Snugged in the back corner of Crossroads Market, Amanda Kindle stands behind the counter greeting locals into Friends & Gems Inc., a cozy vendor catering to people taking a holistic approach to life.

After taking over the business more than five years ago, Kindle, along with members of her team, have seen an increase of diversity in the people who visit their nook of the market.

“Some people are here just for the incense and then you get the ones who come in here to literally stand in front of the stones,” Kindle said.

Although these claims have not been supported by science, this holistic practice has become more common for people to gravitate to.

Gems, stones, crystals and other rock formations differing in size, shape and special attributes are used to fulfill certain elements and guide people through adverse times throughout their life. 

Card readings have also escalated in popularity and are more available to those who seek guidance.

Michelle Gruendel, a woman of many trades, is among a few veteran card readers and crystal healers Friends & Gems has on its staff.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Gruendel on Jan. 13 and ask her questions many people have thought about when it comes to this kind of alternative work.

What titles have you achieved within your work?

I am an advanced Angel empowerment practitioner, which means I do intuitive meetings and healing work using crystals for people using Angel cards. I’m also a reiki master, certified in 2009, and I am a certified crystal healer through the Hibiscus Moon Crystal Academy.

Where did this initial interest come from?

I’ve always been a metaphysical hoarder, somebody who has gathered tools of the trade for a very long time. It was already a strong interest so there was an awful lot of experiential work along the way where I just needed confirmation of what was actually happening and what I was capable of doing. I believe in magic and I know there are many different ways to create what you want. So much of it has to do with us working on our own personal self-love and self-growth and really moving into doing what you’re meant to be doing and feeling the joy in your work.

met·a·phys·i·cal: “concerned with the abstract thought of existence, causality or truth.”

What do you think of the people who say gems, stones, and cards are phony and a waste of time?

The interesting thing I’ve learned about is people’s belief systems and I don’t argue with people about these things at all because everyone has a belief system that makes them feel safe and protected. I think that if someone is drawn to a stone and you tell them why, often times that just opens the door to them thinking maybe there is a little bit more to it than just a pretty shiny rock.

I understand if people feel it doesn’t work for them and whether or not they maybe want to deny the benefits — that’s their prerogative and it doesn’t really affect me. I’ll just continue to share and hopefully they receive the same benefits that I’ve received.

If someone were to find interest in this practice, how would they start? Would they come to you, as a certified crystal healer/practitioner or would they have to do it on their own and self-discover?

It’s a little bit of both. It’s about finding someone you can trust, someone that is only there to support you rather then sell you something you do not need. If they have the faith and they give it the opportunity to work, it will work for them. If they’re unsure, there’s a lot of great information online as well.

Quite by default, you will discover benefits you weren’t expecting from the stone because sometimes it’s not just a one type [of] stone. You do not need to have one of everything for healing but you may end up with a little, what I like to call, ‘crystal tool kit’ which is four or five stones you go to when you have a cold, one for aches and pains, one for migraines, one for bad moods.

Can you describe the cards that you use for Angel readings?

Yes, I work with Doreen Virtue Angel cards. The idea behind them is that they are messages fully around love, light, positivity, self-nurture, self-growth and self-empowerment.

What is the difference between an oracle (Angel) card and a tarot card?

Tarot has a beautiful and rich history but it does have some cards that people are scared of or they’ve had experiences with readers that spooked them. Ultimately, when you work with Oracle cards you are working with your intuitive gifts that come to you from God or the Divine as you see it.

It’s not divination against a specific religion. It’s not ‘mumbo jumbo,’ it’s not ‘hoodoo,’ it is letting information flow from divine energy. Basically tapping into your intuitive guidance and guidance from your angel team that we’re all born with to help you to better navigate your life.

ho·lis·tic: “the treatment of a whole person including their social and mental health, rather than just physical symptoms.”

How is each deck of cards different from one another?

It’s a personal preference. You can make any deck work for you, or more strongly, you should go with a deck that you’re attracted to. I find the more you use them, you just start glancing at them knowing what they’re trying to tell you. For each person, it is a totally different experience.

As far as the decks from Doreen are concerned, her decks have different purposes. You have very generalized ones and then you have more specific ones like abundance, life purpose, romance. I know people who were inspired and made a shift in their journey. I’m so affirmed by the people who come back to me and say the things that I’ve showed them have made a huge difference in their life. They feel they owe it to me but ultimately it was their intuitive guidance that came through me. I didn’t do anything, I just facilitated.

I’ve heard that the deck chooses you, and not the other way around. Is that true?

Yes. Every deck I’ve ever picked up has given me a different feeling. I find for personal use I’ve just generally relied on the cards that I have but every so often a deck of cards will come around and it speaks to me, makes me tingle.

What kind of fulfillment do you receive by doing these readings for others? Is it overwhelming?

Absolutely. I’ve learned to become comfortable with it. I can say I actually get high from doing readings. I just feel so good and it’s because I am helping. I have 30 years of customer experience behind me. That’s always been what I’ve gravitated towards doing. What I do now is more fulfilling because I see people shift, I see their lives change, I see if they’re meant to get on their trail and embrace it, and move forward. My life has been so improved on all aspects by just doing this work.

Michelle G“I wear crystals in my bra because sometimes I don’t have pockets!” Michelle Gruendel in her corner of Crossroads Market on Jan. 15 facilitating a card reading. Photo by Abby LaRocque.

After talking with Gruendel, she reminisced about a story of her own that affirmed faith in her work. Her favourite crystal, Rainbow Fluorite, helped heal her from a tough physical state.

“I had hip surgery, I’ve had both my hips replaced, and the pain was pretty bad. I started to sleep with a piece of Rainbow Fluorite. I wasn’t getting anywhere with physiotherapy or chiropractic help.”

By believing the energy of the crystal and shifting her mental state of mind, Gruendel says her pain gradually reduced and her whiplash was aided. She insists that sleeping with the crystal assisted in her recovery.

Gruendel and her colleagues are a welcoming presence at Friends and Gems and is always encouraging others to embrace their intuitive guidance promising she will help in their journey and self-discovery.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Editor: Polly Eason | 

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