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The Rise of Crystal Tok: an exploration of modern spiritual practice

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In an increasingly secular world, newer understandings of spirituality and faith have grown in popularity. Detailed guidance on the healing power of crystals and how to harness their energy can be found on TikTok, so much so that the term for this side of the app, ‘Crystal Tok’ is one of the top categories on the platform. It is becoming more of a normality for people to describe themselves as ‘spiritual’, taking part in practices that do not conform or belong to a set religion. Main practices include manifestation, affirmations, meditation, crystal work, astrology, incense burning, and tarot readings. Insight into such practices has been made accessible to everyday agnostics (non-religious individuals), atheists and even religious people who are interested in a realm of spirituality that is not affiliated with a religious group or church. Spiritual videos receive millions of views and creators gain thousands of followers, their content making up such a large chunk of the TikTok that it’s almost impossible not to find at least one ‘Crystal Tok’ video pop onto your ‘For You Page’, even if it is satirical.  

The rising popularity of all things crystal and spiritual led me to wonder where these spiritual practices originate from and whether they all derive from one belief system or religious background. The religion most prolific in its use of such spiritual practices is that of Wicca.  

According to Wicca Living, a website that provides information and guidance on the religion writes that:

“Wicca is a modern, Earth-centred religion with roots in the ancient practices of our shamanic ancestors. Its practitioners, who call themselves Wiccans, honour the life-giving and life-sustaining powers of Nature through ritual worship and a commitment to living in balance with the Earth. Wicca is technically classified as one of many Pagan religions, though not all Wiccans would identify as Pagans—and plenty who identify as Pagans are not Wiccans.” 

Wicca is classed as a modern religion, first introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1940s and 50s in England. Despite Gardner outlining the original core beliefs and practices, there is no main religious figure leading the religion. One of Wicca’s key principles is equality and mutual respect of all, and most Wiccans choose to practice alone. The reality of this quiet and independent practice contrasts the stereotypical ‘cult’ image that is often assumed about Wicca due to its Pagan influences. Before researching the religion, I felt the same wariness that many feel about the idea of rituals because of the connotations of Satanism (a separate religion following ideals and philosophies based on Satan) and devil worship (meaning exactly what the title suggests) surrounding such ceremonies. 

Wicca Living reassures us that:

“Wicca is not an “evil” religion, and there is no connection between Wicca and any sort of ‘devil worship.’ In fact, most Wiccans actively avoid harming others; they seek out peace in their daily lives and are focused on coexisting as harmoniously as possible with the world around them.”

Despite this being the case, Wicca inspired content attracts negativity without fail. Christian TikTok users head to the comment section to reject the messages conveyed in these spiritual videos, particularly those involving manifestation. The statements posted vary from “Jesus will return, put your faith in him!” to “You’re hell-bound”. Granted, practicing Wiccan involves ceremonial rituals which do go against the beliefs of the major denominational religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Therefore, Wicca is still often met with disapproval because of clashing religious beliefs and lack of knowledge and research.

“The deities of Wicca are the Goddess and the God, who are the feminine and masculine essences of the all-encompassing life force responsible for all of creation, including the cycles of life and death on Earth.” 

Wicca honours and worships the natural world, its chosen deities are not linked to anything sinister or satanist, rather they are completely tethered to the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the seasons. 

“Wicca bears little, if any, resemblance to the Wicca of the 1940s and 50s. Most Wiccans are solitary practitioners, who are not initiated into a specific tradition but rather borrow elements from various sources to create their own eclectic practice.”

Although the spiritual practices circulating TikTok are used heavily in Wicca, it turns out that the practices do not derive from Wicca itself. 

The first physical records of meditation originate from India, from Hindu Vendatism philosophy at approximately 1500 BC. Additional types of meditation were then recorded in Taoism practice in China and Buddhism in India. However, this evidence only marks when meditation first began being recorded, not when it first began as a practice or where it first originated from. 

Crystals were also used in ancient times, most notably in Egypt where crystals and gemstones were worn in jewellery and carved into amulets for healing, protection, and prosperity. The Ancient Greeks also associated qualities with crystals, wearing certain crystals to keep them safe at sea. They also used Hematite, a common iron ore made up of oxide crystals found in soil and rocks as war paint because of its red pigment when crushed up. This was believed to give them superior strength as warriors. Hematite was also used in cave paintings by early humans, so it’s fair to say that people have always had an affiliation with crystals. 

Interestingly, tarot cards were originally used as normal playing cards in 15th century Europe. It is believed to have been in the 18th century that tarot cards began to be used for divination purposes, which soon led to decks being created purposefully for occult practice. Now tarot cards are associated primarily with spirituality, fortune-telling and magic. It is unlikely that anyone would start shuffling a deck for a friendly game of cards these days. 

Manifestation refers to the focusing of thought towards a certain goal or state of mind. Manifesting takes many forms, but it is often exercised through oral or written repetition, vision boards and the claiming of positive or empowering ‘energies’. A consistent trend on TikTok has been the sharing of manifestation sounds, audio clips that if used over videos or listened to daily, supposedly accelerate the manifester towards reaching their desired outcome. There has been deliberation over the authenticity of these sounds, some swearing by them, others warning caution because of their power and others dismissing them entirely.  

Manifestation comes from the New Thought Movement which essentially held the belief that your mental state alters your reality and that our ideas are as real or even more real than our physical reality. From a psychological standpoint, goal setting is a great habit to adopt. A blog post on goal setting by a psychiatric counsellor, Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury explains:

“Studies have shown that when we train our mind to think about what we want in life and work towards reaching it, the brain automatically rewires itself to acquire the ideal self-image and makes it an essential part of our identity. If we achieve the goal, we achieve fulfilment, and if we don’t, our brain keeps nudging us until we achieve it.”

The reprogramming of thought and mindset is the core purpose of manifestation, and such aspirational motivation has been proven as psychologically beneficial. Chowdhury refers to a quote from Tony Robbins, a well renowned inspirational speaker, “Setting goals is the first step from turning the invisible to visible.” This is the essence of and supposed outcome of practicing manifestation in a spiritual sense, so contrary to popular belief, science and spirituality do seem to cross paths on this topic. 

Spirituality as seen on the TikTok app and other online sources and social media platforms likens that of a patchwork quilt of belief. Different practices from different time periods, countries, cultures and religions have been sewn together over time to create the spirituality scene we are so familiar with now. Through Crystal Tok, spirituality has captivated so many because of its fluidity and inclusive nature as a belief system. Spirituality appeals to those who have no set faith, those outcast for being themselves by other religions and generally people who seek comfort, clarity, and hope in an increasingly chaotic world (which let’s face it, includes many of us). The 60-second videos also serve as escapism for anyone religious or non-religious, spiritual, or logical to take a glance into the realm of chakras and star signs. 

Whether TikTok users have an interest in spirituality or not, such practises are largely about repelling negative energy and promoting the positive. That is something we could all take notes on since individuals on the spiritual path have yet to go to war with each other over differing manifestation techniques or crystal work.  For those caught up in disregarding or discrediting spirituality because of its modernity, Crystal Tok would say burn some sage, be on your way and let peace find you. 

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