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Mount Roineabhal Summit Rock Essence

Background story

Map of Scotland showing the location of South Harris Mount Roineabhal, South Harris, Outer Hebrides. (Photo P & A Macdonald)

Mount Roineabhal, South Harris, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides.
(Photo © P & A Macdonald)

This essence has been prepared from a small and unremarkable-looking piece of rock which is the focus of a long and rather unusual story. Like all good stories, it has a happy ending. And like all good stories, it weaves itself on a number of different levels. Threads of poetic symbolism snake through its fabric. Striking coincidences and synchronicities occur. Serendipity takes a hand. Shamanic consciousness intrudes. Ancient myths spring to life. And many of those who were part of it are left knowing they have been touched by something well beyond the ordinary.

Summit rock of Mount Roineabhal

“ ... modern Scotland doesn't really 'do' sacred mountains. Theologically they're dodgy, and in secular terms they're bonkers! Yet that is what I have heard some folks calling Roineabhal. As one native islander said, 'If it wasn't before, it is now.'”
Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul

In the straightforward newspaper-style reporting of it, this is a story of a hard-won victory for those who are trying to call a halt to the mindless exploitation of the Earth's resources which leads inevitably to the impoverishment and destruction of the land and the communities who inhabit it.

It's also a story which exemplifies our present dilemma; bringing the soft ease and material comfort of our western lifestyle face to face with the nature of what that lifestyle costs to provide. It's a story not only of mankind's exploitation of the environment, but of mankind's exploitation of mankind, that spirals back in a cycle of environmental and cultural exploitation, conquest and extinction through 13 centuries of human history, and beyond to roots 2.5 billion years old.

But at a deeper level yet this is a story of grace ... about a way to break the oppositional deadlock that comes with only seeing two sides to the story. It's about the transformative potential of a third way; the one seen from an eagle's eye view, which allows us to navigate the landscape of duality and discover the fundamental essence and meaning of healing.

The stories of the mountain, its summit rock, and how the essence came into being are on this page. The other pages in this section comprise the proving itself and the timeline of world events that took place during that period, a summarised materia medica and repertory (symptom index) of the essence, and a summary which draws together the threads of the story and the proving in an attempt to make sense of it all. The proving details the experiences the essence produced in a group of people who took it, most of them without knowing what it was. These experiences – the physical symptoms, feelings, thought patterns, etc – can be used as the basis of a homeopathic (like cures like) prescription. In other words, if the threads of many of them run through your life, the essence may help you. A page with accounts from users of the essence will follow. There is also a page devoted to the astrological chart of the essence's creation (which provides another means of deciding whether the essence is likely to help you), and lastly, a page with details of how you can acquire some of the essence.

Despite what's been discovered so far through the proving of the essence and a symbolic reading of the story of the rock and the mountain, the full extent of what the mountain and its essence may be capable of catalysing is still largely unknown. The few pieces of the jigsaw presented on these pages are only a small part of the potential whole. The stories of the majority of those touched by their direct involvement with the mountain, for instance, remain personal and unpublished. Yet in returning home, the summit rock's journey has, in some senses, only just begun. Tell me about your experiences with the essence and I'll add them to the information from the proving. In doing so you'll be contributing to the understanding of its signature resonance, and helping others decide whether the essence is right for them.

These pages go into some depth and detail – more than might be expected perhaps – but true to the bardic tradition, the story contains as much of the "medicine" as the substance.

Mount Roineabhal's Story

In the general scale of mountains the world over, Mount Roineabhal (pronounced Roi-nya-val) is not much of a mountain, but at 1,500 feet (500m) it's the highest mountain in the south of the Isle of Harris, which is part of the Outer Hebrides 40 miles or so off the northwest coast of Scotland. The rocks of this region are among the oldest on Earth, 2,000 to 3,000 million years old, formed during the Precambrian era at a pivotal stage in the evolution of life: it was during this time that cyanobacteria were producing the atmospheric changes necessary to allow the emergence of oxygen-breathing lifeforms (and consequently spelling extinction for the majority of pre-existing organisms). At the time of their formation, these rocks were part of the same landmass (the Laurentian or Canadian Shield) as those the other side of the Atlantic in Greenland and Labrador, and across the North Sea in Southern Scandinavia.

"They say that the hills of the Hebrides were made by giant women long ago who fell asleep and turned to stone. Beautiful Roineabhal! All along the bays of east Harris you can see her long hair swept back at the summit. A two-billion-year-old youthful face gazes heavenwards. Breasts, belly, long legs, even two kneecaps, before feet softly touch the ocean where otters play by Lingerabay."
Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul


Microscopic view of Anorthosite. Orange crystals are pyroxene. Field of view 8 mm.
(Photo © University of Oxford)

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh

Sulian 'Stone Eagle' Herney

Sulian 'Stone Eagle' Herney (Photo © Bill Lucas, Hebridean Press Service, Stornoway)

The common origin of the bedrock in these three areas, fractured and split apart by the Atlantic ocean, and the circumstances on Earth at the time of its formation constitute, in many ways, the foundation of this story.

The Outer Hebrides were subject to Viking raids and ultimately occupation from the late 8th up until the mid-13th centuries when the 1266 Treaty of Perth returned them to Scottish rule. During this period these phenomenal navigators, whose distance tables for sea voyages were so exact that they only differ 2-4% from modern satellite measurements, also landed and established settlements in Greenland and Labrador 500 years before Columbus's "discovery" of America, tales of which are preserved in the Norse sagas and in the oral traditions of the Mi'Kmaq Nation. And while the Vikings might seem completely irrelevant to this story (since it's only the more recent relationship, between Scotland and Nova Scotia, that comes into focus), in order to get your bearings, to plot your position, you need to triangulate. The Viking connection is what hovers just out of view as a poetic, subtle, but crucial reminder of how to navigate this story. All is not as it might first appear. (See astrological chart for further comment on the Viking connection.)

The name Roineabhal itself is Gaelicised Old Norse meaning "rocky mountain". Roineabhal is a 2,500 million-year-old (see note below) outcrop of the mineral anorthosite. Anorthosite is a hard, coarse-grained igneous rock which crystallises at high temperatures below the Earth's surface. It constitutes almost entirely (90% or more) plagioclase, a calcium aluminium silicate feldspar, with small amounts of pyroxene, ilmenite, magnetite and olivine. Its chief economic uses are as an architectural material and as road stone, as a gemstone (labradorite), and as a raw material in the extraction of the titanium contained in ilmenite. Labradorite and some other feldspars exhibit pleochroism, the property of doubly refracting light into two paths at 90° to each other so the stone changes colour according to the direction of the light source. Pleochroic rocks are thought to be the "sun stones" used by Viking navigators to determine where the sun was in bad weather.

Anorthosites are relatively uncommon on the surface of the Earth, though where they occur, they tend to do so in large masses or "plutons" (named for Pluto, the Roman god of the Underworld). Not so in Scotland though. The only outcrops (large enough to appear on the IGS 1:625 000 Geology map) are Roineabhal, and two smaller areas at the other end of the popup launcher icon Isle of Lewis at the Butt of Lewis. There are much larger areas in popup launcher icon Canada.

In contrast to the Earth, anorthosite is one of the most abundant rocks on the Moon, forming all the light-coloured highland areas. It's also believed to be part of the geology of the planets Venus, Mars and Mercury (see the astrological chart for the essence).

The salient part of Roineabhal's 2,500 million-year-old story begins in 1991, when a Scottish businessman named Ian Wilson announced that he had procured the mineral rights to several deep-water coastal locations in National Scenic Areas or other areas of outstanding natural beauty around Scotland. This included Mount Roineabhal, where he planned a quarry to extract stone for building roads and railways across Europe. Wilson entered into partnership with Redland Aggregates to pursue the venture. He unveiled his vision for the site and applied for planning consent for a massive superquarry which, over a period of years, would create possibly the largest hole in the world. (One which he tentatively envisaged backfilling with such things as polluted silt dredged from the River Elbe in Germany.) The proposed quarry was some fifty times larger than any quarry then operating in Britain. At full production, it would yield between 10 and 20 million tons of stone per annum. Over the life of the quarry, around 550 million tons of rock would be removed by an amount of explosive equivalent to 6 atomic bombs of the size that destroyed Hiroshima.

Montage of what the quarry might look like. Prepared by Envision for SNH for 1994-95 Public Inquiry

Montage of what the quarry might have looked like. Prepared by Envision for SNH for 1994-95 Public Inquiry

Initially, many in Harris were in favour of the venture. It promised employment in an area where there is precious little, and after a local referendum showing 62% in favour of the project, the Western Isles Council almost unanimously (24-3) approved planning consent. But ecologists and environmentalists working through the media started to focus attention on some of the serious drawbacks, in particular to the sheer scale of intended operations.

Among them was Alastair McIntosh, an ecologist at Edinburgh's Centre for Human Ecology. He was brought up on Lewis, the northern two-thirds of the island that includes Harris, and had become an active opponent of the plan after Wilson first unveiled it at CHE in 1991. (Ironically, as a boy he once thought of quarrying Roineabhal.)

Eventually a public inquiry over the proposals was conceded. It began in October 1994 in Stornoway, Lewis, and subsequently became the longest-running public inquiry in Scottish history, lasting 8 months and sitting for 100 days. A month after it began, the inquiry moved down to Harris for three days to hear submissions from local people. It was here that Alastair McIntosh took the highly unorthodox step of inviting both a Native American chief (Mi'Kmaq Warrior Chief and Sacred Peace Pipe Carrier popup launcher icon Sulian 'Stone Eagle' Herney) and the principal of Edinburgh's Free Church College (popup launcher icon Reverend Professor Donald Macleod) to speak in Roineabhal's defence. His approach was designed to appeal to a sense of spiritual and ecological responsibility for the land. It was an appeal for a sense of reverence. For heart and spirit, not mind and pocket.

After Stone Eagle's testimony at the inquiry, an elder of the Harris community presented Alastair McIntosh with the summit rock from Mount Roineabhal which he had broken off and brought down from the mountain, asking him to give it to Stone Eagle. Knowing that First Nation peoples view life as immanent, present in everything everywhere including rocks and mountains, Alastair took it with considerable misgivings, anticipating that Stone Eagle would probably feel unable to accept it.

In the hugely powerful piece of writing in which Alastair describes these events in his book Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power, he says "I think how, to me, the power is in the metaphor. It's what the summit rock symbolises that matters; not that it is the summit rock, which, after all, looks indistinguishable from any other rock on the mountain. And I think that to Sulian's mind it'll probably be the other way round. For him, the symbolic power will be only the secondary quality. For him, the rock will have symbolic power precisely because it is the summit rock."

The rock was presented to Stone Eagle at Calanais (the 5,000 year-old stone circle of Lewisian gneiss on the Isle of Lewis) the next day. As anticipated, Stone Eagle was stunned and horrified and could not accept the gift, despite recognising with compassion what it took to bring a people to decapitate their own mountain.

Calanais standing stones © Frantisek Staud

Calanais standing stones. Photograph © Frantisek Staud

He sought spiritual guidance for a solution. The Mi'Kmaq Nation made a treaty with the British in 1752, promising to give aid and sanctuary to emigrants who had been cleared from their own lands. The Mi'Kmaq had always honoured their side of the treaty, so Stone Eagle undertook on behalf of his tribe to take the summit rock into sanctuary. It journeyed across the Atlantic to Cape Breton to remain with the Mi'Kmaq Nation until such time as the mountain's future was determined one way or the other. It was to remain there for 11 years.

The inquiry rumbled on, and as it did so, the 62% majority of islanders in favour of the project turned into a 68% majority against on an 83% turnout. On the penultimate day of the inquiry, the Western Isles Council, having spent an estimated £500,000 supporting the quarry, voted 21-8 to join the objectors.

By 1997, with the report on the inquiry into its flagship development still pending, Redland's share price went into steep decline and it became victim to a hostile takeover from French multinational Lafarge. A year later, Government funded research commissioned by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed a collapse in European aggregate demand.

Finally, in March 2000, the report from the public inquiry was submitted to the Scottish Executive. Four months later, Scottish Environment Minister Sarah Boyack announced that she was considering designating the mountain a Special Area of Conservation, but made no pronouncement on the fate of the quarry.

Lafarge took legal action, claiming that the long delay had violated their "human rights" under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The court of session upheld their complaint, ruled that the delay was of “scandalous proportions” and ordered the Executive to make a decision within 21 days. (And in the process established a worrisome precedent that corporations, hitherto regarded as 'fictitious persons' in law, had human rights.)

During the court case it was revealed that the public inquiry had come down in favour of the application.

A cabinet reshuffle gave the decision to Sam Galbraith who refused permission on the grounds that the inquiry had "seriously underestimated" the environmental impact of the quarry.

Lafarge promptly appealed. The Scottish Executive were forced to concede that their rejection of the superquarry was not robust enough in law. The rejection was withdrawn and the matter went back for reconsideration. In March 2001 Lafarge mounted a challenge claiming that planning permission granted in 1965 for a small-scale quarry at Lingerabay was still valid. A public inquiry ensued, returning its decision a year later that the original consent was still valid, but only for the five hectares in the original application, not the 600 claimed by Lafarge. In August 2002, Lafarge once again appealed to the courts to overturn the Executive's ruling. The court of session finally heard the case over a year later. They upheld the ruling, rejecting Lafarge's appeal in January 2004.

Mt Roineabhal (right) from St Clement's Church, Rodel. Photo Alastair McIntosh

Mount Roineabhal (right) from St Clement's Church, Rodel.
(Photo © Alastair McIntosh.)
St Clement is the patron saint of stone workers. His martyrdom entailed being put to work as a slave in a quarry.

While all this was going on between the Scottish Executive and Lafarge UK, pressure on the French parent from both the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Friends of the Earth, plus a series of serendipitous connections which led to Alastair McIntosh becoming once more directly involved, made significant inroads on corporate opinion the other side of the Channel.

Lafarge had signed a 5-year £3.5 million partnership with WWF, but WWF UK rejected its share because of the company's refusal to cancel the superquarry. In one of the bizarre twists and reversals which spiral through this story, the money was sent back by WWF UK’s chief executive, Robert Napier, whose previous job had been as chief executive of Redland.

Alastair McIntosh, meanwhile, was invited to a meeting with Lafarge senior management at which he arranged for three company vice-presidents – Philippe Hardouin, Michel Picard and Gaëlle Monteiller – to visit Harris and talk to local residents in January of 2004. The visit duly took place and in April 2004, the same three executives returned to the island to announce that Lafarge was unconditionally and permanently pulling out of any intent to quarry Mount Roineabhal.

Alastair continues:

"On the eve of Lafarge making their historic announcement, a small group of people assembled in the Elder's house on Harris. We re-read Stone Eagle's public-inquiry testimony together and gave thanks for the wonderfulness of what he, with the crucial support of his former partner, Ishbel, had helped to achieve.

"We recalled his request to us, before he went to jail (*), simply to be prayed 'with and not for'. 'During the darkest moments in your life,' he wrote in an e-mail, 'you'll find that even your shadow is gone.'

"In July 2004, after being released from prison, Sulian wrote to us again. 'While I was in Waseskun healing lodge,' he said, 'the Elder there worked with me and showed me so many things that I must deal with and so many good things I must dust off and bring to the front. He saved my life! The long house society has made me a mask keeper but it is not time yet to think in what way I have to use this healing mask. They did not break me in jail; they healed me at the Mohawk treatment lodge.' (**)

"Only time will reveal the progress and completeness of that healing. It will inevitably be a slow and even faltering process. Cognitive skills not acquired in childhood are easily caught up with later on in life. But putting right emotional apparatus that never fell properly into place at the right time is very much harder. Healing this requires far more than cognitive therapies. It takes nothing less than spiritual power. No 'medicine' can go deeper. None is more needed in today's wounded world."

* Just after the first edition of Soil and Soul was published in late 2001, Alastair learned that Stone Eagle had been accused of the sexual abuse of a girl from his reservation. He admitted guilt and served a prison term.
** It's worth noting here that the Mohawk were traditional enemies of the Mi'Kmaq.

In June 2005, Alastair McIntosh travelled to Nova Scotia to reclaim the summit rock from sanctuary with the Mi'Kmaq Nation. It was returned it to its rightful place on July 30th, cemented onto the bedrock of the mountain with mortar which, true to the patterns of its story, turned out to be manufactured by Lafarge.

[A webpage describing Alastair's trip to Cape Breton to reclaim the summit rock and the restoration of the rock to Roineabhal can be found here.]

Most geological texts date the anorthosites of Roineabhal at around 2,000 million years old, but a recent study and redating of the South Harris Complex from zircon samples gives 2491 +31/-27 Ma. (Mason A J, Parrish R R, Brewer T S. U-Pb geochronology of Lewisian orthogneisses in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland: implications for the tectonic setting and correlation of the South Harris Complex. Journal of the Geological Society, Volume 161, Number 1, 2004, pp. 45-54(10))
Return to text (↑)

Specific references hyperlinked in text. More general and extensive references from:
(1) Alastair McIntosh, 2001. Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power, Aurum Press, London, and Alastair McIntosh's website.
(2) Friends of the Earth, Scotland.


The Essence's Story

At the end of September 2001, just over a fortnight after 9/11 and while still working on an essence proving I'd taken part in the previous month, I woke up from a dream remembering nothing about it apart from a single image and a single phrase. There was a sense of something really important about both of these, something I needed to follow up. The phrase was "Lewisian gneiss", and the image was of a large earring, made of a deep red-coloured stone carved into the shape of the head of a Native American with wings either side of it. In the dream, I was wearing it in my left ear, and the wings were so large that the one facing forward covered most of my cheek.

Lewisian gneiss was something I could investigate straight away because I knew what it was: a rock. One of the oldest rocks on the planet. So I researched it on the internet and got into conversations with geologists about it and where the oldest outcrops of it could be found (the Outer Hebrides). I wondered whether I should be proving it, though there was a sense I hadn't hit the nail on the head so I didn't pursue that angle further. I discovered that the stone circle at Calanais was made from Lewisian gneiss and wondered whether I should be proving a fragment of it, but that didn't feel right either, even though there was certainly something about Calanais that resonated. But I dismissed it, thinking that if I wasn't meant to be proving Calanais then my feelings about it must just be wishful thinking. I couldn't figure out what to make of the earring.

"And that, to me, is the deepest symbolism of Innis Bhrighde – the Holy Hebrides. These islands stand in the North Atlantic as a revelation of the fullness of God, the womanhood of God, in complementary counterpoint to the masculinity of God. They stand as a symbolic place on Earth, one that if we forget or neglect, we will come undone. They stand, as Hugh MacDiarmid said in 'On A Raised Beach', as stones that 'go through Man, straight to God', bare stones that 'bring me straight back to reality ... The beginning and the end of the world / My own self, and as before I never saw / The empty hand of my brother man ...'."
Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul

After a few days it felt like the leads were going nowhere, yet there was a strong drive to continue searching. I went back to Googling about on the internet looking for Lewisian gneiss in any context in which it happened to surface. I came across a striking photograph on the website of Scottish writer, human ecologist and eco-activist Alastair McIntosh. The picture (below) shows Alastair and Mi'Kmaq Warrior Chief and Peace Pipe Carrier Sulian Stone Eagle Herney, standing on an outcrop of Lewisian gneiss in the landscape of South Harris in the Outer Hebrides, with Mount Roineabhal behind them. Suddenly the stone earring with the Native American's head attached to massive wings – eagle's wings? – made sense. I knew I was on track at last.

Before Mount Roineabhal, Isle of Harris, with the (now retired) Mi'kmaq Warrior Chief and Peace Pipe Carrier, Sulian Stone Eagle Herney with Alastair McIntosh, 1994. (Photo: Murdo MacLeod, The Guardian, 1994).

Before Mount Roineabhal, Isle of Harris, with the (now retired) Mi'Kmaq Warrior Chief and Peace Pipe Carrier, Sulian Stone Eagle Herney with Alastair McIntosh, 1994. (Photo © Murdo MacLeod for The Guardian, 1994).

The fact that it was an earring, specifically an earring in my left ear, said to me that what I needed to understand would be communicated in an intuitive associative manner, and that it would come via Stone Eagle. So after reading about Stone Eagle's role in trying to save Mount Roineabhal, I wrote to Alastair McIntosh and he told me that Stone Eagle's message was all to do with cultural healing. About the way in which good and evil are interwoven in us all – the warrior of violence who is also, at some transcendent level, a spiritual warrior. This felt pertinent, but didn't feel like my message.

So I bought Alastair's book Soil and Soul, the first edition of which was published literally just days after I first contacted him. The story of his work is inspiring, and I was excited to find so many parallels with what I'd learned over the years, just articulated in different language. His perspective on the Celtic poetic/bardic way of seeing was no different to the symbolic perspective I'd learned through Jung, homeopathy, and most of all through provings, and had of course been making use of in order to find his work in the first place. But most of all I was taken with the passages examining the feminine aspects of the divine, personified in Sophia, Greek goddess of wisdom, and popup launcher icon Bhrighde (pronounced Bree-juh), St Bride or Brigit, the Celtic representation of the great Mother Goddess who gave her name to the Hebrides. Here I found description and context for a feeling I was fast becoming familiar with through the search for the meaning of these dream images – 'everything that reminds me of her goes through me like a spear' (Keats). The story of the fight to save Roineabhal contains some powerful writing, particularly the passage describing the handing over of the summit rock to Stone Eagle at Calanais which is quite glorious, but I didn't entertain the idea that my dream fragments might be about proving the summit rock. After all, it was 3,000 miles away in Cape Breton where it had been for 7 years already, and as far as I could see, was likely to remain there indefinitely.

It still felt like I had a job to do, or some action to take, and I wasn't getting a grasp on what that was. I tried writing to Stone Eagle as well, but his email addresses bounced and Alastair confirmed he'd been trying to contact him without success too. I settled on the idea that I should probably be proving rock from Mount Roineabhal because it seemed to be where all the clues were pointing, but it was a kind of reluctant rational conclusion and didn't stem from any sense that I'd really "got it". There didn't seem to be any urgency about it either. So the trail went cold.

I didn't forget about it completely – from time to time I would think about going to the Outer Hebrides to collect rock from Roineabhal, and even talked to a few friends about a possible trip together, but the circumstances and timing were never right, and I still felt I was missing an essential part of the picture. I knew I would just have to wait for it to develop in its own time. The superquarry saga, on the other hand, seemed to be going nowhere so fast that after a year or so it entirely escaped my attention.

Nearly four years later in June 2005, I started work on the associations between nitrate fertiliser use and the global epidemic of cardiovascular disease. I was corresponding with another independent medical researcher who happened to mention some friends of his from Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia triggered thoughts of Stone Eagle and sent me back to the original page on Alastair's site where I'd first discovered him. The text had been updated. It said that Alastair was travelling to Nova Scotia that very month to recover the summit rock of Mount Roineabhal from its sanctuary with the Mi'Kmaq Nation. After more than a decade across the Atlantic, the rock was coming home. The 13-year campaign to save the mountain had ended in victory.

The timing of this discovery was perfect. I knew instantly that this was also the culmination of my own 4-year dream-story. Finally it felt like I'd got the message. It wasn't just any rock from Roineabhal that I was supposed to be working with. It was this rock. The riddle of the original dream fragments finally made sense: all I had needed to intuitively hear was Stone Eagle and ring of Lewisian gneiss. That would have focused me right on the events at Calanais! It made sense of why Calanais had seemed important. I couldn't believe I'd been so stupid as to miss it when I read Soil and Soul. But then, perhaps I simply wasn't meant to get it at the time. With the rock in Nova Scotia, there wouldn't have been much point in doing so.

I wrote to Alastair to ask if it would be possible to have a small piece of the rock that might have broken off in transit to turn into a homeopathic remedy. Timing wasn't good – the G8 summit was on at Gleneagles and most likely Alastair would be involved in the protests taking place. I also had no idea what he thought about homeopathy. I wrote a quick follow-up trying to emphasise qualities of professionalism and so on, but I wasn't overly surprised to get no reply.

In any case, aside from all the distractions so plainly in the way of Alastair's consideration of my request, I was also finding it difficult not to get distracted myself. All of a sudden there was just so much going on that seemed superficially more important and was demanding my attention. And it was one thing to go chasing dream messages within the confines of my own thinking, quite another to ask others, even spiritual ecologists, to entertain them. My own internal cynic was having a hard enough time with it. I could well imagine the sorts of things that might be going through Alastair's mind. I nearly dropped it altogether: it would have been so easy.

Yet this business of distraction felt like part of a pattern. Something that needed to be overcome. (Later, on the return journey to Roineabhal, Alastair managed to get all the way to Ullapool – 230 miles and a good 5½-hour's drive – before realising that he'd left the very reason for the journey behind in Govan.) After a fair amount of thought on whether it was "right" to push the issue, I wrote again. From what I knew of the long fight to save Roineabhal, it had been punctuated by critical points at which the apparent prevailing flow of opinion had been turned by being pushy and taking gambles with unconventional points of view. Both sides had scored successes this way: Alastair by appealing to a spiritual sense of the sanctity of creation, Lafarge by establishing the 'human' rights of corporations. This felt like an equally critical point to me, no less important for being focused on the inner spiritual dimensions rather than the outer material ones, so it seemed appropriate that I should have to do the same, even (or even necessarily, given the way of these things) towards the man who had played such a large role in saving the mountain. It would also be the third time in the story, to my knowledge, that such a strategy had been used, and I was already aware that the number 3 was looming large in the picture. (Later I realised that taking gambles with unconventional points of view against the tide of the prevailing energies was, in a sense, also what the cyanobacteria had been doing at the time of the rock's formation.) It all fitted, and convinced me that the revolutionary potential inherent in the rock's energy patterns meant that I simply had to pursue my dream to its proper conclusion.

This time Alastair replied. He admitted to being sceptical about homeopathy, but yet not closed on the subject. (He has since asked me to include the following to further clarify his views: "He himself sees homeopathy as being a "placebo effect" as is recognised by mainstream medical science. However, he considers that this effect and the mind-body interaction that it implies needs to be much more deeply investigated. He agreed to my coming to his house to work with the mountain top on the same basis that many other hands had touched the mountain top during its long journey. He accepted that just because he is sceptical of the claims of homeopathy was not a reason to stand in the way of others holding their point of view. He also sees the word "essence" as being used in a metaphorical rather than a literal sense – a sense of "essence" by association rather than by a literal process of capturing and bottling.")

My mental image of a rock in a box which would most probably contain tiny fragments knocked off in its trips to and fro across the Atlantic had been well wide of the mark. There was no box and no fragments, and we were both in agreement that it felt wrong to break anything off the rock itself, so a homeopathic remedy made from the substance was out of the question. However, making an essence would be possible. By this stage there was only the briefest window of opportunity open to do this. I was going on holiday later that week with an unusually busy few days beforehand and Alastair would be returning the rock to Roineabhal shortly afterward. But there was a window, and it was arranged that I would visit him at his home for the hour or so necessary to make the essence late on the afternoon of July 18th.

Mi'kmaq porcupine quill decoration on birch bark

Mi'Kmaq porcupine quill decoration on birch bark featuring the 8-pointed starr

Making the Essence

The water for the essence came from one of the clear streams 1,350 feet (410m) up in the hills here in the Borders. I had guidance from a dear friend skilled in working with stones and energy and trained in North American First Nation traditions, who advised me to set up a protective stone circle around the essence as it was being made, with stone "guardians" in each of the 8 directions. She was concerned about distractive energies, and given the recent pattern of events, her advice seemed sound. The 8 directions felt entirely appropriate too, honouring as it did the emphasis on the compass directions enshrined in Native American cosmology and ritual. I took stones for the purpose from a personal collection of stones from all over Scotland, and cleaned and smudged them beforehand.

Making the essence

Making the essence

When I arrived at Alastair's, he also had a piece of basalt he had been given from Digby Neck in Nova Scotia, similarly threatened by quarrying; a stone from popup launcher icon Kluskap territory in Nova Scotia, an area sacred to the Mi'Kmaq which Stone Eagle had saved from quarrying*, and which was used in the Mi'Kmaq sweatlodge ceremony at which the summit rock was returned; and an 8-pointed star in patchwork made in the Mi'Kmaq traditional style by Ishbel Munro, who had travelled with Stone Eagle to the 1994 public inquiry. These were to be accompanying the summit rock to its home and would be left there. (* This Maliseet folk story also defines a connection between Digby Neck, Kluskap and an Eagle, though in this tale, Kluskap saves the Eagle, rather than the Eagle saving Kluskap. The Maliseet were close neighbours and allies of the Mi'Kmaq, part of the Wabanaki Confederacy of northeastern First Nations.)

It seemed natural, perfect even, that all these things should also be part of the ritual for making the essence. They completed the circle, the one linking Nova Scotia to Scotland, not just in the story of the rock but in the entire 2,500-million-year-old history of the two land masses.

Handling the stone was a very powerful experience. Its energy was intense and left my hand tingling for almost an hour afterwards. There was an impatience to it too, like a head of steam waiting for release. Protocol dictated I should 'ask' the rock whether it was willing to put its energy into the water to make an essence and the response I felt was almost on the level of 'what the ... do you think you're here for? Just get on with it!'

The patchwork star was used as the basis for laying out the stone circle in Alastair's meditation room, and the two Nova Scotian stones were placed to the north and west outside the guardian circle. A rose candle was lit to the South. Myself, Alastair and one of his students took part. A painting of Bhrighde watched over us from above the fireplace in the East. Within a short space of time of silently calling for the stone guardians to set up their protective circle as instructed by my friend, the East stone (a piece of white quartz, also known as lightning stone), seemed to almost leap into action and a powerful vortex of energy sprang up around the circle. One of the other students who remained in the next room remarked afterwards that she had felt a strong blast of energy through the wall.

During the time the essence was being created, I got engrossed in conversation with Alastair and totally forgot to keep an eye on the time (distracted again!). The time of completion was consequently determined by the moment when it finally popped back into my head again, rather than any pre-determined plan. I'd intended to give it roughly an hour, which was the time I'd agreed with Alastair, but it turned out to be nearer an hour and a half.

The making of the essence was completed at 6:53pm, which was the time taken for its "natal" chart.


© Wendy Howard, November 2005
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