What a great idea I thought. Except, perhaps, for the slight snag that except for thinking they are very pretty when I come across them, I knew next to nothing about these precious gems. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know an awful lot more now. If this journey has taught me anything, it's that it really is an inexhaustible subject and certainly too much for me to get my head around in just a few days.
However, I thought it might be nice to take you along with me anyway as I try to not only uncover places where you can find them, but also to see if I could find anybody who could help me shed (at least) some light on this bright and sparkly subject matter.
The first place I found was the Namaste Budha Meditation Shop or Loja dos Budhas on the road through Odiáxere. Here I met Carlos Brum at his shop where he and his wife sell, you guessed it, Buddha's. Lots and lots of beautiful Buddha statues all caught ‘mid-meditation’ in all kinds of different incarnations, positions, sizes and shapes.
Originally from the Azores, Carlos is a very chill and cool dude, with a sort of Keith Richards pirate vibe about him. He told me that he spent 26 years of his life travelling the world and his favourite places were Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia - which is where all the treasure in his shop comes from. This includes his collection of crystals that can be seen sparkling in between the Buddha’s (the secret, perhaps, to their enlightenment). Carlos did admit though, that he’s not an expert when it comes to crystals and so my search for my own enlightenment continued…
Everything becomes ‘Cristalina’
I was in luck, as I later met Rute, a lovely lady who has two shops in the heart of Lagos (very close to each other) next to the Mercado de Escravos and the Igreja Santa Maria. There’s one that's called Opalina Atelier - Jewellery, where she sells the most beautiful and elegant jewellery and two doors up from that, is a more recent business venture called Cristalina Vita, where she has all kinds of wonderful crystals on display. ‘Cristalina’ in Portuguese means ‘crystal clear’ and Rute did indeed help make things a little more clear to me when she very kindly took the time to sit down for coffee with me and patiently tried to explain the world of crystals to a total novice.
I found out that crystals, like all of us, emit their own energy - which is why it feels so good to be around them. However, eventually, after absorbing and dealing with all our problems, it all gets a bit much for them and they themselves need to be cleansed. But how?
Well, again, in similar ways to us. They can, for example, have a Reiki massage. The ‘hands off’ approach of one of these wizards hovering over them can be just the thing to re-energise and leave them feeling relaxed and refreshed.
They could also go and get some 'Vitamin Sea', by either swimming in the actual ocean or, at a pinch - by ‘adding a pinch’ of salt to the bath. Or, you could put them under a stream of water as this helps wash away all their worries (we all feel better after a shower).
However, if you sense a crystal has picked up some seriously bad vibes, then there’s only one thing for it. You’ll have to bury it (I’m not sure what the human equivalent of this would be - maybe a mud bath?). This helps ‘ground them’ getting them back in contact with Mother Earth, which as we all know, really does the trick to make you feel better.
Rute told me that some crystals don’t get dirty. After what she had just finished telling me I gave her a disbelieving look as if to say “What? Even if you bury them?”. She laughed and explained that she meant ‘energetically’, of course. Apparently, bad boys like selenite, kyanite or citrine are immune to life's problems and keep upbeat no matter what.
She then went on to explain the different colour crystals and their specific benefits and this brought us on to the chakras.
There are seven that run all the way up your body and they all have their own corresponding colour. So, for example, a yellow crystal, like amber, would be placed over your solar plexus - totally appropriate as it brings warmth and sunshine back into the place where most people tend to feel the most anxiety.
Even if you don’t have a crystal at hand, Rute told me that just the colours are powerful by themselves and that it can help to wrap a yellow scarf around your waist if you feel anxious. The lowest chakra or ‘root chakra’ is red and so red crystals are normally placed between your legs. I asked whether, in that case, does that mean wearing red underwear would be a good idea? Rute said yes, absolutely! It's not a coincidence that when people want to ignite passion in the bedroom that they buy red lingerie. Colours affect us, in all sorts of ways.
Now, it might be easy to call all this a bit silly but after talking to Rute I'm not so sure. It’s obviously a subtle thing, but why wouldn't these beautiful rocks and the exquisite colours created by godly forces in the depths of the earth not have some kind of deep effect on us?
Jami - bringing ‘light’ into the world
The final place I found that has crystals here in the Algarve is called Jami. Located in downtown Faro, its name is a mix between the two names of its creators João AMetista and Ida, a sweet couple, originally from the Alentejo who opened the shop in 2017.
When I popped in to have a look though, I only met João as Ida is pregnant at the moment. In fact, she was due next week! It's going to be a girl and I playfully asked João if they were going to name her after a crystal, as they were surrounded by such abundant inspiration? But no. Ida wanted something short and sweet and they had decided on Luz (which after all, is what gives us all our sparkle).
Most of their beautiful crystals come from Brazil and have their own little card explaining their particular power. However, Joao told me that you can find some crystals here in Portugal and showed me an orange one called ‘calcito laranja’ that they occasionally dig up at the concrete factory near Boliqueime (that you can see from the motorway).
He also showed me a particularly sparkly and large rock filled with ‘quartz’ crystals that they found on a walk at Rocha de Pena.
A lot of their business is online and if you are interested in ordering a crystal then please check out their website www.jami.pt.
And, that's the best I can do I’m afraid. The world of crystals is a bit beyond me. However, if you need your chakra colours coordinated, or something to twinkle this Christmas, these are some good places to start.