I am continuing with my investigation into rocks and questioning whether a rock has a soul. I have recently been screenprinting portraits of rocks using inks that are made from ground rocks (Fig. 1). It has been a rewarding process, and by printing with the “rock ink” I can feel that there has been a physical shift in my energy and understanding. I feel as if I am no longer a sole creator and am now a co-creator, with this Earth as my collaborator. The mountain (of which each rock forms part) speaks through me. I am the facilitator. I can step back as a viewer and admire the work of the mountain; I could not have done this without her. I admire with awe the beauty in the palette of colours that she shows me (Fig.2), so many more shades than I anticipated. The experience of printing with these ground rocks has been visceral and sensual. I can smell the rock on the fresh print and feel her graininess when I touch the print. Sensations I did not envisage. However, I do feel there is more to explore here and that these prints are part of the process, not the finished work.
What if the rock itself is the work, without grinding it down to print? How can it convey a message of personhood?
I consider carving text into the rock. My concern with this is that by carving text I worry that I am anthropomorphising the rock, giving it my language. In thinking through this I am drawn to the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay (Fig.3). When looking at this work I find myself considering what is written on the rock – the meaning of the words themselves – and not necessarily the rock itself. Could I write something that makes you think more of the object than the message? Is it that the text is on a preprepared smooth surface, an activity of man? Is it the perfectly etched font? What would happen if the text is “handwritten”? I need to ask permission from the rock to etch into her. Is she ok with this? Action: Connect to spirit and ask the rock if she’s okay with this. If okay proceed with etching ‘I am’ on rock. For this I follow an Andean Shamanic tradition that has been taught to me by my mentors. I sit with eyes closed and hold the rock in my hand. I have lightly penciled the words “I am” on the rock. The first sensation I am aware of is the scent of the mountain. It smells like petrichor, that sweet scent that fills the air when it first rains after a period of drought. It brings a smile to my face. I briefly open my eyes to acknowledge her beauty; the golden yellow that I hold in my hand with veins of skin tones running through her. I again close my eyes. I sit in a meditative state and ask the rock if she is ok with this experiment. I feel warmth in my heart and a deep connection. This I take as a positive sign that everything is ok to proceed, but I sit a little longer and ask again, just in case I have misread the signals. Everything feels good to proceed, so I do. I think through the options for etching or carving on rock. Could I find a stone mason to carve by hand? What about CNC? Would it be able to etch on an uneven surface? Is it too digitised? I opt for a Dremel tool - somewhere in between - to begin the process (Fig.4).
Outcome: The inscription in not always visible so I have to hold the rock in my hand, moving the rock to capture the light enabling me to read it. This act allows me time to reconnect with the rock and it becomes an extension of me, our energy as one. I still question if I am anthropomorphising the rock. What if the rock doesn’t communicate with words? What can be made with non-verbal communication? Which symbols does it know? I begin with the spiral, perhaps it’s my Celtic roots and its long history with mankind’s rudimentary mark making or maybe the use of the spiral in healing practices for removal of blockages and illness that we see repeated in holistic practices across the globe. Am I attempting to enact a healing ritual on the rock? The work of Ibrahim Karim and his ‘BioGeometry Signatures’1 drops into my awareness. Karim talks of a subtle universal energy that keeps this universe in perfect balance and the spiral for Karim is the spiral motion found in energy centres around the Earth which expands outwards from a central point (we might also call these energy centres portals). Karim believes that these spirals create a harmonizing energy effect which is found at these centres and believes they can also be found at the centre of all shapes in nature. Action: etch spiral on rock (Fig.5)
I think about other symbols that might be used on rocks. I research hieroglyphs, Maori symbols, Celtic carvings, Runes. None resonate with me fully. I feel like I am forcing this action, especially if borrowing from other cultures. Maybe I will be accused of appropriation? Karim attributes curved and spiral shapes (Fig.6) to body parts to enact healing.
He also says that we are our own environment and when we heal ourselves, we also heal our immediate environment. The idea that this frequency vibrates outwards into our environment echoes commonalities through various healing traditions and laws of science. Karim also brings these symbols from our bodies and places them into the environment (separate from the body) and uses ‘clearing cards’ (Fig.7) which portray these curved and spiral shapes.