There was a point at the very beginning of this year’s Visioning Ritual where we took a holding stone, filled with everything we wanted to let go of, and hurled it into the lake. I felt a palpable sense of relief (although my throw wasn’t nearly as impressive as I’d hoped), and stared out at the dark water for a moment.
To my surprise, I suddenly received a very large rock from my left.
Bewildered, I looked down at it, wondering what to do. There had been, to my knowledge, no instruction of what to do with it, and since I had momentarily removed my glasses at the beginning of the ritual (expecting a blindfold much earlier than it occurred), I had not seen it in the first place. So when we were sent along the path, further into the ritual, I took it with me.
I continued to carry it through the ritual. I walked blindfolded with it in my hands; I put it down briefly to pull layers as I grew warmer; I hiked over some pretty tricky ground with it. Nothing I encountered addressed this heavy stone, or whether I could put it down, so I just kept hold of it. It grew heavier, and I grew hotter.
Probably more than halfway through, I stopped at a place where I received a small, smooth stone. This represented the holding stone I’d flung away – still full of all my fears and worries and doubts, but smoother for its time in the water.
Now I had two stones – one small, one heavy – and the terrain was starting to get rougher.
I finally hesitated next to a boulder. I had asked myself, over and over again, “Why am I carrying this rock?” Over and over again, I couldn’t answer the question. Nothing I had encountered had addressed the question; nobody had taken it from me, even while I was blindfolded. And dammit, I was hot, getting tired, and fuck if I was going to keep carrying two rocks over this hike.
I set the heavy stone down on the boulder and continued on my way.
When I relayed this to my clan, they burst out laughing, as did the friends with whom I traveled. I had essentially stolen the Water Elemental’s rock. I found it just as funny, as I’d had a sneaking suspicion of that very thing. It’s become a delightful in-joke with my clan and friends, but it’s also more than that.
In stealing the Water Spirit’s rock, I stole her burden. I took it as my own, and carried it longer than I ever should have without really knowing why. It represents something I do in my daily life as well, something that causes me extra stress and aggravation and is entirely preventable. As much as anything, it is part of my winter work – to identify the rocks I’m carrying and figure out why I’m carrying them. And if I can’t answer why… then I learn to put them down and move on.
So… why are you carrying that rock?