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Cristal Mines

Updated on February 24, 2011

Quartz Crystals in Bonsecour, Quebec

My hands are deep in slimy, stinking, gray clay while my already bleeding fingertips trace hidden geometric shapes that formed tens, if not hundreds of millions of years ago.  Grasping one of the larger shafts and wiggling it back and forth like a loose tooth, I pull out a quartz crystal the size of a quart milk carton.

Although I have a natural affinity for finding crystals, this particular pocket had been saved for me.  I’m at Cristal Mines in Bonsecour, Quebec and this particular “vug” had been exposed, but not yet explored.  The water level in the pitifully small quarry had been reduced to its present levels by pumps during the past few days and this relatively small pocket exposed.  I’m simply in the right place at the right time, plus the courtesy of the mine owner in allowing me to be the first. 

The white veins of quartz that run through the grey rock of southern Quebec are nothing new for me.  In 1988 I spent a long day following a quartz vein that had been exposed by blasting a road cut for Route 55 south of Sherbrooke.  Fourteen feet from sunlight, in a shaft so narrow that I couldn’t turn my head, I found a pocket of quartz crystals packed in gray glacial clay.  I brought out thousands that day, hundreds still packed in clay that I filled by bucket loads. 

It has been said that the miracle of a mouse is the same as that for an elephant, except the pachyderm has greater impact.  Pulling out one giant crystal after another is not the same as scooping out hundreds of pinky-sized ones.  Much like with the crystal singers in the science-fiction novels by Anne McCaffrey, these large geometric forms seem transmit a vibration that penetrates my very bones. 

I’m a professional gemologist and amateur mineralogist (aka “rockhound”) so don’t let me get all healey feeley here, but metaphysical is simply a boundary that keeps getting repositioned in relation to physical sciences and quantum theory.  Do gemstones heal?  I hesitate to use the word “heal,” but we certainly know that they modify energy and have applied that aspect of quartz crystals to radio transmissions and the regulation of timepieces.  Energy passing through a crystal is invariably altered, but that’s an intellectual perspective and doesn’t apply when I’m elbow-deep in clay with my fingers tracing geometric shapes.

The original owner of this site simply dynamited the broad white vein and crushed the rock into the white pebbles so prized as driveway surfacing leading to pseudo mansions throughout the province.  After he died of cancer a local farmer took over the property in 1964.  During the next fifteen years, the farmer and his sons would occasionally tackle the vein with sledgehammers and crossbars to extract fantastic crystals that now grace museums around the world. From 1979 to 89 it lay dormant until Gaudry Norman and his wife Pauline arrived and purchased the property.

Gaudry shows me the museum. The giant, mostly gem-quality smokey quartz crystal from Brazil was just one of many exquisite specimens on display.  Besides specimens acquired through trades with miners and collectors around the world, showcase after showcase features spectacular clusters and single terminations of crystal quartz extracted from the “vugs” in the unusually large vein that actually runs under the museum structure.  Most major natural science museums in the world would be jealous of this collection.

Upstairs I’m shown an extensive collection of “singing bowls.”  Especially made from pure quartz silica, these large frosted glass mixing bowls pitched to exact notes are arrayed on two tables. Gently tapping them with a finger or barely scratching the rough outer surface with a fingernail elicits tonal vibrations of a purity I had never heard in any instrument. These particular bowls are actually used as instruments for performing concerts as well as aids in meditation.  Hmmm.

I leave the big crystals with Gaudry: it’s where they belong (and they’re quite valuable).  Yet, I don’t depart empty handed. I have an iron-stained, but flawless, crystal that my fingers found in the deep gray mud; a crystal that had spent millions of years in the depths of the earth and which I brought to the light of day.  Something pure that only I have touched, and whether this means that my physical energy has altered it, or that it has altered mine, is a philosophical question I leave to others.  It’s coming home with me.


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    • Yard of nature profile image

      Yard of nature 7 years ago from Michigan

      Nicely done.