A Magical Stone, A Healing Chant

posted in: Pilgrimage Stories | 14
A painting of Wodan healing Balder's horse by Emil Doepler, 1905.
Wodan Heals Balder’s Horse” (1905) by Emil Doepler.

Everyone seems to keep a special stone in some honored spot on a small table or sunlit sill, perhaps hoping you’ll ask to hear the story of what it means to them. We try to stay connected to the healing power of special places by receiving a stone that the land seems to offer up as a token of remembrance of our brief but meaningful relationship.

I have a perfect egg of a stone brought home from a beach on the holy island of Iona in Scotland. It’s not like this wave-rounded, storm-beached rock was precious. There were millions of them. But my heart had beaten with a new rhythm on Iona, and I carefully selected a pink, white and black speckled cobble that held the embryo of the new life that Iona birthed in me. Now when I hold its smooth weight in my hand it instantly takes me back there. My senses come alive again to all the wild island elements of wind rocking small wooden boats on the waves, purple heather clothing the granite rock, sun illuminating the high crosses carved with sacred images, and the health and freedom I felt walking there.

Recently I participated in an online class with Daniel Foor, my teacher of ancestral healing.  While he was talking about people’s efforts to reclaim indigenous knowledge, I was thinking about stones that continue to connect me to ancestral places, like Iona or Ireland, where the land itself holds and conveys the memory of the indigenous pre-Christian peoples. By way of example, Daniel referred to the new musical life being breathed into the last remaining evidence in Old High German of Pagan Germanic practices preserved in the two Merseburg Charms that, thankfully, were written down by a cleric in about 900 AD. In one of them Wodan (Odin) and Friia (Frigg or Freya) are chanting a spell for healing a horse’s leg: Bone to bone, blood to blood, limb to limbs, so may they be mended. I thought, whoa, that sounds familiar. Where have I heard that? Suddenly I realized that it’s quite like the chant that activates my quartz healing-stone! With that I was propelled into the magical level of Reality, recognizing meaning-making happening right there online!

 

A stone circle set in grass on a hillside in Ireland.
Irish Stone Circle

About that quartz stone: At a stone circle in Ireland, Francie, the caretaker, told us that the circle is on a ley line and that the white quartz boulder in the center holds and conducts healing energy like a battery. He told me to remove the heavy quartz capstone and stand in my bare feet on the earth-fast quartz boulder in the middle. When I stood on the quartz I was shaken vigorously for over half an hour. All I could do was surrender to letting Mother Earth’s energy rise up through me and out to friends, to family, and to our relationship with the earth.

A white quartz boulder in grass with wildflowers on a hillside
Quartz Capstone and Healing Stone

When the shaking stopped I went outside the circle and picked up a small piece of quartz which seemed to want to come home with us. The Farmer Fairy’s Stone is the story of that first visit. Returning to this circle the following year, a chant arose when I touched the quartz piece to the quartz boulder in order to re-charge the small stone with a transfer of energy from the healer stone. Stone to stone, ground to ground, prayers to prayers, and healing to healing.

 The Irish word for quartz is grian cloch, “stone of the sun.” Milky quartz is also called clocha gaela “shining stones” (gaela meaning bright, shining). White quartz is associated with the , the ancestors, and with healing. Connecting the living with the dead, its use extends from covering Neolithic passage tombs to covering graves in burial grounds now. It reflects light rather than absorbing it, and when pieces are struck together it makes its own light. White quartz is associated with the Milky Way, the departed soul’s path of light.

White quartz stone labyrinth with green glass paths
Quartz Labyrinth

Returning home to piedmont North Carolina I went to the labyrinth at Camp New Hope that I love to walk. It sits on the remnant volcano that uplifted quartz in various places in our area, including on my own land. The path markers of the labyrinth are made of the white quartz that underlies the land and extrudes on the surface. The paths are of green tumbled glass (which is melted quartz grains).  The labyrinth is sited on a hill, ringed round by a small valley, very similarly to the placement of the Irish stone circle. When I touched the quartz stone to the quartz boulder in the center of the labyrinth the chant expanded: Hill to hill, hollow to hollow, stone to stone, and healing to healing. These words came directly from the land and from the rock, simply being repeated and revised until they felt genuine and true and effective in facilitating the flow of healing energy between these two powerful sites.

I am amazed to learn that this as before, so now formula for a magic incantation is traceable through Nordic and Celtic countries all the way back to the ancient Indo-European Atharva Veda, a collection of spells, charms, prayers and hymns from about 1,000BC. I can’t help but wonder if when I tapped into the quartz emerging from its ley line, like a mushroom emerging from the threads of underground mycelium, I also tapped into an ancestral-level stream of energy. Perhaps this chant came through my Irish grandmother from her German great, great grandmothers, healers all. I know I was “cracked-open” at that stone circle to the reality of energy moving from earth-spirit up through my body, so it’s possible that the stone carried ancestral memory up through my soul as well.

The Meresburg chant transports me back into a vivid remembering of the magical level of reality where the movement of energy is tangible, where time is totally fluid and places are all connected. I’m grateful for this sudden, unexpected re-enlivening of my intimate connection with quartz and of my relationship with my German ancestral grandmothers. I am grateful to learn that they are connected in the Field of Mystery, which can be stepped back into for the purposes of healing. It’s crazy to realize that my indigenous German grandmothers would have chanted the same magical formula I’m chanting now for healing! I hear them saying that this incantation needs to be sung more passionately, can now be sung more powerfully with their added chorus of voices. Don’t we all need to hear the voices of our indigenous ancestors bringing healing wisdom to us in these dire times?

Magic is not a practice. It is a living, breathing web of energy
that, with our permission, can encase our every action.
— Dorothy Morrison

I am grateful for this medicine chant that came from my ancestors, through the ancestral spirits of the land, through the land itself, and through the quartz. I am being told by the Grandmothers to not let the quartz healing transmission be forgotten, to not hide it away in false humility, to not let it be diminished by the insisted-upon, so-called rationality of this colonialist culture. Yes, the Grandmothers say, hold this gift in gratitude, re-member it in your body, and honor us by keeping it activated. Grandmothers, please help me intone this incantation powerfully, so I can be one more voice among many calling to the spirits of our ancient wise and loving ancestors for help in healing our wounded relationships to each other and to the Earth.

Ben zi bena, bluot zi bluoda,
lid zi geliden, sose gelimida sin.

Stone to stone,
Ground to ground,
Prayers to prayers,
Healing to healing.
Sose gelimida sin!
So may the healing begin!

Bone to bone, blood to blood,
limb to limbs, so may they be mended.

Hill to hill,
Hollow to hollow,
Stone to stone,
Healing to healing.
Sose gelimida sin!
So may the healing begin!

I hear the Grandmothers say that this experience needs to be shared as a medicine story. We need to tell each other the stories that come to us from the land and from our ancestors if we are to have any hope of receiving a new myth to live by. May we join in solidarity with the people of all ancestral lineages who are struggling to keep their traditional knowledge alive and with those who are trying to reconnect the pieces of their broken ancestral traditions. May this chant with quartz join others’ chants with hallowed stones to take us into the magical realm where, through our embodied souls, spiritual healing can, does, will take place.

When we find yet another quartz stone on our land I try to honor these gifts that continue to emerge from the remnant volcano below. I receive them as expressions of compassion from the Mother, and from the spirits of the land who love us as we love the land on which we live. May I create an offering of beauty in gratitude to the ancestors of blood and of the land.

A circle of milky quartz stone in moss around a black lava Kwan Yin.
Quartz Stones Circling Kwan Yin
Spiral of white milky quartz stone in green moss.
Quartz Spiral in the Moss Garden

Text (c) 2019 Betty Lou Chaika. Photos (c) 2019 Betty Lou and David Chaika

14 Responses

  1. Hart Pillow

    Hello, Betty Lou and David and all of us,

    I read your story and was amazed by your experience.
    When I read your email and thought of stones, I first thought of a stone in the shape of a woman’s body that I had kept for years. Right now, I don’t know where she is lying.

    Next I remembered a tiny white stone (maybe quartz) that I found in New Mexico several years ago.
    I was part of a Conscious Eldering retreat at Ghost Ranch along with 12 other people. We were all prepared for days before to go out into the canyons to sit alone and be with ourselves and the land. While sitting under the brush near water, I heard a sound out of the quiet and looked to see what it was. It was a momentary visual of a cat that would be native to the wild. It walked intently in a forward direction and did not notice me. It resembled a snow leopard. I knew I was in an altered state of consciousness so I felt no fear and didn’t think too much of the visual of a great cat. At the end of the day as I walked slowly back to Ghost Ranch and the group, I spotted a white rock in the reddish clay and picked it up. It was tiny but looked like a white cat. The tiny cat sits on a flat rock in my cottage. It reminds me of the great mysteries of living in the worlds that enfold us.

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Hart, thank you. Yes, I love when we are simply being out on the land and then the land seems to respond to our attentiveness. When we think we are just sitting on the ground and suddenly we are shown that it is the Ground of Being. A white spirit animal appearing to you from the Great Mystery at Ghost Ranch while you are taking the responsibility to consciously become an Elder, what an incredible vision! How wonderful that you were given a white stone cat to hold the memory of this transmission from the spirit world.

  2. Donna Deal

    Wow. This is a powerful story and experience, and so beautifully told. I would love to know the name of the circle in Ireland. The photos are beautiful. I have walked the magical labyrinth at Camp New Hope. Thank you for the reminder that it is there for me and others to experience. As far as special stones, I have many small treasures of the heart as reminders of a time, place, or person. Thank you for sharing this fascinating and inspiring story of reconnecting!

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Thanks, Donna. Unfortunately there is not much protection for stone circles in Ireland. We have seen many damaged circles. I would feel bad if I put the name out online and went back to find it harmed. I will gladly tell you its name and how to get there. Yes, stones have had that blessed quality of being able and willing to hold precious memory for people throughout time. They are indeed “treasures of the heart” in your lovely words.

  3. Laurie Lindgren

    I’ve always loved rocks and stones and resonate so strongly with your beautiful sharing. I started noticing and picking up stones as a young girl, and I had a “collection.” I found them everywhere, even in gravel driveways! I do especially love quartz. And I love that quartz labyrinth. Did you know that there is a grave nearby? I walk it in a sacred manner with my womens group every January 1. I give tribute to Lil Royal, a soul grandma of mine who helped make the labyrinth.

    I do think we can instantly, in the space of a thought or a remembrance, connect with the Field of Mystery. And stones, as they carry memories and energy, can be our guides, friends, teachers, and healers in this path of Magic.
    Our bodies contain minerals as a key component in our structure and physiology, in our bones, our fascia, our blood, nerves, and muscles. We couldn’t move or think without minerals. I’m glad we can connect with them outside our body though knowing the Stone People.
    I’m thankful for you, Betty Lou, and your powerful initiatives and courage in seeking these experiences and letting them inform the beauty of your wyyrd words. 🌠❤🌟

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Thanks, Laurie, for bringing back fond memories of the various “collections” I had as a child. Somehow this gathering together of objects that were related felt like a magical activity, although I wouldn’t have been able to call it that at the time. So much of childhood was guided by the bodily felt-sensing of things, of objects that carried living, relational qualities.
      Yes, I, too, am grateful for the inspired impulses that guided the people who made that powerful labyrinth. It is a treasure that astounds me in it’s perfect melding of nature and spirit.
      Thanks for bringing awareness and honoring to the minerals within us as well as those outside us! I love that you’re making that connection between our inner and outer earth-bodies.

  4. Riverdave

    Thank you Betty Lou for reminding us of this important practice. My first and strongest angle of relationship with the natural world was through my “rock collection” I gathered from earliest memory till my teens. As an adult I shifted primarily to the plant world for relationship, although I still do keep a small collection of pilgrimage stones on a shelf above my head where I sleep at night …

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Riverdave, I like that you are naming our relationship with rock and stone as a practice. I would like to become more aware of relating to rock as a practice when I am walking in natural areas. Knowing you are into dreams, I can’t help but wonder whether sleeping with those pilgrimage stones above your head has invited any of them into your dreams?

  5. riverdave

    yes, the stones have influenced and directed my dreams on occasion, but the stones themselves don’t show up visually in those dreams …

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      I am interested in experimenting with consciously placing a stone that holds especially meaningful, positive memory beside the bed, and inviting it to convey a dream for some needed wisdom. But I would have to accept the possibility that the stone will show me whatever it wants to. When I was on Iona with that ancient Lewisian granite all around I had a significant dream about the history of the violent oppression of Celtic Christianity that had happened there, requiring purifying. I woke from that dream realizing I was picking up on memory that the earth, the rock itself, was holding.

  6. Robin R

    The line about healing “To not hide it away in false humility “ touches me, as this has been my way, wary of sharing my experiences with others, keeping them to myself instead. I appreciate your courage and tenacity in bringing light to the world Betty Lou, and look forward to hearing and singing the song of the land I live on.

    I have a stone I found on a kayaking trip in Glacier Bay 3 decades ago when I first started to get to know the earth in a sacred way. Seeing raw earth recently uncovered from ages beneath a glacier while sucking on ice frozen for centuries was an altering experience. On top of a rise where we camped, overlooking the calving glacier, I was drawn to a stone that resembled a young tender goddess turned one way, a juicy crone when turned another. The stone still lives with me, a reminder of place and time and initiation into sacred relationship with the elements.

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Robin, thank you for sharing your experience of receiving the precious mother goddess stone, raised up from the primordial earth and exposed from beneath the ancient glacier. Eons of time expand out before my eyes, evoked by your vision.
      I think it’s crucial that we all summon courage to “come out” with our stories of connection to our Mother Earth, so we can witness each other’s hidden secret moments of deep connection with Her. And so to instill hope of a great shift happening, as the shackles of our culture’s dis-connection are shaken off, seismically.

  7. Barb

    I have always been attracted by stones and think it must have run in the family as I have a wooden bowl with stones my grandmother collected, and which I have carried from one home to the next during my adult life. When our grandsons come to visit, one of the things they always do, usually as soon as they are in the door and have their coats off, is run to the bowl of stones and look through them. It gives me pleasure to think that they might be willing receivers and keepers of these stones that I remember playing with during my own childhood. Legos come and go, but stones are forever.

    • Betty Lou Chaika

      Barb, thanks so much for adding to our appreciation of stones this lovely inter-generational story, stretching from your grandmother to you, from you to your grandchildren, and perhaps from your children to their children as well.The stones in this bowl are certainly holders of memory: sweet memories of childhood play, tender memories of grandmotherly connection, and enduring memories of love being passed along through your family.

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