River Rock

River Rock

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.


14 Responses to River Rock

    • You’re so welcome. May the medicines of the rocks and rivers ripple on and on…
      Heart to Heart,

  1. JoAnne your teaching is powerful. What struck me is the healing nature of listening without judgement and with acceptance. I have a few people in my life who truly listen to my stories. I find many people who are so busy focusing on what they want to say next they don’t listen. Weaving love into the tapestry of life sounds like something we should be focusing on more. The concept that we are all threads in the tapestry of life keeps coming up for me in the last few months.
    Thank you JoAnne

    • It is such a gift to feel heard and seen…and to offer this to others. Thank you for your sharings, Fred.
      Heart to Heart,

  2. I too being Native American feel that our Creator as well as Mother Earth have given us the gift of rocks . We are all called by the Rock People to pick up a rock especially the ones in water. They have been cleansed and just waiting for the person they have called to pick them up for healing . Thank for sharing it’s amazing to hear how our Creator directs our steps . A’ho Beverly Morningstar

    • Thank you for sharing your healing stories about the gifts of rocks, Beverly Morningstar.
      Heart to Heart,

  3. This story touches so deeply into my own heart and spirit. Even as a very young child, searching for fossils and other storytelling stones was always a magical focus and journey for me. We lived on a dead-end street in a very small town that had a little pocket of woods, trails. a pond that was practically outside my front door, and a gravel road that ended in a steep cliffed gravel pit. After a thunderstorm on a summer afternoon, there would be streams of water running down from the pit onto that little gravel road and I knew there would be wonderful treasures glistening in the puddles and eddys left over from the storm . My father would actually pay me a dime for a particular type of fossil called a brachiopod and I added quite a few to his collection. Rock Beings are very much part of my family and serve also as happy memories as mementos from family trips that are still with me in particular spots in my home. I cannot imagine my world without that wondeful and healing connection that they provide. Thank you so much for this remembrance.

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