In late August I wrote a twitter thread about stones.

In the Anishinaabe understanding of the world, stones are alive. Maybe not all of them but you can’t be sure which ones so you best treat them all as if they are. Our word for stone is asin, and it is animate.

I used to collect stones, brought them home from everywhere. I have one from Cape Rage in New Brunswick. A handful from various cliffs on the east coast of Ireland. So many red stones from PEI and beautifully polished black stones from Ucluelet in BC. I even have corals from the Caribbean.

Then I stopped and I don’t know why. I just stopped.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that stones were alive, beings in their own right and that helped me to understand why I stopped. You see. In his book Sand Talk Tyson Yunkaporta talks about tourists who had taken stones from Uluru even though they weren’t supposed to. Much like I brought home stones from Death Valley despite signs that said I shouldn’t. And a few years ago people started mailing the stones back with notes about bad dreams, bad luck, bad feelings. The stones had made their displeasure known and maybe that’s why I stopped. Because the stones that I had were letting me know it was enough.

But then while we were camping this summer Gary brought me a round stone that he picked up on one of the beaches on Lake Superior. These beautiful stones, pieces of granite made round and smooth and I thought about how long that took. How patient the stone and the water were. The length of that relationship.

And it felt like mine. Not mine like the other stones, like they were things that were now in my possession but mine like my children are mine. Like my parents are mine. Reciprocal relationship. We belong to each other.

In Anishinaabe cosmology pre-time was a conversation between stones. I don’t know much more than that but maybe that’s enough to know.  Knowing that stones existed before anything else. That they talked to each other. Thinking about all the memory that they hold, not only of this world but of the ones that came before, of worlds far beyond our knowing.

Extraordinary to think that we can hold all that in our hands. That we walk upon it. Fill our driveways with it. Give no thought to the ancient beings we grind into gravel and then cover with asphalt. Asphalt which is itself the remains of ancient relatives. We are riddled with foolishness and thoughtlessness.

Which brings me to the guided meditation I promised you because every morning I burn sage and sit with this rock in my hand.

Find a stone. I know you have one. Everyone does this, collects stones from far away places. It should be one with some heft to it but you’ll know which one is the right one for you to hold as we do this.

Maybe it will help you to have something to smell. Incense or essential oil or whatever you need. Have a drink of water. Sit somewhere comfortable and hold the rock in your hand. If you want to lie down that’s ok, sit the stone on your chest.

Now breathe. Four good breaths, and feel the way that your chest and diaphram and everything moves when you take good breaths. It doesn’t really go all the way to your feet but it may feel that way.

Feel the weight of the stone.

Let it pull you down. Down through whatever is beneath you, through the foundations of your home and the soil beneath that. The skin of the earth surrounds you and stretches with you down through the layers of earth and water. Down past the beings that creep and crawl, the ones that move through the earth, past them to the bedrock.

The skin of the earth surrounds you and keeps you safe.

Let it pull you down. Down past the bedrock through the crust and the mantle. Down through the outer core. It’s ok. The outer core is liquid but it can’t hurt you. Just feel yourself going down through it, being surrounded by it, and come to rest on the solid core of the earth and know that all of this is part of you.

You were made from this. Just like everything else is. And you continue to be remade by this. Every day the things we eat pull nutrients and minerals up from the earth and in that way we are part of this. We return to this.

Feel the weight of the stone and everything that is surrounding you and know that we are stone people.

That skin of earth that was beneath you has reached it’s ability to stretch and it begins to snap back. Faster and faster you return through these layers until you reach the surface and it flings you into the sky. Past the trees and birds. Past the clouds and the atmosphere and into the darkness beyond.

Don’t be afraid. Feel the weight of the stone in your hand.

You fly through the darkness, past satellites. Past planets and moons, past stars until you get to the very edge of the galaxy. With one hand you reach out to touch the darkness beyond the Milky Way. You always thought it was empty but now you know. You touched dark space and you felt it’s weight.

You remember that it all began with a conversation between stones and that stones come from space. From collisions and explosions. And so you know that we are star people too.

Feel the weight of the stone. Feel the weight of it pulling you back. Back through the dark sky and into more familiar places. Back through the trees and your home. Back to wherever you are.

Feel the weight of the stone.

Now you know everything.


Of stones and other living things

a guided meditation