One More Mountain to Climb?
If you know anything about the landscapes and geology of Newfoundland, you will know it would have been difficult to escape the deep imprinting of stone on my psyche. Still, this aspect of my homeland didn't fully register until I moved to the flat fertile farmlands of southern Ontario. Then I truly missed the comforting solid presence of mountains against my horizons. And in the truly ancient and mythic landscape of my new home in Bonne Bay I would come to experience the mystical power of the mineral kingdom in a more personal and spiritual sense than I could ever have imagined—the ways of indigenous wisdom from around the world. It is said everyone has a mountain to climb and my seafaring blue-eyed grandfather left a lasting legacy in that regard.
When I was seven years old my grandfather came to visit. It was late spring and from our living room window in Springdale, you could see on a clear day in the near distance a perfectly shaped sugarloaf hill across about eight kilometres of bogs and ponds. "See that mountain?" he asked with a twinkle in his eyes, "that's Poppy’s Mountain. Some day I’m going to climb it.” My story-telling grandfather was, in my eyes at least, quite the adventurer. He had stories about long sea journeys and pirates along the eastern seaboard to Jamaica, and had built a motel just a few kilometres along the highway from his mountain, what I would eventually come to see was actually a small hill. I don't know if he ever got to climb it, yet I think of him every time I drive past that familiar landmark and what will always be Poppy's Mountain. In the meantime, I was to discover I had my own mountain to climb...
Several years later, my immersion into indigenous wisdom ways had begun. The idea that stones hold consciousness and healing power is a basic assumption in shamanic cultures. In the first class when our teacher asked "who has conversations with rocks?" almost all of the eighty or so adults sitting in the circle in the Park City, Utah, meeting room raised their hands. As a child, I had a collection of favourite stones; some I carried around in a varnished pine box covered with shells. It was crafted by a local carpenter in Carmenville where we lived for a year, a gift from my parents. Wherever I travelled stones inevitably found their way back to grace my home and garden. The idea that a particular stone was communicating with me and asking to be picked up was new, but to the child in me, it made perfect sense. Why, out of the millions and billions of stones on that beach was I drawn to just that particular one in the first place?
The consciousness of every ‘thing’ has its basis in quantum physics; each biological and inanimate object is, in fact, a vibrating field of energy that responds to other vibrating fields and particularly to human thought, which science has verified. As children, we know this instinctively. And the cross-cultural phenomena of “worry stones” suggests we all have this knowledge of the healing power of the mineral kingdom deep within us. But my childhood ways of knowing were buried deep under many years of formal academic training, among other more adult preoccupations. Remembering was going to take a while.
Excerpt from Return to Pangaea: A Shamanic Journey Back to Newfoundland Roots; available through Amazon in October!