ethically mined

4

school is helpful, but you are a priority

blackbearmagic’s Crystal Hunting Guide

Introduction

Scientific Fact: Witches love crystals almost as much as they love jars. 
Consumerism Fact: In many metaphysical shops, nice-looking crystals can be had for relatively cheap.
Ethical Fact: Many of those crystals are as cheap as they are because they are mined with no consideration for the damage done to the environment or the welfare of the humans collecting them.

So what’s a good, honest, ethically-minded witch to do, especially if he/she/they don’t have the money to afford crystals that were mined sustainably and responsibly, or the time to research which sellers obtain their wares from ethical mines?

Find their own.

I’ve been crystal hunting all my life, but only within the last year have I started doing it seriously. I’ve walked away from a creeking expedition with slabs of smoky quartz the size of my palm or calcite hunks bigger than my fist, and I personally think creek-crystal energy is much more vibrant and easy to work with; by comparison, the crystal points I’ve bought from metaphysical shops feel… inert, lifeless.

So let’s get straight into it!

What You’ll Need

  • a good-sized creek or stream with lots of gravel spits along its length
  • offerings to the spirit of the creek, if appropriate to your personal practice
  • bug spray, sunscreen, snacks, water, and anything else you’d normally bring on a hike
  • your trusty adventurer’s Bag of Holding
  • your sweet self

Now let’s talk details.

When I say “gravel spits”, this is what I’m referring to:

These tumbles of stone are going to be where you’ll find your treasures, and the size of the stones themselves actually tells you what size of crystal you might find: When the conditions are right (ie, during a flood), the water flowing through that portion of the creek is capable of lifting and moving rocks of the size you see there now. 

In my experience, the crystal specimens you’ll find are typically half or one-third the size of the average rock on the spit. They’re usually larger than the smallest rocks, but much smaller than the largest rocks. Not always, though–I have found specimens larger. (See the introduction.)

Regarding offerings, if that’s part of your path, you’ll want to make sure it’s nothing that will harm the local wildlife or damage the ecosystem in any way. My personal go-to is water, ideally water from a bottle I haven’t drunk from yet.

In the same vein as offerings, I’ve had great success in making a sort of bargain with the spirit of the place: That in return for treasures, I will pick up and remove any litter I find in the area. It is, of course, always a good idea to remove any litter you see when you’re out in nature, but it doesn’t hurt to point out to the spirit of the place that it’s something you’re doing for it. Bring along a trash bag to help collect it.

Lastly, with regards to your bag, I would advise something with two shoulder straps. Rocks are heavy.

What You’ll Do

Once you’ve hiked to your creek and found a gravel spit with lots of good-sized rocks, it’s time to start looking. There’s two main approaches I’ve found that work well, and I tend to use both. 

The first is a broad sweep. This one works best if you’ve got good lighting on the rocks. All you do is stand in one spot and sway side to side slightly while looking over the gravel, looking for anything that glints, shines, or otherwise catches the light shining on it. If you see something, investigate it. Repeat.

The second is the more detailed search. Get down on the ground–whether that means kneeling, crouching, laying on your belly, I don’t care–and go over each rock one by one. Use your eyes and use your hands. I imagine this method is probably going to be unpleasant for a lot of you, but honestly, it’s like crack to me.

Once you’ve combed over the current gravel spit as thoroughly as you please, pack up and move on to the next. Continue for as long as you like, or until you feel it’s time to go. Just remember that as far out as you go is how far you’ll have to walk back!

Advice and Warnings

Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. If you godsforbid go missing, they’ll be able to give the police an idea of where to start searching for your poor, lost ass.

Keep a charged cell phone with you at all times. 

If you see something or someone iffy, do your best avoid it. Sometimes there are creepy people in the woods, and sometimes they do creepy things. Don’t get involved.

Make sure you’re not trespassing on private property. All of the creeks I hike on are on public land. If you’re in a state park or other protected environmental area, don’t go off the trail–you could cause damage to a fragile ecosystem.

Following the creek is a good way to get out and back without losing your way.  Don’t stray too far from it if you’re in unfamiliar territory.

The best times of year to go hunting–assuming Northern Hemisphere, a temperate climate and deciduous forests around the creek–are the spring and summer. In the autumn, you’ll have to clear fallen leaves off of the gravel before you can look, and winter is too cold. 

The best time of day is the morning, when the sun angle is lower and is more likely to glint off of shiny rocks.

You’ll have your best luck the day after heavy rain. Rain will swell the stream and shift the stones around, and could uncover new treasures! 

Inspect anything that looks even remotely worthwhile. You’ll find a lot of duds, sure, but that will help train your brain to tune out what you don’t care about finding.

“What Can I Find?”

Exactly what sort of minerals and crystals you’ll find is highly variable. All minerals are not equally distributed across the planet, because many of them require very different conditions to form and the crust composition varies slightly from place to place. However, there are some stones that are pretty common all over the Earth, so no matter where you go hunting, you’re likely to find them.

Of course, for more specific identifications, please consult the internet, a book on mineralogy, or your local rockhounding club. 

Quartz

The chemical formula of quartz is SiO2, or silicon dioxide. Silicon and oxygen are, by mass, the two most abundant elements in Earth’s crust; around 90% of it is composed of silicate minerals like quartz. Ever find a pretty, sparkly, mostly-clear rock on the ground? It was probably quartz. 

Quartz comes in a mind-boggling array of colors, from smoky quartz so dark it’s practically opaque to purple-and-orange ametrine to the brilliant clear of a Herkimer diamond (yup, not actually diamonds) but all of these varieties are still quartz. In my region of North America, clear and smoky quartz seem to be the most plentiful. 

Calcite

Calcite is calcium carbonate, CaCO3. Like quartz, it is made of some of the Earth’s most abundant crustal elements (in this case, calcium and oxygen) and comes in a stunning array of colors. In my creeks, I’ve found calcite in yellow, orange, white, and even blue and red.

The biggest giveaway for rough calcite is its texture. If you pick up a rock and it feels like someone rubbed wax all over it, you’ve probably got yourself a calcite specimen.

Feldspar

Feldspar is one of the most abundant minerals in the crust, alongside quartz. It’s also a silicate, and it frequently finds its way into other minerals, such as granite. 

What sets feldspar apart from the other two minerals I’ve mentioned here is its fracture habit: It naturally fractures along cleavage planes which intersect at 90-degree angles. It doesn’t shatter–it shears. If you find a rock with a smooth face that looks like a polished stone countertop, it’s probably feldspar.

“But Bear, I Want Crystal Points!”

Oh. Yeah.

You can find those too. 

Every one of those pictures is of quartz points that I have found in my area. (In fact, they’re actually all from the same crystal-hunting hike, and represent only about a third of the specimens I found that day!) As you can see, they aren’t all perfect–and I have plenty of others that are, like, three facets and no point–but they’re all beautiful, and some of them really sing, if you know what I mean. 

Conclusion

Finding your own crystals can be pretty simple, when you get down to it. It can be a lot of fun to get down and dirty, and is a great way to get yourself out in nature for a while. And, of course, you can rest assured that your crystals were gathered in a sustainable, respectful, ethical manner–assuming you took care of yourself and the environment while finding them!

Best of luck! –Bear

4

Some Religion notes! These are from the last few weeks, where we have been learning about ethic theories and ethics related to religion! I have already had a test on this (and I got an A, hurray!) so now I have finally gotten around to taking pictures of them!

trans richie headcanons

~eddie checks on richies binding everyday during their lunch period bc richie can only afford ace bandage binding

~the only 2 who’ve known from the start are eddie and bev

~richie puts on the “womanizer” persona because it is the only masculinity he knows. the dirty jokes and the shitty humor is what makes him feel the least dysphoric and it hurts him to know that it hurts those around him 

~the first to find out besides them is stan. one day he rides to the quarry because he’s certain he has left his copy of slaughterhouse five there and he sees eddie and richie splashing around in the water and richie has no shirt or binding on. stan rides away and in the next few days goes to the library to research but since derry is a conservative town the are no resources. he goes to bev but all she says is “he will tell you in time”

~bev buys richie tampons in exchange for a weekly lunch date with him and eddie to get all the dirt on the boys that she doesnt know 

~when he finally works up the nerve to come out (Which is a big fucking deal in the 1980s.. like thats scary as fuck) he is stuttering his ass off and bill puts his hand on the small of richie’s back and goes “s-s-stop stuttering, t-thats my job, t-tozier.” and richie gives him a watery smile and bill has never seen a man look that vulnerable in his whole life 

~his mom misgenders him constantly and deadnames him all the time and it gets to the point where eddie loses his shit and freaks the fuck out and helps richie pack his stuff. it took hours of work but mrs. kaspbrak finally allowed richie to move in “temporarily” 

~all the boys check up on him from time to time and its usually a little awkward. he often gets the “sooo..how are you? hows your…uh? uuuh?” and he’ll just nudge them away or laugh casually. it makes him feel itchy and uncomfortable but he knows they mean well

~when all the boys start going through voice drops and shit richie’s dysphoria kind of spirals out of control and he cries A Lot and eddie has no idea what to do because richie gets sad to the point where he never really wants to leave his bed so bill pays his speech coach double to teach richie how to lower his tone to the best of his ability 

~richie convinces the school board to let him run mens track and he goes on to be a record holder for the school in the 100m 

~sometimes when he’s feeling really down stan will take him to his ballet studio and will dance  a duet with him and stan will take the feminine lead where richie takes the masculine lead (thanks for the ballet dancer hc @ eli) 

dog--years  asked:

Would you have any recommendations for a beginner's camera for photographing outdoor adventures, scenery type stuff, the kind of things I see when I'm exploring? I'm looking to give it a try after seeing all the cool shots on blogs like yours!

It really depends on how much gear you want to travel with, and what kind of budget you want to work with, too. Since there are a LOT of different factors to consider, and since I’m not certain as to what specifics you’re looking for, allow me to share my personal experience with cameras in hopes that you (and others!) can find something useful here!  

I started with a little Kodak Easy Share DX6490 point-and-shoot, and while I was able to make it work for me, I was severely limited because it didn’t offer the ability to adjust shutter speed, white balance, or ISO like a DLSR camera will. Below is an example of the type of photo I was taking with the early Kodak. Notice how the colors seem flat and dull, the darker sections look grainy, and while the bobcat’s face overall seems to be in focus, it’s clear on closer inspection that everything is just slightly burred.

On the bright side, the camera was cheap, could take a decent beating, and didn’t require additional lenses or gear. In a fix, it worked well in proper lighting situations, but for someone serious about getting good photos consistently, I’d suggest a DSLR instead. 


I personally upgraded to an entry-level DSLR in the Canon Rebel series. We could have the “Canon Vs. Nikon” discussion for the next six hours and still not conclude which maker is the better of the two; but having shot both, I’m more impressed with the quality of Nikon’s lenses, and even more impressed with the quality of Canon’s camera bodies.

In the end, I actually based my purchasing decision on company ethics. This may sound a bit odd since I am myself a hunter and taxidermist, but at the time when I first got into DSLR photography, I was not. In fact, I was big into animal rights back then, and believed that all hunting was terrible, so it came as an offensive shock to find that Nikon - a company avidly supported by wildlife enthusiasts all over the world - sponsors the Safari Hunt Club, manufactures scopes specifically for trophy hunting, and supports other hunting organizations which actively encourage lawmakers to ease protections for threatened and endangered wildlife around the world

My thoughts on the topic of hunting have changed since then, but I still feel that it’s important to point this out, especially if your personal ethics differ from mine and would be better-suited to the purchase of camera gear which doesn’t aid in the killing of animals.

In stark contrast to Nikon, Canon proudly runs their “Wildlife as Canon Sees It” campaign to help raised awareness for endangered species and threatened ecosystems, donates to environmental groups, and does not produce products intended for hunting purposes. 

But let’s get back to the main topic here: My first Canon was a Canon Rebel XTi, which are currently available for as little as $90.00 used. The Rebel series has since put out much more capable cameras, and for a beginner, this is ABSOLUTELY what I would recommend, especially since many of the newer ones shoot video as well as stills. Don’t let the small price tag fool you. Shooting with a Canon 75-300mm telephoto lens ($150.00 street value), I was able to take wildlife shots such as this: 

And with the 18-55mm stock lens that comes with the Canon Rebel XTi, I was taking adventure photos like this: 

But I felt the need for something better - with more power, wider range of options in manual mode, and video capabilities, so I shelled out for a Canon EOS 7D (currently going for around $1,000 used) , which is what I now utilize for many of my adventure photos, including nearly all the images I take of Ivar and the wolfdogs.

The cons are that this camera is hefty - it weighs much more than the Canon Rebel, and takes up far more room in a camera bag or backpack. But! It takes incredibly vivid photos and video, and was even used for (some) of the filming of BBC’s “Planet Earth” series. 

This camera serves me well, but it’s absolutely the kind of thing you need to work up to. If you spend big bucks on a camera like this and shoot with automatic settings the whole time, you’re not going to enjoy and will likely become frustrated when your photos don’t turn out like they appear in your mind’s eye. 

My advice is to get an entry-level DSLR first, and shoot using manual settings for at least a year or so to get confident and familiar with them, before dropping money on a more professional body. 

Here are the kinds of photos I take with the Canon EOS 7D: 

Finally, I ended up adding a GoPro Hero5 Black to my arsenal, largely because I needed what I call a “grab and run out the door” camera. It doesn’t allow for the same kind of quality or control that a DSLR does - not by a longshot. And it runs out of battery a quick pace, too. Sometimes, the color or white balance is terrible, and I have to do more post-processing than I do while shooting with the Canon EOS 7D; but the bright side is that it’s tiny, waterproof, shock proof, and takes some pretty impressive photos, especially during quick road trips and in situations when I don’t want to swap lenses and/or unpack the heftier camera. 

As you can see, the GoPro makes for some cool shots, especially when you utilize the wide angle feature. The downsides are pretty obvious, but I enjoy the fact that its small, portable, quick, and easy to use. Mine was $200 on Craigslist, so I got lucky there. If the current $400.00 price tag is too much, just wait until the company produces a few more new cameras, and the price will drop like a rock. 

Hope this helps!