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A Practice in Stone


"For while the human being is as different as possible from a stone, yet man's innermost center is in a strange and special way akin to it (perhaps because the stone symbolizes mere existence at the farthest remove from the emotions, feelings, fantasies, and discursive thinking of the ego-consciousness). In this sense the stone symbolizes what is perhaps the simplest and deepest experience — the experience of something eternal that man can have in those moments when he feels immortal and unalterable." — Jungian analyst Marie Louise von Franz in Man and His Symbols

This article appeared in the Spring 2001 issue of Spirituality & Health. We all know that stone can be used to make our outer terrain more accessible, but how can working with stone do the same for our inner landscape? Although it is much easier to purchase stone, whenever possible, commit to personally gathering stones for your project. Then, before you begin poking, prodding, and digging the earth, take time to look at your tools. Stonescaper David Reed reminds us that stone is our oldest tool. “Archeologists have found 2.5 million -year-old flakes from tools our ancestors made." If your pry bar, shovel, hammer, and chisel are old — either handed down or purchased at flea markets and garage sales — think about the hands that held and used them. What marks did those hands, the earth, and the hard stones those tools en countered leave behind? Ask yourself: What tools do I need to use to discover the hard issues in my life that hide below the surface? What would be the cost of prying them loose and digging them up? The promise? Next, survey the area in which you will be digging. A …

Caren Goldman is a freelance writer, retreat leader, and conflict resolution consultant. Her articles on spirituality and health have appeared in Natural Health, New Age, Intuition, Yoga Journal, and other magazines.

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