I do not subscribe to the Neo-platonic ideal of essences, however I do believe certain natural objects contain a more concentrated form of power than others. These objects of power, hint at an eternal aspect, but truly only speak to a longevity of form that is ultimately betrayed by ephemerality. Despite their hardiness and consistency of form, these objects like all others eventually break down and give way. Only the atoms and electro-magnetic energy they encompass are eternal. All other aspects are but vectors in the time-space continuum, more on that some other day.
As a child I collected rocks and stones. Not crystals or mineral specimen, but seemingly ordinary stones. They were not ordinary though, due to my good fortune, my family owned property in the Texas Hill Country. The predominant geologic feature of this region is limestone. This meant that as a child I collected many rocks that either contained fossils or holes. Yes my childhood rock collection was made of hagstones and fossils. Either keys for viewing the realms of fey, or bits of a past so distant as to hint at eternity itself. My two favorites were “Donut Rock” and “Big Heart”, everyone of my rocks had a name. Donut rock was roughly the size and shape of a donut with a hole right through the middle, he was my favorite. Yes I said “he”, like most children I was a natural animist, as I mentioned above everyone of my rocks had a name. These names were based on shape, size and personality, because yes, I talked to my rocks. They were my friends.
Big heart like the majority of my fossils was a bivalve known as a deer heart clam. I also had bits of ancient oyster beds, brachiopods, some snails, and a few sea urchins. These rock dinosaurs as I called them spoke to me of ancient oceans and fantastic landscapes that only my dreams could fully recognize. These frozen snapshots of a prehistoric world first taught me about the magic of stones. This leads me to the hagstones, long before I had ever read about hagstones or their uses among my Pre-Anglo Cyrmy (Welsh) ancestors, I knew that they were lenses to other realms. Combine the natural magic of a hagstone with the imagination of a child and ancestral magical memory, and the limits of what I viewed was boundless. These stones honed my visualization skills in a way that no other technique has. These stones were my teachers even before I realized such a thing was possible.
Today I own many stones, fossils, crystals, and minerals. I have spent many years studying their physical, geological, and esoteric properties. None of this subsequent education can compare to the initial lessons of my childhood earth angels. I am still a rock whisperer, a skill I learned before formal education. When I visit someplace new my first endeavor is to meet the natural geology of the area. I talk to the stones, the ancient stores of knowledge that know more, have seen more, and record more information than our species will ever comprehend. I feel blessed to have been instructed by these old wise ones. These earth angels at the base of all things, the literal base of all things.
In my grandmothers garden I first learned about the importance of roots. When we transplanted the seedlings in spring, I was reminded to be tender and gentle with the roots, because that’s from where the plants grew. Later the lesson was to always remember to include root vegetables in my diet to stay healthy and strong. It was the last lesson she taught me that intrigued me the most. As devout a Methodist as any that came, she was a repository of old German lore. When we picked carrots, then ones with two roots, i.e. the ones that resembled legs, were set aside and only eaten raw. These were special and could not be cooked. It was not until many years later when reading Jacob Boehme’s Signature of all Things, that I began to suss out my Grandmother’s treatment of these carrots. For her it may have just been tradition, but the origins of that tradition probably had similar connotations as the human shaped mandrake, and other people shaped roots.
At the family cabin, where we spent every hunting season and chunks of summer, there were multiple cedar stumps that had been unearthed so that the root structure was exposed. These inverted stumps were like a cross between driftwood and abstract sculpture. Their form, texture, and color fascinated me. These twisted, hard bits of wood spoke to me of the trees need to wrap around and push between rocks to find nutrient rich soil. This was a life lesson, despite the twists and turns these hardy souls continued to dig in searching for that which sustained them. I was completely in awe of these masters of reality. Thanks to these wonderful grotesqueries, I developed a lifelong love of root structures and the esoteric meaning contained within their shapes.
Now a days, I collect roots for medicine, for culinary purposes, for their esoteric associations, but mostly for their beauty. I resonate with the shape and color of roots, the smells they contain from the soil, their resins, and from molds and fungi. On my path I have learned to associate the roots with the dwelling of the plants souls. No matter how much a plant can teach me, its roots teach me more, these are residents of the underworld after all. The first residents of the underworld that I ever encountered and I still learn something new with every root I encounter. Roots are crossroads of sorts, an intersection between the world of plants, the world of minerals, and the previously mentioned underworld. To explore roots is to explore magic itself.
Bones. Every witch and sorcerer I know collects bones. Why? What is the allure? Is it simply that this is the most resilient parts of otherwise temporary beings or is there more to the story? In many traditions, skulls are used like spirit pots, as a place of residence for familiar spirits. Sometimes bones are used as points of contact for the grand spirit of the species they came from; wolf bones for wolf spirit, dog for dog, cat for cat, that sort of thing. Perhaps it is an ancient knowing that we possess, the reason behind statements like, “I feel it in my bones”or “to know something deep in down in one’s bones.” Maybe it has to do with the fact that bones, our own bones, are 60-70% mineral and this gives us a connection to the earth in the same way rock or stones do.
My personal fascination with bones, much like rocks, and roots, began quite early in my life. I was raised in a family of hunters and fishers, bones were just part of reality, leftovers after the flesh was consumed. In addition to stones and roots, I collected bones, still do. In my youth I was most fascinated with jawbones and teeth. The majority of my collection was either the molars or complete jawbones of white tail deer and feral hogs. How the teeth fit into the sockets was utterly amazing, I literally spent hours removing and reinserting teeth, especially after my “baby” teeth fell out. It was like a jigsaw puzzle from nature.
Bones and objects made of bone litter my altars and shrines. I have complete animal skeletons, skulls, whistles and trumpets, and even random teeth scattered about. I cannot eat an animal without keeping its bones for a while. I try to connect with it and thank it for nourishing me, then I “smoke” the bones and bury them. I keep bones to mix with my personal incense blends, sometimes I grind bones into fine powder to add to soups and stews. I make bone broth both for nutritional and ritual purposes. I even have a recipe for beer brewed with bones. Like stones and roots, bones have become an integral part of my path and practice.
Over the years, I have studied many different magical traditions and even dabbled in a few, eventually I have come to develop my own path and practice. Just as Blues Rock claims its lineage from both Blues, and Rock and Roll, yet is not quite either, so too is my way an amalgamation. Somewhere between Witchcraft, and Chaos Magic, I have forged the path of the Mutant Mage. Despite many techniques and much spell craft practiced, I find myself returning to certain basic materials over and over. Experimenting with Tibetan Chod rituals or communing with Hekate in Midnight Graveyard Sessions, I have come to rely on three allies more than any other. These three companions keep me connected to this world and aid me in transcending it. Semi-permanent as they are even they give way to impermanence and thus teach the way of all things. It is safe to say my path, my practice would not exist as it does without Stones, Roots, and Bones.
PEACE LOVE LIGHT