The Travelling Stone
I see a path with a map to a new life.
In a magical world that matters.
I see the traveling stone.
During that experience at the riverside, with the sounds of the softly flowing water and the drums coursing like a heartbeat through my veins, with Nature reaching out to me seeking reconnection, the most intriguing thing happened. I became free.
The process seemed to unfold like this:
The stone teacher that came to me was not the easiest nor the first available pick me “voice” to make itself known. The first stone voice later revealed itself to be a decoy, and did so with some glee and personality actually. As though quite delighted to be performing this task, which annoyed me at the time. What was the need for a decoy? What was this gleeful misdirection about? Yet, when considering Native American folk stories, or even folk stories in general, coming across a decoy is actually quite a common occurrence during the travels of the protagonist through the various plot twists. The evil or often mischievous antagonist, the one who tries to divert the main character from their perceived mission or vision quest could be considered just such a decoy.
So here we have the Mischievous One, sitting at my side.
“You need go into this no further, no deeper. Pick me. Pick me.”
Well, I think to myself, perhaps you are, and perhaps you are not. Let us check. I’ll just cover you with my jacket so I know where you are and take a quick stroll down the riverbank to explore the possibilities.
Suddenly, a whisper of a thought plays across my mind.
“I am not a river rock.” It sang. “I am here by mistake.”
Following the thread of a non-indigenous rock, I move toward the shore away from the water. Perhaps, just perhaps, there is something here for me to find. How will I find it? By focusing my attention on my surroundings, I notice that my arm feels warmer on one side. It changes as I move, the barest prickling of energy along the edge of my skin. It seems to orient me toward a pile of wreckage pushed up almost to the top of the bank. This does not look promising, what could possibly be here for me?
Yet something prompts me to hold out my hand palm down. Without warning, a ripple of energy tingles across my palm. I move my arm away, and the tingle vanishes. Back and forth I swing my arm, watching the rocks below. Where is that energy coming from? Narrowing the field of the swing, I focus in. There you are!
Resting amid a heap of human-spawned detritus, nestled on a rusted tangle of broken bridge railing and mangled remains of an aluminum truck body, pressed with a quilted square pattern in the metal, lay a good-sized stone. Not smooth or rounded like the other river rocks scattering the bank, but a rough edged and angular stone. I look at it, feeling a bit surprised, but then again, not really.
Sitting next to the stone, I touch it with the palm of my hand.
"Will you go with me?" I think. "I do not know where we are going, or what we will do, or what will happen."
“That is all right. I will go with you.” It sang to my soul. “Drum for me?”
Feeling extremely self-conscious, as I am not an accomplished drummer by any stretch of the imagination. I retrieve my drum from near my jacket and the chortling decoy rock; and sitting back down with my stone, I quietly begin to drum. Sending the deep sound out, resonating through space.
Surrounded by plants growing new, moss growing old, and driftwood breaking down, I sit with the stone. This year's grass seedpods tickle my shoulder as I move close to my…my what…?
"Do you have a name you wish me to call you?" I whisper in my thoughts.
“Ti-tan, Ti-tan, Ti-tan.” The drum seems to say. This reminds me of the Greek myths about the Titans, imprisoned deep in the earth. Moving like the tectonic plates. This is interesting, I think, as that is how this method of healing, this *nature reconnection works. It moves, subtly, at a deep level. Shifting foundations and beliefs.
Watching the stone, I see a glimpse of a shadow, like the top of a totem pole, play across its surface. And hear the sound of horse hooves behind me. I turn to look, and behold, no horse. Time to move. I move to pick up the stone, and as I began to remove it from its bed, a couple spiders leave it for me. A barely registered sense that this stone genuinely wants me to move him, slips across my mind.
As I wait for the other drummers to join me, I walk to the river taking off my shoes. I am thankful. Allowing the cold running water of the river to wash over the pulse points in my ankles, the current of the wind through my hair and caressing my skin. I am cleansed. I open my arms wide with joy and exhilaration.
Then I move to the rivers edge and find a rock to sit on. There is a pebble in the water and I pick it up. Back straight, palms up, heart-shaped pebble clutched in my left hand, my feet firmly planted in the earth. The drums cry out and I close my eyes. I feel the drumbeats and suddenly my fist springs open, palm up, the pebble heavy in my hand.
“I am ready to receive!” My heart cries.
I feel the air rush through me, as though through the body of a bird in flight, end to end, through a hollow space, filling, cleansing. I take a deep breath in, release it and the drums STOP.
Apparently, there was an eagle, and possibly a hawk, right overhead. I did not see either, as my eyes were closed.
I carry the pebble back. It is part of the stones for a burden basket. Inspired, I write “surrender” on the back, and place it in the basket. Then, I turn to my stone. I love the smell of the stone.
“Why have you come to me?” I ask. Again, whispering silently within my mind.
“Escape. My spirit sings and flies. I feel the song of the air rushing through me. I see the water, cold icy spears. Deep, deep drumbeats, pulse of the earth. I bring you a message. It is time to move. I found a way, so can you!” It whispers back.
Back in the studio,I create an outline, a shaded and detailed drawing of the stone. What patterns do you see, what speaks to you? Horse hoof shaped indents cover the surface of the stone I have determined should be the upward face. Taking a good hard look at the stone is revelatory. It is the same shape as a topographical map of Alberta, complete with a flat space that could represent the prairies in the southwest corner. As I move through the deep seeing, deep sensing exploration of the stone, an image or symbol comes strongly to mind. The design is a circle with an equidistant cross through the center; which I am drawn to paint on the stone in turquoise blue. I am urged to put my thumb, dipped in red paint, and leave an impression at the intersection of the lines in the middle of the circle, which I do. Pulling my thumb back, I realize I have the perfect replication of the Christian cross, emblazoned in blue across my red thumb.
The following freeform poem surfaces in my mind.
My circle is a starting place.
A safe, protected ending place.
Begin, and end. And begin.
Again and again.
I AM → always with you,
And with all things living,
Breathing, pulsing, beating.
What a phenomenal opportunity to safely explore the infinite possibilities of nature reconnection, of cultural teachings. I have not felt so free, to just be me, since I was a small child.
Returning home, I plunk my travelling stone on the dining room table. My husband looks at it, perplexed but accommodating.
“What do you see when you look at it?” I ask.
“Well, it looks like a topographical map of Alberta.” He says. “I wonder what’s at that spot where you've drawn the circle?”
You will be amazed...