The Vision Of Twelve Stones
By David Sunfellow
Winter, 1995
Sedona, Arizona

There is blackness, everywhere. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. Nothing to touch, or taste, or smell. There is only blackness and a silence so profound it cannot be described.

Suddenly, without warning, there is a tremendous explosion. Blinding light and deafening thunder shake the deepest recesses of darkness. Stars, moons, planets, stellar nebulae, solar systems, galaxies and universes all come whirling into existence.

As the universe gradually takes recognizable form, we see our solar system develop. We see our sun and planets. We see moons, asteroid belts, and comets. Then our planet fills our mind’s eye. We watch it evolve through its many stages: Primal gases whirl around, volcanoes erupt, vast oceans of water form, land rises from the tumultuous seas — and then begins to cool. Now, for the first time, life begins to form in the oceans and in the thick, gaseous air. Creatures come into being and begin their long journey to ever-increasing consciousness. We see the first one-celled creatures and watch them slowly transform themselves into new, more complex and aware creatures: plants, ferns and trees; fish, amphibians, and animals that can live on land, in the sea, and in the air. Ages pass and vast numbers of species come and go. Some disappear in the twinkling of an eye, the result of some global catastrophe, while others slowly evolve into other forms. Finally, after eons of growth, we see the Earth as she exists today. From the deep recesses of space we look at her and are stunned by her magnificent beauty. And we are also shaken by how fragile she seems floating all alone in the vast darkness of space.

Looking closer, our hearts begin to ache with a pain so deep we can scarcely bear it. Silently we cry out, “What has happened to our mother?!” Her once brilliant skies have become dull and toxic. Foul stenches rise from her tortured waters, lands, and skies. Holes form in the blue canopy she has clothed herself in, allowing the deadly rays of the sun to penetrate her inmost recesses and destroy the creatures she has so long protected, nurtured and loved. Tears come to our eyes. An unbearable sadness wells up within. We pause and solemnly reflect on how this could happen. And as we reflect, we begin to hear the faint beating of a drum. Like the sound of some primal heart beat, it calls to us and we are pulled down through the earth’s atmosphere to the surface of the planet.

Silently we pass over shimmering oceans and lush continents; across vast deserts and sparkling glaciers; through forest-covered mountains; down wild rivers and dense life-filled jungles.

Then we pass through the places that man has touched: Through densely populated cities and sparsely populated towns; through seemingly endless places of deforestation, pollution, and man-made desolation. And as we do, we begin to see, hear, and feel hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and other natural disasters — all of which have been caused by man’s abuse of the Earth.

And all the while the drum continues to beat and grow stronger, deeper, and more powerful. As we approach the origin of the drum, an ancient chant, made by a multitude of beings we cannot see, softly joins the drum. Day turns into night and the desolation of man is left behind. A panoramic view of starlit skies comes into view. One mountain range, dominated by jagged cliffs, draws our attention. On one seemingly inaccessible cliff we see a fire burning and notice two Native American figures — an old Medicine Man and a young brave — sitting silently around it. Slowly, we circle them and study their faces in the flickering darkness. Lost in some deep reverie, we realize they are watching the same vision we are watching.

We move closer. The deep wrinkles of a long life, well lived, cover the old man’s face. He seems as old and strong as an ancient redwood and as full of life as a new sapling. Entranced by the power of his presence, we find it difficult to look away. Beside him, the young brave is equally captivating. A purity seems to emanate from him. Somehow we know he has a powerful dream buried deep in his heart — a dream that he will someday find and fulfill.

Suddenly, the old man takes a deep breath and slowly opens his eyes. For a moment, he quietly stares at the young brave. And then he speaks.

“Did you see?”

The young brave opens his eyes. His face is flushed with deep concern and unsettled feelings. “Yes, Grandfather, I saw.”

“What do you think it means?”

Painfully, the brave answers, “Our Earth Mother is dying!”

There is a long silence. The stars seem to call to us and for a moment we gaze off into the heavens and ponder what we have seen and heard. Then we turn back to the brave who seems somehow connected to us. Somehow we know he feels the same way we do and seeks the same answers.

“The earthquakes and volcanoes. The raging waters. The wars. The sick and starving people. The weather. The world is coming to an end isn’t it, Grandfather?”

The face of the old man fills our mind once again. We watch as he patiently soaks up the young brave’s tortured questions, but does not answer. Instead, he looks compassionately into the brave’s questioning eyes.

“Grandfather, I have heard the old ones talking and I know the wise ones among our people are gathering in the sacred places. What am I to do? Where am I to go?”

“Before doing and going, you must understand.”

“Understand what, Grandfather?”

“Why the Earth Mother suffers.”

There is a long, thoughtful pause, while the brave studies the old man’s face and patiently waits for him to explain.

“Put your hand upon the Earth Mother, my son.”

Tenderly, the brave places both hands firmly against the earth. To him, she is a living being. He feels the life force pulsating through her immense body.

“Now listen. What do you hear?”

A few moments pass. He searches the Earth, and himself, for some sound. Startled, the brave looks deep into the old man’s eyes. “I hear the sound of her heart beating! It is everywhere!”

“Yes. Now listen again, even more deeply.”

Taking a deep breath, the brave closes his eyes again. Listening with all his might, he follows the sound of her heartbeat to another sound, which startles him even more. Again his eyes open in amazement. “I hear another heart beating! Whose heart is this?!”

“The Earth Mother is pregnant. The old world and old ways are dying. A new world, with new ways, is preparing to be born.”

Puzzled, the brave searches himself for some kind of answer, but can find none. “What is this new way, Grandfather? How is it different from the old?”

The old man taps the ground with his medicine stick and blue sparks splash out in every direction. A cascading roar echoes through the mountains and valleys. Flying across the ground, up the trees, and leaping into the air, the blue sparks search for and find twelve smooth, polished, well-rounded stones. All twelve stones are then carried in the crackling current to where the old man and brave are sitting. The stones form a circle around the fire that is burning in the midst of the brave and old man, and the dancing, crackling energy softens to a quiet glow.

“Do you know what these twelve stones are, my son?”

“No, Grandfather.”

“They are the Twelve Races, the Twelve Religions, the Twelve Paths, the Twelve Tribes of Man.”

Pausing a moment to let his words sink in, the old man gazes into the fire. “Ages ago, the Great Spirit scattered them to the four winds. For eons now they have grown wise and strong, but they have not united. They have held to themselves, and their own ways, as they were intended to.” The old man pauses again, and then looks deeply into the brave’s eyes. “But now, my son, the time has finally come for them to unite and be as one; the time has finally come for one people, one nation, one path to arise among the many.”

“This is the new world and new way that is being born?”

“Yes.” The old man looks off into the starry sky. Then he turns back to the brave. “But it cannot be born alone. The Earth Mother, and these twelve stones, need help.”

“What kind of help, Grandfather?”

“Someone to gather the stones together and help them learn the new way.”

“Who will do this great thing, Grandfather?”

The old man looks back into the fire and answers, “Many will do this great thing.” Then he looks kindly into the eyes of the brave. “And one of these many shall be you, my son.”

“But I know nothing of gathering stones, Grandfather.”

“You know more than you remember, my son. Reach out and touch the stones.”

The brave does as he is told and as his hand approaches the stones the blue current explodes to life again. It flies back and forth forming a luminous stream between the brave and the stones. Soon all twelve stones are crackling with the blue current and the brave is shimmering from head to toe.

The old man smiles and asks the brave, “What do you feel?”

Astonished, the brave answers, “I feel the heart and know the way of each stone.” Still shimmering with blue currents of electricity, the brave searches for a fuller answer, and then speaks again. “It is almost as if I have lived each one.”

The old man smiles and nods, “Yes. You are one of many who have learned the path of each stone.”

The brave removes his hand from the stones and the blue current dims to a glow again. “But, Grandfather, I am still a child. I do not know how to gather these stones together, nor do I know the new way you speak of.”

“You will learn.”


“There is only one way.” The old man pauses and gazes towards the edge of the cliff. “You must jump, my son.”

“Jump? Off this cliff?!”

“Yes, my son. Throw yourself off this cliff into the arms of the Great Spirit Wind. It will carry you where you need to go and teach you how to gather and unite the Twelve Great Stones.”

There is an uncomfortable silence as the Brave considers the old man’s advice, and deeply searches himself for another, less literal meaning.

“If you wish to help the Earth Mother through her time of travail; if you wish to help a new world be born; if you wish to help all beings find greater happiness, there is no other way.”

The young brave looks trustingly into the eyes of the old man. “If you say so, Grandfather, I will jump. I will leap into the arms of the Great Spirit Wind without hesitation. I will fly like an eagle!”

“No, my son, you will fall like a rock, and tumble like a wounded crow. You will be tossed and thrown about like a feather in a storm.” As the brave’s face begins to pale, the old Indian moves closer and puts his hand upon his shoulder. “No, no, do not let fear enter your heart. I will tell you a secret that will make you brave.”

“What is that, Grandfather?”

“There is no bottom.”

“No bottom?!”

“You will fall and be tossed about. You will be scratched and bruised. You will be thrown into storms and collide with things you know not of, but you will not die. No bottom will silence your quest. It is your destiny to fly!”

“I am glad to hear this, Grandfather.” The brave pauses a moment to collect his thoughts. “But how long must I be tossed and blown about? How long will it take me to learn to fly?”

“Long enough.”

As the old man answers, all twelve stones begin to hum. Their strange noise ignites the blue current which then carries them to the feet of the brave. The brave looks questioningly at the the old man.

“They will go with you. They will teach you about the Circle of Life and remind you of your purpose.”

Then the wind begins to blow, the trees begin to sway, birds begin to circle overhead and a host of animals appear at the edge of the forest. The brave notices all these things and again turns to the old man for answers.

“Mother Earth, and all her creatures, will pray for you. They long for the world to be made whole — and know their fate is in your hands.”

Overhead, clouds begin to form and take the shape of old chiefs and wise people, ancient spirit guides and powerful Kachinas. The brave watches, spellbound.

“Wherever you go, they will be with you. They will share their wisdom and strength with you.”

Marveling at all that has happened, the brave turns and looks gratefully into the eyes of the old man. “And you, Grandfather, you have given me these powerful visions and spoken to me of all things. I shall never forget this day.”

“Words and visions are inspiring and instructive. Prayers are uplifting and protective. And nothing can withstand the power of the spirit brothers and Kachinas. But by themselves, none of these things are enough for this difficult journey.”

Puzzled, the brave looks deeply into the old man’s eyes. “What else is there, Grandfather? What else could I possibly need?”

The old man pauses a moment and then smiles. His love for the brave is almost too much for the brave to bear. “You need other beings, clothed in flesh and blood like yourself, to make the journey with you.”

“And where shall I find these other beings?”

Quietly, the old man turns and gestures out beyond the cliff’s edge. “They are out there, my son, tumbling through the air like wounded crows.”

The young brave looks out beyond the cliff’s edge and pauses. He lets the old man’s words sink in. And then he answers, “Then I, too, will jump. I will join my spirit with theirs.”

“You shall, indeed, my son. Together you, and yours, shall learn to fly. And all things will be drawn together in a joy unknown since the beginning of time.”


Companion Vision: The Hopping Stone Vision