“You are drawn to the one you need,” says the crystal healer Azalea Lee at the end of another summer in Los Angeles. Everything is in retrograde, and the variety of soothsayers is exceeded only by the number of patients coming to them, but Lee is reluctant to recommend a crystal to cure a malady — preferring to let her clients find their own. “We have spent our whole lives trusting other people’s authority,” explains Lee about using crystals for healing. “It’s the same with intuition: I want to help people see that they know more.”
Lee’s quiet, airy Place 8 Healing sits nine floors above downtown Los Angeles’s fashion district and reflects her spare, serene sensibility. On custom marble furniture and in glass vitrines are careful arrangements of mineral specimens — from the palest purple labradorites to torso-size clusters of clear spikes — that Lee, who has worked with Tilda Swinton and Roman Coppola, is “fostering” until the right person shows up. “Everything in this world is a vibration, including you,” says Lee, a former wardrobe stylist, who wears a small chip on her earlobe of benitoite, the state gem of California. (On a trip, Lee sifted the stone out of a pile of dirt and “figured out what I was supposed to be doing.”) What we consider the individual self is “one collective harmonic” with notes that can be “bumped out of groove,” she explains of crystal energy healing, adding that while none of this is scientifically validated, she thinks often about metrics in her chosen profession, and the challenge of measuring experiences we can barely describe, like love.
In this framework, crystals, with their “distinct and simplified vibration,” act as a “tuning fork,” and Lee says that the way certain rocks “glow a little bit more or dance a little bit more or radiate” around people can also help her “backwards figure out what a stone is about.” Each year, pockets of minerals surface and are never found again, she explains, their inconsistency making them difficult for larger companies to market. But “they are coming out at the precise moment that the world needs this thing,” Lee says, describing crystals that change color in response to where they are in the world. This month, Lee launched a modern take on metaphysical jewelry, As Above So Below, which includes one-of-a-kind pieces like a “piezoelectric” tourmaline that she says will keep you connected to the earth even when walking on “concrete streets or driving on endless freeways,” and a blue sapphire ring with the slightest ombré, coming to a clear point, for “taking the esotericism and organizing it into words and concepts that make sense.”
For a recent crystal healing session, Lee arranged dozens of rocks on my torso. I fidgeted; they fell off. “Go to a place where you feel safe,” Lee intoned, but I could not think of one. She raced around trying new stone combinations and eventually, with her prodding, I had a vision — and I said out loud, with embarrassing confidence, that I had found a lake of ideas, full and deep, that I’d forgotten was inside me. Afterward, Lee laid out the crystals that elicited the most “significant reactions”: some brilliantly colored, connected to self-esteem and letting go, and an unremarkable-looking brown-banded agate. I reached first for the agate and Lee, delighted, had me hold it up to the window. This rock, too, has a secret pocket of water — trapped inside when the stone hardened around it — a tiny wave visible only against a light. “Your fears are not my fears,” Lee says, of the “shamanic” process of choosing a crystal. “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have to deal with negative stuff, even if it’s just from themselves.” (She confides that energy healers are known to gain weight as they get deeper into their practice, the added “density” balancing their intense spiritual focus on others.)
For T, Lee offers five crystal types that she finds especially relevant to modern ailments, like jet lag and pending deadlines.
One of the stones Lee most often uses in private crystal healing sessions, this “triangularly stacked manganoan calcite from China helps people learn how to receive love.” Lee says. “From those who have difficulty accepting compliments to singles who feel romantically marginalized, manganoan calcite works to dispel the false belief that others are more important and deserve more love than oneself.” She adds that the stone is especially suited for mothers who give attention but who may feel guilty letting themselves be taken care of.
“A wonderful stone for those dealing with low self-esteem and self-worth,” prehinite “gently encourages self-confidence in one’s being,” says Lee, who applies it to work and relationships. “Prehinite works with understanding how these negative feelings are preventing one from creating what one wants most in their life. It also helps those who are in recovery from addictions gain encouragement in believing in themselves.”
“For helping manifest projects from conception into full physical reality,” Lee recommends trying pyrite, which comes in many different crystal forms including this natural cubic version only found in Spain. “As the cube is the most stable form in the physical universe, this form of pyrite is ideal for those who are working to manifest complete discrete projects with a definite beginning and end,” Lee says. “It is an ideal crystal to keep at the computer at your desk to help one follow through and complete those work projects on deadline.”
Composed of petrified mud, these stones from Quebec were used by the native Algonquin Indians as talismans of protection for their homes, Lee says. “The stones do exude a feeling of safety, relaxation and comfort, which is exactly what you want a home to feel like. Because these stones give such beautiful emanations of safety and coziness, they can also be specifically used as baby soul homing devices for those seeking to have a child.”
“If I could choose the number one stone everybody could use, this would be it,” Lee says, noting that city dwellers with “modern technological lives” can often use extra “grounding” energy from the iron-rich mineral. “If you think of your own blood, a major component is iron,” and it’s also the earth’s core, its “root chakra,” Lee says. Hematite can be used to reorient “sleep patterns that are disrupted by jet lag. It is also is amazing for helping maintain strong energetic boundaries from others’ thoughts and feelings,” and for “getting one’s head out of the clouds into the moment right now so that one may apply real, practical solutions to life.”