There are a number of stones in the gemstone trade that are referred to as crystals, when they really aren’t. Some, like art glass, don’t have a crystalline structure. Others might be mineraloids, which also lack a crystalline structure. All of this is to say that a fair amount of “crystals” aren’t really crystals at all.
With that out of the way, let’s look at Andara crystals. These are often brightly colored, very fancy-looking clear stones that are purported to have a ton of healing and metaphysical properties (and fetch correspondingly high prices). But what are they, and why are they controversial?
What are Andara crystals?
Andara crystals are said to be natural glass which comes from a handful of specific sites in northern California and Nevada, which are the foci of particularly high-energy vortices. These crystals come in every shade of the rainbow, and fans say that they can heal, balance the chakras, raise vibrations, and more. Some even claim that they’re the philosopher’s stone of legend, or an ancient healing tool used in Atlantis.
These stones are said to contain etherium, which is a blend of 70 different minerals. Some are listed as monatomic, which refers to substances made up of elements that naturally exist as a single atom.
Okay, so why are they controversial?
Andara crystals are controversial for a few reasons. For one, they’re not crystals. They’re a type of glass.
For two, they’re not natural (as in, formed by nature). Andara crystal deposits correspond to land dumps of slag glass from manufacturing. They look like slag, and their chemical composition correlates to soda lime glass, of the type used to make bottles. It doesn’t resemble other forms of natural glass, like obsidian or moldavite. The chart in this post gives a pretty thorough breakdown.
The funny thing is that some sellers extol the virtues of Andara crystal and claim that part of its specialness lies in its dissimilarity to other natural glasses. Yes, of course it’s not similar to them — because it’s soda lime glass.
Selling Andara crystals as a natural product is a bit like selling beach glass and claiming it was formed by nature. It may have been shaped and influenced by it, but it’s a man-made material at its heart.
The controversy doesn’t like in Andara crystal’s man-made origins, however — it’s because it’s literally a manufacturing byproduct. Chunks of slag glass get dug up, cleaned off, labeled with a lot of healing and metaphysical properties, then sold for sometimes hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This has caused trouble with not only buyers, but also dealers. When you’re selling something indistinguishable from a chunk of broken bottle, it becomes a race against “counterfeiters.” (I use “counterfeiters” here because the counterfeits are, again, indistinguishable from the alleged genuine articles.) This has led to dealers claiming that their glass is the only true Andara crystal, and dealers selling specimens back and forth to each other — accompanied by certificates of authenticity.
The Emperor’s New Crystal
Is it bad to use a man-made material for metaphysical, spiritual, or even energetic healing purposes? Not necessarily. I honestly love the idea of using slag glass this way, because it removes manufacturing waste from the environment and gives it a second life.
(A crystal — any crystal — isn’t going to take the place of the services of a competent medical professional. If you need insulin or to have a tumor removed, there is no stone that will make that not be the case anymore. I’ve used crystals to get relief alongside conventional treatment and complementary therapies, but I’m not out here trying to cure pseudotumor cerebri by rubbing rocks on my head.)
But here’s where we get into what I think of as the Barmicide Feast of crystals — or, if you prefer, the Emperor’s New Crystal.
It’s true that developing your own personal associations is important for any magical or spiritual tool. I have stones I work with that I love, but other people don’t get anything from. Other people have crystals or herbs that they love, but I get nothing from. These relationships shift and evolve over time, and that’s good and fine.
Unfortunately, some proponents of Andara crystal have used this as a selling point in a way that’s, frankly, kind of gross. They attach long lists of metaphysical attributes to this glass, then claim that only the special and spiritually evolved can feel or access them. If you see the slag for what it is — slag — then you need to get on their level.
The biggest problem here is that they’re exploiting a grain of truth to build up the cachet of a manufacturing byproduct in order to charge exorbitant amounts of money for it. They’re not wrong when they say that not everyone can experience the energy of a stone — even glass. The shitty part comes from using this exclusionary tactic to get money from people who want to be part of the in-group. Vulnerable people who want to feel that special energy, to feel elevated and included, and are willing to pay for it.
The underlying message is that when you compliment the Emperor’s gorgeous robes and rave about Barmicide’s pistachio-fed lamb cutlets, you, too, can be spiritually evolved.
Again, the shady part isn’t using (or even selling) soda lime glass as a magical or spiritual tool. The shady part is overcharging for a common, inexpensive material.
If you have and use Andara glass, that’s wonderful. My only advice here is, if you feel drawn to it, use this as a starting point to unpack your relationship with crystals. What’s different about that soda glass versus other materials that are around you? If it’s its place of origin, consider visiting this energy vortex and experiencing it for yourself — you might find a piece of regular quartz or some other mineral that gives you just as much, but you won’t have to overpay for it. If it’s the metaphysical claims and the experience of buying the stone from a dealer, then that may be something worth exploring further.