Episode 266 – The One Where We Make The Woo Crystal Clear

In This Week’s Show, episode 266, we dig up the crystal gems in Madagascar to bleed them for their healing fluids!

In This Week’s Show, episode 266, we dig up the crystal gems in Madagascar to bleed them for their healing fluids!

Now, grab a beer and help us test the god hypothesis — because, while White Diamond hasn’t struck us down yet, we are trying her patience!

Shea’s Life Lesson

This week I learned that Die Hard wasn’t originally a Christmas movie. The script was actually changed by Constantine in 336 to align it with the Sol Invictus festival.

Jenn’s Actual Lesson

Stomach died, thanks Obama…

But before we get to all that, let’s have a beer!

This Week’s Beer

Devilito – Gruner Brothers Brewing

Donated By: Lonely Wyo

  • BA Link: https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/54696/385607/
  • BA Rating: Not enough Data?? Untapped rating of 3.81/5
  • Style: Belgian Strong Golden Ale
  • ABV: 8.3%
  • Aaron: 4
  • Shea: 3
  • Steve: 3

This Week’s Show

Round Table

Round table this week is a bit sparse but you can help us out on that front by leaving an iTunes review or a voicemail at 513-760-0463. Of course, we extra love having new patrons at patreon.com/w4w!

You’ll get longer cuts of each show – this week that means a quiz from Shea – and free episodes of our sister show 4 More Beers!

We did get a few messages.

Willow let us know that Black Sabbath wrote a song about fairies. So go get that stuck in your head.

We also heard from those who know that Allisan Hanigan isn’t kept under the Fool Us stage.

And finally, don’t forget that you can make Shea learn a lesson if you make a donation to WyoAIDS.org! So cache in on those sweet, sweet Yeti lessons.

Patreon Story

Crystal Conundrum Cwiz

Quartz has been on Earth since the beginning of time and ancient civilizations have used crystals as protective talismans, peace offerings, and jewelry. Today, quartz makes up 20% of the Earth’s crust and is used in almost every kind of technology, including time keeping, electronics, information storage, and more. With such a versatile and useful material, it’s no wonder some people think it has more metaphysical properties.

From stage right enters, Marcel Joseph Vogel, a research scientist with IBM in the mid 20th century. Vogel made many scientific breakthroughs with luminescence, magnetics, and liquid crystal systems. At his funeral in 1991, a colleague was quoted saying “He made his mark because of the brilliance of his mind, his prolific ideas, and his seemingly limitless creativity.” This was a very smart man.

Later in life, Vogel turned his attention to a study of subtle energies in plants, humans and crystals. Even going so far as claiming to have reproduced the “Backster effect” using plants as transducers for bio-energetic fields from the human mind, showing that they respond to human thought.  While watching crystals grow under a microscope, he noticed that their shape took the form of whatever he was thinking about, so he claimed. He hypothesized that these vibrations are the result of the constant assembling and disassembling of bonds between molecules. He also tested the metaphysical power of quartz crystal and proved that rocks can store thoughts similar to how tapes use magnetic energy to record sound, seems sound.

With these basic unfounded theories that many now construct as fact we have grown our fake knowledge to include many different types of crystals that all have unique healing and restorative effects. Today I’m going to test your connection to the crystals, so say a quick prayer to the skeksis, the lords of the crystal and lets see how you do. I’m going to introduce you to some crystals and give you a bit of info on them as well as their metaphysical healing properties and it will be up to you to tell me their physical healing properties, that they definitely, totally have.

We will start with an easy one, Crystal Quartz. Likely the most commonly known crystal, crystal quartz is seen as the window of light into the metaphysical world. This particular crystal contains the entire color spectrum, and can be used to amplify desires, prayers, and manifestations from the spirit world to the physical world. Meditate with crystal quartz and “program” the crystal with your intentions. You can then wear or carry your crystal with you to raise your vibration and increase the manifestations of your desires.

Physical healing properties: Crystal quartz is a master healer and is thought to stimulate the immune and circulatory systems, and increase the flow of qi energy in the body.

Aventurine: The Stone of Opportunity.

Known for amplifying luck, prosperity and abundance, aventurine is a good stone to take with you if you’re planning to gamble in Las Vegas. A variety of quartz, this stone attracts luck and assists in the successful application of new opportunities. Associated with the Heart Chakra, aventurine can create a sense of general well-being and emotional calm. It harmonizes the mental, physical and emotional bodies and reestablishes balance.

Physical healing properties: Aventurine is supportive of the heart, blood, and energy circulation, and can help speed up recovery time from an injury, illness, or surgery.

Tourmaline: The Grounding Stone

The prefered talisman of protection, tourmaline is used as a psychic shield to ground your energy and combat the entry of negative entities in your energy field. Long used by wizards, shamans, witches and magicians, tourmaline can be found on every continent. Although tourmaline is black as night, it can be used to ward off negative energies, raise your vibration, and usher you into the light. Black absorbs light, as this stone acts as a sponge for harmful or dark energies. It encourages you to remain radiant during dark times.

Physical healing properties: Use tourmaline to ease pain in the joints and to assist in realigning the spine. It can also be used to strengthen the immune system, heart and adrenal glands – easing stress and releasing tension.

Rose Quartz: The Love Stone

This beautiful pink quartz is associated with the heart and expressing unconditional love to self, others, and the planet. A wonderful stone to invite love, assist in giving love and even attract your soulmate, rose quartz is all about the heart.

Physical healing properties: Rose quartz can be used for deep emotional healing and release, and has been known to improve circulation and lower blood pressure. It can also be used to ease palpitations or skipped beats, and release tension.

Fluorite: The Stone of Positivity

This crystal is perhaps one of the most underrated but also one of the most powerful. This stone is known to quite literally suck negative energy from a space or your body,I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Found in multiple color variations, fluorite is a truly magical crystal. Used for auric protection, to raise your vibration, alchemize negative energy, and calming a chaotic mind. Rainbow fluorite is most known to stabilize the mind and amplify psychic connection and heighten intuitive powers.

Physical healing properties: This dynamic stone can be used when studying to clear the mind and sharpen focus. It can also be used to alleviate inflammation in the body, dissipate cold symptoms, and can be healing for the mucous membrane as well. Like your butt hole.

Lapis Lazuli: The Stone of Truth

This beautiful, blue crystal is one of the most vibrant, ancient, and sought after on earth. It has long been associated with royalty and luxury, and its celestial properties assist those in the physical realm with wisdom and good judgement. Lapis Lazuli activates the ethereal upper chakras and empowers the Throat Chakra for clear communication and ease of expressing one’s ideas.

Physical healing properties: Use this powerful stone to support and help heal the throat, larynx, and vocal cords. Due to its strong ties to the brain, it is believed to ease Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) by helping the mind to focus and let go of unnecessary thoughts.

Amazonite: Stone of Courage

Amazonite calms the spirit and soothes the soul with its cool greenish color. This stone empowers you to seek and express your inner truth with courage and conviction, without being overly emotional. Used to balance and cleanse the chakras, amazonite can soothe emotional trauma stored in the body and help prevent the manifestation of this trauma into a physical illness.

Physical healing properties: Typically used for general well-being, amazonite is beneficial to the entire body. Use it more specifically to to soothe rashes, clear acne, and prevent infection to wounds.

Moonstone: The Stabilizer

Deeply linked to the feminine and the moon, moonstone is a perfect stone to gracefully create harmony within and strengthen intuition. It was the stone of Gods and Goddesses in ancient India. Moonstone can open you up to other worlds and the universe at large. It can also be used to combat materialism and manage the ego.

Physical healing properties: Moonstone can be used to aid the pituitary gland and digestive system, obesity, water retention, hormonal problems, menstrual problems.

Healing Crystals

Yes, those. But no, we’re not going to talk about what they do… much.

While browsing the internet for stories I found an article on the Guardian (and a few follow ups) that’s right up our collective alley. And so, I present the real cost of healing crystals.

So, every February in Tuscon there’s a massive rock sale. Suddenly the town is covered in stalls and traders looking to unload chip crystals and incredibly valuable rare earth materials. All of in one place. Apparently, it’s the largest such expo in the world. More than 4000 crystal, mineral and gemstone vendors will settle in to hawk their shit to an estimated 50,000 customers.

Crystals bought here, often by the tonne, will be sold to gallerias and head shops alike the world over.

In the last 10 years the market for crystals has gone from the barely existent hobbies and industrial market to a multi-billion dollar trade servicing social-media driven, aesthetically pleasing, cosmic health juggernaut. And there’s no end in sight. In 2017, the New York Times heralded “the great crystal boom” and in 2018 Hello! described them as the year’s biggest health and wellness trend.

Crystals are everywhere. You can get lamps, facial massagers that are really just little rollie tools – it’s amazingly dumb – to sex toys. Of course there are things like the vagina eggs GOOP sells dumb women. But she’s not the only problem, Kim Kardashian touts crystal healing power and Miranda Kerr has said she filters all her skincare products through rose quartz “to give the vibration of self love.”

Raw stone quartz import to the United States has doubled since 2014.

But… why?

Credulous people think crystals are magic because they live in a gilded age of medical intervention that affords idiots the ability to forget that polio was a thing.

The idea is that crystals have special vibrational frequencies that can act like radio towers and channel signals to the user. Good signals probably. Not sure why anyone would want to channel not-good signals, but I’m sure that’s out there too.

First notably pushed in the 70’s modern alternative medicine and spiritualism has pushed a resurgence in crystal woo. From the article”

According to Pew Research Center data, more than 60% of US adults hold at least one “new age” belief, such as placing faith in astrology or the power of psychics, and 42% think spiritual energy can be located in physical objects such as crystals. Not surprisingly, then, scientific criticism of crystal healing has done little to dim demand. Last year, Paltrow faced (and settled) a misleading advertising lawsuit for claiming that Goop’s vaginal egg crystals had the power to balance hormones and regulate menstrual cycles.

Despite their massive growth very little regulation has followed. Unlike precious stones like diamonds or gold there is still virtually no chain of custody requirements for nonsense stones. Making problems like conflict crystals a real bitch.

“Mining has an environmental impact, whether it’s for ‘healing crystals’, the copper in your phone, or the gold in your ring,” explains Payal Sampat of nonprofit organisation Earthworks. “‘Healing crystals’ are mined in places like Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo where mineral extraction is linked to severe human-rights violations and environmental harm.”

We’re going to move over the DRC and only briefly touch on Myanmar.

Let’s go to Madagascar.

It’s more than a fun movie about talking animals. It’s a poor ass country sitting on a mountain of worthless gemstones like rose quartz, amethyst, tourmaline, labradorite, ocean jasper – it’s actually the only place this is found – and Garnet… Ok, no that last one.

Now, thanks to the rampant, capitalist stupidity GOOPers it’s basically the low-budget, diet-coke version of Wakanda.

Of course, Gwyn isn’t the only one making a killing on cheap rocks.  International NGO Global Witness found that the Taliban earns up to $20m a year from Afghanistan’s lapis mines. Lapis lazuli is desired because, apparently, it’s one of the best stones for activating psychic abilities.

Gems and metal exports were the country’s fastest-growing exports in 2017, up 170% from 2016. Which translates into about $109 million for the country equivalent of single-ply.

Their export now puts a country of 25 million on crystal-trading terms with India, Brazil and China. But until India, Brazil and China, Madagascar’s labor-standards board is super sub-par.

See, more than 80% of Madagascar’s gem export is “artisanal,” which is to say dug up by small groups and families, without any regulation, and criminally low profit margins.

To talk about those families, I need to introduce some truly difficult to pronounce places so first, a slightly uncharacteristic acknowledgment that I’m really gonna fuck this up, and this time, it’s not entirely for comedic effect.

There are a collective of villages called Anjoma Ramartina. It’s a few day’s drive from Madagascar’s capital of Antananrive and it’s a bloody fucking mess.

The territory is a patchwork of “red zones,” or places where travel is strongly discouraged because they’re considered “unpolicable.” The villages deal with a fair amount of riding, pillaging, and so forth by local gangs called dahalo, and with no Mandalorians to go all Seven Samurai on their asses, it’s a bad scene.

Most homes in the villages have no power or running water. Hunger is a constant. According to World Bank about 80% of those in rural Madagascar living below the $1.90/day poverty line. Approximately half of parents in Anjoma Ramartina have lost at least one infant to illness or hunger. All this despite living atop one of the richest rose quartz deposits in the world.

The villages have an estimated population of around 10,000 people, eight of whom work in the mines. A handful of men die every year because of land slides or other mining accidents.

Those are the lucky ones.

Many find that working in the mines comes home with them. Despite the protestations of stupid celebrities and woo-hawking charities, rose quartz isn’t fucking good for you. Especially when working conditions grind it to dust that inflames the lungs and often leads to cancer and silicosis.

Luckily there weren’t any of those damn socialist government agencies or labor standards so children often work the mines. Zooming back out from the villages to Madagascar as a whole, about 85,000 children are working in crystal mines.

Because crystals are common the world-over, but especially in places like Madagascar, mining for them is often a matter of chance. People find crystals in river beds or by digging randomly then setup mines where the find the best crop. The mines are often improvised, temporary, and their precise locations can often be kept secret. Which is especially a problem when your home-made mine engineering falls the fuck apart and buries your ass.

You should read the article in full, it talks more about the people who the reporter met. Small mine owners… their widows. They sell the raw crystals at the ports and from there, who knows. They’ll earn about 23cents a kilo – or 17cents/k for poorer quality stones – which is about 800 Ariary, or the value of a cup of rice. Luckily they’re hauling 200 kilo stones… if only a few of them.

Many of the mines are open air but depending on the area they are small tunnels. Think of a well that someone dug, crawled into, and then began digging out from. Like a root system seeking crystals, just barely big enough for 14-year-olds to hunch down into and you’ll get the idea.

“When it’s too long they can have difficulty breathing, so they come out,” Jean Baptiste said, back at the top of the well. Above ground, the boys’ mother, Odette, sat working alongside two generations of children, the youngest a fat-cheeked six-month-old girl. Odette sifted through the dirt, searching for a rock shaped differently from the rest: the small, wine-red and green crystal, tourmaline. “Sometimes we go months without finding any,” she said.

To leave Anjoma Ramartina most stones go through Madagascar Specimens. They export around 65 tonnes of carved crystal a year. They make the stupid shit you see in cheap catalogs or celebrity web-stores. Quartz wands, ruby hearts, etc.

The owner of Madagascar Specimens, Liva Marc Rahdriaharisoa explains of the quartz massage wands

“These are very popular.” Then another box of rose quartz hearts: “Some of our best sellers,” he said. “Crystals are the most popular stones now – many customers are looking for it, because – I’m not sure of the English – the medicine with crystals is very popular now. Like therapy, the belief that crystals have healing power, you know? It’s very – how do you say? – trendy.”

The gem and mineral expo in Tucson was a key point in Liva Marc’s year.

“That is where you’re looking for customers,” he said. “You see all customers from around the world: Chinese, Japanese, New Zealand, Australian. It is the biggest market in the world. We go there to exhibit, to sell, but most important is to find customers there.”

Of the back and forth he said

“It’s like two galaxies,” he said, grinning and shaking his head. “It’s a big difference. If I say to people at the mine what Tuscon is like, they will never understand. And if I say to the Tucson people to come here, they will never understand. It’s very different worlds.”

From his perspective he’s creating jobs here to cut the stones and making sure at least some of the money get back to Madagascar.

“Maybe they [shops in the US] don’t explain it to their customers. It’s business for them, they want money. They will never say: ‘I buy this for $1 and I sell to you for $1,000’,” he laughed, “but that’s the reality.”

And so Madagascar is drained of another resource. The island was a source of slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. A source of rosewood and gold for the French not long after. And so it’s been until today, when mining not only strips the country of another commodity, but the rainforest as well.

Meanwhile companies like Glacce, who sell Luxury Spiritual water with crystals in it are fast at work smudging burnt sage and prayers into the crystals they bought in Tuscan. The companies quartz bottles and straws transform water in “crystal elixir” don’cha know. It was Vanity Fair’s 2018 Status Symbol — retailing for 60–100$ at GOOP.

The crystals that Glacce uses are, according to them, ethically sourced. See, the pay a Chinese middle-man to select only the best, not-soaked-in-the-blood-of-children, crystals.

Julia Schoen, co-founder of Glacce says:

“In an industry that has not been so regulated and maybe hasn’t had so many eyeballs on it, there are obviously practices that most people who are purchasing crystals would not want to know about,” Schoen acknowledged. “You know, at the end of the day it’s like, our intentions are – ” she paused. “I think we’re clear what our intentions are.”

On the open market the problem of miner conditions are … less legalese in defense.

Bajoras, a seller, was confident his stones had healing power.

After all, he said, if uranium could kill you, why shouldn’t lithium quartz be able to help cure your depression? And when you broke it down to an elemental level, he said, people are mostly minerals and water anyway. “You’re hydrated mineral powder,” he told me. “You are! You’re like Kool-Aid.”

While talking with the reporter a young woman in a maxi skirt and headscarf approached and paid $30 for a carnelian. A stone of empowerment that, according to Bajoras, was good for women.

“I think I need it, it was just calling to me and I couldn’t walk away,” the woman said. “I don’t need a bag, I’ll just carry it.”

Of course, this is just one location. Jade mining in Myanmar is basically the countries only major export and globally, the largest and damn near only jade exporter. The jade trade is a 31 billion dollar market, but the country sees little of the profit, and what they do get is primarily funneled into gorilla warfare. Any real profits are kept by the companies who export, hone, and sell the gems. The Myanmar jade trade is as bad as African conflict diamonds were, perhaps worse, but the market is narrow and so publicity is as well.

Next Week’s Beer

Summadayz – Darwin Brewing Co.

Donated By: Travis

Happy Ending

Faith comes to us from Big Gay Jim today.


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