I have a thing for a man named Martin.
I met him almost two years ago on my birthday weekend in a little store in Silverlake, Los Angeles. His storefront was recommended to me by a friend who I was desperately trying to emulate in a time of great uncertainty in my life. At this point, I was turning 24.
In the window was a unicorn and inside were crystals of all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Los Angeles had done a number on me and I found that in-between the green juices that were supposed to make you thinner, the hikes that were supposed to make you feel invincible, and the relentless sun that was supposed to make my melanin pop, few things actually made me happy. What I was looking for, what I would be looking for, was home.
And then I met Martin. As I browsed around his store, he watched me with interest. A tall man with long, sleek black hair in a high ponytail, he can only be described as enchanting, as cliché as that may seem. Draped (and I do mean DRAPED, his clothing is always flowing) in black from head to toe, he seemed like a man whose intent is to create distance, to be unapproachable. Instead, he came up to me with a wide smile and a soothingly effervescent voice:
“Welcome! Are you new here!?”
I stood in front of the rose quartzes, holding a large chunk. Love.
“Yes. A friend sent me here…”
“That’s good for love you know. And you found a BEAUTIFUL one!! Whenever you need love, you can take this one and just tell yourself you are GORGEOUS! You are PERFECT! You have all the love you need, right here!” He placed his hand over his heart. In anyone else, it would seem hokey. In him…
“I didn’t even know we had a specimen like that. You have a good eye. Come to me when you finish.”
After wandering for some time, I selected a few crystals: A rose quartz, a unakite, a clear quartz, a moonstone, and a selenite wand. After giving me a rundown of the properties of each stone, taking care to cleanse them in sage smoke for me, we chatted over my birthday and the types of wisdom I was hoping to gain. Quietly, at a black table, he pulled a deck of tarot cards.
“You seem like you’re looking for answers. Draw three cards and really focus on the intentions and questions you have. And remember! there’s no such thing as a bad reading. The universe wants us to be strong and be our powerful selves so if it’s something not too great, it’s just something to work on.”
As I pulled, he watched me with a calm and steady gaze. For the first time in a long time, a man was looking AT me…at me.
“You know what, you chose great stones. You have such a great eye. This one’s on the house…”
I’ve been nesting in New York for about three weeks. I’ve curated every detail of my room from the sheets, to the marble overlay of my writing desk, to the lightbulbs my very confused super replaced for me. For the first time in a long time, I feel a place settling into my bones and into my consciousness. My feet are planted squarely on solid ground. My routine no longer includes social media; it makes my vibrations too low and invites the worst into my day. Instagram is my last stronghold of indulgence, and on it, I follow Martin.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about energy, the power of manifesting, and the possibility of living free. In every little thing, both good and bad, I’ve found a synchronicity or reason, an affirmation if you will, that energetic mindfulness and the ways I’ve been taught and trained myself to think of it have been a saving grace when times were less than ideal. New York City, for all of its endless wonder and magick, can also be stressful and intense, particularly in the summer heatwave. More than this though, in between the DIY projects, dinners out, and fabric tests, the world itself seems to have succumbed to more baser levels of vibration. We’ve become more violent, darker, and filled with more stagnant or malicious energy than I’ve felt before. I wondered out loud that maybe, these days, I’m just feeling more. I honestly haven’t decided.
What I knew was that my closest friends were also looking for reason. What I knew what that I was still looking for reason. So imagine my delight when Martin announced he’d be coming to New York for a limited engagement, armed with crystals, candles, oils, and more. I texted my closest friend and told her simply “we must go…”
Forgiveness is hard, but necessary because why reach for/demand accountability if redemption is not a possibility? Empathy and kindness ain’t about other people — it is about you.
Rainbow flags and decor drape the windows, fire escapes, and doorways of Chelsea as I step off the train. Pride weekend is quickly arriving and the tony and chic neighborhood is dressed the part as one of the early neighborhoods in New York to make rainbow a community staple. I’ve been thinking about titanium quartz or angel aura quartz to add to my altar, also polychromatic in hue. My friend arrives a little while after, giving me time to process some more. In the two years since I met Martin, it feels more natural to feel. To grow. It’s also never been more accessible. Will and Jada are on IG teaching us all how to be greater, Oprah is still racking up Super Soul Sundays, and little-by-little, Twitter has filled with astrology readings, aura color charts, and super-organic body butters. The soul may be en vogue, incognito, or absent, but either way, everyone is talking about it.
Immediately upon walking in, I’m taken with the familiarity. Beautiful stones line the shelves of a small square area designed for their pop-up. In the middle, still full of the same effervescent energy is Martin, doting on another customer who has chosen some stones. After some careful consideration, I decide on some calcites, a pyrite, a lapis lazuli, and a beautiful titanium quartz to tie it all together. As I approach the counter, I am nervous. It’s been a while since I stepped into the Silverlake shop, depression and pessimism causing me to doubt myself and my senses. In LA it is just as easy to be disenchanted as it is to be swept up in magick. Still, just as he once did, Martin saw me.
“This will encourage you to be fun and really harness all of that vibrant energy you have! And this stone will help you tap into that royal energy; whenever you just need to rise above and have perspective, this will get you there!”
Martin manifested his life. From an ended career to an extremely successful passion business, he is responsible for and takes complete ownership of his own happiness and healing. I understand.
“These two are gonna really let you tap into your creativity and manifestation powers. This is gonna help you build your dreams and create with an incredible energy! And this! This will help you keep the vibrations high. In a city like this, you need to have your energy clear so that you can give to others.”
As he steps from around the counter to hug me, he affirms me again like he did back then.
“I’m so glad you were able to take some positivity from what we do. You are an incredible creator! And you’ve got to go to the mirror and tell yourself that you are perfect and you are powerful and you can do anything! You manifested your life. You’re here now! And they need you here, there’s such heavy energy here. But now you can give light. You can show people such kindness. Cause you’re an empath, and the aura you have around you now is so clear and so beautiful. You’re in a good place sweetie! Be proud!!”
Grounded, settled into my bones.
He pulls out a tarot deck. “Just for you. Pull three and remember, there are no negatives. If it’s positive, then we celebrate, and if it’s not, then we focus so that we can bring ourselves closer to the positive. But the energy is always high.”
Sunday in Prospect Park. A group of friends gather for a pre-birthday for a friend. It’s been 3 years since I’ve seen her, but it feels like old times. Out in nature, under the solstice sun feels like the perfect place to smudge and clear. Instead, I eat mozzarella sticks, and cold noodles, and dumplings, and settle into good laughs and cute pictures and great company. It’s been an excellent six months.
Forgiveness as praxis. There’s been a lot to forgive in the past few months from many levels, including myself. Forgiveness is both event and non-event in that it is a moment of clarity and yet a continual process. Forgiveness is a constant thing, a cyclical thing, an intentional thing. Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is a power.
Empathy as praxis. We are not free until all of us are free, right? Then, if this freedom thing is gonna work, I have to care enough to see your chains, too.
Kindness as praxis. Nuff said.
“We’re all just energy!” Martin exclaims, with a matter of fact look on his face.
Grounded, here in New York, I feel them all sweeping over me.
As I ride the train home to Harlem, I’ve found what I was looking for two years ago on a dusty day in Los Angeles. Maybe it was the stones or the teachers. Maybe it was the wisdom of Dr. Strange or Lemonade/4:44. But I feel those energies, affirming and bright. I feel home, made of my own spirit. And it feels like freedom.