So that’s what I did. This is where my real exploration and adventures with the crystalline kingdom began, it has been an incredible journey and an experience that has benefited all areas of my life. The rest, as they say, is history. I brought the theory of ‘all is energy’ into practice, in all ways.

In hindsight I have to say that it is not at all surprising that I had a focus on the physical in my earlier years. The influence was primarily twofold, external and internal; the teachings I received were focused on ‘the laying of the stones’, therefore requiring ‘having’ a lot of crystals there to work with. Parallel to this, internally I was very much dealing with root (chakra) issues on a personal level, and root issues very much relate with all aspects of physical. Once that area of my BEing began to heal (through my own self discovery process), my roots became more established, I became more present, and my ability to tune in magnified, so it makes perfect sense that I began asking questions and explore beyond that physical border into non physical realms. Even though I was unable to verbalise it at the time, this is exactly what happened; I no longer needed a crystal in my hand as I had (reactivated my crystalline dna and) become a human crystal. Rediscovering this ability and exploring those realms of connection and energetic BEing was life altering. This empowering approach has become the focus of my teachings both in the Crystal Therapeutics training I offer as well as the ‘Wild Medicine Making Year’ Herbal Mentorship Program.

The entire process of awareness, shame, forgiveness, stepping back, questioning all, reassessing and researching, created a space that was necessary to tend to my inner soils, seed what needed to be seeded, and given the time it needed to grow. Just like nature and the seasons, these cycles are continuous and its processes are never ending.

For this reason I consider myself the ‘eternal student’ and a mindful listener.


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