Advent with Black Elk: The Stone from the Spirit World

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Chapter 7: Wasichus in the Hills

In this chapter, Black Elk describes his relative Crazy Horse, who also had a mystical vision as a young boy. He said, “Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world.” (53)

He also mentions that Crazy Horse “carried a sacred stone with him, like one he had seen in some vision, and…when he was in danger, the stone always got very heavy and protected him somehow” (53).

A few years ago, a couple friends and I walked to a rocky beach, a little north of the Muir Beach Overlook. As we sat together on some stones, I led us in a brief Evening Prayer service. One friend had just recently defended his dissertation at the California Institute of Integral Studies. I was still teaching and struggling with my own dissertation, even contemplating giving up on my program completely. As we prayed together and enjoyed each other’s company in the pacifying and invigorating landscape and seascape, I noticed one red stone, about the size of a human heart, huddled among several white stones. I don’t remember thinking much about it at the time, but the stone seemed to have a magnetic pull on my body and my hands. I picked it up and brought it home and I have it beside me during my morning meditations. Sometimes I hold it close to my heart or rest its coolness on my forehead. I keep thinking I should let it go and return it to the outdoors somewhere, but every time I consider letting it go, it stubbornly refuses.

It’s really bizarre. I feel like it has chosen me. And I feel like it wants to gift me with healing and strength and courage.

I think I initially decided to keep it in order to remind me of that day at the beach with my buddies, but it’s come to mean much more than that.

Sometimes I imagine its formation…the prehistoric combination of minerals (perhaps quartz, obsidian and feldspar), the powerful forces of energy that went into shaping it, the journey it has taken, the patience it has practiced. I love how it fits snugly within my grip and how its resemblance to the human heart reminds me of my own body’s connection to the earth. To paraphrase Kurt Cobain…

It eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak

Perhaps a part of me has been locked inside this heart-shaped rock for centuries

I’m no Crazy Horse, but I feel almost protected by this heavy, sacred, heart-shaped stone. And I begin to understand and appreciate anew why the ancient and earthy Hebrew poets referred to God as their Rock (Genesis 49:24; 2 Sam 23:3; Psalm 18:2; 42:9; 78:35; Isaiah 30:29; Habakkuk 1:12, etc.)

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