Last year, in her cover story for Vogue's September issue, Jennifer Lawrence told a harrowing tale about haphazardly removing crystals from a house she had just moved into without consulting someone she called the "crystal lady." Lawrence's house flooded. That story has stayed with me since for a myriad of reasons: firstly because water damage is terrifying, and secondly because, I mean, of course there is a "crystal lady," and of course she got mentioned in Vogue's September issue.
Fashion and mysticism have a longstanding relationship, one that's only been made stronger — or, at least, more public — in recent years. Lawrence's dreaded crystals are everywhere, obviously, but so are activities like tarot reading and aura photography, both of which crop up at a not-insignificant amount of of industry events.
This is where Colleen McCann, a fashion stylist-turned-crystal shaman (not the one referenced by Lawrence, as far as I know) comes into play. The Pittsburghnative was living in Brooklyn when, around her 29th birthday, she began hearing voices (also known as "clairaudience") in a bodega. That one experience put her down what she describes as "a long, mystical, winding road with many twists and turns."
In the ensuing years, McCann put in the work: She studied with a Buddhist Feng Shui master to learn crystal healing and space clearing; she became a Reiki master; she even received an accreditation as a Shamanic Energy Medicine Practitioner. Through her mystical education, McCann didn't lose sight of her first love of fashion. She launched her own business, Style Rituals, which includes a "Closet Cleanse" rooted in the same practices as tarot cards or tea leaves, as well as space balancing, intuitive business building and, naturally, crystal readings.
For fashion event regulars, especially those on the West Coast, McCann might be a familiar face: She takes on various activations and speaker engagements, most recently at the celebrity-attended 2nd Annual Maison St-Germain party, hosted by stylist Kate Young. (McCann first met Young through Gwyneth Paltrow, when McCann was working as Goop's "crystals consultant.") Fans of both fashion and mystic realms may also be interested in McCann's upcoming book, "Crystal Rx," due out Nov. 6.
In a cross-country phone call, I had McCann walk me through that "long, mystical, winding road" from fashion to shamanism. But, beware: If you get spooked easily, this interview is not for the faint of heart. Read on for the highlights.
When did your interest in fashion begin?
I would say when I was a small girl and I would always play "fashion show" with my Barbies. W Magazine was what I read first; because it had a "W" on it, I thought it was for Wonder Woman.
I went to New York as a small child with my family and when I went home, I announced that when I grew up, I was going to move to New York. The idea of living in New York started to take hold in high school. I ended up going to school for fashion design, and then I moved to New York and was there for 15 years.
What jobs did you hold in the early part of your career?
Oddly enough, the first couple years I spent working it was as the women's designer for Under Armour.
Then I moved to New York and I worked for, at the time, what was a hosiery company called LittleMissMatched. They started with this idea of the lost laundry sock. So, I helped them blow out an entire accessories line: shoes and furniture and clothing and jewelry, all kinds of things.
How did you eventually segue into styling?
At the time, I also decided, "You know what? I don't like being at the computer so much anymore. I want to get into styling because I know that puts me on set." I started working at Condé Nast as an assistant. I got to work with all these interesting publications: Vogue Germany and Vogue Japan and Vogue Brasil, all the Vogues. Shortly after that, L'Oréal came into my life. They were a client for 11 years.
And when did your interest in mysticism begin?
Around my 29th birthday, I was working on a trend presentation and it was around 2 a.m. and I was hungry. I went over to the bodega to get my favorite sandwich. I was walking around and about to go up to the counter and I hear a man's voice say, "There's going to be a fight about bananas. And he's going to be 32 cents short." I spin around. Nobody's there.
I walk up to the register and a man rushes in with these bananas from the outside stand. And the argument happens about the money right in front of me. And I was like, "Okay, that's some kind of coincidence."
But the thing was, this started happening even more. And now I was having premonition dreams about people I would see the next day. And not just a coworker, right? Someone I haven't seen in five to 10 years, someone that wouldn't be front of mind.
I also started seeing spirits. And the real kicker was walking around New York and having random people come up to me and tell me I was a healer. I didn't even know what that meant at the time. I mean, I was literally at [New York Fashion Week] and a woman came up to me and she's like, "I need to do a reading for you. I can see your bright green aura. Your life's about to change."
Why do you think this emerged when you were 29 and not earlier?
I didn't understand what I was packing. I didn't even understand what a healer was. And as I started to understand what being a healer was or a shaman was or any of those words you would associate with someone doing what I do, I realized this was happening to me when I was little.
I won the state lottery when I was seven years old because I had a dream about the numbers. I went downstairs and told my parents and threw a fit because they weren't listening to me. I mean, who's listening to a seven-year-old when they say something like that? They finally went to play the numbers at the gas station to calm me down. They said, "Okay. We'll turn the TV on at dinner. And you can watch the lottery." And the numbers hit.
As I investigated this, I started realizing that it's always been there, but it really kicked into gear in my late 20s, which is a very, very common thing with healers — that when they get around the age of their Saturn Return, which happens somewhere between 27 to 31, this is when it turns on.
Then, after that first experience at the bodega, what motivated you to pursue this full-time?
I'm in New York and feeling really weird, not knowing what's going on. I end up in this psychic's office with a really long list of all the reasons I thought I was crazy. And this man — his name is Asa Hoffman; he's still practicing — looks at me when he opens the door and he's like, "Oh. You're psychic." I didn't even sit down. He didn't even shake my hand.
I didn't tell anybody. I was scared. I was feeling shame. I also didn't know how to talk about whatever this was. I had one friend, the only person I knew who had ever told me that she had seen a psychic. I visited her in the Hamptons and I start to tell her the story. She pats me on the face, lovingly, and said, "There's a woman named Marisa Pouw and she's a long-distance energy healer. I want you to talk to her. She's the one that's going to be able to help you."
I get on the phone with Marisa and she said, "We're just going to open the reading space." All the sudden, my pelvis convulses to the point that it feels like someone would have put heart attack pads on my hips. I'm laying there on the floor in silence and she goes, "That's better. I had to readjust your hips before we could start working together." I ended up working with her once a week privately for three years. She was helping me get my shit together.
She stopped doing healings on me and started teaching me. [At that point, during one of the sessions,] she said, "I have an intuitive message for you. Can I pass it?" What's interesting is when she was going to pass me this particular message, I actually happened to be in Joshua Tree doing a photo shoot and she had no idea. She was in San Francisco; she believed I was in Brooklyn in my house. She said, "You need to go to shaman school." I started fighting her on it, of course, and she goes, "You're right down the street from the school, so you should at least check it out." And she hung up. She named a school called The Four Winds. I was 11 miles down the street from where the school was.
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From there, after shaman school, how did you go about building your energy practitioner business?
Four years ago, I started Style Rituals, where I aligned the energetic and visual bodies of my clients. I spent a lot of time training. I had private mentors. I became a Reiki master. I went to shaman school. I never want to stop learning, but I did enough that I felt I was ready to go out in the world with this.
I was in a divination class in shaman school. The teacher was talking about how a good shaman can do readings off of anything, whether that's tarot cards or leaves or clouds or water. I went, "Huh. I wonder if I could do that on a closet." Indeed you can.
Then, I've trained for the last 11 years in the realm of crystals. And of course, I got into that because, I mean, I like statement jewelry. I was always around it in the industry I worked in.
You often do crystal readings for fashion industry events. What do those particular readings entail?
Let's just say there's 20 little bowls of crystals. Since our body knows what to do and can tell us so much information about ourselves, when someone gravitates toward a certain kind of crystal, each crystal has a specific meaning or healing property. We call this stone medicine. It literally helps tell me what's going on with that person.
For example, someone picks rose quartz. Rose quartz is a stone for self-love and love of others. Or there's tiger's eye for travel. Or sardonyx for the workplace. Depending on what people pick, you can start to do a reading around it.
You have quite the range of A-list clients. How did you go about building that clientele?
It came pretty quickly. My fashion clients became my healing clients. As you hear people in business say, go with what you know, right? Talk to the people you know first. Stay in your tribe. The greatest compliment I could ever receive was from word-of-mouth referrals. And that's how I grew my clientele.
In your current practice, what does your day-to-day look like?
Every day is like a snowflake. It's completely different. Sometimes there's some type of press event. Sometimes I'm with clients doing one-on-ones. There's a crystal aspect within Feng Shui, so I might fly somewhere and work on someone's home or business. That could take me anywhere in the world. I also work remotely with anybody, anywhere in the world. But the industries I work in are fashion, beauty, health, wellness and entertainment — because that's my tribe.
The fashion world has always been incredibly tied into all things spiritual. Why do you think the two fields — your two passions — are so interconnected?
I think, on a base level, the reason they go hand-in-hand is because really creative people are also highly sensitive in an intuitive way. I believe everybody has the power to access their sixth sense. Again, we know there's a lot of creatives who work in certain industries and I think that they're naturally intuitive. They're drawn to the energy or the beauty of crystals. If it starts with the beauty, that's fine. Then you pick up a crystal and you're like, "Whoa. I feel something."
What would you recommend to someone who is already somewhat spiritual and wants to get more involved, but doesn’t know where to start?
It's really important to explore and to get a mentor. Or get many mentors. It's about having people who are older and wiser than you.
You can get into crystals. You can get into essential oils. You can do Reiki. You can do color therapy. Take a beginner's class or meet with someone who's already in that field. See if what they're doing resonates with you.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.