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

By JESSICA FLINT
Wed, Dec 13, 2023 9:13amGrey 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 homegoods 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 color 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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I.M. Pei was the confident visionary behind such transformative structures as the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, but he was also humble, and for years resisted a retrospective of his work.

Pei, a Chinese-American architect who died in 2019 at 102 , would always protest any suggestion of a major exhibition, saying, “why me,” noting, too, that he was still actively at work, recalls his youngest son, Li Chung “Sandi” Pei. A decade ago, when Pei was in his mid-to-late 90s, he relented, finally telling Aric Chen, a curator at the M+ museum in Hong Kong, “all right, if you want to do it, go ahead,” Sandi says.

A sweeping retrospective, “I.M. Pei: Life Is Architecture,” will open June 29 at M+ in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The exhibition of more than 300 objects, including drawings, architectural models, photographs, films, and other archival documents, will feature Pei’s influential structures, but in dialogue with his “social, cultural, and biographical trajectories, showing architecture and life to be inseparable,” the museum said in a news release.

As a Chinese citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1935 to learn architecture, Pei—whose full first name was Ieoh Ming—brought a unique cultural perspective to his work.

“His life is what’s really interesting and separates him from many other architects,” Sandi says. “He brought with him so many sensibilities, cultural connections to China, and yet he was a man of America, the West.”

Facade of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© South Ho Siu Nam

Pei’s architectural work was significant particularly because of its emphasis on cultural institutions—from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar—“buildings that have a major impact in their communities,” Sandi says. But he also did several urban redevelopment projects, including Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan and Society Hill in Philadelphia.

“These are all places for people,” Sandi says. “He believed in the importance of architecture as a way to bring and celebrate life. Whether it was a housing development or museum or a tall building or whatever—he really felt a responsibility to try to bring something to wherever he was working that would uplift people.”

A critical juncture in Pei’s career was 1948, when he was recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (where he received a master’s degree in architecture) by New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf.

With Zeckendorf, Pei traveled across the country, meeting politicians and other “movers and shakers” from Denver and Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. “He became very adept at working in that environment, where you had to know how to persuade people,” Sandi says.

During the seven-year period Pei worked with Zeckendorf, the developer fostered the growth of his architecture practice, supporting an office that included urban, industrial, graphic, and interior designers, in addition to architects and other specialists, Sandi says.

When Pei started his own practice in 1955, “he had this wealth of a firm that could do anything almost anywhere,” Sandi says. “It was an incredible springboard for what became his own practice, which had no parallel in the profession.”

According to Sandi, Chinese culture, traditions, and art were inherent to his father’s life as he grew up, and “he brought that sensibility when he came into America and it always influenced his work.” This largely showed up in the way he thought of architecture as a “play of solids and voids,” or buildings and landscape.

“He always felt that they worked together in tandem—you can’t separate one from the other—and both of them are influenced by the play of light,” Sandi says.

View of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the mesa, in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© Naho Kubota

Pei also often said that “architecture follows art,” and was particularly influenced by cubism, an artistic movement exploring time and space that was practiced in the early 20th century by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, among others. This influence is apparent in the laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. “Those two buildings, if you look at them, have a play of solid and void, which are very cubistic,” Sandi says.

Yet Sandi argues that his father didn’t have a specific architectural style. Geometry may have been a consistent feature to his work, but his projects always were designed in response to their intended site. The resulting structure emerged as almost inevitable, he says. “It just was the right solution.”

Pei also intended his buildings “not only to be themselves a magnet for life,” but also to influence the area where they existed. “He never felt that a building stood alone,” Sandi says. “Urban design, urban planning, was a very important part of his approach to architecture, always.”

After he closed his own firm to supposedly “retire” in the early 1990s, Pei worked alongside Sandi and his older brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, who died late last year, at PEI Architects, formerly Pei Partnership Architects. Pei would work on his own projects, with their assistance, and would guide his sons, too. The firm had substantial involvement in the Museum of Islamic Art, among other initiatives, for instance, Sandi says.

Working with his father was fun, he says. In starting a project, Pei was often deliberately vague about his intentions. The structure would coalesce “through a process of dialogue and sketches and sometimes just having lunch over a bottle of wine,” Sandi says. “He was able to draw from each of us who was working on the project our best efforts to help to guide [it] to some kind of form.”

The M+ retrospective, which will run through Jan. 5, is divided into six areas of focus, from Pei’s upbringing and education through to his work in real estate and urban redevelopment, art and civic projects, to how he reinterpreted history through design.

Sandi, who will participate in a free public discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Shirley Surya on the day it opens, is interested “in the opportunity to look at my father anew and to see his work in a different light now that it’s over, his last buildings are complete. You can take a full assessment of his career.”

And, he says, “I’m excited for other people to become familiar with his life.”