Thursday, April 27, 2006

Of Wasps and Snakes

I do have more material about the relationships between cultures and rocks, but I interrupt this meditation because I found some old photos that aren't good enough to post on the real rock blog, but which should be shared. I took these pictures during my one indiscretion of visiting a privately-owned site without permission, some years ago. This site had been important to my change from skeptic to believer in the concept that there were indeed unexplained stonework sites out there, and I was having difficulty getting anyone with permission to take me back, so I went there with a friend who was curious.

This one indiscretion resulted in my being stung 70 times by yellow jackets and being caught by the irate property owner (after the stings) and being told off in no uncertain terms by the person who first showed me the site. I have never done something like that again.

Along with all that, the pictures turned out kind of peculiar and hardly captured the vision that first arrested me. Nevertheless, here are some of them, photos of a rock ridge running up the side of a hill by the Lehigh River.

It's an odd ridge of rock, narrow and high running straight up a hill that has no similar features.

The rocks that make it up are peculiar and bumpy in some areas, like no other rocks I've seen in our area.

Nearby on the ground, I found this very unusual carved-looking stone. Or maybe it was something else? Cement that looked like stone? I've never seen anything like it.

Here's a view along the top of the rock ridge looking down the hill toward the road and the stream that runs along it.

More of the rock ridge with a gap before the top part . . .

And here's the kicker--at the top end of the rock ridge is the stone below. It is taller than I am (the whole ridge is, all the way up) and it looks startlingly like a reptile head, (turtle? maybe snake because of the long ridge behind it) complete with eye and with the mouth open as if for offerings. The peculiar colors in some of these photos must be a result of the light and shadow in that place on that day. I have more of these odd purplish-blue rock pictures from there, including another of this stone head. It was while walking back down the hill from here that I stepped in the yellow jacket nest, an experience I will always remember.

Another odd thing from that day was this picture. It's just a trick of leaves and light, and I didn't see it as anything but a rock when I took it, but the impression of a face is hard to ignore.

In short, although I am reluctant to attribute to the sites any supernatural qualities of an eerie type, this was one of the days about which I will always have doubts. I guess we all have those, and maybe we all need them.

The circumstances of my first visit there were also memorable, but humorous, and then almost giddy as the site of this rock formation cracked open my head, allowing a new understanding to enter.

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Rock in Australia: Dreamtime Never Stops

From T. C. McLuhan's The Way of The Earth:

"Johnny Wararrngula Tjupurrula, an accomplished and renowned Papunya Tula artist, is returning home to Tjikarri, the inspiration for some of his most spectacular paintings and an important sacred site in remote central Australia, 480 kilometers west of Alice Springs. His companion and driver tells the story:

The wheels spin over the ridge of the last dune, and we are there. But it is not much--a rocky outcrop much like any other, perhaps even more ordinary than many that we have passed during the long day. The rock holes turn out to be dry and there's effectively nothing in the way of edible plant food; all the animal tracks are old so there will be no fresh meat tonight. And yet the old man is taken away by it; he is crying, he is talking, singing to the rock, he is calling out its names, its stories, and he's clambering over the rock face this way and that way, stroking, rubbing, feeling his country. For the next twenty-four hours, late into the night and all the next day back to Papunya, it is as if he is in another world, ceaselessly telling the stories of the events and creatures that passed through here and forged this landscape. But more than just telling them, he seems to be living them, and actually seeing them still visible in the forms in front of him.

Every atom of that rock represents the embodiment of some great ancestor, and its potential fertility is palpable."

--T. C. McLuhan

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Inyan, his spirit is Wakan Tanka

James R. Walker's narrative of the Lakota creation story illustrates the importance of rock in understanding the Lakota notion of wakan tanka, the great incomprehensibility. The Rock principle is represented by Inyan, creator of the universe. Inyan, as amorphous rock, is the pure potentiality of everything in creation.

In Lakota tradition, Inyan, or Rock, existed first, and created out of himself everything else. The waters of the earth were his blood. After he sacrificed most of himself to create the earth, he was left hard and still as we see him today. The thunderbirds, Wakinyan, are his messengers. He is wise and his spirit is Wakan Tanka.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Stone People

O you ancient rocks who are sacred, you have neither ears nor eyes, yet you hear and see all things.

Black Elk

Some see rocks as the original unaltered material left from creation, beings who remember everything that has passed since they were formed, wise and patient beyond all things, of a similar nature to man's and able to communicate with those who are open to it.

Thoreau said, "A hard, insensible man whom we liken to a rock is indeed much harder than a rock. From hard, coarse, insensible men with whom I have no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Thunder Stones

Tatanka-ohitika, Sioux medicine man in 1911, at the age of 73:

“It is significant that certain stones are not found buried in the earth, but are on the top of high buttes. They are round, like the sun and moon, and we know that all things that are round are related to each other. Things which are alike in their nature grow to look like each other, and these stones have lain there a long time, looking at the sun. Many pebbles and stones have been shaped in the current of a stream, but these stones were found far from the water and have been exposed only to the sun and the wind. The earth contains many thousand such stones beneath its surface. The thunderbird is said to be related to these stones, and when a man or animal is to be punished, the thunderbird strikes the person, and if it were possible to follow the course of the lightning, one of these stones would be found embedded in the earth. Some believe that these stones descend with the lightning, but I believe they are on the ground and are projected downward by the bolt. In all my life I have been faithful to the sacred stones. I have lived according to their requirements, and they have helped me in all my troubles. I have tried to qualify myself as well as possible to handle these sacred stones, yet I know that I am not worthy to speak to Wakan tanka. I make my request of the stones and they are my intercessors.”

Friday, April 07, 2006

Talking with Sacred Stones

A boulder at the Hackettstown site

I think I'll start putting quotes on here, especially those about rocks and stones or certain sites and their spiritual significance in different world views, starting with native American peoples.

This one is part of a longer quotation by a Teton Sioux elder, Okute:

"The stones and minerals are placed in the ground by Wakan Tanka, some stones being more exposed than others. When a medicine man says that he talks with the sacred stones, it is because, of all the substance in the ground, these are the ones which most often appear in dreams and are able to communicate with men."