In March 1994, I took a solitary train journey to the Four Corners in the US Southwest. The Four Corners refers to an area of SW Colorado, SE Utah, NW New Mexico and SW Colorado. It is a land with a mix of desert, mesas, First Nation reservations, canyons, pine forests, mountain ski resorts, petrified forests and energy vortexes.

I got off the train at 4 AM--we were five hours late--in Flagstaff, Arizona, spent that first night at a bed & breakfast, rented a car the next morning, and started driving toward Canyon De Chelly, with an overnight stop planned on the Hopi reservation. Believe it or not, they run a Holiday Inn there.

I had a hunger to be on land that was home to the first peoples to settle on this continent. I needed solitude and quiet. What better place to find it than on an endless expanse of desert under a huge sky?

There were many graced moments during that eight-day odyssey, but the one that stays foremost in my mind was on my first night at Canyon De Chelly. I'd pulled into the old resort where I was to stay, hungry and tired. I had an early dinner in the cafeteria and soon crashed on the bed in my room, exhausted. I awoke about 7 PM. Though tempted to turn over and go back to sleep, my inner voice said, Here you are at Canyon De Chelly! Don't spend all your time in bed. Get up and explore a little.

So I got in my car and turned it toward the Canyon. I didn't really know where I was headed, but soon saw I was driving on top of the canyon's ridge. I stopped the car beside what looked like a lunar landscape to my right. The sky was glowing with unearthly colors as the sun prepared to set over the desert. I got out of my car and started walking toward the ridge. I carried with me the handpainted gourd rattle I'd bought from a Hopi man named David at the First Mesa that afternoon.

At my feet were pools of water from a recent rain; in each pool was reflected a full white moon. I looked up and to my left was the full moon rising. So here I was standing between the golds, pinks, blues and purples of a sunset on my right and the tranquil white of a full moon against a deep royal blue sky to my left. And what did I do? I danced. There with pools of moons at my feet, I shook my rattle, chanted and danced. All by myself.

Out of that dance, that journey into the core of the earth, that connection with the First Nations people and their sense of all life as sacred, that extended time alone, came the Sacred Stones®.

I did not plan them. I simply picked up 25 stones from the shores of Lake Huron one weekend, took them home and started drawing on them with a rapidograph pen and black india ink. I used symbols and meanings that flowed through me during those two days in April, two days when I felt carried along like a leaf on a spring-swollen creek. When I looked up, Sacred Stones® were lying at my side like fragments of a partially remembered dream.

For two years, I spent my time stoning on the Great Lakes that surround Michigan, gathering water-smoothed stones on which I drew suns, moons, frogs, eagles, trees and more. I then took baskets of these handpainted stones--each set accompanied by its own booklet printed with simple meanings for each symbol--and set up a table at psychic fairs and holistic conferences, selling what I considered to be my Life's Work.

Out of the Sacred Stones® came a song, a story, photographic posters, woodburned feather-and-beaded driftwood staffs, storytelling workshops and women's rituals. It was my primary work during 1994 and 1995. I must have drawn on thousands of stones during that time. There is still a corner of my room piled with lake stones ready to be painted.

What happened?, you might ask. Why did I stop making and selling Sacred Stones®? I could give a lot of reasons but the truth is that they had their time. I am deeply grateful for what I learned from the stones. Nothing can more gracefully give one grounding than stones, especially these water-smoothed Great Lakes stones. Perhaps it is their example that taught me to weather physical and emotional storms, to let them smooth away my rough edges and to roll with the waves of life as-it-is, not as I wish-it-were.


So now it is time to let the stones make themselves known in this web world where geographical and language boundaries cease to exist. I invite you, my virtual sisters and brothers, to create Sacred Stones® for your personal use only. They were registered with the US Library of Congress under my name in 1994, so I ask that you not infringe on that copyright by making commercial use of the symbols and/or their meanings. Thank you in advance for respecting my artistic rights and privileges.


And how will you use these Sacred Stones®? As with any intuitive tool, its use will emerge out of your own needs, intentions and imagination.

My personal use was simple. Each morning I picked a stone with my eyes closed, meditated on its meaning and carried that energy with me into the day. At night, I replaced the stone in its basket and asked myself, In what way did its wisdom impact my life this day? What have I learned of myself and the world?

When facilitating circles, I asked each person to choose a stone--again with their eyes closed--hold it in silence and study its shape, texture, color and symbol. I'd invite the circle-sitters to share what they saw and felt in relation to their stone. We then read aloud from the booklet the meaning that was given for their symbol, keeping in mind that each person's unique "reading" of their stone's message was generally the most accurate for them. Next, I'd start a story speaking through the "voice" of my stone. When I cut off in the middle, whomever felt called would pick the story up in the voice of their stone. And so on around the circle. Somehow we always knew when the story was complete. I called these circle gatherings, "Sacred Stones® Storytelling."

But my best suggestion is to let your stones lead you: they always know the path to follow.

©1994 Patricia Lay Dorsey

Sacred Stones® symbols & meanings 1
Sacred Stones® symbols & meanings 2
Sacred Stones® symbols & meanings 3
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