The Gift of Healing
The first crystal I ever owned was a small transparent quartz. Unaware of its power, I kept it in a small black box in my room. I never thought of it as important, just pretty. Yet I kept it for years, harboring a subconscious desire to understand it.
The power that crystals hold eluded me until my first therapist gave me an amethyst. It was a gift to celebrate my graduation from an in-patient treatment program for eating disorders. I was 15 years old and eager to prove that I was newly transformed.
The therapists, the nutritionist, and the other girls sat in a circle in the group therapy room. Each of the graduates played a song that represented their lives before and after treatment (my before being “Silent Undoing” by Queenadreena, my after was “Twilight Galaxy” by Metric). Then, the therapists gave their patients a stone that represented their journey.
My therapist was an older, white lesbian woman with stringy blonde hair and blue doll eyes. Her name was Kay, and she was friendly and soft-spoken with an affinity for the word “aware.” She wore loose-fitting, business casual clothes – black pants that ballooned at the bottom, long-sleeve button-up shirts in neutral colors that she never tucked into her waistline – and Birkenstocks. During our sessions, she’d sit cross-legged in the chair, her feet bare and the sleeves of her shirt rolled up on her arms.
Her face always wore a smile. Kay was the kind of person whose entire being illuminated when she felt her emotions. Her expressions were animated, but always calm. It was easy to trust her. When I spoke about my struggles and triumphs, she’d listen carefully, and respond with a cool slow nod.
In process group, our weekly house therapy sessions, she’d often respond to our feelings with the phrase: “I’m very aware that you’re feeling ______.” The other girls and I adored her for it, and would often crack jokes during our free time about how aware we were of each other’s awareness.
One day, when we were lounging around the pool, the oldest girl of the house C. mentioned that Kay was a lesbian.
“A lesbian? How do you know?” I said, wide-eyed with shock.
I have no idea how she knew this. Did she guess? Was there proof? All I can remember is some mention about the song “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard. As we played the song and bobbed our heads to it, Kay came outside and exclaimed: “Oh I love this song!” and started singing along.
My young queer girl heart was confused; did music make one gay? In my case, it definitely helped me identify my sexuality later on. But in this context, before I understood the labyrinth of queer identity, all I had was a subconscious yearning to know more. Kay reflected a part of me that was deeply repressed. I remember feeling anxious and uncomfortable about her sexuality; was it internalized homophobia? Or was it because I was unwilling to recognize myself in her? I had no language to unpack this, so I simply let it slip underneath my radar.
Even as a confused and closeted young queer, Kay was the first therapist I opened up to. Before treatment, I had a negative experience with another therapist because I refused to talk about my eating disorder. I was still sick and in denial about the effects my anorexia had on my body and psyche. But with Kay, I was ready to be healed. She helped me navigate the complex causes and manifestations of my neurosis, often incorporating my love of drawing and writing into our sessions.
Once, in a weekly family therapy meeting, she interrupted one of my dad’s long-winded tangents and pointed out how much space he took up. Kay always made room for my story, despite my instinct to remain small and indistinguishable.
The day I graduated, I felt overwhelmed and anticipatory (my go-to feelings in process group) for the future. Two months had passed since my first day at the treatment facility. Despite this short amount of time, it was obvious how different I was. Not only was my physical body nourished and healthy, but my mind, heart, and spirit flowed freely through me. There was no inhibition; I was vulnerable and it felt safe.
When Kay handed me an amethyst crystal during my graduation ceremony, I was entranced by its small size and deep purple hue. It was shaped like a trapezoid, and had white streaks emerging from the bottom. She held it out to me in her palm, telling me her reasoning for choosing this particular stone. While I can’t remember exactly what she said, I can imagine she explained to me it’s ability to center, cleanse, protect, and enhance my wisdom, creativity, and emotions.
I took the stone from her and held it in my hand, rubbing it’s flat and curved surfaces with my fingers. It was cool to the touch, yet warm from Kay’s hand. I thought of the clear quartz I had kept for years, and got excited at the thought of adding another gem to my collection.
As a young witch, I remember being skeptical about what crystals could do for me. But I quickly learned that magic doesn’t just happen; you have to believe in it. If your intention is true, then any object you imbue with love and devotion will manifest this reality. Kay might not identify as a witch, but she was a person of magic. She taught me how to have faith in myself, before I knew that objects could channel this energy.
Stones and crystals are often an entry point for aspiring witches. Students of the occult, curious about anything and everything mystique and taboo, gravitate towards their aesthetic beauty and magical properties. Their popularity in mainstream culture is derived from the fact they’re easily commodified. Crystals are an object, after all, and capitalism is eager to profit off of inanimate and tangible things.
But amethysts are beyond greed and hoarding. It wasn’t until years later, after I came out as queer and began collecting other stones, that I understood the significance of amethysts. It’s a highly spiritual crystal, one that stimulates the Third Eye and Crown chakra, which represents our ability to have perspective and magical connections. Amethyst is the artist’s stone, capable of sparking the imagination and creative arts. It’s the diplomat and healer’s talisman, soothing frustration, inducing peace, and curbing overindulgence and obsessive compulsive behavior.
Now I have many different versions of amethysts – geodes, natural crystals, polished stones – yet my favorite is still the one Kay gave me. It’s small size and smooth texture draws me towards it in my rituals. It was the first stone I learned to trust, because it was from the first person I allowed to heal me.
Cassidy Scanlon is a Capricorn poet and witch who uses her artistic gifts as a channel for healing herself and others. She writes poetry and CNF about mental health, astrology, queer love, pop culture representation, and how social structures shape our perceptions of history and mythology. When she’s not writing, she can be found petting the local stray cats, exploring the swamps of Florida, reading 5 books at a time, and unwinding with her Leo girlfriend.