New red Order The Last of the Lemurians (detail), installation view, Centre Clark, Montréal, 2021.
Photo : Jean-Michael Seminaro, courtesy of the artists

Mine, Mine, Mine, Heal, Heal, Heal

Kate Whiteway
After Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint in a Paris hotel room in 2016, she recovered from the trauma by surrounding herself with healing crystals. Kardashian, who has recently joined the billionaires list, lost USD 10 million in diamond and gold jewellery that night. Several people were charged, calling to mind the work of the international jewel thief network the Pink Panthers. “Honestly, after my Paris situation,” she said, “a lot of my friends would come over and bring me healing crystals,… I started to really dig deeper into what they meant and the meanings behind them and started to go to these crystal warehouses in Culver City and downtown [L.A.]”1 1 - Abby Gardner, “Kim Kardashian Says Crystals Helped Her Recover From Her Paris Robbery,” Glamour (website), November 2017, accessible online. The crystal industry is a multibillion-dollar appendage of the global wellness industry, which, in 2019, was valued at USD 4.2 trillion.2 2 - Eva Wiseman, “Are crystals the new blood diamonds?” The Guardian (website), 16 June 2019, accessible online. Crystals became popular in the United States in the 1970s as part of the broad range of practices known as the New Age movement, and sales today correspond to a resurgence in alternative spirituality and self-care markets propagated mainly through social media platforms.

In North America, most crystals are mined by individual hobbyists, rockhounds, and tourists at mine-your-own-gem businesses set up near abandoned industrial mines in the Rocky Mountains.3 3 - Stephen Robert Miller, “American anxiety drives a crystal boom: ‘People are looking for healing,’” The Guardian (website), 31 October 2020, accessible online. Prospectors read the landscape for sudden changes in colour, tracking any glittering that might lead to a crystal vein. Regulations guarding environmental and labour standards act as a deterrent to North American demand for crystals. Therefore, the majority of crystals sold in the United States and Canada are mined elsewhere. That insidious elsewhere.

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This article also appears in the issue 105 - New New Age

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