The Mysteries of Spirituality


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

Caroline Schaffer and Sydnie Howard

This previously ran in our October 2021 print issue.

Fall is the season of haunted houses, horror movies, pumpkins, and all things eerie. The mysterious perception of tarot cards, crystals, and astrology seem to form a witchy aesthetic that many connect with Halloween. For some, though, such practices are a part of their daily lives, and not just for the season.

Even though the world tends to associate tarot cards and crystals with evilness and fraud, many who incorporate such practices into their lives do so for their personal growth, or to help guide others. Tarot readings are often done to help people through their own spirituality and typically not as much about predicting the future. To many, crystals appear to be just a pretty rock, while to others it is a tool for divination, meditation, healing, and mental health.

Despite society’s concept of the tarot, crystals, and astrology practices, they all have roots in history from around the world. Tarot cards originated in Italy during the fifteenth century when the cards were created merely for the use of an Italian game named Tarrochi, called Tarot in France. Then in the eighteenth century, the cards ultimately became more than just a game.

A tarot deck overall holds 78 cards, with 56 cards as the minor arcana, representative of daily events, divided into four suits with 14 cards in each. Every tarot deck is different in naming each suit of minor arcana, such as wands, batons, rods, cups, hearts, swords, coins, pentacles, or diamonds. The other 22 cards are the major arcana, known as the tarot’s trump cards that represent archetypes we carry within ourselves. Each deck is unique with its art and themes, having pictures, symbols, and paintings on each individual card. While each deck becomes special to its owner, many choose to accompany their practice with crystals.

Throughout history, crystals have been valued highly in religions and cultures around the world. Crystals have been incorporated into jewelry, especially in royalty, for hundreds of years. While they have been appreciated for their beauty, crystals have also been honored for healing properties throughout history. Today, many people just associate crystals with their beauty, while some choose to utilize them for their energies.

In 2014, Danyel Harrison, owner of Handmade Mystic in Emmaus, started her business online and just opened her shop in Emmaus in May 2021. Although she now runs an in-person shop, she still continues her Etsy shop online.

“Handmade Mystic basically is my handmade items involving healing crystals,” Harrison said. “And I was always an artist, but when I was intrigued by the crystals, I kind of incorporated that into my art style. So before I started making the healing jewelry, because I was so intrigued with the crystals, I actually was painting.”

Harrison first got into crystals about 10 years ago when she went to a metaphysical shop.

“I walked up to [the crystals] and I actually picked up the one I was drawn to, and I felt tingling in my fingers. And it was very intriguing,” Harrison said. “So I did my own research about them and learned about the vibrations of crystals. I was hooked on it, because it was amazing that I actually felt the energy of the crystals.”

Although Harrison has built herself a crystal business, crystals aren’t the only thing she incorporates into her life. At the age of 13, Harrison had her first tarot reading done, which turned out accurate now at the age of 39.

“It was very accurate. I was young, so I was naive to a lot of things,” Harrison said. “So I specifically remember certain cards that were pulled because I was a little intimidated. But now that I look back at the situation, I had a lot of things going on and a lot of things changing in my life at that point. It totally makes sense now.”

Despite the fact that many people view the word “witch” negatively, Harrison has found that social media has popularized the term and helped the reputation of witches, even though many do not understand it completely.

“Witch can be many different things,” Harrison said. “To some people, it can be their religion. It can be, you know, Halloween, or it can be something that you practice as a lifestyle, but then that comes into terms with [religion]. You can be a witch, and not Wiccan or pagan. Or you can just consider yourself a witch and not have anything to do with that. And there’s a lot more to it than lighting a candle and pulling a tarot card.”

The stigma and negative stereotypes surrounding the word “witch” have dated back to the Salem Witch Trials, and since then, the world’s unconscious view of witches has never been the same.

Andres Marangos, a senior at Emmaus, acknowledges the two popularized meanings of “witch,” and its effects on people who practice tarot and crystals as a part of their everyday lives.

“There’s one meaning that’s like women empowerment,” said Marangos. “Then another thing I think of is the horrific acts that were committed on women who were accused of being witches. But as long as their practices aren’t harming anyone, who cares?”

For those who integrate such practices into their lives, there will likely always be people who harshly criticize and judge. Harrison, as an owner of a crystal shop, has had many great experiences in her business, while acknowledging the uncooperative attitude of some.

“I did have a woman come in [who] was questioning my religion and if I believed in God, and how this works its way into the Bible or not, [when] they actually do mention crystals in the Bible,” said Harrison. “I’m open to any kind of questions because I really want people to be open-minded and [I want to] inform people about the healing properties of crystals because it is a proven fact that crystals vibrate and they have a frequency and they are healing. So I did have that [encounter], but it wasn’t so much negative. I think it was more inquisitive, but it was kind of defensive at first.”

When faced with people who are quick to judge, Harrison finds it to be most beneficial to kindly explain her viewpoints rather than get defensive in return.

“Whether you believe you know, it heals back pain, or you know, better sleep or it’s going to help you find the love in your life is up to you,” Harrison said.

Many topics within westernized spirituality today come from many religions in the East and Middle-East, such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Topics like karma, meditation, yoga, and astrology, are just a few topics that come from such religions.

As for religions, Harrison has studied a variety of religions and chooses to not confine herself to one in particular.

“I’m more of a spiritual person, because I have studied a lot [of religions] like Buddhism and paganism. And I was brought up Christian, so I kind of pull from each one a little bit what resonates with my soul,” Harrison said. “I don’t like labels too much, so I’m pretty much open. I’m always open-minded to different opinions and different religions.”

Like Harrison, Cam Blews, Emmaus  junior, enjoys learning about many different religions and cultures that he finds interesting.

“In terms of most things that deal with culture and religion, I come from a heavily mixed background,” Blews said. “My parents and all my relatives have never forced me to stick to a religion, even if I was born a Catholic. They’ve always encouraged me to explore outside of the box, telling me to ‘find what you think you may believe in, even if it isn’t Judaism or Catholicism.’ So with that being said, I’ve always had an interest and will always pick up a book on anything I find with religion or culture that is interesting and I want to learn more about it.”

Astrology, another idea that has become vastly popularized through social media, is the interpretation and forecasting of events in somebody’s life based on the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars at the date and time they were born. According to Western tropical astrology, there are 12 signs starting with Aries and ending with Pisces that each correspond with specific dates. For example, each year between Sept. 23 and Oct. 22, it is Libra season, meaning those born within these dates fall under the Libra sign. In Vedic astrology, a Hindu-based system, astrology charts are calculated using sidereal, which looks closer at changing constellations and is found to be more accurate.

Blews’ interest was first sparked with astrology when he was young through films and books. While he finds astrology to be intriguing, along with many others, he believes that judging someone based on astrology is not okay.

“As someone who loves learning about different religions and cultures, I think it’s cool that people have different beliefs in astrology and crystals and stuff no matter how people view them,” Blews said. “I feel you should never judge a person based on their star sign just like you would never judge a person nowadays based on their religion, and I think people should do their own research in these topics and find more about different cultures and things before being so quick to judge others.”

The Halloween season only enhances these practices and beliefs for those who utilize them in their lifestyle. Because no matter how you identify or where you align your beliefs; tarot, crystals, and astrology have gotten people through the most troubling parts of their lives and allowed them to feel at peace with themselves and the world around them. Whether you use these practices for fun, guidance, clarity, therapy, helping others, or helping yourself, each person forms an intimate and unique connection with what they value most. It is an ideology to which Harrison would agree

“And I like to tell people, so whether you believe crystals have energy or not, the earth made them. So that alone in itself is beautiful,” Harrison said.