August 2019 note: As of this year, I have actually begun taking expeditions and mining my own crystals, at quarry and on public and private land. I have harvested Herkimer Diamonds, Dolomite, Druvite, Lepidolite, Clear Quartz, Pyrite, Rose Quartz, and Labradorite. I have never before in my life felt so grateful for and connected to the Mineral Realm that is our Sacred and Most Ancient Ancestors. So, I will be re-examining this article with this experience in mind, at a later date, and will update this page with a link when that happens.
On my mind lately has been the subject of the ethics of crystal mining. Nature has always been my first and foremost teacher, and from a young age the mineral kingdom has been a mainstay in my study and fascination. I still remember my first crystal (Tiger’s Eye). One of my first toys was a rock tumbler. My crystals are at the front center of my altar, and I attribute much of what I have learned and have been able to accomplish for myself today to crystals and their vibrational assistance. It’s fairly safe to say that I’ll be using crystals or rocks until I leave this earthly plane. Yet, seeping into my mind have been some questions…
How ethical is it to blow apart the Earth’s most ancient, sacred spaces to re-distribute the crystals?
How much is Earth hurt by this, and are the practices sustainable?
Do the spirits of the land approve of the taking of the crystals?
Is our use of the crystals the right and true plan for the fate of the crystals?
Are the crystals conscious of how we use them?
if so, is this a consensual act? In all cases, or just some?
if not, is the process ethical, or can we make it so?
Can we be more ethical about our purchasing/acquisitions?
What are our intentions in acquiring crystals, as a human family and as individual crystal practitioners/collectors?
This is a vast topic, and one that is not often addressed in spiritual or pagan communities. With the exception of diamonds, most don’t consider the ethics of the acquisition of their crystals much at all. We can see this simply by the sheer size of the crystal industry in spiritual, pagan, new age, and esoteric communities. Those that do consider the ethics of crystal mining often take a “mine it yourself or know your miner” approach, but for casual practitioners (anyone besides those who already have an established professional life in crystals, and can manifest the resources, know-how, labor, time, and logistics to do so) this is quite impractical. Some common witchcraft resources, including in Wiccan and Druid communities, will flat-out condemn crystal collecting as essentially unethical due to its contribution to and/or co-dependence with massive destruction to the Earth.
This article will not be extensive enough to answer the questions we are posing, but is intended to bring up the issue as something to acknowledge, to present some varied arguments, provide further inquiry, and create a bridge for information.
The Google-able online written discourse on this issue is limited, but I found more relevant information in a few community discussions on youtube:
The Ethics of Buying and Mining Crystals: This is a short video and the current first google result for “ethics crystal mining.” At 1:10 she reads from a Wicca text by Kaatryn MacMorgan-Douglas that, although biased, gives a well-condensed primer of many elements of the reality of the crystal mining industry. 4:00, she goes back to her own commentary, providing insight as to how the information is relevant today and reinforcing the essential ethical question at hand.
Every Witch Way: An Interview with Hibiscus Moon of Hibiscus Moon Crystal Academy: A well-handled interview with a prominent video podcaster.
Hibiscus Moon conveys a lot of valuable information in this video interview. One of the more interesting points in the beginning of the video is that most of our metaphysical rocks are not mined specifically, but are by-products of industrial mining. She points out that, in consultation with geologists, that she has learned that the mining processes from which we acquire our metaphysical crystals are exclusively secondary – that is, the operations are to acquire industrial ore, and that our Quartzes and Amythests have never been the single subject of a mining project. Some other crystals that are direct by-products are Tourmaline, Turquoise, Malachite, Azurite, and Chrysocolla, all of which are found during copper mining (10:30 – 11:15). This is even more simple than it sounds, as she points out in her mention of the anecdote of the “Miner’s Lunchbox” – a crystal literally snatched up by miners during the normal course of their day (18:40-19:10).
Although her information and references seem sound, I question the applicability of this claim in all cases. For instance, Lapis Lazuli is mined specifically and with intent, without its mining being associated with ores or other stones. This is the case in Chile as well as Afghanistan, in which there are 6 Lapis Lazuli mines that have been excavated up to the past 6,000 years (Wikipedia, “Lapis Lazuli” and “Mining in Afghanistan”).
Without extensive and exhaustive research I cannot substantiate nor deny Hibiscus’ Moon’s claims as being generally valid. However, even assuming that what she says is so (with a few exceptions such as Lapis), this does not eliminate or excuse the environmental impact of the entire operation of crystal mining. It does, though assuage a fear that our secondary acquisition and actual use of the crystals are a direct cause of harm, or if they are, then arguably much less so than some of the other aspects of our daily contemporary technological existence, such as computers, gasoline, cell phones, and plastics.
Also notable is Hibiscus Moon’s point that shallow crystal-mining operations that involve the clearing of trees and carving into the ground rock is, in the long-term scheme, comparable to the effects of a natural event such as an earthquake – the natural systems re-establish in only a few years, and although crystals seem like a non-renewable Earth resource to us due to their life spans being much, much longer than ours, they are still being created in the Earth right now and will continue to be long after we as a species have disappeared or evolved into something else.
Finally, Hibiscus Moon advocates crystal collectors to acquire them through attending Gem Shows and purchasing Hand Mined Crystals from the folk that actually go out there and mine them.
These two vlogs alone present a wide range of issues and perspectives. As intentful and conscientious pagans, we seek to honor the importance of ethics, and the chain of effect created by our decisions. May this review of information help you in achieving the utmost of judicial examination of the issue at hand. Yet, we have not truly begun to consider the more spiritual questions, such as whether the Earth, the crystals themselves, or the spirits who protect the Earth (including various deities, the fae, etc) approve of or condone what is happening. Perhaps these are questions best left to an entry that is composed as a transcript of a channeled transmission, a treatise, ethical editorial, formal argument or otherwise opinionated mode.