Back when Ellington was still a mostly rural town, the Thompson family opened an automotive business on Route 140, also known as Maple Street. Many years later, in 1997, Mary Thompson, a fourth generation Ellingtonian on her father’s side and third on her mother’s, renovated the location and opened a new shop she called Thistle Glass Crafts. What started as a gift shop selling stained-glass and other crafts handmade by Mary has now become a local destination for healing crystals, minerals, stone jewelry and Reiki energy work. The transition from crafts to crystals started when a group of
local boys came into the store talking about a shop at the mall that was selling stones from around the world. They were fascinated by them and hoped to start their own collections, but the store’s prices were out of their reach. They wondered if Mary sold anything similar. Admittedly, Mary had always had an interest in stones. She says, “I’ve always loved stones. Even as a kid, I’d pick them up here and there and put them in my pocket.
They are part of the earth, and therefore, part of who we are. ”The boys’ search intrigued Mary and she started studying various stones and the supportive healing they provide. She began to carry some of these stones in her shop and to make jewelry and other crafts with them. The number and types of stones she sold kept expanding. If people asked for a stone she didn’t have, she says, “I’d bust a gut to find it and make it available to everyone.”
The focus of the shop had officially shifted. Early on, Mary built a stone labyrinth in the yard in front of the shop. A labyrinth is a pattern of spirals and circles found in many ancient cultures, on pottery and tiles, and in early writings. Unlike a maze where a person can get lost easily, the labyrinth has one path into the center and out again, symbolically helping a person find their way. The stone labyrinth today is meant to be used for walking meditation. Since hers is on the shop’s private property, she asks that people first stop in and ask her permission before using it.
Upon entering, visitors will find this tiny shop is filled with curiosity cabinets, countless shelves and drawers filled with stones from countries around the world, each with different healing aspects.
Some examples include red jasper for vitality and energy, amethyst for tranquility and mindfulness, and black tourmaline for strengthening the immune system. These are not meant as a substitute for medicine, but as additional support. Mary says the stones work for anyone who allows them to: “It’s all about energy and supportive healing – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – once the mind thinks the stone has healing properties, the mind and body believe.” She now carries over 200 different stones from all over the United States, Canada, and other places such as Brazil, India, Tibet, Indonesia, Madagascar and Australia, to name a few.
A wood-burning stove in the corner of the shop supports the warm and cozy atmosphere in which one feels invited to spend time exploring, touching and feeling the stones. Mary is extremely knowledgeable about the stones and is also very approachable, always ready to answer questions or make suggestions. She allows people to take their time and choose their stones, or have the stones choose them, as she likes to say. Some people choose by how the stones look. These are the “visual pickers,” and Mary says she is among them. Others choose by how the stones feel or the energy they give off; these are the “intuitive pickers.” Many customers come searching for certain stones that are said to help with a specific problem. She adds,“It’s amazing how one little stone will change the personality of a person. It opens them up.” To that end, every visitor is offered a bowl filled with stones and gets to choose one on their way out.
Mary makes jewelry with the stones she carries but prefers not to make too much of it ahead of time. Instead she likes the customer to come in and be involved. She asserts that choosing the specific stones and how the piece is created with them is part of the healing process, saying, “It makes the energy stronger. People feel a stronger connection when they are involved.” Sharon
Freed of Manchester is a loyal customer who agrees. She says, “I come to Ellington just for this shop. It’s a treasure. Mary is so kind and compassionate, it separates this store from all the others.”
Another thing that separates Thistle Glass Crafts from other similar shops is that Mary is an Usui Reiki Master. As she began researching stones, she found that stones and Reiki work well together. Reiki literally means “universal life force energy.” In practice, it is a Japanese technique that utilizes light touch therapy to energize a person’s natural healing processes and restore his or her physical and/or emotional well-being. She met her teacher, a Reiki master, at a conference and knew that studying Reiki was the natural next step for her. Says Mary, “For me personally, Reiki is in the Shamanic realm of what I was looking for – a strong, spiritual, supportive healing process.” Mary also performs gemstone readings and oracle readings based on runes, which are stones that have divinatory symbols from the ancient Germanic runic alphabet on them. She gives lectures at places such as the Center for Progressive Healing in Manchester and the Vernon Holistic Health Fair.
Other items she sells at her shop include incense and essential oils, salt lamps, prayer bowls, informational books and DVDs, and herbal products, all of which are meant for meditation, mindfulness
and cleansing a person’s environment for the purpose of healing. Thistle Glass Crafts offers many things a person could use to start the New Year in a positive way. Mary strongly believes in the healing power of supportive strength, whether it is from healing stones, Reiki, or creating a living and working environment that is filled with optimistic energy. She invites people to come pay her a visit so she can assist them with all of those things, adding, “Trust yourselves and how you want to heal your life.”
Thistle Glass Crafts is located at 50 Maple Street in Ellington, and is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The phone number is (860) 875.3895.