7 Quartz Alternatives To The Diamond Engagement Ring

Diamonds and engagement rings go together like Frick and Frack. However Many couples are looking for diamond alternatives for moral, financial or spiritual reasons. Perhaps they disagree with the ethics, or lack thereof,  of the African diamond trade, maybe they would rather put their money to other uses or maybe they want their rings to carry a certain spiritual energy. Whatever the reasons, quartz  crystals  come in a variety of colors and carry a variety of energies that make them excellent alternatives to the classic diamond bridal sets.

Quartz crystals are a seven on the MOHS scale which means they are almost as hard as diamonds. Like diamonds they can scratch glass and can only be scratched themselves by stones with hardness of eight or higher.

Here are seven of the most popular alternatives to the classic diamond engagement ring.

1. Herkimer Diamond: Herkimer diamonds are so named because they were first discovered in the area of Herkimer County, NY. This variety of quartz is known for it’s clear, almost water like clarity.

They are known as high energy seekers and as conduits to Divine energy. They correspond to the throat,  brow and  crown chakras and can help heal physical, emotional and spiritual pain.

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Ring available from HSN.

2. Rose Quartz: This lovely pink stone is mined in many places throughout the world, but Brazil is it’s main source. Rose quartz corresponds to the heart chakra and carries the energy of unconditional love. It also eases symptoms of stress, sadness and depression. Rose quartz transmits the feminine energies of compassion, tenderness and healing.

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Ring available from HotForStudio via Etsy

3. Amethyst: This stone was first discovered in 3000 B.C.E in Europe. The Greeks believed it warded off drunkenness and so named it “amethystos” which meant “not drunk”. Purple was the color of royalty in Elizabethan England; Therefore Amethyst was highly prized by English royals.

Amethyst is not only associated with sobriety; It also helps ease conditions of the nervous systems and sleep disorders such as nightmares and insomnia. It is associated with the crown chakra.

Ring available from Jewels For Me.

4. Lemon Quartz: Lemon quartz is the trade name for an irradiated form of citrine. It is said to help focus positive energy and to help control food and nicotine craving. It is also reputed to help post-surgical healing. As a yellow stone, it helps to balance the solar plexus chakra.

Ring available from Slowack Jewelry via Etsy.

5. Citrine: Citrine has been used as a stone of manifestation since at least 300 B.C.E. It comes in colors ranging from pale yellow to almost brown. It enhances professional relationships such as between buyer and seller and therefore increases personal wealth. It also promotes harmonious family relationship.

Citrine helps to balance the solar plexus chakra. A healthy solar plexus chakra helps to maintain a healthy digestive system, back and liver. It is also the seat of personal will and power.

Ring available from Jewels For Me

6. Rutilated Quartz: Rutilated quartz is a clear quartz with golden strands known as ” rutiles” crisscrossing throughout. It is said to repel negative energy, however if negative energy does make it through the crystals, it will be caught it the rutiles like nightmares in a dreamcatcher.

Rutilated quartz opens and connects the third eye and crown chakras to facilitate meditation and insight.

Ring available from PenneliBelle via Etsy

7. Smoky Quartz: Smoky quartz is a transculent stone ranging in color from light grey to dark brown. Its use dates to at least 12th century China where it was used to make the first recorded sunglasses. Ancient documents also report that Chinese judges wore glasses made of smoky quartz to hide their expressisions in the courtroom.

Smoky quartz is associated with the first or root chakra. It helps calm fears associated with fear of failure, financial lack or loss. It is a grounding and stabalizing stone that helps keep us connected to Mother Earth.

Ring available from Jewels For Me.

Looking for unique or alternative ring vows? Contact Rev. Connie Jones-Steward @ www.officiantlady.com

How To Have A  Meaningful Atheist Wedding

Atheist weddings, Los Angeles,  Los Angeles wedding officiant
International Symbol of Atheism

Merriam-Webster online defines atheism  as a lack of belief or a strong disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods “or” a philosophical or religious position chacterized by disbelief in the existence of a god or any gods. It defines an Atheist as a person who subscribes to or advocates atheism.

The belief in God or gods is at the center of most religions and belief systems. These religions and belief systems in turn lay the foundations for ritualized life cycle celebrations— such as weddings, funerals, baby blessings and bar/bat mitzvahs—that offer a sense of belonging, community and make life meaningful to  their adherants.

So where does that leave the wedding couple that is Atheist or for other reasons wants to have a wedding that does not acknowledge the existence of God yet still be meaningful ? If you, dear Atheist, feel that your only option is  a cold courthouse style wedding–bereft of any sense of joy, community or the ritualized pagentry of a church wedding–I’m happy to tell you that you are wrong.

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While a religious wedding is a celebration of religious tradition, an Athiest wedding has the potential to be a celebration of love and joy. Whereas a religious wedding ceremony usually focuses on “God’s” rules concerning marriage, an Atheist celebration is free to focus on you and how you view marriage. In this type of ceremony you have greater freedom of expression that allows you to include music, readings and traditions that may not be allowed in a more traditional ceremony but hold great meaning for you. An Atheist ceremony will also allow you to invite friends and family to participate in your wedding ceremony in non-conforming ways.

At it’s simplist the word  atheist means “without God” so an Atheist wedding ceremony is one that does not mention God or any Higher Power. Many of my couples are interfaith or don’t follow any particular religious doctrine. They thus choose a ceremony that avoids reference to any form of Deity as a way to avoid discomfort or resentment on either side of the aisle.

Atheist weddings are structured much the same as religious weddings. Your officiant  will begin with an opening or welcome, usually followed by words that reflect your shared values, your hopes and intentions for your marriage and your vows to each other. There may also be readings from poetry, historical or current events or cultural references that are relevant  your wedding ceremony. Friends  and family may participate as readers or they may sing songs that are important to either partner.

As the ceremony draws to a close, the officiant may perform secular versions of such wedding traditions as the unity candle or wedding lasso. An experienced officiant can secularize almost any typically religious unity ceremony or may opt for something that is less likely to be viewed as religious, such as a sand blending. This is also the segment where cultural traditions like jumping the broom may be added.

You will then be prounouced as married before your friends, family and guests. As you can see, just because Atheist means without God is no reason that your Atheist wedding has to be without the joy, beauty, meaning and sense of community that is inspired by a religious wedding.

Reiki Your Way to the Big Day

According to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale,! marriage ranks in the top ten most stressful life events. On what is supposed to be one of the happiest days in your life, the quest for perfection can rob you and everyone around you of any joy at all. Important keys to staying calm and finding happiness in the moment are keeping a realistic perspective and striving for balance. This is where Reiki can help.

Stress is often the result of misplaced priorities. Wedding planning presents opportunity-after-opportunity to lose focus of the goal of the day — the joining of two people who love and cherish one another. That is all. Everything else is distraction — the gown, flowers, cake, location, date, time, guests, family members — it’s all fluff. Reiki can be of tremendous help as you work to restore balance and maintain a positive outlook. In fact, Reiki is associated with at least five of the 10 Keys to Happier Living.

Take care of your body. In addition to physical activity, the body needs time to rest and rejuvenate. During a Reiki session, breathing is slowed and the body tends to enter a state of deep relaxation. External stimulation is arrested while higher consciousness takes over to relieve pain and activate the body’s natural ability to self-heal.

Live life mindfully. Reiki heightens awareness by setting a stage for quiet reflection. It is a forced respite that opens the door to self-awareness and a renewed consciousness. The down time spent in a Reiki session can help you to reconnect with the universe, thus empowering you to see the bigger (or smaller) picture of what is occurring in the moment.

Find ways to bounce back. The disappointment of not being able to get the venue you want, falling short of your weight loss goal or being unable to afford the wedding you’ve dreamed about can be crushing.  Reiki can help speed the cycle of recovery from disappointment. It is an opportunity to reconnect with the God of your belief system, reflect on the setback and gain a proper perspective.

Look for what’s good. Reiki can help you find the good in challenging situations instead of reacting emotionally to every little thing. It facilitates time to see things realistically. This will help to even out your feelings, prevent mood swings and restore a sense of control so that you are less likely to tailspin.

Be part of something bigger. What is bigger than the universe in which we exist? Reiki is a direct connect to the Source of all things. The time spent in each session will strengthen your link to Source. If it is in alignment with your belief system, you can call upon your spiritual support team for assistance with any problem or answers to any question. You are not alone.

By adding Reiki to your pre-wedding plans, you will be reminded to keep the main thing the main thing. Bi-monthly sessions will bring a greater sense of control, clear insight and a heightened sense of joy to what may otherwise be a harrowing time.

Rhonda Kuykendall-Jabari is an advanced Reiki Practitioner and teacher. To learn more about Rhonda and her Reiki practice, visit www.wellnessuprising.com.

How to Help A Friend Who’s Hurting

grief counselingThis morning I read a social media post by a friend who recently lost her daughter. In the post she reminded people that vague offers of help, though well intentioned, can have the effect of putting yet another burden on a person whose heart and mind are already overly taxed with grief an making decisions that they hoped they would never have to make. When we ask “How can I help?” or say “Let me know how I can help.” we are literally putting another demand on that person; now they have to stop, figure out an answer for us, then get back to us with that answer.

A better way would be to approach the grieving friend with options that he or she can answer with a simple yes or no. “Would you like me to bring you a casserole tonight?” “Can I walk your dog for the rest of the week?” Thank to my friends post, I now realize that the direct approach is mostly likely the best approach to helping a friend make it through the days or weeks following an unexpected loss.

House Blessings & Space Clearings

Despite what you may have seen in movies such as Poltergeist, most house blessings and space clearings do not involve the exorcism of  discontented or malevolent spiritshouse_blessing.

Instead, many people enjoy the benefits of house blessings and space clearings to clear the area of negative energies left behind by periods of familial trouble , sickness, loss or extreme financial hardships.

House blessings are frequently performed when moving into a new home in order to clear out any troubling energies left behind by the previous family.  Office or business blessings can be performed on the opening day to encourage happy patrons and good business. They can also be performed during periods of slow business to encourage increased customer traffic.

Call me if you would like me to perform a spiritual blessing on your home or business.

The Cosmos Can Assist You In Your Next Choice

supermoon-2013According to Rev. Michael Beckwith, “the kosmos [sic] is waiting with bated breath for your next thought or choice.” So what will your next thought or choice be? This past week presented two natural phenomena that can help you to focus your thoughts and choices.

First we had the Summer Solstice which occurred on June 20 on the west coast. The Summer and Winter Solstices and be considered as the yin and yang of the seasons. The summer half represents activity, expansiveness and generousness while the winter half represents rest, introspection, contraction and conservation of resources. This is the time to make choices that will be enhanced by the power of the Solstice.

Second we had the Supermoon this morning, June 23rd. There is a cross-cultural belief that during the week of the full moon (three days prior, the day of and three days after) we have greater access to spiritual and Divine powers. This access can help us in the areas such as expression and manifestation of intentions. They can also assist us in tapping into our subconscious or the collective unconscious to connect with our own innate Divinity or to find the answers that we week. It only follows that this connection and access would be enhanced during the time of a Supermoon.

In conclusion, life is a product of the thoughts we put into action and the choices we make. We can either choose to be active, productive, giving and health promoting in our choices or we can choose to be inactive, unproductive takers who take no responsibility for our own health and happiness. We can harness the power of natural phenomena to aid us in our choice to be whatever type of person we choose to be.

I Give Thanks For…

For years now Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday. It falls right in the middle of my favorite season and is celebrated with so many of my favorite foods: turkey, sweet potato pie, collard greens etc. It’s always celebrated at my house because I absolutely love to cook and I love having my mother, siblings, nieces and nephew all in one place. So far I’ve been lucky, every year brings something new to be thankful for. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of setbacks this year but when I look back the plusses definetly outweigh the minuses. Here’s my personal list of things that I’m thankful for this year. Some are perennial, some are new.

1. My husband who supports my many dreams, aspirations and endeavors. He even accompanies me to weddings to take photos and acts as my field assistant as I travel about doing my research into graffiti culture.

2. My two stepsons. Kevin the 21 year old graphics design student who designs my promotional materials and DJ the 14 year old who, in five years, has not given me one moment of “step-mama drama”.

3. Speaking of mamas, my husband lost his mother nearly two years ago and I’m thankful for the relationship he has developed with my mother. Despite conventional wisdom mothers and sons-in-law can have a close, loving and respectful relationship.

4. I’m thankful that my mom is still alive, active and healthy now that I’ve reached an age where several of my peers have lost their parents or are dealing with their illnesses and disabilities.

5. Lastly I give thanks for the weddings and committment ceremonies that I have been trusted to create and officiate. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than being part of the start of a new family.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.