Barite (barium sulphate) is a commonly occuring mineral that tends to form in attractive clusters and circular 'flowers' of concentric bladed crystals (when these are stained red by the presence of iron they are known as 'Desert Roses'). In its pure form Barite is transparent to translucent and grows as colorless or white crystals but if chemical impurities are present it can take on a wide range of colors, including shades of blue, yellow, red and green. The mineral is found in Britain, Canada, Germany and the United States, with notable occurences in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Conneticut and Colorado. 'Baryte' is the British spelling of the name.
Barite usually occurs in veins of lead and zinc running through limestone, in hot spring deposits and alongside Hematite ore. There are many 'associated minerals' that indicate Barite may be present, including Chalcopyrite, Calcite, Aragonite, Sulphur, Pyrite, Vanadinite, Fluorite and Cerrussite. Cerrusite is often confused with Barite and the two can be impossible to tell apart physically; a flame test is the best practical method for telling the difference. Scrape a little dust from the crystal into a gas flame. If the flame burns pale green you have Barite, if it burns red you have Celestite.
The name Barite is derived from the Greek 'barys' meaning heavy, and is in reference to the fact that Barite is an unusually heavy mineral. Most of the world's production is used in the oil industry to add weight to the fluids used for drilling through mud and silt. Although Barite contains a heavy metal (barium) it is not radioactive and is not listed as a toxic chemical because it is extremely insoluble and cannot easily be absorbed by the human body.
Barite can form in a large range of colors and crystal structures, which makes it a very collectable mineral. A good illustration of this is available online at Alan Guisewite's Mineral Collection. The page is graphics intensive and may take a while to load, but it is well worth the wait.
Barite is used metaphysically to help control and preserve energy and this quality makes it one of the most useful 'magical minerals' for people who are beginning a course of psychic exercises or trying to learn more about their own personal energy. Working with Barite can increase your understanding of how natural energy flows through living systems, which makes it a helpful stone for anyone involved in health care or the healing arts. Many illnesses and health problems, especially chronic fatigue and addiction, are blamed on blockages in the human energy system and an understanding of how energy tends to move can make any healer more effective. Many crystals can be used to break up energy blockages, sometimes quite violently, but Barite has a gentle and subtle effect and can be used long term over the course of several months to balance your internal flow of energy. Barite also promotes an understanding that addiction is a symptom rather than a disease, or as an Irish saying puts it, 'They talk about my drinking, but never about my thirst'. Working with this mineral can help you clarify the underlying energy problems that lead to dependance and help you work more effectively to break free of addictions
Barite can inspire you with new ideas for solving old problems and can help you learn to hear your inner voice, which often already knows the best solution. Meditation with Barite can help you find inspired and original answers and insights about how you can move forward in a positive way. Many healers believe that Barite increases your overall supply of 'Chi' or life energy. Simply increasing the amount of energy available can be unproductive or even dangerous if you don't know how to channel it, but Barite can also provide ideas as to how to use your increased energy for your own benefit or to improve your community and environment.
There are several colors of Barite crystal available and when working with this mineral it is helpful to choose a color that suits your aims. All forms of Barite will increase the energy available to you; the color of the crystal is believed to show which issue to channel your new-found reserves of power towards. Blue Barite opens the heart and leads to better communications with the people you love. Yellow or golden Barite is linked to dream magic, and sleeping with a piece under your pillow will encourage vivid dreams as well as helping you remember them more clearly when you wake. Orange Barite grants inspiration and creativity. Green Barite helps you channel your highest spiritual energy into artistic work and creative projects. White or clear Barite is said to increase your awareness of personal needs and desires and recognize areas of your life that need to be improved.
Desert Roses (rounded, flower-like Barite clusters stained red by the presence of Iron) are less subtle than other forms of the mineral and are believed to be 'power objects' containing a reserve of magical energy that can be destructive if used carelessly. Working with a Desert Rose is helpful if you are facing an old, stuck situation and feel you need a surge of extra power to get things moving forwards again. The results might not be pleasant, but they will be helpful and encourage personal growth.
Barite is common in the United States and seems to have been widely used by Native Americans in religious and healing rituals. The mineral was also used for shape shifting (a magical form of energy transformation) and to supply the boost of power needed to travel safely between the worlds, stepping from the physical to the spiritual and back again with ease.
In crystal healing Barite is mainly used as a cleanser that can gently free up toxins stored in the body so they are eliminated naturally. It also helps provide the energy and awareness needed to recover from addiction, compulsive behavior, obsessions and feelings of worthlessness.