Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 31, 2016 at 05:30 AM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
According to The Living Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language (1972), mystery is anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown; anything not fully explained and therefore arousing curiosity.
I came across the word again and again while researching stones and stone circles. I have heard the word used to describe sandplay therapy. The mystery of stone circles and archetypal monolithic structures and the mystery of sandplay and archetypal images; both engaging and arousing curiosity.
The most famous stone circle and the one I find most engaging is Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain in England. The site has been built and rebuilt over time and now consists of a bluestone horseshoe with an opening at the northeast, surrounded by a circle of five independent bluestone trilithons, with three lintels intact. The larger stones act as markers of the moon and sun as they cross the horizon. A larger connected ring of stones consists of 60 megaliths and lintels; now only 32 stones are intact. The perimeter consists of a circular ditch with 56 shallow pits, two opposing mounds, and solar and lunar stones, planned around a symmetrical axis that points toward the direction of the summer sunrise.
Who built the monument and when it was built is known, but why the henge was built remains a mystery. The site is believed to have been used for religious ceremonies, funerary rituals, and astronomical purposes. Stonehenge may also have been used for rituals of regeneration during the winter solstice when the sun was at its weakest and seen as dying. Energetic ring dances were performed during seasonal and lunar ceremonies.
(continued in Mystery Part 2)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 30, 2016 at 06:35 AM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
(continued from Mystery Part 1)
When I viewed an aerial photograph of Stonehenge, I was reminded of a tray that a preadolescent female client had created. The tray consisted of a circle of red stones, in the center of the tray, with an opening at one end. A torii gate (similar to a portal dolmen) had been placed at the entrance to the circle. A pathway lined with candles led up to the portal. Heavenly symbols such as angels, doves, and a Virgin Mary figure were also in the tray. At the center of the circle, the client placed a large cut crystal paperweight, then stood back and called the scene a “gateway to heaven.”
To understand the symbolism of the circle in the tray, it is helpful to remember where the client was developmentally, both physically and psychologically. Does the circle represent the self, preparation for the next developmental stage of adolescence, and the energy needed for transformation? Was the tray revealing the psychological process related to the manifestation of change? If circles have been symbolic of energy and cyclical time, is the circle in this tray symbolizing the stimulation of the process of becoming and moving into adolescence, which for females begins with cycles and rites of passage related to biological rhythms?
Circles are also understood as transmitters of the concentrated divine. The miniatures included in the tray and the client’s statement regarding the “gateway to heaven” may represent a relationship to the divine. Is the connection between ancient stone circles, ceremonies, and rituals and the energy activated during the sandplay process explained by the concept of the collective unconscious?
Therein lies the mystery. It is not what we know, but what we do not know that engages us.
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 30, 2016 at 06:30 AM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
I was very fortunate to travel with my mother (who was born in England), along with my very good life long friend (partner in crime), to Europe from the US when I was finished with high school. Very brave of her to take two teenagers to Europe!
One of my fondest memories was a day trip to Bath, Salisbury Cathedral, and Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain. At that time, you could walk among the ancient stones and imagine what the stones had witnessed. It was a sunny day, the grass was a beautiful green; we had free reign to wander about and marvel at the megaliths, lintels, and surrounding larger stone circle. Today, the stones are blocked off to preserve the monument, however, one can still see them and take photographs from the protective perimeter.
One of many wonderful memories of that trip...
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 29, 2016 at 06:00 AM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
Trees are both an imago mundi and an axis mundi; the whole of manifestation and the synthesis of heaven, earth, water. Ancients envisioned the cosmos in the form of a tree. Trees have been the object of worship and legends which have included individual trees as well as sacred groves. It was also believed that oracular gods and goddesses dwelled in trees.
leaf – represents fertility, growth, renewal; green leaves symbolize hope, withered leaves are sadness, death; crowns of leaves are seen as divinity, triumph, victory; used in the practice of divination by phyllomancy, which is the art of divination by listening to the rustling of leaves; in Chinese symbolism leaves of the cosmic tree represent all beings in the universe - The Ten Thousand Things
branch – often depicts the Tree of Life; the Golden Bough the link between this world and the next; in the Aeneid, an oak branch covered with mistletoe helped Aneas pass through the underworld; the Silver Bough is the link between this world and the fairy world
wood – prima materia in the Middle East and India, the fundamental material from which all things were made; that which gives shelter at birth (cradle) and death (coffin)
forest – realm of the feminine principle; place of darkness, chaos, and uncertainty; to those who show no fear, a place of peace and refuge; psychologically, a symbol of the unconscious where there are secrets to be discovered and perhaps dark emotions and memories; Druidic symbol of light and darkness with sun and forest married as male and female; Australian aboriginal realm of shades called The Beyond
Bo Tree – ficus religiosa; symbolizes perfection, contemplation, meditation; sacred to Buddha as a tree under which he attained enlightenment
Inverted Tree – has it roots growing up to the spiritual world and the crown growing down toward the earth; symbolizes the creative power and the belief that human life is the descent of spirit into bodily form
(continued in Tree Symbolism Part 2)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 27, 2016 at 11:58 AM in Trees | Permalink | Comments (0)
(continued from Tree Symbolism Part 1)
Irmensul – means giant column; located in Teutoburger Wald, near Detmold in west Saxony; the German Tree of Life represented the entire world, with roots reaching down into the underworld and branches stretching up toward the sky; it was cut down by Charlemagne (A.D. 742 - 814) as a first step in Christianizing the site
Nemi Wood – sacred grove; associated with Diana, the Roman goddess of the woods, forests, and moon, can still be found on the shores of Lake Nemi, near Rome
Tree of Knowledge – found in Paradise; dualistic as it symbolizes good and evil; linked with the Fall of Man; represents the lunar phases of decline and regeneration, death and resurrection
Tree of Life – standing at the center of Paradise; represents perfect harmony; the 10 or 12 branches are the rewards of spiritual growth, such as wisdom, love, truth, and beauty; the fruit are manifestations of the sun; immortality is given to those who eat or drink an essence extracted from the tree itself
World Tree – depicted with its roots around the earth and its branches in the heavens; symbolizes the potential assent of humankind from the dense realm of matter to the rarified reaches of the spirit
Yggdrasil – Scandinavian World Tree or Cosmic Tree, the giant ash tree from which the Nordic god Odin hung himself for nine days and nights; it binds together earth, heaven, and the underworld; source of knowledge; Odin gained wisdom by drinking from the spring at its roots
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 27, 2016 at 11:51 AM in Trees | Permalink | Comments (0)
"The tree is one of mankind’s most potent symbols. It is the embodiment of life, the point of union of the three realms (heaven, earth, and water), and a world axis around which the entire universe is organized."
Fontana, David, The Secret Language of Symbols, A Visual Key To Symbols and Their Meaning, Chronical Books, San Francisco, 1994
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 27, 2016 at 07:00 AM in Trees | Permalink | Comments (0)
Do you have a tree memory? Sitting, as a child, high in its branches, retreating from the world or looking out over the land as far as you could see? Playing at the base of the tree; running around or hiding behind the trunk? Do you have a special tree you think of or visit now?
There are many kinds of trees: a “grandmother” tree which is wonderful to tell stories under; and old oak, so ancient and revered a plaque marks its importance and contribution to history; misty, coastal groves where walks among the majestic trees restore the spirit; and sparse, arid landscapes with indigenous trees offering cool shade and restoration for the journey.
I have a favorite tree; an old and welcoming tree. An ancient oak I could not pass without stopping to admire and remark at its beauty. I took my daughter, then 10 years old, to the oak to share with her this wonderful tree. We measured the circumference of the trunk using our bodies with arms outstretched.
It fell during the winter storms. Pictures of the fallen oak appeared in the paper regularly. People came to gather pieces of branches. People wept. People talked of missing their great oak tree. The newspaper wrote of the death of the Lang Oak and how, after two months, people still mourned the tree. Committees were formed to decide what should be done. The energy expended and emotion expressed reflected the importance of the old oak to individuals and to the community.
Although it fell in the winter storms, I have a favorite tree.
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 26, 2016 at 12:57 PM in Trees | Permalink | Comments (0)
As a therapist who has worked with sandplay, I noticed the way in which clients used trees in their work in the tray. Often children placed objects in trees. Other clients placed miniatures near or under trees. What type of trees have clients chosen? Where are the trees placed in the tray ? What comments are made by the client about the tree(s)? With those questions in mind, please join me in a journey among the trees...
(Tree themed blog posts can be found under the Category: Trees)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 25, 2016 at 09:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 25, 2016 at 08:55 AM in Trees | Permalink | Comments (0)
Future blog post topics will include discussions related to myths, symbols, and sandplay:
And much more!
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 24, 2016 at 07:51 AM in News | Permalink | Comments (0)
There are many ancient stones, stone circles, and stone formations around the world. Wouldn't it be amazing to travel to these wondrous sites? Here is a "trip" that will only take a few moments...
Almendras – Portugal; ancient, megalithic circle; 95 large stones arranged in a double oval; 3500–1500 B.C.; perhaps astronomical and used as a calendar
Aphrodite's Rock – near Old Paphos, southwest coast of Cyprus; the site where Aphrodite was allegedly born from the sea
Brogar ring – Scotland; 60 large stones arranged in a circle; site of ring dances, death and regeneration rituals drawing on the goddess’s power in stone
Carnac menhirs – Brittany, France; 3,000 stones; arranged in parallel rows; 5000 B.C.; possibly used for fertility ceremonies or worship of the earth or moon goddess
deives – Lithuania; 6’ upright stones found along rivers; believed to mark sacred sites where goddesses were spinning the fates of humans
Externstein – Germany; range of limestone rocks; center of heroic legends and Teutonic myth; place of pagan worship; home of Irmensul, (giant column) the German tree of life
Ggantija– "giant’s tower"; Maltese islands; on the Island of Gozo; megalithic temples from 3000 B.C.; may have been dedicated to fertility or mother goddesses
Gors Fawr – Wales; moorland stone circle; Fawr means "great"; Gors means "throne”; used as a druidic center; 16 stones, 7’ apart; astronomical site built as a calendar of the seasons
(continued in Famous Stones Around The World Part 2)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 23, 2016 at 03:06 PM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
(continued from Famous Stones Around The World Part 1)
Ka’ba– Mecca, Saudi Arabia; holiest shrine for Moslems; probably a meteorite; Islam tradition states The Black Stone was sent down to Adam; an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, called the hajj, is made by over 2 million Muslims each year
Ile Longue – Brittany France; beehive shaped chamber topped with a flat stone; Neolithic grave architecture; symbolizes the pregnant belly of the Earth Mother
Moai – Easter Island, eastern Pacific Ocean; 600 monolithic figures 13 to 65’ high; cut from volcanic rock; face inland to guard over the community; used for ritual and as a burial site
Omphalos Stone – Delphi, Greece; found at Apollo's temple; means "navel” of the world, marked by the omphalos stone; markings on the stone may be geomantic, may be a form of longitude and latitude
Philosophers stone – to find the lapis philosophorum was the great goal of the medieval alchemist; believed to transform lead into gold; using the complex language of alchemy as a parallel to psychological process, the "stone" symbolizes the deep inner longing to find our true spiritual nature
Stonehenge – Wiltshire, England; 2200 B.C.E.; two concentric circles of massive stones, some weighing 50 tons, built around a symmetrical axis that points towards the summer sunrise; built and rebuilt in increasingly complex forms over a millennium and a half; used for rituals, especially those related to the Earth Mother and the seasons
Uluru – Australia; monolith of sandstone rising 1,115 feet above the desert plain; 1.5 miles wide and 2 miles long; sacred site of dreamtime which is Aboriginal time of creation that runs parallel to life
Windmill Tump – Gloucestershire, England; 3000 B.C.; holed stone passage, when crawled through, brought regeneration or cured illness; passing through the hole into the chamber within symbolized entry to the Earth Mother's womb
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 23, 2016 at 02:57 PM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
Long ago, humankind believed that certain stones, especially precious stones, held magical properties and were worn as amulets before they were worn for mere ornamentation. With the belief that magical properties reside in all stones unique qualities were attributed to particular stones or types of stones. Stones have been thought to increase crops, insure fertility, protect against illness, and lend strength and stability.
The following are attributes and qualities of stones or what they may symbolize:
symbol of power and foundation
associated with permanence
that which is of the earth
abode of an external soul
fetish or medicine (Native American)
dwelling place of animal spirits
pillar or axis of heaven
transformed giants of past generations
first mortals were fashioned from rock
the masculine principle blended in gardens with water - the feminine principle (Japan)
(continued in Stones As Symbols Part 2)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 23, 2016 at 07:48 AM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
(continued from Stones As Symbols Part 1)
Blue stone: healing powers, holy stone
Black stone: defeat, restraint, unfavorable decision
Conical stone: masculine principle, sun emblem, sun worshipped by the Romans as Elegabalas in the form of a black conical stone
Five stones: five powers of perfection or wisdom
Round stone: sun
Soft stone: symbol of adversity, enemy, evil
Square stone: deity image, masculine principle
Stone giant: supernatural being of the Yaghan Indians, who is vulnerable except for his feet, he was overcome by a hummingbird; Pueblo Indians have two stone giants symbolizing the morning sun and the evening sun, and the summer sun and winter sun
White stone: favorable decision, liberation, revelation, victory, virtue
After the telling of a venture in which she carried a stone from Iona to the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza, Alice Howell was asked if she was suggesting that the stone from Iona was magical. She replied, "No, not at all! The power of the stone was what I projected into it. It was all it meant to me, the meaning I gave to it. I could throw it back into the ocean and it would roll around there for thousands of years both special and unspecial like any other stone. In fact, the alchemists said something to the effect that the Philosopher’s Stone could not be bought for any price… The power of the stone really lay in the alchemist himself. The transmutations, I suspect, are the very liftings of the meaning of life from one level to another, both outwardly and inwardly in the psyche. Such transmutations are everywhere in nature, but discovering the hidden process requires a certain kind of symbolic thinking that puts two and two together – which, by the way, is what symbolus means."
Howell, Alice, The Dove in the Stone, Finding the Sacred in the Commonplace, Quest Books, Illinois, 1998
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 23, 2016 at 07:46 AM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
I have always been a collector of stones. There are stones in my work space, home, and garden. They are in almost every room of my home, whether gathered in sturdy baskets or displayed singly. Some I have wrapped in handmade paper; wound with waxed thread; and attached symbolic items such as shells, feathers, or beads.
This stone is covered in handmade paper and wrapped with brown waxed thread. I wanted to be reminded of the forest so it is adorned with a small pine cone, a sterling silver pine cone charm, and lichen.
Most are in their natural state. In my garden, large and small stones line a natural dry creek bed and also serve as borders. Some are placed here and there just “because”.
I realize as I reflect on this that stones must have some significance for me; some importance. I remember “stone searches” at the beach or river’s edge, where I began to collect stones which caught my eye. Over the years many have been picked up, turned over in my hands, and either kept or returned to their place on the beach or in a shallow pool. What was special about stones? Was it the memory of the day or the adventure? Was it the essence of the stone itself?
Friends and colleagues began to bring me stones from their travels, not only for my sandplay collection, but also for me personally. Stones from an Oregon beach, from the coast of Maine, from the Andes, from a Druid circle, and from a sacred valley in Greece.
(continued in Why Stones? Part 2)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 22, 2016 at 04:10 PM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
(continued from Why Stones Part 1)
Recently, in a cupboard in my home, I found an old tin. I discovered inside, my grown daughter’s collection of stones and rocks. I wondered of all the things…well loved toys, often-read books, favorite games…that had been given away, why had the stones been saved? When I asked my daughter, she said, “Because”.
Are you a collector of stones? Have you ever chosen a stone out of hundreds because it appealed to you? What types of stones do you have? Do you have a special place in your home or garden set aside for reflection and does this sacred space include a special stone?
Find a stone that appeals to you. Hold it in your hand. Notice the color, shape, and texture of the stone. Why did you choose this stone?
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 22, 2016 at 04:07 PM in Stones | Permalink | Comments (0)
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 22, 2016 at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Welcome to Dragonfly ~ an idea brought to reality.
I invite you to join me on a journey of discovery. As I thought about creating Dragonfly and began my research, I became more excited in anticipation of all that would follow. I have worked with knowledgeable and talented people regarding myths, symbols, and sandplay miniatures and hope the information shared here will engage you as well. Please feel free to comment on posts.
In anticipation of things to come…
Posted by Carla Huffman, MFT on March 22, 2016 at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)