In her latest book, ‘Crystal Alchemy, A Practical Guide to Crystal Therapy’, Shirley O’Donoghue shares her 30 years of experience using crystals to promote self-healing and personal and spiritual development. Lotus caught up with Shirley to hear more about her own journey with crystal therapy, how it works and why she believes everybody should have a crystal in their home.
How did you come to crystal therapy?
I first took a one-day a week job in a shop that sold crystals purely serendipitously. That was more than 30 years ago – at the time I had three children under three, and my working life to that point had been spent mostly in recruitment. I had no experience of crystals, and certainly no belief in crystal healing. But I remember vividly the day that all changed. It was raining, and the shop was quiet. I took a clear quartz crystal in my hands, and closed my eyes – I could feel it buzzing. I put the clear quartz down and picked up a rose quartz. Again, I felt a buzzing – but this one felt different. At this point I realised the connection I had with the crystals; I could pick up a crystal, close my eyes, and identify it by the vibrations I felt.
Looking back, it feels like the universe put the rest in motion from that point. I trained in various complementary therapies and after a period of teaching went on to establish Lucis College – a holistic therapy school teaching FHT accredited courses in crystal healing, reiki and flower and vibrational essences. That was 28 years ago, and we are still going strong!
I am very conscious of the cliched view of crystals and energy-based therapies as being something flaky, best confined to hippy cultures. But my own experience working with crystals is very different (and a big reason I have worked so hard to get all my courses accredited; to validate them beyond this).
What are your favourite crystals?
There’s not really a straightforward answer to that! While a lot of people will work with charts and tables to guide their crystal choice – this crystal is good for such and such, that crystal is best used for that – I think that is too simplified. I personally believe that crystals are as individual to a moment or situation as they are the person. The way I work with crystals, and how I guide others to use them, is much more fluid and dynamic.
Okay, so let’s reword that. What crystals are you using at the moment?
As I’m talking to you I’m drinking from a flask of water with a shungite crystal in it; shungite – a Russian crystal – is popular at the moment as it is believed to help protect against the EMF field created by mobile phones and the internet. I am also working with net jasper (sometimes called spider-web jasper because of the web-like patterns on the surface of the crystal) for tuning in and channelling. Amongst my favourites are amethyst, clear quartz and rose quartz. These are very commonly used crystals and ones I often recommend people start off with. They tick lots of boxes!
How do you select crystals for crystal therapy?
In my book I talk in detail about the link between colour and crystals, the chakra system and ‘auras’, all of which are really integral to understanding crystal therapy. Aura pictures for example, are fascinating. These are photos of your body’s electromagnetic field (aura) created with a high-tech biofeedback imaging camera which highlight imbalances of the body, mind or spirit – where energy is lethargic, where it is more dynamic, and so on. Crystals also have an electromagnetic energy field and so introducing a crystal influences the aura: introducing a red crystal in a blue energy field, for example, will turn the aura purple. Similarly a red crystal in a yellow field will turn it orange.
Having said that, I would recommend to anybody that you go to a crystal shop and explore the crystals yourself. See where your eye is drawn, touch them, hold them, and notice if you can feel an energy between your hands (often referred to as a ‘chi ball’). Imagine them like batteries with an energy field. You may not feel anything initially in which case don’t force it – attunement is something that only comes with time, experience, and patience!
How might crystals be integrated with other complementary therapies?
A lot of therapists will have crystals in their treatment rooms. Rose quartz, representing unconditional love, is always a popular choice for this – other than being a lovely crystal it is easy to buy and not too expensive. Crystals lend themselves beautifully to massage and reiki and can be used over or directly on the body (you can buy crystals specifically shaped for massage), depending on a client’s needs. A crystal of the lower chakras such as amethyst may be chosen for its grounding properties, for example, or you might choose a coloured crystal which works with the colour of the chakra you want to focus on.
What sort of results do you see with crystal therapy?
Crystal healing is subtle, yet I have witnessed changes in many hundreds of people I have introduced to them. And these are people from all walks of life – I even saw it in a group of ‘Prolific and Persistant Offenders’ I worked with. Not your typical candidates for crystal therapy! Over time I see perspectives change, I see people with a greater sense of purpose, I see them moving on from jobs or relationships they are not happy with. We find strength in enhanced connection to ourselves and crystals support that. I encourage everyone to introduce crystals to their home; rose quartz in the bedroom, a jar of crystals in the lounge, a tiger’s eye for focus by your desk. You will be intrinsically drawn to them – trust me!
Shirley O’Donoghue is the Principal of Lucis College, is a therapist, author and lecturer for the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT). She has been teaching energy-based complementary therapies for over 25 years and has written numerous courses accredited by the FHT, the Open College Network and the Complementary Therapists Association (CThA).