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Shamanic Rock Divination Print E-mail
Ross Heaven   
Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Shamanic Rock DivinationThe lessons of quantum physics and its new kid on the block, holographic theory, are that all things are intimately connected through the energy that infuses the universe and all it contains. According to our scientists, in fact, 90% of the universe is unknown, in that we typically only see 10% of the reality we subscribe to, while 9/10ths of it remains invisible to us. Science calls it ‘dark matter’, but actually this ‘silent majority’ of the universe – this missing 90% - is ‘dark’ (i.e. immeasurable) energy, not matter at all. It is this, the vast ghostly echoes of primal energy, sweeping through the cosmos into the world of humankind, that unites us, not the material things around us.

Quantum theory tells us that time and space do not exist – everything is taking place here, now. Giving space-time coordinates to events is a human conceit to try and establish scientific order over a universe that is mostly unseen and presumed to be out of our control. If everything takes place in the here and now, however, then all things can be changed and even the future reversed through an act of power taken in the present to alter the energy that surrounds the events of our lives. In scientific terminology, this is known as the ‘observer affect’. It means that in the quantum universe, even the act of giving your attention to something changes its nature at a subatomic level.

What has this got to do with rock divination? Quite a lot actually. Because, if our scientists are right, then the answers to the secrets of the universe are inherent in all things – even a rock - and nature will reveal herself in an infinite number of ways if we only look to her for answers.

These findings of modern physics have come as a shock to scientists, who have only known about the quantum reality of the universe for 100 years or so, but it is absolutely no surprise to traditional societies, who have worked with the powers of nature for at least 40,000 years. Indeed, recent archaeological findings from the Rift Valley in Africa, suggest that human beings have known about this energetic flow of information from the universe since the dawn of consciousness, 400,000 years ago, when proto-humans walked the earth and modern science was not even the dream of a visionary. Finds from the Valley reveal ritual objects used in shamanic ceremonies to link man with nature and thereby access her secrets in a way that modern diviners would also recognise.

Shamanic cultures, not just in Africa, have always used divination in highly practical ways – to determine how to prevent or cure illness, for example, or to see which way the hunters should set out in order to avoid enemies and find food. These were life and death skills for people who could not just get into a car and visit the local hospital or supermarket – and the shamans of these tribes therefore became adept at using divination to ensure the survival of the communities they served.

One of the best-known methods of divination, using the elements of the natural world, is the stone gazing technique of the Lakota Sioux. The medicine man used a stone about the size of his palm, which had at least four sides or faces. Even the act of finding the stone was done in a reverential and sacred manner, in the recognition that all things are alive, sentient, aware, and offer themselves to us out of friendship and a desire to help. The Sioux themselves have an expression which sums up the proper relationship of human beings to ‘the stone people’ and other natural allies: mitakuye oyasin – they are ‘all my relations’.

Having drummed or danced or chanted his way into a quiet and reflective meditative state, the medicine man would then turn the rock to one of the faces and hold in mind a question that he or his people needed an answer to. ‘Why, Who, What, How, When, Where?’ questions were all fine; those that required a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer were somewhat more difficult since the otherworld, the formless web of energy that we now call holographic, does not operate in the same way as human beings and polarities such as ‘Yes/No, Light/Dark, Right/Wrong’ are human constructs by which a non-judgemental universe does not operate.

The diviner would look to the first face of the rock and ‘dream into’ it until four symbols revealed themselves to him. These might be anything. He may see trees or birds or clouds, for example, emerging from the rock as shape and shadows within the contours of stone. These four symbols would be noted and he would then move on to the next face until all of the sides had given him four pieces of information in this way.

His next step would be to journey into the symbols, making himself a ‘hollow bone’ for the information they contained, so that his imagination was allowed free reign and the rational mind, with its tendency to interfere and over-analyse, was subdued. Through this intuitive link to the stone, each symbol would reveal its purpose and provide more detailed information in answer to the questions asked of it. Finally, the medicine man would combine all 16 pieces of information so that a complete overview of the situation emerged and his question was answered fully. Typically, this summary would tell him why and how the problem had arisen for his tribe (perhaps the breaking of a taboo or a failure to observe proper rituals), the likely outcome if the energy of this situation was not changed, what could be done to resolve it, and how things might then look. He was then able to communicate this information to his people. Finally, the stone would be returned to the place where it was found and the ritual of divination would be closed.

Although this form of divination is well known, the use of stones in such as way is far from unique to the Sioux. In fact, we know of similar techniques in our European history, using rune stones to foresee future events and how they might be manipulated to give us a better, healthier, outcome.

Each rune contains information that a sorcerer has originally ‘dreamed’ in a vision and each is therefore a gateway to the spirit world. How the stones land when cast, and the images they reveal from their symbol-carved faces is interpreted by the diviner using his creative imagination in connection with the rune symbols. By seeing how the stones are spread, whether upright or inverted, front on or with the face of the stone to the earth, a vast amount of information is revealed which will be pertinent to the question asked. Decisions can then be taken on future actions in order to make the best of the cosmic patterns that are affecting that person’s life.

Both of these techniques, then, are about knowing what the future holds so that more choices are available as to how to deal with coming events. Some cultures have gone further than this, however.

Realising – long before the discoveries of quantum physics – that all ‘things’ are really one thing, the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm, the shamans of Tuva had a quite different way of using stones in their divinatory practices. They would use them to actually change the future, not just divine its essence.

In their approach, 49 small stones are used. Sometimes these are pebbles from the bed of a river; sometimes they are gallstones taken from a slaughtered bird, which are considered most sacred.

The shaman begins by casting the stones in answer to his client’s question or problem. The divination itself is complex because of the sheer number of stones and the patterns that can be made. To a trained eye, however, the different clusters and strings of stones each represent a past, present, or future situation, a trend which continues in that person’s life and an outcome which is inevitable unless the dynamics of that life are changed.

This is where the Tuvan approach differs from the others, for the shaman is aware that there is a relationship between all things and that the stones are more than just a reflection of his client’s life; they are his life. By changing the pattern of the stones, it is therefore possible to change the pattern of his client’s life, and so directly affect the outcome of the problems he is facing.

To put this into a modern context, you might visit a diviner to discover whether your application for a new dream job will be successful. The stones, however, may show that you do not get appointed to the job you want. The shaman, knowing that you really want this position, is able to discern from the pattern of stones which factors – which stones exactly - are responsible for your rejection. He can then change the configuration of stones or remove the two or three which will cause you to fail, and this will be reflected in a change of life circumstances. You will get the job.

Such things are possible because, in the quantum universe, it is the energy that infuses us that connects us to all things. Time and space are a myth – everything is a part of everything else - and events in your life can therefore be changed by altering the energy of something that represents that life: the stones. And changes in one area automatically mean changes in another.

Quantum physics is merely footnotes to cave paintings by ancient sorcerers. How long before our scientists also start listening to the message from stones?

Ross Heaven is a therapist, workshop leader, and the author of several books on shamanism and healing, including Darkness Visible, the best-selling Plant Spirit Shamanism, and Love’s Simple Truths. His website is where you can also read how to join his sacred journeys to the shamans and healers of the Amazon.

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