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Roger Weller, geology instructor

Metaphysical Properties
by Alexandria Reynolds
Physical Geology
Fall 2014

The Metaphysical Properties of Rocks

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines metaphysical as “of or relating to the transcendent or to a reality beyond what is perceptible to the senses”. Essentially, I’m going to be telling you about magic rocks. I’ll be telling you about the history of the subject, discussing a few examples of rocks and their perceived metaphysical properties, and also talk about the legitimacy of the subject in today’s world.

“It’s my lucky rock!” – A Brief History

Let me try to explain the motivation behind these beliefs, though there are several. I’ll start with what’s probably the most relatable. Chances are that somewhere, you have some item you hold precious, right? You might seek this item out sometimes, because you feel it does something for you. Not physically, necessarily, but it might make you feel comforted, happy, secure… We can only theorize, but that may have been the thought process that caused people to start collecting stones and attributing things to them.

People have been doing this for a very long time. In fact, it was the ancient Sumerians who started attempting to use the rocks to affect the body. They used it for things ranging from jewelry, amulets for graves, cosmetics, even “magic formulas”.

The Greeks were responsible for naming the metaphysical properties of many rocks and gems, most notably amethyst. Amethyst is believed to prevent drunkenness, and that is exactly what its name implies. The name comes from a pair of Ancient Greek words that mean “not drunk”. Of course, the stone was used in the prevention of drunkenness and hangovers alike.

Sounds a lot like magic, right? Well, let me give a few more examples, to show you just how powerful people believe these stones to be.



Magic Rocks

(Yes, this black lump is supposed to be magical.) —Image courtesy of R. Weller/Cochise College

Fantastic, isn’t it? You wouldn’t think so from looking at it, but this thing that looks like it belongs in a charcoal grill is actually supposed to remove negativity from your life. It is a variety of obsidian, called Apache Tears, which turns from opaque to translucent when held up to a light source.

It receives its supposed metaphysical properties from its name, as well as the story behind it. The story says that there existed a certain Apache tribe, who made multiple raids on an Arizona settlement. Those they were raiding decided to hunt them down, succeeded in tracking them back to their homes, and attacked at dawn. Most of the Apache men were killed. The rest killed themselves, rather than die at the hands of their opponent. This left the women of the tribe; they cried so much that their deity, the Great Father, sealed their tears inside obsidian.

The story is important in describing how the metaphysical properties of the stone work, as well. It is believed to appease the grieving because the Apache women cried in the stead of the owner of the stone.  It sounds pretty difficult to believe, right? Well, this next rock is even more unbelievable.



(Oh how pretty and… lead-containing?) —Image courtesy of R. Weller/Cochise College

Let me ask you: what do you think that pretty pink-ish rock is supposed to do? Make you feel loved? No. Does it cure self-consciousness? Definitely not. How about making you feel calm? That’s closer, but it’s not the primary purpose.

This crystal, Anglesite, is supposed to facilitate communication with the dead. Like some sort of crystalline phone line to the underworld. Supposedly, you could use this rock to communicate with creatures on any plane of existence other than this one.

Oh, one small little caveat, though. While you’re busy communing with the dead or a creature in some other universe, you could be giving yourself heavy-metal poisoning. This pretty crystal medium contains lead!

This last stone isn’t quite as dangerous, but it still has a pretty cool trick up its sleeve.


(Now this looks special, right?)—Image courtesy of R. Weller/Cochise College

This lovely little gem is called Alexandrite, and it can do something that neither of the other stones can do: it can change color. In natural lighting, the stone will remain its natural green-ish color. When viewed under artificial light, the stone appears red in hue. This change in color contributes to the belief that the stone will allow its owner (or wearer) to fearlessly handle change.

Alexandrite is also believed to accomplish a variety of other tasks. In addition to its change-related powers, it is also said to do things such as giving luck in love, aiding regeneration, and helping with self-esteem.

“People believe this!” – Modern Beliefs

Now, while the author tries very hard to stay neutral on this topic, people are very divided in their beliefs regarding the metaphysical. On the one hand, most people dismiss the whole idea as superstitious babble. There is, truly, little to no scientific evidence that supports the idea that rocks can have an effect on the human mind and body. Their standpoint makes sense: you can’t prove it, so it’s nonsense.

The viewpoint of those that believe it seems a lot more complicated, however. For some, it borders on an almost religious stance. The idea of crystal healing would in fact be entirely religious, if not for the one aspect of it that has yet to be proven or disproven. Those that use crystals for the sake of healing have a theory: that crystals, rocks, and gems put off a vibrational frequency (or “energy”) which resonates with parts or the whole of the human body. Some claim that it is not so different from ultrasound or infrared use in medicine. Unfortunately, very few studies have been done at all, so it will likely never be anything more than an interesting theory.

Yet whether or not it is believed to be effective in healing physical ailments, crystal healing is sometimes used alongside traditional medical treatments because it relaxes the patient. Like anything unproven, it is not recommended to use crystal healing as the sole treatment for disease. All the same, it can turn a simple piece of jewelry into a fantastic conversation starter.

Works Cited


Apache Tears-