Everything is subject to trends. Even unhappiness. Two years ago, if you’d told Anastasia Bingham, who was nursing her three-month-old baby, that she’d be appearing in court this month as her husband sues her for divorce, she wouldn’t have believed you.
It wasn’t until Anastasia’s husband, a fund manager, brought a spiritual healer into their Knightsbridge town house that she had an inkling of trouble afoot. The dark-haired woman smiled, took her hand, and announced the end of the marriage. “I can see you’re going to have another great romance soon in your life,” she concluded.
Anastasia, it turns out, is not alone. Arranged divorces in which men—and it’s almost always men—hire a New Age go-between to relay the bad news and spare themselves the scenes, distress, and guilt are happening more and more in London, several people at a leading legal firm tell me.
The dark-haired woman smiled, took her hand, and announced the end of the marriage. “I can see you’re going to have another great romance soon in your life,” she concluded.
Separations nicknamed “private-equity divorces” are not new: you know, the guys who’ve made money and suddenly decide they want a different life, so the old house, wardrobe, and wife have to go. Now these bigwigs, used to firing people at a safe distance, have figured out a way to do the same with their wives.
How do they do the dumping while still appearing to be a decent human being? They get a crystal healer on the payroll to break the news, using phrases such as “new spiritual path” and “authentic self.”
And who are these healers? “Well,” a legal associate in the London firm’s family team, which handles divorce, tells me, “they are sort of witches.”
Crystal Canopies? Just the Beginning
I’ve spent two years researching crystals in the ancient and modern worlds, for a recently published book. With that came the good, the mad, and the ugly of crystal obsessions.
The ancient Egyptians have a rich history of using crystal, specifically malachite. And they weren’t insane to do it—French researchers have found that malachite’s copper-carbonate content does produce a type of disinfecting agent that would have reduced common Nile waterborne eye infections, which can lead to cataracts and blindness.
Today, Victoria Beckham and Charlotte Tilbury don’t make a move without a crystal. And who are we to deny their magical thinking? Then there is British contemporary artist Damien Hirst, who uses crystals in his work. “Turquoise is so beautiful, and it just comes out of the earth—you’d have to make sense of that somehow,” he once told me. “Of course, you’d think it was divine.” The American art collector Daniel Wolf measures his mineral collection in tons and credits the stones with keeping his brain active. A royal ex-girlfriend confided to me recently that she could get a good night’s sleep only when tucked beneath a crystal canopy.
As fast as I unraveled the positive stories of healing and rehabilitated lives owed to crystals, the flip dark side ran in parallel. The witches occupying this new marketplace are hard to identify, but their practice makes for lucrative work.
Who are these healers? “Well, they are sort of witches.”
They charge basic monthly stipends of $6,500, often just to be available at the end of a phone. Crystal “temples” built in offices are priced from $27,000. When sizable stones are laid in a higher-consciousness grid, the sky’s the limit, and crystals attached to a historical narrative carry a premium. One London banker’s boardroom conceals crystals within the floorboards and walls which have been collected from Tintagel Castle, on the Cornish coast, near Merlin’s Cave. This is so that the boardroom table may resonate with Arthurian-legend vibes.
Healers are flown around the world to sage a second home in Santa Barbara, or to meet an interior designer in Cap Ferrat who is matching colored stones with fabric swatches to heal the villa. Of course, when flying, extra room is needed on board for hand-carried crystals. Business class is tolerated, but first or private is preferred.
One London banker’s boardroom conceals crystals within the floorboards and walls which have been collected from Tintagel Castle, near Merlin’s Cave. The goal is Arthurian-legend vibes.
In London, clients take healers to dine at 5 Hertford Street or Annabel’s to have decisions sanctioned as personal growth. “She was wined and dined to feed his ego. I was at home babysitting,” says Anastasia. Recently, several lawyers have noted one healer’s name appearing in a series of divorce petitions.
All trends have a precedent. In addition to the Egyptians, this one has John Dee, a respected mathematician and court astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I and keen “scryer,” or crystal-gazer, whose rock-crystal ball rests in the British Museum. Dee was an Elizabethan highflier until he met a 1587 version of a witch in the form of fellow alchemist and con man Edward Kelley, who convinced him, in Bohemia, that a spirit wished them to share possessions, including their wives. This new life ended as you might expect: badly, alone, and in poverty.
Carol Woolton is the contributing jewelry director for British Vogue. She is the author of several books, including, most recently, The New Stone Age