Smoky quartz gets the short end of the stick in most gem guidebooks, in my opinion.
“It’s great for grounding!” They say, “And it filters negative energy, so you have to cleanse it a lot.”
Which… Okay, that’s all well and good, but there are so many stones that do those things already. Seriously. You’d be hard pressed to find a gem that doesn’t “aid with grounding”.
Fortunately for me, while I have respect for traditional gnosis, I am very much of the develop-your-personal-associations school of witchcraft. Guidebooks about stones, herbs, colors, and other magick correspondences are a useful jumping off point, but not everyone can expect their experiences to mesh with them.
That said, let’s talk about smoky quartz.
What is it?
Smoky quartz is a variety of quartz. Instead of being colorless, it is a grayish-brown to black color. Despite their color, they are often still just as transparent as regular clear quartz.
Both smoky and clear quartz are crystals of silicon dioxide, and form under the same conditions. The only difference is that, at some point during its existence, smoky quartz ends up naturally irradiated by nearby radioactive stones or the inclusion of radioactive minerals in its matrix. Over a long period of time, this radiation converts some of the silicon dioxide to free silicon and gives the crystals their characteristic dark color.
Where is it found?
Smoky quartz can be found anywhere in the world. Some of the best known deposits are in Scotland (like the crystals found in the Cairngorm mountains) and Australia (particularly in Mooralla).
What do you do with it?
If I was only able to use one stone for the rest of my days, it would be smoky quartz. I use it for virtually everything. The deep, mysterious smoky color captures my imagination more than its clear counterpart does. It evokes the smell of damp bark and moss, leaf litter underfoot, and a constant, restful sense of growth and wisdom. Unlike many other Earth-associated things, it has a “lightness” to it that I find very pleasant to work with. I particularly love it combined with rutilated quartz– it offers the best attributes of both stones.
Some people tout smoky quartz’s properties as a money-drawing talisman. I haven’t gotten that feeling from any of the stones I’ve worked with, but your mileage may vary.
As a word of caution, though I’ve found this stone to be relatively peaceful, it certainly isn’t gentle. Smoky quartz can drag up some pretty intense feelings when you begin working with it.
What about its other associations?
Element: Earth, some sources say Fire.
Herbs: Cedar, cypress, ivy, oakmoss.
Astrological signs: Some sources say “all of them”. Others say Sagittarius, Scorpio, and Capricorn. Others say Sagittarius and Libra.
How do I care for it?
Smoky quartz should be cleansed pretty often. I don’t really know much about its tendency to need cleansing more than any other stone, just because I use mine so often that they get cleansed all the time anyway. Whatever you do, do not cleanse smoky quartz in sunlight. Like with rose quartz, amethyst, and other colored varieties of quartz, sunlight can cause them to fade with long or repeated exposure. Instead, try:
- Burying in the earth for a period of time. Make sure you do this in a basket or flower pot and mark the spot well so you don’t lose your stones.
- Fumigating. Burn the cleansing herbs or incense of your choice, and hold them over the smoke.
- Burying in salt. Quartz is pretty durable and, unless you’re dealing with a fragile cluster with a matrix of unknown composition, should be fine with salt cleansing.
- Running under water. Try to avoid using tap water (unless it’s filtered), and, as with salt cleansing, be careful with clusters.
- Cleansing with sound. I’m a noisy witch. A lot of my practice involves using sound, and it’s one of my favorite ways to cleanse anything.
How can I spot fakes?
As with any stone, beware of fakes– good quality smoky quartz is not outrageously expensive as a rule, but very inexpensive specimens should be viewed with suspicion. It’s virtually impossible to guarantee that a stone is genuine without a laboratory analysis, but there are a couple of ways to determine if you’re dealing with a completely faked stone or a clear quartz that’s been artificially treated to give it a dark, smoky color. To wit:
- Quartz is harder than glass. A scratch test with a glass plate will help you determine if your smoky quartz is actual quartz, or glass. (Note: Don’t test it on the display counter of the shop you’re buying it from!)
- Quartz typically feels cooler to the touch than an equivalent quantity of glass.
- The presence of bubbles in a specimen usually indicates that it’s been melted down and formed in a mold, and is therefore not genuine.
- Genuine smoky quartz exhibits natural variations. A stone that’s consistently dark from end to end may have been dyed or artificially irradiated. Natural stones with very dark, even coloration typically fetch pretty high prices.
If you do come across a fake, don’t panic. This doesn’t mean your practice, your materials, and whatever results or feelings you’ve gotten from them are invalid. All it means is that you will have to trust your intuition and personal associations with it more, because you may not be able to expect it to behave the same way a natural smoky quartz would. That’s all!