Age of Eleven Gateway Courses
Class 2: How Do Crystals Form?
The Formation of Crystals
A crystal is as a natural, solid body with a geometrically regular shape and a consistent molecular structure.
The three main factors in the formation of minerals are pressure, heat, and the speed of cooling. The same source substances (in liquid magma) may lead to very different final forms, depending on where and how the mineral cooled.
The healing properties of minerals and all other types of stone are related to their manner of origin, their inner structure, their mineral elements, and their colors.
This is the cycle of crystal/rock formation:
–First: Magma: Creation. Produces Igneous rocks and Primary Minerals.
–Second: Weathering: Change. Produces Sedimentary rocks and Secondary Minerals.
–Third: Metamorphosis: The Transformation of existing Primary and Secondary Minerals into something new, sometimes through the dissolution of these existing rocks back into magma to re-start the cycle.
Our human lives undergo very similar processes as rocks and minerals. First we are created and born, then we grow and change according to our environment, and as we mature we evolve and transform.
As above, so below, right? So just as the big planetary rocks in the heavens are an astrological macrocosm of our lives, the rocks below us in the earth are a microcosm of our lives.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Step 1: CREATION – Igneous Rocks and Primary Minerals
Deep beneath the earth’s crust is magma, also known as molten rock. It’s liquid, in constant flux and is HOT, like thousands of degrees. The movement of magma is part of what creates earthquakes and tremors, mountains (the plates squishing together), and continental drift (the plates moving apart).
Magma is the potential from which all minerals and rocks can be formed. Magma is different everywhere, which is why certain minerals are only found in certain parts of the world.
When cracks in the earth’s crust open up way down to the magma (about 20+ miles below the earth’s surface), the magma rises up due to pressure from the earth’s core.
Sometimes the magma explodes through the earth’s crust, as in volcanic eruptions. Sometimes the magma doesn’t quite reach the surface, but cools somewhere below the earth’s crust and solidifies. This is from whence igneous minerals and rocks come.
As it cools, the different substances in the magma phase out. If the end, solidified product consists of one homogenous type of matter, it is a mineral. If the end product is a mixture of several minerals, it is rock. In summary: a mineral is one kind of substance. A rock is a mixture of substances.
How A Mineral or Rock Becomes a Crystal
Now, crystallization is the next process. The main factors in crystallization are pressure, heat, space, and time.
Hot lava that reaches earth’s surface and cools within hours or days obviously doesn’t have a chance to crystallize. Obsidian is an example of volcanic lava which quickly cooled. Magma that cooled within the earth over tens of thousands to millions of years obviously gets the ‘chance’ to crystallize.
The story of magma and igneous minerals and rocks is the process of creating primary minerals.
Examples of igneous rocks and primary minerals: quartz, agate, tourmaline…
Step 2: CHANGE – Secondary Rocks and Sedimentary Minerals
We started deep within the earth; now we’re at the surface dealing with secondary minerals.
Rocks that are on the earth’s surface undergo a next type of change; the influence of the weather: the sun and rain, heat and cold, frost and wind.
The biggest example we can clearly visualize are mountains, which are formed over millions of years by magma moving the earth’s plates together. At the surface of the mountain, weathering elements such as wind, surface water (like rivers), or rainwater become environmental influences. Water transports minerals and rocks and deposits them in various places to create sedimentary rocks.
A few examples of sedimentary rocks: calcite, selenite (gypsum), pyrite, and boji stones.
The water carries oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acids. It penetrates cracks and crevices and begins to dissolve rock and release mineral-forming elements.
A few examples of sedimentary minerals: malachite, chrysocolla, and turquoise.
Remember that a rock is multiple types of minerals, and a mineral is a homogenous substance. Elemental minerals like copper and silver form through a process called “reduction,” which still involves water moving the minerals but breaking them down and making them simpler.
The theme of sedimentary formation is about changing and dissolving through environmental influences.
Step 3: TRANSFORMATION – Metamorphic Rocks and Tertiary Minerals
Metamorphic rocks and minerals comprise the third type of minerals. This takes us to middle ground– not the depths of magma nor the earth’s surface, but the lower part of the earth’s crust.
Again, magma is always moving and churning deep within the earth. Metamorphosis is the transformation of an existing rock’s shape and appearance under extreme pressure and heat without it becoming molten. Tertiary minerals are formed when that which cannot withstand the heat and pressure is changed into a new form from the inside out.
Sometimes, the pressure of moving magma causes certain substances have to “save space,” so some substances end up being “squeezed out” of a mineral. Sometimes, different types of rock that are close to one another become “squeezed together” and form new minerals.
Examples of some metamorphic rocks are kyanite, garnet, jade, nephrite, serpentine, tiger iron and zoisite.
In summary, metamorphosis is the transformation of existing rock under the influence of heat and pressure in the interior of Earth. Rock is not melted down, but undergoes alterations in its structure and mineral content. It takes on different shapes/appearances, but the transformation happens from the inside out.
Metamorphosis subjects the rock to severe testing. Only that which is impermeable to pressure and heat will be retained.
Now that we know about HOW crystals form, in the next Crystals 101 session, we will learn about how crystals are classified.
My king and I create fabulous energetic metaphysical jewelry and tools using natural materials, including crystals that we’ve mined ourselves! The collection is called Crystal Pyramid Metaphysics, and you can peruse our offerings as well as natural raw and tumbled crystals and gemstones at www.AgeOfEleven.com.