Crystal Consults and Tarot Readings: Energy Healers Become the Go-To Home-Repair Pro
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Crystal Consults and Tarot Readings: Energy Healers Become the Go-To Home-Repair Pro

Homeowners across the country are turning to gurus, shamans and other energy practitioners to cleanse bad vibes and elevate their spaces

Wed, Dec 13, 2023 8:44amGrey Clock 7 min

Brook Harvey-Taylor felt creatively stuck.

The CEO and founder of Pacifica skin care and cosmetics company had moved into a Santa Barbara, Calif.-area estate in December 2022, and something was blocking her from decorating the five-bedroom, five-bathroom space. A year ago, the only furniture in the living room was two sofas. A year later, the living room still only has two sofas.

Then there was the matter of honouring the property, a 1980s vestige originally designed for a television producer by interior designer Michael Taylor, the godfather of the California look. Harvey-Taylor, 54, and her husband have a great reverence for the house—which has Ibiza finca-style overtones and a Mediterranean feel—and how it sits in nature. “We wanted to show the property and the original owner gratitude,” says Harvey-Taylor, who declined to disclose the purchase price.

So Harvey-Taylor enlisted Colleen McCann, 44, a Los Angeles-based shamanic energy practitioner, to harmonise the property’s energy. Home harmonising is one of the services McCann offers through her consulting firm, Style Rituals, which she founded in 2015 after a 15-year career as a fashion designer and stylist.

Los Angeles-based energy stylist Colleen McCann doing home harmonising work at her client Brook Harvey-Taylor’s house in the Santa Barbara, Calif., area. VIDEO:TEAL THOMSEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In November, McCann spent four days at Harvey-Taylor’s estate. They performed a Celtic space clearing blessing, paid ceremonial homage to the original owner and upgraded a spiral staircase’s feng shui energy flow, among other activities. But the pair says the biggest aha moment came when crystals, tarot cards and a dowsing pendulum helped reveal that locating Harvey-Taylor’s office within the house was creating a family-wide creativity block. This revelation, Harvey-Taylor says, and the subsequent scheme to move her office into the garage, feels like the beginning of unblocking her creative stuckness.

Across the U.S., homeowners are hiring house-energy specialists to reset and elevate their home’s energy, often through modern-day twists on ancient spiritual practices and healing arts. Real-estate professionals are tapping into their mystical sides, too, embracing these same ritualistic endeavours.

Ele Keats, 52, is an actress—she starred in Disney’s 1992 movie “Newsies”—who has been designing crystal and gemstone jewellery for 20 years. Through her Santa Monica, Calif.-based shop, Ele Keats Jewelry, she offers house crystal consultations.

Crystal healing, to wildly oversimplify it, is a practice rooted in the belief that crystals have healing powers: citrine amplifies creativity and wealth; rose quartz enhances love; selenite clears and purifies; and so on. Practitioners believe placing crystals on or around the body, or in a physical space, can balance energy. Crystals can be priced as little as about $3 for a small, hand-held piece, whereas world-class, museum-quality specimens can cost roughly $100,000 to $1 million and higher.

Keats works with homeowners such as a client who wanted to revamp the sad, empty energy she felt permeated her Los Angeles dwelling. “There was no life force,” Keats says. To usher in vibrancy and aliveness, Keats helped the client with the personal process of positioning a half-dozen or so crystal types, varying in sizes and forms, inside and outside the client’s residence.

Keats was recently hired to select crystals to inlay under a 50-foot indoor saltwater pool at The Huron, a 171-unit condo building slated to open in Greenpoint, in Brooklyn, in January 2024. “It was top of mind to make sure the pool space is tranquil, rejuvenating and soul-cleansing,” says Jared White, senior vice president at Quadrum Global, the New York-based company developing the project, where offerings currently range from $750,000 studios to $3.16 million three-bedrooms. “That discussion went to crystals.”

In Boca Raton, Fla., Senada Adžem is Douglas Elliman’s executive director of luxury sales. She recently listed a $23.995 million Delray Beach, Fla., property at which the homeowners put their interest in crystal healing on display. They commissioned custom-designed chandeliers made from healing crystals. They use crystals as design pieces, including a nearly human-sized amethyst by the dining room’s doorway. Built in 2018, the house has six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms, and is 11,457 square feet of living space on 2.5 acres.

Additionally, after a house showing, the space is saged, says Adžem, referring to the ancient ritual of burning plants—in this case, sage—for purification.

Brook Harvey-Taylor’s energy stylist Colleen McCann says clients engage her in house energy work for many reasons. Some want their space’s energy refreshed annually. Others are experiencing a house-affecting life transition, such as moving, having a baby or divorcing. Others can’t put their finger on why they are feeling bad vibes. Then there are people who are freaked out. “They say, ‘There are doors slamming, the lights are flickering,’ ” says McCann, who works globally.

McCann says one of the many steps in her home-harmonising process is laying crystals and tarot cards on a house’s blueprint, and using a dowsing pendulum, tools she uses along with her intuition. Over the past 15 years, McCann has studied many different spiritual, mystical and metaphysical lineages. “My preference is to learn a lot of modalities and blend it together to make it my own,” McCann says. Consultations start at $1,000 and prices vary on the project’s scope.

New York-based Holly Star, 45, has 20 years of energetic work experience. She studied for five years with various gurus, healers and shamans. Her space-clearing process tends to involve custom bundles of herbal and botanical mixtures, sometimes up to three or four mixes of 10 or 15 types, such as frankincense, copal, pine, lavender and sandalwood. When working on a house, she does a lot of burning and bells. “I kind of go into a trance,” Star says. “It’s almost like I pan back from the space and I can feel the energetic templating shifting.” Afterward, clients often tell her their spaces feel light, says Star, who also owns Matter and Home, a spiritually inclined luxury home goods boutique. Her space clearing fee starts at $2,000.

Sometimes houses need healing like people do, says London-based Emma Lucy Knowles, 39, who has been working in clairvoyance, crystals, energy, hands-on healing, light, meditation and spiritual coaching for 20 years. Knowles says she treats a house like a body: She reorients, manipulates and liberates a space’s energy to its true form. She uses energy healing, elemental sources (such as crystals and fire, the latter through burning palo santo, sage and incense) and sound (such as music, sound bowls, mantra or chanting). To close her sessions, she lights a violet flame for intention. She often decorates with crystals, which she says work like energy hubs around the house. Her space energy clearing work depends on square footage, but starts at $400.

Brooke Lichtenstein, 46, refers to herself as spiritual guide and family energy healer who, with her husband, is renting a five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 4,800-square-foot house in Los Angeles’s Pacific Palisades neighbourhood, where the median listing price is $4.3 million. In her house, she performs clearings, healing and blessings through rituals such as prayer, light visualisations, herb burning, rosewater spraying and sound healing using her voice in prayer and playing instruments such as crystal bowls, chimes and a harp. To her, this is home maintenance. “People do a lot of things to maintain their homes,” she says. “This is paramount for us.” Her 7- and 8-year-old sons sometimes join her practice. “To watch them owning their own space is a privilege to witness,” she says.

“People have a desire to have a spiritual component to their lives,” says Lytton John Musselman, Old Dominion University’s Mary Payne Hogan Professor of Botany, Emeritus, who is an expert in the intersection of plants and spirituality. The University of Texas at Austin’s curator of gems and minerals, Kenneth Befus, agrees. “Humans believe in religion and the spiritual realm,” says Befus, a crystal expert. “We want to. It brings us peace.”

The problem, both scholars say, is separating the religious and psychosomatic from medical efficacy. Musselman says, “If I plant lavender in my garden and feel better, is that because I want to feel better? Or because I enjoy planting it, or smelling it? Or does it really have an effect on my other senses?”

Befus says crystal healing has no empirical scientific evidence. “Crystal healing is in the realm of metaphysical,” he says. “We call it pseudoscience.” However, he acknowledges the potential of the placebo effect. “That’s a place where crystals could be healing,” he says. “It’s not in the word ‘energy’ or ‘chakra’ or ‘aura.’ ”

Musselman—whose latest book, “Solomon Described Plants,” is a guide to biblical botany—says as a scientist he seeks documentation from field studies and scientific literature. “I was at a large, wonderful bazaar in Iraq, and I saw a very poisonous rosary pea,” he says. “I asked the vendor what it was for, and he said, ‘For women to drive away evil spirits.’ I thought, ‘How are you going to test that?’”

Energetic healing practitioner and energy consultant Holly Star says, “People may not be able to scientifically prove how something came to be, but I believe how you feel and seeing change in your life or home is the proof.” She says sometimes the most powerful part of a clearing lies in homeowners learning about themselves. “Their lives start to open,” she says. “It’s kind of a backdoor.” Jewellery designer and crystal-store owner Ele Keats shares a similar sentiment: She says she’s heard countless stories of how crystals have enabled breakthroughs and life improvements.

Chelsea Leibow, 33, took the backdoor approach when she addressed a problem in her house using tarot, a tool for divination and tapping into one’s intuition.

In September 2022, Leibow and her husband, Mike Farrell, 34, purchased a five-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,200-square-foot house in West Orange, N.J., for $805,000. Early on, they splurged on hiring painters for their front foyer, stairway, second-floor landing and back hall. The painters did a great job. The issue was that Leibow deeply believed she chose the wrong colour of white paint.

“I could not live with myself,” Leibow says. “I was like, ‘It’s wrong and I hate it and I want to fix it immediately.’ ” Her husband, on the other hand, thought they should embrace the paint. He thought it looked exactly like every other white paint.

To get a grip on the situation, Leibow sorted through her feelings using tarot, a modality she dabbled in during college but got more serious about in 2020, when, during the Covid-19 pandemic, she began attending a Sunday Zoom group led by a practicing witch who is an expert in tarot and astrology. “The cards were like, ‘You’ve got to chill out. Just give it a beat,’ ” says Leibow, who owns communications firm Chelsea Leibow Communications.

Leibow listened to her husband—and the cards. The couple agreed the paint would stay, but if Leibow still detested it a year later, they’d get it fixed.

A year later, their foyer, stairway, second-floor landing and back hall are now a new colour of white paint.


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Few of the U.S.’s philanthropic foundations invest their endowment assets—totalling an estimated US$1.1 trillion—to create positive social and environmental change in addition to high returns, potentially limiting or even counteracting the good such organisations do.

Exactly how few isn’t precisely known. But Bridgespan Social Impact, a subsidiary of the New York-based Bridgespan Group along with the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based investment firm founded by Jeff Skoll , the first president of eBay, and the Skoll Foundation, also in Palo Alto, attempted to “get the conservation started,” with a study of 65 foundations with a total of about US$89 billion in assets, according to Mandira Reddy, director at Capricorn Investment Group.

The top-line conclusion: 5% of the primarily U.S.-based foundations surveyed invest their assets for impact. Most surprising is that 92% of these organisations, which have assets ranging from US$11 million to US$16 billion, are active members of impact investing groups, such as the Global Impact Investing Network and Mission Investors Exchange.

“If there’s any pool of capital that is best suited for impact investing, it would be this pool of capital along with family office money,” Reddy says.

The study was also conducted “to draw attention to the opportunity,” she said.

“We want to redefine what philanthropy can achieve. There is massive potential here just given the scale of capital.”

Foundations are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to grant 5% of their assets each year to charity; in practice they have granted slightly more in the last 10 years—an average of 7% of their assets, according to Delaware-based FoundationMark, which tracks the investment performance of about 97% of all foundation assets.

The remaining assets of these foundations are invested with the intention of earning the “highest-possible risk-adjusted financial returns,” the report said. Those investments allow these organizations to grant funds often in perpetuity.

Capricorn and Bridgespan argue that more foundations, however, need to “align their capital with their missions,” and that they can do so while still achieving high returns.

“Why wait to distribute resources far into the future when there are numerous urgent issues facing the planet and communities today,” argue the authors of a report on the research, which is titled, “Can Foundation Endowments Achieve Greater Impact.”

The fact most of the foundations surveyed are very familiar with impact investing and yet haven’t taken the leap “highlights the persistently untapped opportunity,” the report said. It details some of the barriers foundations can face in shifting to impact, and how and why to overcome them.

Hurdles to making a shift can include “beginner’s dilemma”—simply not knowing where to start—and a misperception on the part of large foundations that impact investing is “too niche,” offering opportunities that are too small for the amount of capital they need to allocate. Other foundations are too stretched and don’t have the resources to add capabilities for making impact investments, the report said.

One of the biggest concerns is financial performance. Some foundation leaders, for instance, worry impact investments lead to so-called concessionary returns, where a market rate of return is sacrificed to achieve a social or environmental benefit. Those investments exist, but there are also plenty of options that offer financial returns.

The authors make a case for foundations to “go big,” into impact to realize the best outcomes, and to take a portfolio approach, meaning integrating impact principles into how they approach all investments. To make this happen, foundations need to incorporate impact into their investment policy statements, which determine how they allocate assets.

It will be difficult for foundations that want to shift their assets to impact to pull out of investments such as private-equity or venture-capital funds that can have holdings periods of a decade. But with a policy statement in place, a foundation’s investment team can reinvest this long-term capital once it is returned into impact investing options, she says.

“The transition doesn’t happen overnight,” Reddy says. “Even if there is a commitment for an established foundation that is already fully invested, it takes several years to get there.”

The Skoll Foundation, established in 1999, revised its investment policy statement in 2006 to incorporate impact. According to the report, the foundation initially divested of investments that were not in sync with its values, and then gradually, working with Capricorn Investment, began exploring impact opportunities mostly in early-stage companies developing solutions to climate change.

“As the team gained more knowledge and experience in this work, and as more investment opportunities arose, the impact-aligned portfolio expanded across different asset classes, issue areas, and fund managers,” the report said.

As of 2022, 70% of the Skoll Foundation’s assets are in impact investments addressing climate change, inclusive capitalism, health and wellness, and sustainable markets.

Capricorn, which manages US$9 billion for foundations and institutional investors through impact investments, constructs portfolios across asset classes. In private markets, this can include venture, private equity, private credit, real estate, and infrastructure. There are also impact options in the public markets, in both stocks and bonds.

“Across the spectrum there are opportunities available now to do this in an authentic manner while preserving financial goals,” Reddy says.

Of the foundations surveyed, about 15, including Skoll, have 50% or more of their assets invested for impact. Others include the Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Though not part of the study, the California Endowment just announced it was going “all in” on impact. The organisation has US$4 billion in assets under management, which likely makes it the largest foundation to undergo the shift, according to Mission Investors Exchange.

Although the researchers looked at a fairly small sample set of foundations, Reddy says it provides data “that is indicative of what the foundation universe” might look like.

“We cannot tell foundations how to invest and that’s not the intent, but we do want to spread the message that it is quite possible to align their assets to impact,” she says. “The idea is that this becomes a boardroom conversation.”


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