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Crystal healing
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How Gen Z’s obsession with crystals and spirituality will continue to influence city life in 2022

Covid chaos has seen a surge in demand for alt healing – ready to get your witch on?

Chiara Wilkinson
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Chiara Wilkinson
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‘In lockdown, people were banging on our shop door, desperate for sage to cleanse their homes,’ says Branca Geffin, owner of Mysteries crystal shop in Covent Garden, London. ‘Each week, there’s another thing they’ll come running in for. It’s really dependent on what social media is pushing at the time.’

From rose quartz and amethyst to black tourmaline and moldavite, the popularity of crystal healing has skyrocketed in the past year. The #crystaltok trend on TikTok – with videos of people showing off their semi-precious stones and sharing success stories – has more than two billion views and counting.

Adele held a crystal while singing on her 2016 comeback tour to help her get over her stage fright. Other celebrities, like Kendall Jenner, Simon Cowell and Years and Years singer Olly Alexander (allegedly a regular customer at Mysteries), also use crystals, helping to catapult them into the mainstream. Major auction houses like Christie’s treat their investment status as similar to fine art. Even Wall Street brokers have been known to carry around stones to attract wealth and success. Yep, everyone has gone wild for rocks. 

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While it might seem a bit hippy dippy, the hype around crystals and alternative wellbeing is real – especially among Gen Z and millennials. Although there’s little science to back up their effectiveness, the theory is that certain minerals can rebalance your body’s magnetic field, helping to ease out negativity and provide qualities like focus and mental clarity. Fair enough – since the pandemic turned the entire world upside down, it’s hard to blame folk for wanting some sort of grounding.  

‘People are looking for some calm, because they’ve been so discombobulated with the whole lockdown,’ says Geffin, who couldn’t believe the surging popularity of crystals since the pandemic. Mysteries was founded in 1982 as the first esoteric New Age shop in Europe, also offering psychic readings in tarot, palmistry and astrology. Now, it’s one of four shops within five minutes walking distance, and one of an estimated 50-plus in London – and that’s not even including healing practices. 

Reeya Avani
Photograph: Reeya Avani

‘The popularity is growing at a rapid rate, and crossing boundaries even I wouldn’t have thought would be crossed that quickly,’ says Reeya Avani, a reiki and crystal healer based in Mayfair in London. Avani helps her clients – including singers, CEOs, lawyers, doctors and full-time mums – to deal with issues like anxiety, stress and low self-esteem. Her crystal healing sessions start at £125 for two hours, during which she selects crystals specific to a client’s energy, places them on various focal points of the body (otherwise known as your chakras), and provides detailed feedback. ‘A few years back, the run-up to Christmas would usually slow down for me, but this year I’m fully booked all the way up to Christmas,’ she says. 

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Business is booming, but the crystal craze doesn’t come without its costs. Extracted from the earth in mines around the world, rocks are non-renewable and unsustainable. Mining threatens the destruction of the rainforest in countries like Madagascar and reduces biodiversity. Mine workers are subject to exploitative conditions for minimal pay, and even with ‘ethically sourced’ stones like the ones in Mysteries, it’s difficult to regulate the supply chain. No matter how pretty they might be, a shiny slice of agate comes with a high trade-off.  

But crystals aren’t the only alternative wellness options out there. Sonia Anderson is a sound, cacao and energy healer, who leads workshops and classes at The Refinery yoga studio in Hackney. ‘I’ve been a healer for seven years, and it’s definitely become more popular,’ Anderson says. ‘There’s a real need for it in London because it’s so chaotic. People are wanting to look after themselves better and create more of a balance in their life.’

The Refinery
Sonia at the Refinery. Photograph: The Refinery

Using instruments like gongs, Tibetan bowls and shamanic drums, sound healing works in a similar way that music helps to improve our mood – just on a deeper level. ‘The vibrations are communicating with your organs,’ Anderson says. ‘It allows you to connect with yourself and go into different conscious states, helping with relaxation and letting go of stress.’ 

It’s unsurprising, then, that alternative wellness has worked its way into the travel industry – with classes, workshops, retreats and spiritual therapies offered as relaxing holiday activities. The Mandrake hotel in Fitzrovia, London, offers a whole programme, including gong bathing, crystal bowl meditation and a workshop in ‘activating your ancestral DNA for healing and manifesting’. Now that sounds interesting.

With the easing of pandemic restrictions seeing a return to jam-packed calendars, part of the massive appeal of these events is down to them ticking lots of boxes – with the line between wellness, entertainment and non-religious spirituality becoming blurrier and blurrier.

And even if you’re not up to date with the latest trending rock on TikTok, or couldn’t give a shit about what celebrities carry in their handbags, in 2022, alternative wellness is only going to get bigger. 

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