5 Ways to Cleanse “Difficult” Crystals

So, the bog-standard crystal cleanse is pretty simple: immerse it in salt water, hold it under running water, cover it in dry salt, or stick it in the sun. Easy, right?

There’s only one problem: those are very efficient ways to accidentally destroy a lot of different minerals. Your stones might come out energetically cleansed, but they also might be much worse for wear. (Cleansing selenite, for example, definitely shouldn’t involve water.)

It’s important to remember that, beneath that shiny surface, there’s a ton going on in a crystal in a molecular sense. Some crystals’ color and structure depends on water molecules bound up in their matrix, like opals. Some contain soluble material, like selenite. Some might leach toxic compounds into water when soaked, like pyrite. Some might just end up fading on you — especially translucent crystals, like amethyst or rose quartz.

So, how do you cleanse crystals that won’t survive regular cleansing methods?

1. Make some noise.

Sound cleansing is a simple, but effective, way to get negative or stagnant energy out of a thing. You can use music, chimes, singing bowls, or whatever you want, within reason. (I would not, for example, try to cleanse a quartz point with death metal.) To do so, just place your crystal(s) in an area where they won’t get knocked around, and make your noise. Pick them up and handle them every so often to get a feel for how “light” and “clean” they feel, so you know when to stop.

Before trying this method, there are a couple of things to remember:

  1. Don’t put crystals inside of singing bowls.
  2. Ascending scales lift the vibes, descending scales banish the bad ones.
  3. Keep your instruments cleansed, too.

2. Use other crystals.

Some crystals are particularly good at drawing negative energy away from others. Selenite and kyanite are often said to never need cleansing, and citrine’s bright, solar properties make it useful for keeping energy clean, too. To use crystals to cleanse other crystals, just place them in proximity to each other. You can also set up a crystal grid with the stone that needs cleansing in the center.

While kyanite and selenite supposedly never need cleansing, I do it anyway. There isn’t really anything particular about them that would lead me to believe that they never need a little TLC, and I’ve definitely handled some specimens that benefited from it. If in doubt, cleanse them.


3. Use your own energy.

Using your own energy is one of the easiest ways to cleanse anything, because you don’t need any special tools to do it. As long as you’re familiar with energy play, it’s simple: hold a crystal in your non-dominant hand, and sweep your dominant hand over it. As you do so, use your energy to sort of “push” away the negative or stagnant energy around or within the crystal. Use your non-dominant hand to get a feel for how much of that energy is left, so you know when to stop.

4. Use incense.

Incense smoke, or the smoke of reekening herbs, can carry negative or stagnant energy away. Some sources call this smudging, but that’s not accurate — smudging refers to a specific practice within a specific religion, all of which is a bit more complex than “burn herbs to cleanse [thing].” Smudging is not really equivalent to reekening any more than Wiccan cakes and ale are equivalent to the Eucharist.

While this method works, it’s one I use with caution. No matter how you slice it, smoke is made of particulates. These may be sticky, or even discolor surfaces they come in contact with. You shouldn’t be producing enough smoke in a single session to discolor a crystal, but residue can build up over time. So, I usually only bust this method out for particularly difficult stones that require a variety of methods.

5. Ask some plants for help.

Some crystals benefit from being placed beneath a plant, buried in a plant pot, or even buried in the earth itself. Soil is moist and some plants are delicate, so I would not recommend this method for soluble stones like selenite, or those that produce toxic leachates.

If you choose to bury a crystal in the earth instead of a pot, use a basket. Dig a hole about the size of the basket, set the basket in the hole, add some dirt, place the crystal on top of the dirt, and add more dirt until all but the handle are covered. That way, you’ll know where it is and you’re less likely to lose it if the soil shifts or settles.

No matter which method you choose, ask the plants’ permission first. If it’s a tree, lay your non-dominant hand on the trunk. If it’s a smaller plant, hold your hand a few inches above the leaves. If you get the feeling that you’re being brushed off or ignored, ask other plants until you find one that gives you a warm, welcoming sensation. When you bury the crystal, leave an offering. When you dig it up, give thanks and leave another.

Some crystals are beautiful and helpful, but are also delicate and difficult to cleanse. Others just seem to be magnets for gross energy. With these methods, you’ll have more ways to keep your stones in good shape.


Fixing Etiolated Succulents

It’s almost spring, and the unseasonably warm weather has my plants all confused. I’ve got a new basal shoot on my nepenthes, my cacti are putting out new growth, my pothos and aloe are threatening to take over my apartment… So, even though it’s a bit early still, I figured now was a good time to take inventory and see who’s going to need some pruning and re-potting. Unfortunately, it looks like the lack of winter sunlight has left some of my younger plants in a bit of a state, and they’re going to need some “fixing.”

Why is fixing in scare quotes? Well, unfortunately, once a plant is etiolated, there’s really no going back. A stretched-out echeveria is not going to become a neat, compact rosette again, no matter what you do for it.

That doesn’t mean all hope is lost, though.

Let me start from the beginning.

What is etiolation?

Etiolation, in simple terms, is when a plant gets weirdly tall because of a lack of sunlight. Plants have evolved to stretch out to get more sun, but this isn’t really a good sign — outdoors, in nature, etiolation is a survival mechanism that allows plants to reach past obstacles and get the light they need to survive. Indoors, where there might not be enough sun no matter how much a plant stretches, it’s a sign that conditions aren’t right and the plant is stressed.

It’s usually most notable in compact, rosette plants like echeveria and some graptopetalum. In others, it can be very easy to mistake etiolation for regular growth, at least in the beginning.


These aren’t supposed to be shaped like that. Also, notice the curvature of the stems — they were reaching for the window.

So, how do we fix it?

Even though etiolation is caused by a lack of sunlight, fixing it requires more than just moving plants to a sunnier window. (Don’t get me wrong — you’ll have to do that, too.) Once a plant’s stem is elongated and the leaves are all gapped like the babies above, there’s really no putting that horse back in the barn. Increasing the light will keep them from stretching out more, but they’ll still show signs of their period of etiolation.

If you want to get them back to their typical shape, there’s only one thing to do: cut off their heads.


Pardon my nails.

The nice thing about many succulents is that they are super easy to propagate.

(I’ve got a graptopetalum that’s actually become a nuisance in this regard — it drops leaves if you so much as look at it too hard, and they will take root pretty much instantly for no reason at all. I’ve had grapto leaves that fell behind the shelf, with no soil or water, optimistically put out roots. It’s bonkers.)

So, the best way to get an etiolated plant back into shape is to find a) nice, plump, healthy-looking leaves to start fresh with, or b) an un-etiolated area to behead and re-root. In the picture above, I’ve cut away the still-compact middle of the rosette.


Remember the perle von Nurnberg on the left? If not, it’s the same one I propagated from a leaf I found on the floor of a hardware store.

From there, all that’s needed is to put them in some clean, moist soil, and keep it moist so they don’t dry out. Some prefer to wait for the cut end to callous over to prevent infections, but I haven’t had a problem doing it this way. Some also prefer water propagation, but I’m not really a fan, myself. Cuttings, wet dirt, keep it wet, boom.

Lastly, I make a sort of ersatz greenhouse with a re-used plastic bag. It keeps the soil from drying out (and with warm weather and small containers, that doesn’t take very long).


This grow light makes it look like my plants are at the club.


Etiolation can be heartbreaking, especially if you’re blindsided by the fact that what appeared to be new growth was actually a sign of distress. But worry not! As long as you’re able to take cuttings from your plants and provide them with more light, you can still save them.

Blessing Rite + S.J. Tucker Solo Show

This week was a busy one — fortunately, I didn’t actually have to leave my apartment for most of it!

Tuesday, I got to enjoy a solo show by S.J. Tucker. It was a pay-what-you-want online concert, and honestly a lot of fun. I don’t often get to go to concerts myself (IH is murder on my desire to hear things), so it was awesome to be able to support an artist I enjoy and experience their work in a place where I knew I’d be comfortable. There’s another concert coming up on the 19th, check out S.J. Tucker’s page on Concert Window for more details.

Wednesday, I took part in a streamed blessing ritual. As a solitary practitioner, I’ve had to build my rituals around the outline given by ADF without really having a live example to draw from. I’ve developed a ritual pattern and wording that’s comfortable to me (though I would like to re-write some to make it more poetic and give it some more “flow”), but I’m still curious about how other people do their thing. The blessing ritual was a great opportunity to interact with other Pagans in a warm, friendly atmosphere — again, without having to actually go anywhere.

The ritual structure itself was familiar, aside from a few things. The person who hosted the ritual silvers their well differently from me (I use the same, purpose-dedicated silver Mercury dime each time, as opposed to using a new silver bead each time), and draws three omens instead of one.

One thing I’ve noticed about performing rituals is that I always end up very emotionally affected by the omen drawing phase. There are only a few occasions where I’ve ever gotten “bad” omens, and I could almost immediately trace them back to their causes. I talked to my S.O. about it afterward, describing how I invariably get misty-eyed when it comes time to draw the omen and see what blessings are offered.

Really, I think it amounts to the feeling of being seen.

I use the Animalis os Fortuna tarot deck for my ritual divination. It functions like a standard tarot deck, but the artwork and symbolism on the cards themselves make them open to interpretations that, to me, seem to mesh better with ritual divination than most other decks. I’m not fluent enough in runes or Ogham staves to use those yet, so, tarot it is. Since I use tarot, there are a lot of cards, and, therefore, a lot of opportunities to draw something seemingly irrelevant to my situation. This never happens.

I don’t mean in an interpretive way, either. I don’t end up with ambiguous cards that I can sort of apply to my situation if I really think about them. Whatever cards I draw are always a giant, glowing beacon pointing to whatever is on my mind, or whatever I need most. It’s a very, very validating feeling.

In the streamed ritual, the first omen drawn was kenaz. Now, kenaz and I go back about a year — to the Imbolc before this past one, actually. I hadn’t joined ADF yet, but I did decide to do a small ritual to honor Brighid. A lot of my rituals involve a trance state (something that has informed a lot of my artwork) and, during this particular one, I was shown a symbol drawn in a slab of wet clay. I didn’t recognize it, but I was intensely curious and did a lot of searching. As it turns out, it was the rune Cēn from the Anglo-Saxon futhorc: ᚳ.

Cēn (or kaunan, or kaun, or kenaz) is a torch. It’s the healing fire, and the fire of the blacksmith’s forge. It is passion, desire, vitality, and creativity. It’s one I’ve meditated on a lot in the year since, and having it come up again now was a very good feeling.

I don’t know if I’ll find a local grove with the same ritual structure and overall guiding principles as ADF, but I’m glad to have found an avenue to at least take part in rituals with others.

(Speaking of creativity, there’s a new post on my art blog about some stuff I’ve been working on!)


“But why are so many witches poor?”

You’d think that, if magic really had the ability to bring you the things you want, you’d never see a witch who was poor, or sick, or wanting for anything. They’d just be a moon phase and a candle away from getting their heart’s desire, right? Google the words “prosperity spell,” and you’ll get — no joke — over 11 million results. If these spells really worked, wouldn’t you only need one? If they were really worthwhile, wouldn’t we have a lot more lottery winners walking around?

Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that.

There are a lot of reasons why magic doesn’t really work as a “burn candle, ????, profit” kind of deal. Like:


Let’s Read: A History of Pagan Europe

Note: This post contains affiliate links to the book(s) I mention. These allow me to earn a small finder’s fee from Wordery.com, at no cost to you. Thank you for helping to support writers, publishers, and this site!

Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick’s A History of Pagan Europe was originally recommended to me years ago, and I pretty much just read it for the fun of it. When it popped up on the approved reading list for the ADF dedicant path, I realized it’d probably be a good time to give it a closer look. It’s a rather dense read (though still an enjoyable one), and, considering the subject matter, it takes a couple of passes to really absorb all of the information presented.


Jones and Pennick do an excellent job of connecting dots between disparate cultures, explaining each area’s stages of religious development in easy-to-understand terms. (The convergent evolution of the concept of sacred wells/trees/etc. between Mediterranean and Celtic cultures was especially interesting.) I particularly enjoyed the analysis of Celtic culture pre-Roman contact. There’s really a dearth of information available on this period — it seems like a lot of what we know is via the Roman conquest itself. Because of Rome’s relatively relaxed attitude toward outsider religions, many aspects of Celtic religion were preserved (albeit in an altered form) through syncretism with the dominant religion of Rome. The Druids disappeared. Their symbols, deities, and sacred sites, however, survived.

(Ultimately, it was this attitude that led to the persecution of monotheists — Rome didn’t particularly care what religion anyone was, so long as every citizen honored the ruler’s personal deity. It was believed that this helped preserve the state itself, and thus failing to do so was tantamount to treason.)

A History of Pagan Europe is a bit dry, as many books of this nature are, but it’s a book I find myself returning to now and then. There’s a lot to take in, and, as a Pagan, I feel that sources like this are important — simple, factual, without a lot of the editorializing you find in books geared toward a new-age or Pagan audience.


Let’s eat paste!

Okay, not really.

I haven’t written much lately, mostly because of two reasons:

  1. I was incredibly sick and felt like death, and
  2. It’s almost time for me to turn in all of the essays I’ve written over the past year for evaluation by whoever at ADF is in charge of that kind of thing.

So, in essence, I haven’t written much because I’ve been busy writing in between bouts of coughing and other assorted misery. I have done some other creative-type things, though, which is awesome. I’m in the process of moving my altar (hopefully to a place where cats can’t happen to it), too.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the paste bit is about. Let me explain.


DIY Brain Chemistry

I’ve been doing a lot of reading.

I don’t want to call it “research,” because looking up a bunch of studies isn’t really the same as designing an experiment or compiling a meta analysis, but it’s a lot of reading nonetheless.

See, for years, I’ve been trying to find ways to mitigate some Brain Things. It isn’t purely panic disorder, because there are some very evident physiological aspects to that aren’t really adequately explained by anxiety. It also isn’t purely physical, either.

The first doctor I ever discussed it with was my pediatrician. I was thirteen, had begun experiencing regular panic attacks, and my mother was tired of it.

“It’s anxiety,” he said. And that was it.

It went untreated for years — I was told it was all in my head, that the liver absorbs adrenaline in under a minute (lol what), and there was no reason for any panic attack to last longer than that. This left me with two things:

  1. A raging, untreated panic disorder.
  2. A diagnosis of anxiety.

Getting diagnosed with anxiety is a curse in its own right, particularly if you’re medically female. Women’s pain is often ignored as it is, particularly for black women. If you have a history of anxiety and depression, it is downright impressive how many medical conditions it’ll get blamed for. (Like the time I was given SSRIs to treat a symptomatic hemangioma. Fun!)