I have been an fan of quartz for years because it has many beautiful forms but I never even gave a second thought as to its function in the geological process. It turns out it is not just a pretty face! Silicon dioxide lays dormant until a volcanic event blasts fumes of super hot gases. The crystals form quickly with the introduction of heat and pressure making a screen of sorts to vent and regulate the outburst. It moderates the flow of heat and pressure by forming a permeable barrier that vents the outburst through the interlaced “fingers” of quartz. Beauty and function combined! Nature sure comes up with wonderful ways to stay in balance!
I have known about the fossil remains of Ammonites since I was a child but I only recently came to understand that they are more closely related to Octopus than snails. They died out at the same time as the dinosaurs but they swam through the oceans propelled by squirting water through the individual chambers of their shells with their tentacles sticking out the front! First appearing about 400 million years ago they dominated the seas from 240 million years ago to 65 million years ago. some varieties grew up to 6.5 feet across in size and they swam all over the globe. They were first named Ammonites ( or Ammonaidea) by Pliny the Elder in about 79 AD because they looked like the horns of the Egyptian god Ammon. In the middle ages in England they were deemed to be positive evidence that Saint Patrick had turned the snakes into stone and were called Serpent Stones. There were many types and varieties, some with spines and some uncurled in form. Pretty cool, huh!
Apophyllite has me in thrall. It is tetragonal in crystal form so it forms natural four sided pyramids that look like they have mirrors reflecting in all directions. It has a sparkling brilliance that is pure and soft. Three of the Apophyllites in the picture are stalactites from Jalgaon, India. Can you imagine standing in a cave where these are hanging from the ceiling?! They look like rock candy from heaven! They are calcium based silicates that can be clear, green or pink and the metaphysical crowd say they put you in touch with the angelic realm. Just looking at their sparkly beauty is calming and delightful. In a world where there is a lot of negative energy floating around it is nice to have these benevolent spirits around to lift the mood!
Recently I met some of the few people who is crazy enough to hang off a rope with a pick and a hammer and mine quartz and pyrite from the Cascade mountains. Their efforts are worth it, as you can see by the pictures of things I bought for the shop. Rick Dillhoff and Joe George both obviously enjoy what they do, it is truly a labor of love! Access is difficult, crystals are pointy and cliffs are dangerous. But the claim they have has come up with some of the brightest Pyrite I have ever seen and the crystals are remarkable and wonderful! They come from the Green Ridge above the middle fork in the Snoqualmie River in King County, Washington. They also find Amethyst intermixed with the quartz and the crystal forms often are twinned or scepters. I am amazed by the miners care and handling, gently removing these pieces from the matrix, often there is only a very thin base for the clusters you can see light through. Each piece has to be wrapped and packed away immediately, as there is no place to set things without danger of them rolling off the cliff side, taken down the mountain by backpack to be cleaned and sorted. Wow!
Actinolite is from the Wenatchee Ridge, and many people from the area recognize it when they see it in the shop with it’s long thin crystals of olive green. I have not been to Lake Wenatchee, but it is there in small pieces on the lake shore for rock hounds to pick up along the way!
Love, love, love those local rocks!
Today I am celebrating one of my favorite crystal formations. It is a type of Calcite that comes only from one mine in Carthage, Tennessee, The Elmwood Mine. I found my first one at the Westward Look Mineral Show in Tucson, Arizona several years ago and have been collecting them ever since! This picture does not do the clarity of the crystal justice, but it is a good indication of it’s color and this is a nice big one! They call them Stellar Beams because they look so much like space ships! They grow in opposite directions at the same time, producing a very symmetrical specimen that radiates harmony and warmth. This one is from an old collection and has “afterburners” on one end and a sharp, single termination on the other. Just lovely!
I have a new batch of Enhyro quartz crystals that have been keeping me busy. They are crystals that have water trapped in them during their growth process that has been there since they were formed, perhaps thousands or millions of years ago. Looking at the bubbles, and sometimes floating minerals inside the natural structure of the crystal is mesmerizing and can keep me busy for hours! There is something wonderful about a stone that has moving things inside it! One of my books says they symbolize the collective unconscious that underlies and unites everything. And they are just cool!
These pictures are a random sampling of new things I am excited about: Kyanite, triangle growth patterns on a citrine, beautiful purple Fluorite, Prehnite and grape agate, Actinolite from Wenatchee, Washington, and a very velvety Fluorite with Muscovite cluster from Pakistan. What wonders the world holds!
My love of the natural world has inspired me to share a unique collection of minerals and crystals I have collected with those who visit the shop. People have a natural attraction to beautiful things that the earth has made. The beauty that is hidden in the earth helps us connect with the planet and the universe at large. It soothes the soul to see the beauty that comes from the natural order of an unfolding universe. My misson is to educate, delight and inspire others with samplings of beautiful and interesting objects from the natural world. Oh, and you can buy stuff, too!