Mineral Messages and Stone Allies - The Gateway: Hearing Messages from Beyond

Kindling the Native Spirit: Sacred Practices for Everyday Life - Denise Linn 2015

Mineral Messages and Stone Allies
The Gateway: Hearing Messages from Beyond

Ancient medicine men and women understood the power of stones and often used them in ceremonies and rituals because they believed they contained living spirits with healing properties. Though rocks seem inanimate, they were thought to be no less alive than a wild rose opening to the morning sun or a deer grazing in a mountain meadow.

Sometimes stones were laid out in particular formations as a way to invite energy into a space. The practice of placing stones or rocks in a pattern to invite Spirit is not unique; it’s something that has been practiced throughout the native world. For example, the Native American medicine-wheel stone circle was a reminder of the great circle of life and an invitation to Spirit. Aborigines in various locations around Australia also created patterns of stones, some as large as 50 feet across. Many of the Aboriginal stone circles and patterns are similar in motif and shape to ancient stone circles in Britain. Although there is no way at this time to date them, it’s been suggested that some of these Aboriginal stone layouts could be 25,000 years old. It’s thought that these stone circles created the framework for initiations and ceremonies. To kindle the native spirit in you, consider creating and/or meditating in a stone circle.


Whether you’re creating a medicine-wheel circle or a design of your creation, you can use stones or rocks to establish your sacred space. Of course you can use any kind of stone; I prefer using stones that I’ve found in nature—stones that have been blessed by the sun on a riverbank or smoothed by waves of an ocean shore.

1. Setting Your Intention: Get clear on why you want to create your stone layout. In other words, what results do you desire? Are you creating it as a place of meditation or as a focus point for sending energy into the land? Decide what shape it will be and where it will be. If it’s a medicine-wheel layout, you should plan on aligning it with the compass.

2. Gathering Your Stones: Gather your “stone people” in a respectful way. Do not take rocks from sacred areas. For example, many people have traveled to the interior of Australia to visit the sacred Aboriginal site Ayers Rock—called Uluru by the Aborigines—and have taken rocks back home with them. The Pitjantjatjara people feel that these rocks belong to Uluru, which is a sacred “dreaming” site, and have requested that any stones taken be returned home. (It’s not uncommon to hear that “bad luck” follows those who remove stones from sacred sites.)

As strange as it might sound, when you find your stones, just as when picking herbs, it’s important to first ask their permission. There’s a subtle yet powerful balance of energy on our planet, and the mineral realm plays an important role in that balance. Even changing the location of one stone can affect the pattern of energy flow throughout the land. Some stones need to stay where they are, so it’s vital to ask permission. Hold your stone, tap into your intuition, and imagine that you’re carrying on a dialogue with the stone. Seeking permission can be as simple as closing your eyes and asking, “May I take you for my medicine wheel?” When the response comes, honor it. Most stones accept the invitation.

In addition, it’s important when you take a stone for your sacred circle to leave an offering such as tobacco, cornmeal, or some token of thanks. If you have nothing tangible to leave, offer thoughts or words of thanks and gratitude.

3. Connecting with the Stone People: To understand and feel the strength and energy of your stones, spend time with them before laying them in your circle. Entering into the awareness of animate and inanimate objects is one of the secrets of the shaman. To experience the living spirit within a stone, hold it in front of you. Observe the mountains and valleys of its surface. Close your eyes and explore every crevice of the stone with your fingers. Breathe deeply, and imagine that you’re entering into the center of the stone. Be aware of the story that dwells within it. Every rock has a different energy and will allow a different experience. Now imagine that you’re actually becoming the stone and observe how it feels.

4. Constructing Your Stone Circle: The ceremony of creating your stone circle or your rock layout brings power and clarity into your life. If you’re making a medicine wheel, start by taking the stone that symbolizes the east and ask the Spirit of the East to fill your sacred circle. Place this stone in the easternmost spot of the perimeter of your circle. Step back and imagine that energy filling your circle. Continue by placing the South Stone, followed by the West Stone and the North Stone. With each step, be aware that not only are you creating a physical circle, but also you’re creating a circle of power.


Once you have the four cardinal directions, then you can complete the rest of the circle. Allow equal space between each of the four major stones. In between these major stones, position your other stones, using as many as feel best.

(Not everyone has the opportunity or inclination to create a stone layout in nature; therefore, you can create a stone circle indoors. Additionally, you can create a small stone circle on your home altar. You can also assemble and reassemble your circle, if needed.)

5. Offering Prayers: Take as much time as you need when setting up your wheel. This is a sacred place, so treat the circle with respect. When your circle is complete, stand back from it and see if it feels right. If it doesn’t, take time to make whatever adjustments are needed. When you’ve finished, thank the earth for providing a place for your stone layout. Thank the surrounding vegetation and trees for giving loving support, and offer prayers to the Creator.

6. Entering Your Circle: Prior to entering your medicine wheel, purify and consecrate yourself by smudging. Take the smoke in your hands, and “wash” it over your hair and head (to think only pure thoughts), eyes (to see the truth), ears (to hear the truth), throat (to speak with clarity and truth), and heart (to give and receive love freely). Be very careful to avoid fire danger. (Important: In an area of high fire risk, don’t use burning herbs. A symbolic smudging can be as potent as an actual one, if done with love.)

7. Tapping Into the Power of the Sacred Circle: It’s an act of power to create a stone circle; it helps remind us how to live in a respectful way. While you are in your circle, allow your heart to guide you. Whether you use your circle for meditation or for ceremony with others, the hallowed circle can help remind you of who you are and why you’re here. And when you leave, give thanks for all that was given to you.


In addition to the natural rocks that are found at the base of a tree, in a canyon floor, by the sea, or in a riverbed, smaller stones that have been shaped, sanded, or polished have been used for sacred purposes throughout time. Although the meanings change, there’s a universal reverence for the power of the mineral realms, and many different kinds of stones and gems have been used in native cultures worldwide. However, perhaps the most revered is the quartz crystal.


Once I was shown a historical, timeworn Cherokee medicine bag. I felt two equally strong emotions. On one hand, I felt dismay; a medicine bag is an intimate object. It seemed sacrilegious to be able to see its contents. On the other hand, I felt profound fascination; for amidst the bones, seeds, and teeth was a clear quartz crystal. Even with the extreme age of the medicine bag, the crystal seemed fierce and proud. I could see why that particular crystal had been chosen.

It’s been said that no other culture used crystals with the focused determination that the Cherokees did. My ancestors have always cherished crystals, which they used for various purposes. They were placed in the home to catch the morning light and were also used for divination. The use of crystals wasn’t just reserved for the medicine men—most of the people in the tribe carried one—however, only the chief’s crystal was in plain view. His crystal was so important that if he fell or was captured in battle, a tribesman would run into the forest and bury the crystal at the base of a living tree, so the enemy would not be able to gain the power of the crystal.

Although it’s difficult to substantiate the exact use of crystals for the Cherokee in ancient times, Thomas Mails, in his book The Cherokee People: The Story of the Cherokees from Earliest Origins to Contemporary Times, chronicles their use of crystals. He states that the Cherokee divination crystals were so powerful that death could occur for anyone who hadn’t been initiated and who touched one of these hallowed stones. They were usually worn around the neck, but hidden from view beneath clothing (or they were hidden and wrapped in deerskins). Crystals were used to foretell the outcome of wars and hunts, and whether illness would occur. They were also used to help find lost objects.

I met an Apache man who told me that during the years that Geronimo—the prominent leader of the Apache—was being pursued, he would drum to gain visions of where to hide and when it would be safe to travel. While drumming, Geronimo would hold a crystal at the back of his drum, to deepen his visions. (Apaches are also known for their reverence and use of quartz crystals for mystical purposes.) I can’t verify this story so I don’t know if it is true, but when I hold a crystal while drumming I can feel that the energy is greatly magnified. As a suggestion, tie a crystal to the underside of the strings of your drum to intensify your prayers and see if you notice a difference.

Many years ago, I was at an evening tribal gathering. A man began to shake a rattle, and amazingly, the rattle glowed with flashes of light. It felt mystical and holy. The Uncompahgre Ute from central Colorado are one of the first documented people in the world known to utilize the effect of triboluminescence through the use of quartz crystals. The Ute constructed special ceremonial rattles made from buffalo rawhide, which were filled with small clear quartz crystals collected from the mountains. When the rattles were shaken at night during ceremonies, the friction and mechanical stress of the quartz crystals hitting each other produced flashes of light. The glow can be seen through the translucent buffalo hide. These rattles were believed to call spirits and were considered extremely sacred objects.

Crystals are used by many indigenous cultures. The Altomesayoks (mountain shamans) in Peru use crystals in their mesa (altar layout on sacred cloth). Crystals are believed to extract energy in healing, and the crystal is sometimes used as a representative of the east direction in certain mesa traditions. The shamans lay out the crystals in a dark room and the crystals are said to have the ability to materialize or call the apus (Mountain Spirits or Star Spirits). The Diné (Navajo) also have an ancient tradition of using crystals for healing. Herman Chee, a Diné elder and medicine man, who lives on tribal land in Monument Valley, is a crystal gazer. When someone comes to him with an ailment, he goes into the mountains to gather herbs and plants to make medicine for his healing work. (His belief, which is held by the people of most native traditions, is that herbs for healing shouldn’t be purchased, but rather gathered in nature.) He then brings them back home, makes a fire, and invites the different gods into his hogan (dome-shaped Navajo home) for the healing. He takes his healing clear quartz crystal and moves it over the body, using it like a scanning device, to locate the problem areas. As he does this, the different gods talk to him and give advice on how to treat his patient.


As you kindle your native spirit, you may want to work with the mineral realm and with crystals. If you do, remember it’s not the size or shape of the crystal that matters, but it’s the love that you have for it. Also decide ahead of time what the purpose of your crystal is. Is it for healing, prophecy, connecting with the Creator, or something else? The best crystals and stones are those that emerge naturally without extreme damage done to the land to obtain them. They are hard to find, but well worth it.


Here are some steps to help you find your crystal and begin working with it:

1. Find or purchase a stone that feels right to you: Remember that how it feels is more important than how it looks.

2. Cleanse your crystal: You can do this by running cold water over it; putting it out in sunlight for at least five hours; or leaving it out all night, especially in the light of a full moon. Because of their luminous nature, crystals should be cleansed often.

3. Dedicate your crystal: Hold it to your heart and declare your intention for its purpose. You might consider naming your crystal. Objects of power are often named in native traditions.

4. Give thanks to Grandmother Earth for your crystal: Many native people believe that crystals are a direct gift from the earth to her people.

5. Use your crystal: Sit in meditation with it. If it’s faceted, you may want to use it as a wand to direct healing energy.

6. Store your crystal: Consider keeping it wrapped in natural fabric or placed lovingly on your altar.


In addition to crystals and stones being used for healing and ceremonies, they can be your allies. Just as there are particular animals, trees, and plants that are in alignment with your individual energy, there are also specific stones and minerals that are your personal helpers. Simply holding or having your particular mineral ally can have a profound effect on you. It can protect and strengthen your energy field. When you wear or hold a mineral that’s your ally, or place it in your home, you’ll feel stronger and more vital. If it’s not your ally, when you hold or wear it, most likely you’ll either feel nothing, or possibly even feel weaker. (For additional information about your personal mineral ally, please visit my website.)


There are a number of ways to discover your allies. In addition to watching your dreams, looking for signs, and seeing what seems to “speak” to you, you can go on a visualization journey and imagine yourself calling your allies to you and notice what emerges. You can also let your allies find you. Be still and open your heart. They’ll find you. You are not alone. Be ready to receive. Once you have discovered your allies, take time to listen to their advice; you’ll find a wellspring of insight available to you.

For many, the greatest spiritual ally is the Goddess/God/Great Mystery/Creator, all different names for the divinity within all things. Having spirit allies does not dissociate you from God; in fact, allies are all aspects of the Divine. Simply being grateful and speaking in a personal way to Great Spirit can create miracles. Saying, “Creator, thank you for this day. Help me to love and appreciate myself and others even more,” helps you access the greatest ally of all.