When I moved into my current house, it gave me a gift.
Twinkling behind the flapping office-style blinds was a piece of aragonite. I recognised the mineral from my childhood gem-collecting days, from the piece that my sister beat me to once in a holiday souvenir shop, a shiny prize that I was jealous of for years. But then we grew up, and I held onto my collection of precious objects, with their associations and mystery, while my sister passed hers on to me.
So here I am, probably at least a decade on, now with two pieces of the coveted aragonite. The child within is very smug.
It’s not the most satisfying object to hold — it’s rough and clumsy — but its many jutting surfaces catch the light like Katie’s rainbow maker, holding it for a second in its surface, only to let it move on, reappear elsewhere. It teases the light like a child.
And like a child I want it to mean something. I don’t want it to be aragonite,
‘a carbonate mineral, one of the two common, naturally occurring, crystal forms of calcium carbonate, CaCO3.’
I want it to be magically discovered and rare. I want it to give me secret powers. I want it to be a little bit dangerous.
And of course, some people do believe in the power of crystals. Flicking through the last issue of my favourite magazine Oh Comely, I discover that aragonite is associated with flexibility and tolerance. I value both qualities, but struggle to see how they are reflected in this glittering crystal. They seem too ordinary, too necessary to everyday existence to be evoked by something as seemingly magical as this.
Dissatisfied, I return to Wikipedia and look for another meaning, but all I learn is its practical usage, that it provides much of the materials for marine life and can keep the pH of water close to its natural level.
I find another site that refers to aragonite as a ‘balance of energies’. I wonder if this links to its pH stabilising properties, if the physical has become linked to the spiritual. If the crystal can keep water at its natural level, perhaps it can keep humans functioning levelly too.
I can’t help being a little sceptical.
And so my childhood self has clearly moved on. I used to clutch a laminated sheet explaining the meanings of different gem stones, as I admired my collection through a magnifying glass. I used to wonder how best I could use the power of these stones to combat my small, childhood tribulations. Now I cannot take any of these badly formatted crystal healing sites seriously. I have grown cynical.
Or perhaps it is just that I have grown up. I have more control over my life than ever. No longer do I need the power of a shining crystal to navigate life. I have developed the abilities to (just about) survive without them.
But sometimes it is nice to believe, to put a little faith in an inanimate object, to put less pressure on yourself, and instead trust in the strange workings of the world.