Talisman: Stone and Gold

In the years I was a young, single mother, I traveled a lot, internationally. The trips were rushed and I often didn’t have time to shop for a gift for my son. One day, I saw a small stone on the path–a type of stone we didn’t see at home. It came home with me, and I made a story about the stone’s family and how it always wanted to travel. My son enjoyed the story, and a tradition started.

Every trip I took, I brought home a rock and a story. It became a habit to scan the ground for interesting stones. When I hike, I still do.

I’m not a happy airline traveler. But it’s still the fastest way from here to there, so I brave the TSA, the delays, and the bumpy flights. Some years ago, on my way to the airport, I scooped up a rock from the front yard and put it in my pocket. When I got home, I tossed it back in the yard. It became a way for me to assure myself that I’d come back to return the rock. I’d hold the rock during take-off and landing, and it helped keep me calm.

A few weeks ago, during walking meditation, a rock caught my eye. It was unusual, because it was a good 50 feet away, and it was a small stone. I walked over and picked it up. It was remarkably smooth, rectangular, and split halfway down the length. The split created a landscape of a mesa and a distant mountain.

stone1The rock came home with me, got washed, and put in my pocket. It was a good rock. Everybody needs a rock. It went on one trip with me, and another. It did the job of grounding me. One night, I put it under my pillow and dreamed of the most amazing sunrise. I was standing on a Mesa and watched the sun rise, filling me with strength and courage. I left the hotel the next morning and had to dash back to retrieve the stone–I needed it to remind me of the dawns that come after the darkest night, and of strength and courage.

As I often do with special work, I called Matt Muralt, who does custom jewelry in Mesa, Arizona. I explained I wanted a sunrise put into the stone. A thin line of gold inset into the stone face to outline the top of the mesa and the far-away mountain. Matt also drilled a hole in the top for the bail and lined the hole to avoid having the stone wear out the silver bail. Matt had made my pencil amulet, and he transformed this stone into a talisman. From a distance, it looks like a minimalist piece of jewelry. But in my hand, it is the stone that will bring me safely home, with strength and courage.

-Quinn McDonald knows the value of amulets and talismans.


23 thoughts on “Talisman: Stone and Gold

  1. Twenty years ago,after sorting through old emotional baggage at the beach,I threw it all to the water via a one inch plastic dinosaur(Tyrannosaurus)-Tyranny of the past.On the very same visit,I was gifted with a perfectly shaped whole sand dollar,complete with a tiny hole to thread a wire through.I can no longer find that sand dollar,but the perfection of that experience still gives me chills.Teachers are everywhere when we’re willing to look.

    I love your rock,especially the gold.It makes me think of the expression,”between heaven and earth”…there’s actually a book,”A walk Between Heaven and Earth” by B.Holzer regarding writing and the creative process,I think I’m going to reread it!

  2. I am a stone collector too!
    I pick them up on my walks at home or when I travel. I keep them in boxes and take them out now and then. I like to sew smaller ones on cloth or paper (for journal covers). Your pendant looks great and I like the idea to turn one into a piece of jewel very much!

  3. What a beautiful story. I collect interesting looking stones too. Right now I have two rather large stones. I can hold either in my hand, but they’re a bit too large to carry around in my pocket. I like to pick them up and hold them in my hand, feeling the weight of the stone and tracing my finger over the rough texture of the largest stone. The other stone is a little smaller and smooth. When I’m holding either stone, the weight reminds me that life has substance. Every one’s life, including my own, has substance. I like to run my fingers over the rough stone, tracing the dips and bumps, the scars of the world it’s been exposed to. These textures remind me that life’s ups and downs leave marks on my own life, life-texture, as I like to think of it. And these textures make up my own story. My own life. The smooth stone has a scar on one side that can be felt when tracing it with a finger. It reminds me that no matter how smooth it seems someone else’s life may be, there are hidden scars, hidden marks from their own journey that I’m unaware of. It reminds me to think before I judge someone because I don’t know the background of their story. Only my own. Rocks are a beautiful way (for me) to stay in tune with the true essence of life, especially my own.

  4. Lovely Quinn.

    If you need to borrow a jacket so you can walk the beach with me, check the pockets . . . there’ll be a pocket rock there. It will be just the perfect size to rub you thumb over and will be as smooth as silk or will have lines your finger will trace of their own accord.

    And yes, I have stones from all over the world but my favourite is the pounamu my son and daughterin law gave me . . . a piece of home, a koru: symbol of new beginnings and harmony.

  5. Lovely!
    A friend of mine makes pendants and necklaces out of local shells and oysters and last year for my birthday she told me I could pick one for myself out of her collection. I picked a beautifull oyster shell on a very simple threaded chain. I wear it quite often, but I just have to have it with me when I leave the island for more than a day. It’s like taking a piece of home with me. It didn’t start out that way, but somehow it has become a type of talisman too.

  6. Wonderful!!! I’ve been drawn to stones since I was a child and felt a strong need to go to Rock Shows and have a rock tumbler…I have picked up stones as long as I can remember. I have them all over the place! I have some stone jewelry and after seeing your beautiful necklace, LOVE the idea of taking a stone I found, to a jeweler for a custom piece!

  7. What a beautiful posting, story, stone and piece of jewelry. I, too, collect stones as talisman, for founding, and for dreaming and insight. What a gift you have in this stone!

  8. i was quite delighted and surprised, when i was visiting with my granddaughter, adrianna [she was about 2 and a half at the time] and we were outside playing,], i spotted several small stones very carefully placed on the front yard’s rock wall. addy very seriously told me that those were some of her “special” stones and they had to be there.
    and i carry in my pocket a “wish stone” , a black one with a white line in the middle.
    thankyou for this story, quinn. i look forward to reading your posts each morning.

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