A Closer Look a What Defines Ethics and Sustainability in the Stone and Crystal Market.
This is a very important question and these terms do need to be defined. Even though I'm sure every person in this market would see this from their own unique perspective, it falls on each of us to share our personal definitions.
The following are the principles myself and our staff adhere to.
Humanity’s Contract with the Stones
First, I’d like to point out that unlike plants and trees, stones do not move from their place of origin. They do not spread seeds and they do not have a symbiotic contract with pollinators who can help them spread and move around.
They are creatures who stay put. The exceptions arise within their contract with humanity.
Before we look at that contract, I’d first like to note that “sustainability” is an interesting term to use with stones because they are not easily replenished. They can’t be planted like trees. They take millions or billions of years to evolve. This is one of the big reasons why gold and other metals define wealth and anchor the concept of money in this world. They are not quickly or easily created and they contain the quality of scarcity; a non-infinite supply.
May this bring to light the enormous inherent value of the Earth’s crystals. They really are Mother’s Earth’s precious treasures. We are so blessed to live among them.
Sustainability does come into effect when we weigh the processes around the actual harvesting, like trees being cut for roads, workers being mistreated, and further oppressions on the lands, homes and people. We will come back to this. For now, allow yourself to begin to question and redefine “sustainability” when it comes to stones.
Humanity, as well as other beings throughout the Cosmos, through their contracts and connections with living stones, have gained the ancient wisdom of why and how to harvest stones and move them from their places of emergence. Also having been passed down is the employment of technologies that move them through the world with intention and that spark the significant internal properties within.
Ancient sacred sites, stone circles and other forms of gridwork, the ley-line-linked stone church altars in the world’s cathedrals, and even the use of metals and crystals in modern technology and communication all reflect this human-stone contract. All of it is dependent on people harvesting and moving stones.
Stones are conductors, communicators, and doorways to multiple dimensions. They are gateways, stargates, amplifiers, time travelers, unifiers, the great connectors, and even healers.
They have souls, destinies, and great purpose.
The Bad and the Good in Harvesting Practices
As a student and practitioner of these ancient practices (they are billions of years old), I do not believe that harvesting stones and moving them around the Earth is inherently bad.
Some people do. Some think they should not be touched and should remain in the Earth. That is certainly their right to believe. These people can sit in Nature and meditate with stones right where they are, and still enjoy a relationship.
If we tap into the Dao (What Is), we see that stones ARE being harvested and moved around. The Nature of the Dao is non-judgmental. The Dao would say that ‘What Is’ is a part of the Whole, a part of the One, and in perfection. There is no good, bad, right or wrong.
As we grow in consciousness, we will be able to see why things are the way they are.
There’s wisdom to be gained from What Is. Everything is a part of the Oneness. Not outside of the circle. Within it.
When we shift to take the perspective of polarity, we can break stone harvesting into two categories, the bad and the good.
The bad would be described as self-serving, rooted in separation, and without care for the other. There is no balance, no gratitude, no exchange. In our world over the past few thousand years, it’s been characterized by lower states of consciousness such as aggression, dominance, fear, scarcity, and conquering.
These harvesting and mining methods harm the Earth, the people and animals in the region and beyond, and do not contain principles of sacred reciprocity.
The good side of harvesting and mining would uphold core principles of gratitude, Oneness, and sacred reciprocity. Stones would be harvested and moved with agreement and partnership with the stones, and guiding intentions would be use of the stones for the good of all.
Because our world, and especially what controls money and business in our world, is still unawakened, there are more instances of bad harvesting.
And, I think you would be surprised to see how many good instances there are. These are often found in smaller operations, and they are on the rise. Caring about this is having an effect on this market. So is the overall growth of human consciousness. So, keep caring.
Real-life Examples From the Crystal Crystal Shop
Here are some specific examples on what I consider to be good, sustainable, and ethical harvesting:
- Crystals can be saved by miners before being blown up in giant mining operations. Before the next cave room gets blown up with dynamite to mine more zinc, lead, gold, uranium, etc., miners might carefully remove the natural crystal and mineral specimens inside and bring them out of the mine and sell them to collectors and healers. Although the larger mining operation may or may not be good mining, saving the crystals before they are blown up and getting them into the hands of healers and people who love and care, may be considered ethical.
Bringing consciousness and care to these larger mining operations is important and something that is already changing. Did you know that gold and other precious metal miners - ones who are strictly involved in finance and investing - are starting to be asked what their ecological practices are? They’re being asked how they give back to the people in the area, how they care for the land, and how they might replant trees and other plants. It’s becoming something they are being asked to have ecological certifications on. That’s real progress, considering that their field is all about money and profits.
- Rockhounders can hand-harvest stones with only very small non-powered tools. Many of our stones come from this background exactly. These rockhounders often speak with the land, make offerings, harvest only what is easily accessible, (some of them even only surface collect with no tools at all), and leave no trace. One of our main suppliers even uses body-based dowsing and communication with the Earth to find the stones, and one other main supplier creates ceremonies on full moons to give thanks for what he has collected. These people also pay attention to the land they’re on and respect sacred ground. Examples in our shop include our Thunder Bay Amethyst collection, our entire Euphoralite collection, stones that we ourselves rockhound in southern Appalachia and offer, our Mayan Jade collection, our quantum smoky quartz, and many more.
Our first preference is to work with rockhounders like this, and we create relationships with them and sustain those relationships.
- Some harvesters do use power tools, small excavators, and other Earth-turning vehicles. One of our main suppliers is a small company that harvests stones in Madagascar. They take sacred reciprocity seriously. They plant trees, and take care of the local people with jobs and donations to the villages. They also treat their buyers, like us, with respect, fairness and zero greed. These kinds of practices may also be considered ethical.
- Family operations are the backbone of our relationships with African minerals sellers. Our Namibian stones come from our close friend in the industry. He is a Namibian man whose brother does the rockhounding. His father is the head of the business, and others in his family have been in the business for more than 2 generations. They have a reciprocal, respectful relationship with their homeland. The crystals they sell have put food on their tables and money into their township economies for decades. Like farmers, the land is their livelihood.
One of our suppliers from Africa even traveled there, asked the local medicine man and spiritual leader of the area if he could buy and sell the crystals in the West. The medicine man said yes and that it would be a win-win, generating jobs and abundance for the local people, and moving the crystals into the world for healing work.
We have a lot of crystals in our shop with this kind of background including our minerals from other regions of Africa, our minerals from Tibet, and more. These kinds of practices may also be considered ethical.
These are just a few examples among many.
As for bad harvesting practices, these can range from small to giant operations. The worst of it can include human abuse, decimation of land, and irreparable damage to communities and Nature. The worst stone and crystal harvesting scenarios are generally wrapped within a giant mining operation, and the crystals and mineral specimens are simply a by-product of the process.
Mining can be absolutely devastating for the Earth. Before we consider our ethics around it, we must consider that everything we use in the modern world, from the computer or phone you're using now, to your shoes, to your house, all include resources mined from the Earth.When I look up from this writing, I see my car outside the window, my printer, my lamp, and a seemingly endless collection of items made up of the body of the Earth itself. It’s a humbling realization. It lights a fire of determination in me to give back, and a natural visceral impulse to bow in gratitude for all she has given me.
If you want to learn more about how to make reparations, the educational work we do at our school, the Upper Clarity School of Stone Medicine, includes teachings on how to regenerate Nature spaces, heal the land, and give back to the Earth. Stones are a key tool in this work.
How Stone Buyers Can Help the Earth
My advice to those who are seeking sustainable and ethical sources for stones can be distilled down to one piece of guidance: Ask questions. Ask sellers the origins of their stones and what they know about how they were harvested. (‘Mined’ is the word they’re more accustomed to).
If a seller doesn't know much about one product, that’s not a deal-breaker. If they don’t know much about many of the products, that is a deal-breaker. It means they’re not asking questions to their sources. If they’re not asking these questions regularly, I wouldn’t consider them an ethical or sustainable source for stones. If you care about these issues, take your business to someone who does.
After over a decade of close interaction and education in this market, here in the U.S. and beyond, I’ve learned a lot. It’s still the tip of the iceberg of the whole picture. The knowledge I do have has taken time, travel, nurturing of relationships, and asking thousands of questions.
At the end of the day, I would define an ethical and sustainable stone and crystal shop as one that holds an open heart to learning about the many layers of complexity that compose a global stone and crystal market. Ethics and sustainability is an orientation, not a destination.
Most of all, an ethical source is one who chooses to say no to unethical sources, and does their very best to only circulate ethically sourced stones.
One final point: On my journey, I’ve learned that it’s not possible to rule out uncertainty. Some stones lose their stories along the way and there’s no information available on their origins. Sometimes, I will still purchase them. I engage with the stones and use my intuition to determine if they should come home to our shop.
I listen to the answer I receive. Stones are living things. I don’t reject all stones who lost their stories. They deserve a chance to live a destiny with a conscious person as much as any other stone.
We know our community and I believe there’s no better place to land than with one of our shop supporters or students. I consider all of you safe and sound homes for stones. Even more significantly, you are homes where stones can fulfill their purposes and live their destinies.
That’s the crossroad where you’ll continue to find us. Between conscious harvesters and people like you.
Let’s keep moving the stones around the world with love and care. We’re making a difference.
-Sarah Thomas, LAc, Owner of the Clarity Crystal Shop