The Singing Stone was told to me during my training in psychotherapy in London. Enjoy!
Once upon a time long long ago when the land barely showed the imprint of man’s invasion upon it, there was a small settlement in which lived a gentle and loving folk whose ancestors had dwelt in and tilled and ploughed that land for many a generation. Little changed in that small tribal community; they honoured each others rites of passage and marked the changing seasons with due ceremony and ritual, and time went by.
Into that small community was born a boychild, born of parents who lived, with the child’s grandparents on his father’s side, in a small wooden home on the edge of the settlement. The little boy grew strong in the loving care of this place, he loved the woods and fields near to his home, he ran strong and free in this familiar landscape, he loved to swim and fish in the nearby brook, explore the rich forest land to the south, or climb to the very top of the great hill behind his home and see the tops of unknown mountains and catch the sparkle of faraway rivers in his gaze. But most of all he loved the stories that his grandmother would tell him of an evening before he went to sleep. And best of all the tales that his grandmother told him, was the story of the Singing Stone.
The Singing Stone, a stone of great mythical character and absolute beauty; so exquisite, so true and magical that it was said that whoever possessed this Singing Stone would have the wealth and power, knowledge and wisdom of all the world at his fingertips. And time again he would say to his grandmother “But where, grandmama can I find this Singing Stone,” and Grandmama would shake her head, “Nay I know not where it can be found, many have sought it out but none have returned with its secret”.
And so time went by and the boy grew into a young lad, and thence into early manhood. At that time the young men of his age were entering into their apprenticeships or working the land of their fathers and grandfathers, but the boy of this story was not tempted by any of these. He was not lazy, no he was a strong and healthy youth who could turn his hand easily to many things, but none called him to a trade. He had only one desire – to find the Singing Stone. And so one day, he went to his parents and asked leave of them to go out into the world to search for this magical rock that would bring he and his family all the wealth and power and wisdom they would ever need. His parents were dismayed, but wisely gave him leave to go, stressing that he could return at any time.
Then he went to his dear Grandmama and one last time he said to her “Grandmama, do you know where I can find the Singing Stone, for find it I must!” She shook her head sadly but said to him “I myself do not know where this stone may be found, but I know of a very wise and learned Scholar who lives in the North beyond those great peaks you see in the distance when you stand on the hill at the back of this place. He lives in a great house which contains a library and there in that library is every book in the world that has ever been penned, and perhaps, a few that have to be written yet. Go to the Scholar of the North and see if he will allow you to look in his library, perhaps there you will find the whereabouts of the Singing Stone”.
The young man took this as very good advice, and so, taking his leave and with only a simple knapsack on his back he set out for the North.
He travelled for many many weeks; the terrain grew rougher and steeper as he travelled north, and the forests through which he traversed contained creatures of great dread, but at last, after many adventures and many false trails and dead ends, he found himself on a path which led up a mountain on which there stood a great grey house. “Is that the home of the Scholar of the North” he asked of a tree nymph who hung from the branches of a nearby beech. “Why yes” she said laughing, “although what you want with all those dry and dusty books when you can hang upside down and sway with the wind I shall never know”. And he thanked her and followed the path to the great wooden door set in the granite wall of the home of the Scholar of the North. He had expected to be turned away, but the Scholar smiled knowingly and in welcome when he rang the great bell and asked to be let in. Of course he could read the books in the library. He could stay for as long as he wanted. And the Scholar showed him to the great bookrooms in the great grey house and left the young man to his own devices.
He didn’t know where to start, so many books, so many rooms full of books. Surely here he would find the knowledge of the whereabouts of the Singing Stone. He sat down to read, and he read and he read. Winter came and the snows fell and the great fires in the halls were banked up, and he stayed warm and snug in the great book rooms and read, and read and read…. And Spring came, and Summer, and Autumn and then another Winter prevented his leaving. Again he stayed warm and snug in the great book rooms and read and read and read…. And so time passed by, and he quite forgot why he was there; the books contained knowledge so fascinating that he could not put them down. The Wise Scholar was never seen again but the Young Man had forgotten all about him too. Food was provided for him at every meal time and he had a warm bed at night, although many a night he spent before the great library fire reading, and reading, and reading……. Years passed by, many years, and then suddenly one bright Spring morning, he came to the end of the books, all the books the library contained. And he sat there wondering and remembering. For of all the great knowledge in that noble library, not a single book, not a single page of a book, had contained a single word about the Singing Stone.
He jumped up with a jolt – and went to the find the Wise Scholar in his study. “sir” he said “I have stayed over long in your wonderful library and I have searched through every book in every room on every shelf, and yet in not one of those books not a single word have I found of that which I seek”. “And what is it you seek” said the Wise Scholar gently “The Singing Stone, I seek the Singing Stone” replied the not so young man. “Ah” said the Wise Scholar, “I know not where you may find this Singing Stone, I know not even if it really exists. But I know of one who may be able to help you. She is called the Butterfly Queen and dwells deep in the South of this Land. Leave my house by the front door and follow the track deep into the forest, you must find your way to the warm tropical lands of the South, and ask for the Palace of theButterfly Queen”.
Our not so young man thanked the Wise Scholar and set out once more on his journey. Many, many weeks and months passed as he stumbled back down the stony ground of the North, back through the forests of dark creatures of great dread, over the plains of the middle lands and into the rich tropical jungles and rivers of the South. And at last after many an adventure he reached a great lake with a boatman on the shores. And in the centre of the lake was an island upon which was built a great shining palace of crystal and glass set with magnificent jewels, and with turrets topped with gold and rare ivory. “Is that the Palace of the Butterfly Queen” he asked of the ferryman. “Ay that it is” replied the ferryman “and I will gladly row you across, but you must remember one thing – this is a magical lake and you must NOT look into the lake but keep your eyes firmly fixed on the Palace ahead”. And so our hero stepped into the boat that was to take him across the magical lake to the island Palace of the Butterfly Queen. And, yes, he could not resist it. The further into the deep lake they rowed the more he felt his senses being pulled and tugged towards the bottom of the lake until at last he looked down. Oh the sights that greeted his hungry eyes, the lake was filled with rich rich treasures, jewels and gold coins, exquisite palaces and exotic gardens. And his senses were filled with delight at this great beauty after the dry dusty libraries of the Wise Scholar of the North. And he vowed to stay there for ever – his purpose of the Singing Stone forgotten in a moment. And so he came to the Butterfly Queen who made him most welcome, smiling knowingly at the desire in his eyes. For many a year he remained at the Palace of the Butterfly Queen, where indulgence was commonplace, where food and rich clothes and beautiful maidens were his for the asking. He covered himself with jewels, he built a fine palace in which to dwell, gave legendary banquets for the nobility of the area, and lived a life of great luxury and pleasure.
But…. after many years had passed, and he had gorged his appetite on the fine rich foods, sated himself with the many willing maidens, worn every mode and change of fashion, indulged in every known sport, pleasure and pastime, after many years, somehow, it lost its appeal. He lost his appetite and began to lose weight, he no longer was interested in his clothes and jewels, not even the most outstanding Beauty of the day could now tempt him and he felt something calling from within. Calling, calling. He picked up a stone listlessly one day from the path before him, and remembered. “The Singing Stone!” he cried and ran to the Butterfly Queen in her great Palace. “Butterfly Queen” he said “you have kept me a prisoner here many years and I lost my purpose. I had come to ask you of your knowledge of the whereabouts of the Singing Stone. I have tasted of all the delights of your beautiful Land, but nowhere is this knowledge to be found. May I take my leave to continue my search, and have you any knowledge of this magical Stone.” The Butterfly Queen smiled quietly “The only person who has kept you prisoner here has been your own self” she said “and you are free to leave at any time, as you have always been. As for the Singing Stone, I know none of it but I know one who may do – in the West there lives a great Wizard who dwells on a rocky cliff overlooking the sea. He has great wisdom and can teach you many things, he will make you a wizard if you ask him. and mayhap he knows of the Singing Stone.”
And so our now middle aged hero took leave of the Butterfly Queen and set out for the Marshlands of the West which he knew would lead to the Great Sea. Many a month it took him, the terrain was difficult to cross for huge bogs of stinking mud barred his way and great flat plains rolled endlessly on and on. The insects bit him day and night, and he nearly gave up the Quest, but, just as he began to despair he saw in the distance a great glistening shimmering ribbon of light and he knew what he was seeing was the sea. And there near the glistening shimmering ribbon of light was a plateau and on the plateau stood a great gleaming castle of turrets and windows and many coloured stones. This must be the Castle of the Wizard of the West. He approached the entrance timidly but found that the doors swung silently inward and invisible hands took his burdens from his back and led him to the great hall of the Wizard of the West who was indeed the last of the Great Mages of that Land. And the Wizard was mightily pleased to see him, he had seen of course, the coming of this man in his great sorcerer’s mirror many nights before and knew that here was someone to whom he could pass his knowledge.
And so our hero stayed with the Wizard of the West for many years, learning all manner of tricks and spells, made many a shamanic journey, learned to turn frogs into princes and princes into frogs, turnips into coaches and how to rustle up a five course dinner from a beech nut in a matter of seconds. And he became so proficient in all these and many other things that he surpassed even the Wizard of the West in his skill. And by now he had completely forgotten the purpose of his coming to the Castle of the Wizard of the West, so taken was he with his new powers. For powers indeed they were. But. like all things, intimacy with the strange and bizarre becomes commonplace, and he began to wonder what he could do with all these strange and magical powers, apart from live in the Castle and view the sea. And so he went to the Wizard and asked if he could leave and take a journey, he knew not where except that the East was calling him now, and in a flash he remembered his purpose – the pursuit of the Singing Stone. “Have you any knowledge of the Singing Stone” he asked the Wizard of the West. “I know not where it may be found” said the Wizard “but I should follow your instincts and go East, and to save time why not shapeshift into an Eagle and fly swiftly across the terrain you took so long to traverse on foot to arrive here.” This of course was very sound advice and our rather elderly hero now took his leave, jumped off the Eastern Turret of the Castle and as a magnificent golden eagle sped like an arrow towards the East, into the rising sun. His great wings beat the air into huge eddies on which the wrens and gulls rode in his wake. He flew over marshland and forest, mountain top and river, not knowing what he would find at the end, but knowing only that he must follow the rising Sun. And after many a day and night he came one sunny dawn to a settled part of the Land.
Below he could see a group of small wooden dwellings and enclosures containing domestic animals. A peaceful scene it was, with smoke eddying gently out of the smoke holes in the roofs of these simple homes. It drew him downwards for by now too, he was tired. He landed in the branches of a great Oak Tree on the edge of this little hamlet, which overlooked in the distance a small wooden house.
Something…..something…….something so familiar. He perched in the lower boughs of the oak tree and watched as the door of the little home opened and a very old couple came out arm in arm and stood on the porch watching him. And he remembered that he was a man and stepped down from the tree to land on his own two feet. ….. something……something…… boyhood memories of swinging from those boughs, of swimming in the brook at the side of the cottage…. and he knew that this was his home, that this was the place he has set out from nearly 50 years ago now, in search of the Singing Stone. And these two old old people before him, were not his grandparents but his parents who had grown old in their long wait for him.
And he ran, ran up the path, through the gate and into the garden, he ran laughing and crying into the arms of his parents on the steps of the porch. And as they put their arms around him and held him to them, his Mother whispered softly “Welcome Home, Singing Stone.”
Source unknown – please comment below if known.
Photo by Jodie Gale, Hobbiton, NZ.