During my apprenticeship to a shaman, I learned how to journey into the non-ordinary reality of the lower, middle, and upper worlds where I met with power animals, nature spirits, deities, and all manner of beings for which I had no name. My first attempts were tentative yet soon enough I was surprised by some very real alternate realities. When going to the upper world for the first time, I expected to see ethereal castles and cloud cities. I thought I’d meet austerely other-worldly teachers. Instead, I wandered as though in a fog and began to worry that I would fail to see anything. Suddenly, I found myself in the presence of an old crone of a woman with wild hair and wilder eyes. I appeared to have startled her. She turned from something she was working on, took one look at me, and yelled in consternation “Go talk to rocks!” Her hoarse voice and peremptory command shocked me back home. Journey ended. Message received.
I followed her advice. In the beginning, I would touch into a rock and get a clear sense of its intelligent but foreign-to-me nature. Eventually, my rock communions expanded to include something like rock emotion. For example, I once leaned into the cliff cradling the Baptism River as it rushed down a gorge into Lake Superior. The Rock Being I connected with exuded a rocky delight that I cared to visit and proceeded to convey wordlessly how much it enjoyed shedding its minerals into the river, tinging it a copper. Part of its earthly mission was to hold the swift-flowing water on its course to the deep lake. I still believe it had much more to “tell” me if I’d had the patience of a rock to listen for hours.
Another time, touching an old standing stone in Ireland that was carved with tree runes, I heard a delighted voice that said “Ah, you’re back!” Then I felt as though I was atop the rock and we were flying through the night skies. I can’t explain what that was about, but it moved me to happy tears.
Here on Whidbey Island, I go for walks in a Buddhist nature reserve known as the Earth Sanctuary where they have created a standing-stone circle using slabs of Columbia Gorge basalt. I walk the circle, greeting each stone. Every time I perform this ritual, I am struck by a peculiar sensation when touching the stone slabs. I feel the exact opposite of grounded and immobile stability. I feel a watery current, a rushing and waving motion moving through dark space. Some of the standing stones convey this energetic feeling more strongly than others; with one, the sensation is quite strong ( the 11th in the circle proceeding clockwise). It reminds me of the flying sensation I experienced with the stone in Ireland. I can journey to stones at a distance, but the physical touching of stone is precious to me.
We humans have interacted with stones for eons, performing ceremonies in standing stone circles, carving runes on stones and painting wild animals on cave walls, using hot stones for physical healing or crystal stones for concentration of light and intention. Someone told me once that stones hold memories. Our histories and the history of the planet may be stored in stone. I wonder if it’s possible for humans to co-author stories with stones? Is that what happened with the ancient standing stones? Was the meaning embedded in sacred stones through human beings collaborating with stones, angels, or Sidhe? Or were the messages generated by other beings to communicate with us? Whether collaboration took place in the past, perhaps it’s time to experiment with it now.
It’s been years since I learned shamanic practices. Later, discovering incarnation spirituality, I realized a key difference between the two approaches to journeying or attunement. In shamanic journeying, I learned to leave the body behind. My consciousness departs the surrounding environment to enter a full-on trance state. Incarnational spirituality, with its joyous acknowledgement of embodiment, encourages me to involve my whole self. I retain awareness of my body and invite my environment to accompany me in fellowship. Thus, the touching of stones physically carries a powerful charge for me, as it works on a Gaian wavelength.
I'd love to hear from you about your experiences with stones. And if this is new to you, I invite you to “Go talk to rocks!” (and bring your body along with you!)
On September 28, join Lorian teacher Susan Sherman for a free webinar on Energy Tending. In this one hour interactive webinar on Zoom, you will learn a simple and effective practice that can shift your inner landscape towards a more welcoming, loving and connected way of meeting the world in your daily life. For more information and to register, click here.