For quite a lot of people Madagascar is a cute animated film about a bunch of animals made in 2005. Many of them have no idea where Madagascar is. In the case of small children this is understandable as they probably think it is another made-up place like Arandelle in that other cute animated film, Frozen. And even many of the adults who know that it is the fourth largest island in the world, located off the east coast of Africa possibly think of it only as an interesting tourist destination with lots of unusual flora and fauna.
It’s also the source of a lot of crystals, rose quartz and the like, which are believed by a surprisingly large number of people to have healing qualities. The reasoning seems to go that if contact with uranium can make you seriously ill then contact with other substances can heal you. I have a few friends who are logical and intelligent in all sorts of areas of their life but who maintain this belief in the benefits of having crystals around you. Which is fine. If you want to believe that a highly polished piece of mineral is going to improve your life, then that is your privileged right. You could put the money you spend on crystals towards helping the homeless, for example, but that’s another matter.
The fact is that in Madagascar a large percentage of the crystals are hacked out of the ground by people who are paid a pittance to do so. As well as risking being crushed under landslides when the unstable ground gets wet, they breathe in mineral dust which causes silicosis and lung cancer. It puts your complaints about working conditions into perspective, doesn’t it?
Some of those pulling crystal hunks from the ground are the age of my 14-year-old grandson or younger. My grandson spends his spare time playing games on his X-box. The difference even a small amount of privilege makes!
And a crystal worth a few cents at the point of being pulled from the earth, goes up and up in value as it is polished and cleverly marketed. For far away from the crystal mines people use the crystals to sort their life out. As Kim Kardashian was recovering from her robbery at gunpoint in 2016, she embraced healing crystals. The model Miranda Kerr has said that she filters all her skincare products through rose quartz “to give the vibration of self-love”. At least Kim Kardashian still had funds to buy expensive healing crystals. And quite how you filter your skincare products through rose quartz remains one of life’s mysteries to me.
Some of the people selling crystal products do have a conscience and want their crystals to be ethically-sourced. Julia Schoen, for example, of the crystal drink bottle company Glacce, apparently regards ethical sourcing as “the No 1 priority” but I wonder how aware she is of the child labour involved in obtaining the crystals which will be “blessed” by her staff who burn sage smudge sticks over them and pray to cleanse them before using them. It’s a lot easier to get into the hocus pocus than into checking the validity of assurances that nobody was exploited.
So think about it if you feel a piece of polished crystal calling you to purchase it or if you are tempted to buy a water bottle or a metal straw embedded with rose quartz, amethyst and other crystals, which are supposed to transform ordinary water into a “crystal elixir”, where the water takes on the healing properties of the crystal!
One of the crystal sellers in he USA interviewed for this article expressed the belief that the circumstances of miners in Madagascar, “makes the pieces a lot more special. Because I know some person in a little baby hut was actually polishing it by hand, and they’re setting their intentions into it, too. People’s intentions and people’s energy are put into the stones as they’re producing it.”
“So the circumstances they’re mined in, they are embedded into the stone somehow?” the journalist asked.
“I think so. A little bit, it has to be. It has to be.”
There’s a hint of magic realism about this, rather like in Laura Esquivel’s novel “Like Water for Chocolate” where the emotions of the cook get into the food prepared - food prepared with love tastes better, we all know that! And suffering makes the crystal more powerful?