I was skimming through Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook 2014 and landed on this entry for the 28th of September: “Desert Rose, a stone formed by lightning strikes on sand, holds tremendous power.”
Well, that makes sense, I mused. It would carry the power of all four elements: sand (earth), lightning (fire), and it would be shaped by wind and water.
After doing some digging (could not resist the pun!), I discovered that there are two types of stones that go by the name of Desert Rose. One is comprised of Selenite and Barite. The crystals form in arid conditions from the evaporation of shallow salt basins, and they result in lovely rosettes. This seems to be the more commonly known Desert Rose crystal used for healing work.
But the stone I was actually looking for is Fulgurite. According to the Gemstones Advisor website:
Fulgurite (or fulgarite) is named after the Latin word ‘fulgur’, which means thunderbolt. The temperature of lightning, air-temperatures over 30,000°C have been measured, is far higher than the sand melting point of 1800°C. The silica, which makes up the sand, fuses together at this extreme heat, creating the so-called lightning glass or lightning sand.
Most examples of Fulgurite aren’t very attractive, but they are collectable simply because of how they are made. The metaphysical properties associated with this naturally created glass are quite impressive, though. In The Book of Stones, internationally acclaimed author and teacher Naisha Ahsian says, “Fulgurite is especially helpful for those ready to experience major breakthroughs and to release habit patterns that no longer serve. This stone carries a pure expression of Storm element energy, so it can create deep cleansing and purification on all levels” (162).
In short, this is not a rock you want to play around with unless you are ready for major transformation on all levels at a lightning-quick pace. Although this whole year has been about changes and letting go of old forms, it has happened gradually. It’s still happening, in fact. I’m not so sure I’d want the intensity of Fulgurite, but it caught my attention nonetheless. When something keeps nudging at me like that, I go into detective mode to see what I’m supposed to learn.
I looked for a goddess that I could associate with this stone, and the most relatable one is Fulgora, the Roman goddess of lightning. Not much was written about her at all, unfortunately. Maybe the Romans just wanted to assign a deity to lightning, and then they respectfully backed away to give her some space? She’s not one I’d ever think of calling upon, but if you have experience with this, I’d love to hear about it!
The Obscure Goddess Online Dictionary fills in a few gaps by providing some background on how the Romans classified those thunderbolts from the sky as omens for good or ill. The same friend/foe concept is also present in the all-too-familiar lightning strike of The Tower card in the Tarot.
It can mean that your whole world has to come crashing down in order to wipe the slate clean, or it can mean that you receive a sudden jolt of inspiration or a paradigm shift that sets you on a better path. It can be catastrophic…or it can be just enough. Lightning is tricky that way.
Colette Baron-Reid conveys the same general idea through the “Lady of Lightning” card in her Wisdom of the Hidden Realms deck:
As an Ally, [she] brings powerful forces of changes in your life…Perhaps a situation you weren’t anticipating arises and offers you the opportunity of a lifetime (97).
If she arrives as a Challenger, however:
Unpleasant news, an unexpected shock, or an overall sense of powerlessness are the aspects you may experience…This is a time when you may be forced to make a change you don’t want to make (98).
Again, there’s that dual nature of lightning. Even in the physical world, it barely touches some and leaves others forever altered. According to the National Weather Service, 90 percent of lightning strike victims survive, but it’s common to see lingering health issues afterward.
Looking at it from a metaphysical perspective, I’ve never met an individual who has undergone sudden and severe trauma of any kind without suffering mentally, physically, and spiritually. We are human, after all, and we can only stand so much before we break.
When I was just beginning to learn about energy balancing, I remember being warned against having a Kundalini awakening, which is the spiritual equivalent of being struck by lightning. I was told that it would lead to insanity and instability if that much energy suddenly blasted up through the seven chakras, especially if the person wasn’t properly prepared for such an experience. Preparation could take decades…perhaps a lifetime of yogic practices. Then I came across personal accounts from various individuals whose Kundalini awakening happened spontaneously, sometimes following a near death experience. In most cases, this fast track to enlightenment wasn’t something they desired, at least not consciously. Emily Dickinson captured this idea quite well in her poetry:
Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
Personally, I’m okay with being dazzled gradually, so I’m not planning to look for a big chunk of Fulgurite anytime soon. Researching it has already taught me plenty…mainly that I’m grateful for the aha moments, for flashes of insight, for synchronicities, and gentle awakenings.
Simmons, Robert and Naisha Ahsian. The Book of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach. Vermont: Heaven & Earth, 2005. Print.
Baron-Reid, Colette. Wisdom of the Hidden Realms Oracle Cards Guidebook. New York: Hay House, 2009. Print.