Crystals Plain & Simple is a small guide to using stones for psychic development, healing and meditation; this edition is a reprint from the original in 2006. In a market glutted with books on this topic, the selling point of this little book is it's simplicity. The aim is to introduce common, useful stones. The organization of the book is around the activity, clearing negative energy for example, rather than giving each stone a chapter with an endless list of its attributes. This is helpful for beginners who are at a loss to remember all the uses of a particular stone and who would otherwise be overwhelmed.

This kind of organization by activity has drawbacks. Maybe you have a piece of malachite and want to know how to use it. There is no index so you will have to scroll through the pages and find it listed in various chapters with attributes for that particular activity. So in the chapter on visualization and positive thought, malachite is known as a great healer for repressed emotions while in the chapter on meditation, malachite provides awareness of one's own capabilities and limitations.

In the introduction the authors bring up the legendary Atlantis. This connection between Atlantis and crystals has been fodder of the New Age for decades since the psychic Edgar Cayce popularized the idea so perhaps no crystal guide is complete without its mention. Nevertheless it's worth asking just what do we really know and how much “common knowledge” about crystals and their efficacy is verifiable or at least possible to trace to traditional or historical sources. Without citations or bibliography, finding the sources of their information is tough. That said, the attributes and legends in Crystals: Plain & Simple is similar to those found in other guides.

Crystals is intended to be introductory so those with a lot of experience won't find much new under the sun. The guidance on selecting, purifying, bonding and charging your new acquisitions is typical. The psychic development chapter presents a scrying exercise and how to use pendulums. The most unusual chapter explains how to grow a crystal. It makes a nice science experiment but can't be used for jewelry. Healing with stones addresses how crystals can balance chakras. Crystals for Common Ailments lists many medical conditions with a warning that none of this replaces proper medical advice.

The black and white pictures are a disappointment especially if you've experienced paging through one of the beautiful coffee table worthy gem books. These days you can look up numerous images of anything, including crystals, online so if your goal is to learn rock uses more than rock identification, this might not be a deal breaker. Unlike other enormous rock encyclopedias this little book will fit in a purse. For the inexperienced and curious, this is an easy to learn from guide.

~review by Larissa Carlson Viana

Authors: Cass and Janie Jackson
Hampton Roads Publishing Company
Originally published in 2006
pp. 135, $14.95