Part 2 – It’s all about suggestion
If you are looking for your own viewing stone, the best rocks tend to be those that erode into interesting shapes. Limestone is a favorite as the calcium that makes up the rock dissolves relatively easily when exposed to water. Dolostone is related to limestone, except it has less soluble magnesium replacing the calcium.
Other types of stone that have been traditionally used include: soapstone, marble, quartz, serpentinite, and jade. Any type of rock can weather to an interesting shape. Most important is the environment in which it is found. Rocks in rivers and streams are constantly being abraded by water and other stones. Those found along lakes and seashores are pounded by waves. Some rocks in dry desert areas are sculpted by windblown sand, these are called ventifacts.
The indigenous peoples of North America practiced stone appreciation less as an art, more as a spiritual way of life. Beliefs were that everything started as a spirit and that all land started from one grandfather rock rising out of the endless ocean. Then as the land grew the spirits moved around looking for a favoured place to stay.
The Stó:lō people of the Fraser River in British Columbia believe their ancestors were transformed to stone. Dozens of sites along the Fraser canyon are said to contain living spirits. If you have walked around the seawall in Vancouver’s Stanley Park you have seen Slhx̱i7lsh Rock. A Squamish Nation legend is that a warrior changed to stone here to ensure his child’s future.
New rocks used in sweat lodge ceremonies are said to be full of spirits. When they are heated and water poured over them in the lodge the spirits are released. Stones are replaced after a number of uses to ensure fresh and abundant spirits. Stone gatherers are able to hear the best rocks call out to them. They always leave some sort of an offering at the spot they collect a stone from.
There are lots of places in the Yukon to connect with your own special stone. Any river or fast stream will give you nice rounded smooth textures. If you want more delicate shapes look near the source of the rock, like talus slopes along mountainsides. Choose areas where limestone or dolostone are found. Dolostone does not dissolve as easily as limestone and can form more sharply defined shapes.
Grey Mountain is easily accessible from Whitehorse. There are many other small pockets of limestone throughout the southern Yukon. The largest accumulations of carbonates are to the north and east in the territory. Go up the Dempster Highway into the Ogilvie, Richardson and Wernecke Mountains to the north. Travelling east of Watson Lake down the Alaska Highway will bring you to abundant limestone and dolostone in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
When searching for your own special stone think of the words of Chinese poet Bai Juki (772-846AD)