About three years ago I was sitting in a friend’s living room on a Saturday morning. Her children occupied themselves with Legos and drawing apps while Saturday morning children’s shows filled the room with colorful animation and catchy worded songs. I admit from the start that I’m not a TV watcher, but on this particular morning my eyes glued themselves to what was transpiring on the screen. A young princess named Sophia—cute, sweet, innocent—the story keeper of a magical amulet, ran to and fro throughout the kingdom using her amulet’s supernatural powers. The amulet, a gift from her father, was reputed to reward its bearers for good deeds but also curse them for bad deeds. Think of it as a recycled, diminutive Santa Claus with occult powers.
I felt again the fallenness, brokenness, and emptiness of our culture that morning, feeding our children a steady diet of evil cloaked in sweetness and light. Of course, there’s always an agenda behind this kind of entertainment; the industry has a goal in mind for which they’re willing to expend energy and financial resources. So it came as no surprise to me when I recently read that young people—especially girls—are the major market for healing crystals. Of course they are, I thought. They’ve been conditioned from toddlerhood to ascribe power to rocks.
The History of Crystals
Healing crystals enjoy a long history, dating back thousands of years to Egyptian, Sumerian, Roman, Greek, and other ancient civilizations. The ancients looked to them for healing and enlightenment, attributing to them metaphysical and physic powers. Fast forward to today, well, not quite today but the ’70s and ’80s, where crystals resurfaced in the New Age Movement, a conglomeration of hippies and the New Left that encompassed non-Western spiritual practices. The movement embraced meditation, astrology, paganism, and yoga like a long-lost friend, while increasing the price of a volume of quartz from $1 to $10.
But the New Age Movement never gained the respectability of the entire culture. A certain holistic, healie-feelie weirdness always dogged the movement, keeping it contained within Bohemian venues.
Yet, we wake up in 2017 and find labradorite gemstone towers and quartz earrings as Etsy bestsellers. Major fashion magazines such as Vogue and Allure praise the metaphysical qualities of $58 frequency-raising mists infused with moonstone, amethyst, and rose quartz. For $90 you can apply emerald-gemstone face oil that promises the side benefit of stimulating the heart chakra (psychic-energy focal point). So what happened? Are Millennials really seeking some form of spiritual life or just attaching themselves to the latest trend?
Millennials and Spirituality
The answer appears to be yes—Millennials are into the spiritual and enjoy trendiness as well. They position themselves as the new purveyors of DIY spirituality, handpicking elements to their liking from the spiritual supermarket of ideas and beliefs, forming their own individualized path. This, after all, is the self-esteem generation and ideas have consequences. It is no surprise that self looms large in the Millennial mindset. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and author of Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—and More Miserable Than Ever Before writes: “Individualism basically says that you don’t need to hang out with a bunch of other people and go to religious services. You don’t really need to believe in something bigger than yourself like God.”
Although our young people may be less religious, that doesn’t translate into less spiritual. According to Pew, more than 40 percent of Millennials “feel a deep sense of wonder about the universe at least once a week.” About a quarter view yoga as a spiritual exercise, over a quarter believe mountains and forests harbor spiritual energy, and about 30 percent of the religiously unaffiliated have claimed a “moment of sudden religious insight or awakening.” Matthew Hedstrom, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia, writes, “All of a sudden, instead of five options of religion, or 10 options, you’ve got every mix-and-match variety you could think of, including one you invented on your own.”
Crystals Enter the Mainstream
So demand for crystals is not only surging, it’s gone mainstream. Trend forecasters even have a category for crystal-infused product lines, calling them “mystic beauty.” Fashion designers, fitness gurus, and Hollywood have all climbed on board. One jewelry designer based in New York said, “It’s like believing in fairies or something. But then you look around or bring it up in a meeting and then somebody pulls one out and says,’I never leave the house without this.’” In fact, housing crystals in your office space, studio, professional kitchen, at your bedside, around your neck, in your bath, or even posting your obsession on Instagram is now considered the new normal.
Like many religious systems, healing crystals make bold promises. Do you desire happiness, wisdom, peace, clarity, strength, self-confidence? There’s a crystal for you and a thousand others to help you embrace your spirit and free your soul, whatever that means. And would you believe there are no rules when it comes to crystals? None at all, except that they need to be “cleaned” by moonlight from time to time.
And as happiness, wisdom, peace, and all the other things promised by crystals remain elusive because they can only be found in Christ, the trend will fade away and the next spiritual panacea will makes its debut on the Saturday morning children’s lineup. And another generation will embrace the lie that gets recycled like clock-work—you can be like God.