I was instructed by the spirits to find a special stone to bring to ceremony with groups of people. This guidance was perplexing. I’d recently moved across the country and just had let go of my license as a psychologist. Most everything in my life felt unsettled. My work was undergoing unexpected change. I wasn’t meeting with groups of people. I was hardly seeing any people. Nevertheless, the spirits were unwavering about my quest. There was a particular stone with particular medicines who was looking for me too.
For many weeks, I reached out to the Stone People with offerings of gratitude and asking for help in my search. I loved the adventure, the mystery and magic. I kept my eyes and ears open while walking with my dog through the desert canyons, on the needle-covered earth beneath towering pines, and along the rivers running through the volcanic mountains.
One summer afternoon, we crossed paths. I felt the rock’s insistent calling as I waded barefoot in a cool refreshing stream. At the source of this spring-fed river, the waters bubble up from underground and create lush, swampy wetlands. Somewhere along the way, the waters gather themselves up and form a river heading north.
For about twenty years now, the rock who once lived in this wild river has been a beloved companion in my ceremonial bundles. The River Rock is a guide who sets the ground for sacred ceremony with the gatherings of people who have come.
I’d love to share the River Rock with each of you. Even though we’re connecting here through written words, and ceremonies aren’t being held in person during quarantine, the medicines of the River Rock can still be touched, felt, and passed along.
Rocks are great holders of stories. They carry the stories of the earth’s transformations over long passages of time. Rock People tell of their own existence, about their relationships, and about the ecosystems in which they live. Rocks carry their knowings about what is and has been while participating in the making of what will be.
Rock People hold all of these stories, an immense body of knowledge, without any judgment, without any fear. They carry the knowing they’ve acquired through their lived experiences. No lies or fake news. Not even a hint of regret or condemnation. Just imagine the countless beings, the flow of generations, the dance of migrations, the seasons and cycles, the birthings and deaths, and the changes in land, water, and climates they’ve seen.
River Rock invites us to honor the knowledge we’ve gathered up through our lived experiences without the overlay of judgments and fears. For many of us, this will be a healing process. Unlearning. Untangling from falsehoods. Discerning what doesn’t belong in our inner world. Reclaiming and remembering. Reweaving our wholeness. Seeing ourselves and everyone else with clarity and respect. We, too, can live grounded in our genuine nature. We, too, can share our knowings of what is and has been while co-creating what will be.
In ceremonial circles, I’ve witnessed again and again how lovingly people hold the River Rock. Often the stone is placed on their hearts. There’s something essentially soothing in the way River Rock feels. The water-softened blackness. The grounding weight. The smooth indentations and curves.
Personal connection with natural elements of the earth creates a palpable shift. While holding the stone, many people close their eyes and sit awhile in the silence. Settling into the stillness, they instinctively let out a deep breath. Comforted. Connected. Coming back home. Hearts begin to open and stories begin to flow. Cherished memories. Heartaches and hardships. Smiles and laughter. Tears are shed in joy, in remembrance, and sorrow.
River Rock Medicine is infused with respect for the intelligence of all beings. When we honor our own stories and genuine knowing, we’re more able to respect the diverse ways of knowing and experiences of others. We can hone the ability to listen to others’ stories without judgment. Listening with acceptance, curiosity, and respect is a healing art. This is not about agreeing or condoning or evaluating who is right and who is wrong. We are freeing ourselves up to stay centered in our center, to remain present here and now, to be awake and aware, open to learning, and choiceful in our response.
In ceremonial circles, people often are reluctant to let go of the River Rock. There’s kinship and a yearning to stay connected in the holding. People are touched by the medicines of River Rock. The River Rock is touched by the hearts of the people. This sharing evokes healing which ripples on and on and on, far beyond the time and space of our gatherings, weaving love in the tapestry of life.
Part 2 – We’ll share more about the medicine of the wild rivers.