One thing that is spoken of often is the need to cleanse and charge your crystals and minerals. Do you have a dirty rock? What do you do about it? Let's talk about this a little.
Our beloved allies tend to come out of the ground fully charged and energized, existing in their natural state. However, crystals and minerals are vibratory, and they take in the vibrations of what is around them. They are like sponges for energy. Because of this, they can take on too much from the world around them and be in need of a good cleaning.
If you think about it, even the act of being mined can be full of traumatic energy. They are harvested from the ground, and then how many different hands will handle them before they come to you? They can be washed in chemicals to take the sediment off of them. They can be cut, carved, shaped, and honed to make them appear shiny and flawless. Each step of their journey from their birthplace to your hands sees them undergoing transformation and passing through the energy of many different souls. You can purchase a crystal and have it come to your hands dirty from outside influences.
Even after you have brought it home, cleaned it, and acclimated it to your environment, it can still get dirty. Many minerals absorb the negative energy around them and diffuse it or transmute it. If you put a tower on your shelf and never touch it again, it can still get dirty. And, just like the rest of our energy in our spaces, if we don't clean it out regularly, it will stagnate and become heavy or dull.
How do I know if my crystals/minerals are dirty?
The biggest indicator is that you will feel it. Once you learn to tune in to the energy of everything around you, you will know just by handling one if it needs cleaning or not. For example; if my moldavites get dirty, they will feel almost bereft, and I will get a headache in my temples from handling or wearing them. Many crystals will feel sluggish or heavy when you pick them up. Kind of like if you went on a junk food bender and then expected to take yourself out jogging afterwards.
The most obvious indicator will be that you feel nothing from them. Or, you tried working with them and did not get the desired result. If you are really in tune with them, they will send you messages about how they are not feeling wonderful.
Water is an amazing way to clean your minerals – but not all minerals can safely go into water. Iron-based minerals (such as pyrite) can rust if they get wet. Salt-based minerals (satin spar, selenite, desert rose) will begin to break down if they get wet. The rule of thumb to be safe is to keep any crystal or mineral that ends in 'ite' or any metal-based mineral out of water. But for the others – quartz and jaspers especially, water is an amazing cleanser.
Some people will use a hot and cold method: Running the crystal under hot water to clear it and then cold water to seal it. This is kind of like how you wash your face: opening the pores, cleaning your face, and then closing the pores. You can do this just with water, or you can use a crystal-cleaning soap to scrub it up before rinsing it clean (I make a smudge soap and use this for all of my vogel-cut crystals). You can also submerge them overnight in saltwater and rinse them clean in the morning.
A word of advice: If you have any doubts about whether a particular crystal is safe to put in water; don't do it. Better safe than sorry.
You can use sound to clean your crystals as well, because they are vibratory in nature. This can include music, bells, singing bowls, humming… I would urge you to do whatever feels right for you in this area.
You can clear your crystals with smoke. This is probably the most popular method. Sage smoke is perhaps the strongest, followed closely by Palo Santo. However, the 'whatever feels right' rule applies here as well. You can also use incense, cedar, resin, lavender – whatever feels good and right to you. The rule of thumb is to allow the smoke to bathe what you are cleaning, and wait for it to naturally move away from the item.
You can clear your crystals by burying them in the earth. After all, they came from the earth. If you do this, I would advise you to put them somewhere you won't forget about them, and somewhere where they can't get liberated by the local fauna. As I understand it, it is advised to bury them for a full moon cycle to clean them up and reinvigorate them.
You can clean crystals with intention. The act of holding them and bathing them in the white light of purity via your intention can clear the bad vibes away from them as well. You will have to trust yourself to know when they are clear. If you have a tendency to not be very in tune with the vibration of objects, I do not recommend this type of cleaning.
You can clean your crystals with other crystals. Citrine, Satin Spar, Amethyst, and Kyanite are the most popular crystals to clear the energy off of the crystals placed around or upon them, but there are many, many more that can do this as well. A lot of people keep Satin Spar 'charging plates' for this purpose. You simply place the crystals or minerals upon them and let them do the work for you.
Note: I would add here that even though many of the clearing crystals and minerals are considered to be 'self-cleaning;' I would be sure to give these a good cleaning regularly as well. They are still taking on negativity and dirty energy… and you still clean the parts of your body that are considered self-cleaning when you shower, do you not?
Periodically, your minerals would enjoy being revitalized. The most popular way to do this is to set them out under the full moon. However, some minerals vibrate at a higher rate (like hematite, moldavite, and hemmimorphite) and would be much better served being charged in the sunlight. Most of your crystals will enjoy some sun. Be careful not to put amethyst out in the sun or it will lighten in color. You can also take them outside and let them enjoy some natural vibrations. You can grid them up with other crystals to charge them with intention (I don't like to use the word 'program.' Crystals and minerals are their own forms of living beings and I dare say telling them what to do will not bode well for you). You can also use music to charge them up.
Remember that your crystals and minerals are your allies; your friends. You have to tend to your relationship with them just as you must with your other friendships. Keep them clean and energized and they will always be ready to help you when you need them. You don't need to be a fancy expert or a spiritual practitioner to provide this kind of care. You just need to care.