Machrie Moor standing stones

Standing stones on Machrie Moor, Isle of Arran, Scotland. Mark Phillips. The Alchymist, In Search of the Philosopher’s Stone, Discovers Phosphorus, and prays for the successful Conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the Ancient Chymical Astrologers. Joseph Wright of Derby. 1771. Christ Handing the keys to St. Peter. Perugino (1481-82). Vatican. Stonehenge Trilithon. UK. A trilith or trilithon (Greek, trilithos, having three stones) is a megalithic monument consisting of two large stones installed upright in the ground, supporting a third stone on their tops. They are usually found in Europe.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 KJV

Meditating on a stone. It seems a theme lately. And when I look at the ways stones and rocks are present throughout mythology I look for ways that there might be repeating themes.

The alchemists sought the Philosopher's stone. According to legend the Philosopher's stone had the ability to turn base metals into gold. It is one thing to take that myth literally and quite another to take it as a metaphor for some sort of internal process of transformation.

That idea really opens up the myths to me: Jacob's rock, Sisyphus, St. Peter as the rock, David and Goliath. All of them. Using the rock as a constant throughout those stories I see a canvas of related stories -- about the path to higher consciousness.


In Greek mythology, Sisyphus is a masterful trickster who received eternal punishment for defying the gods. At the end of his life, Sisyphus outwitted Death by tricking him into donning his own shackles. Death remained chained until Ares, the god of war, freed him. Death then returned to escort Sisyphus to the Underworld. Before leaving the earth, however, Sisyphus instructed his wife to leave his body unburied. When he arrived in the Underworld, Sisyphus asked Persephone, Queen of the Dead, for permission to return to earth to make arrangements for his burial. Persephone granted his request. Upon his return, Sisyphus neglected his burial and engaged instead in the delights of mortal life. Not long after, Death came a third and final time.

When Sisyphus finally arrived in the Underworld, the gods sentenced him for his willfulness. His punishment was to roll a large boulder over the top of a high mountain and down the other side. This task might have been accomplished on the first attempt by a mortal as powerful as Sisyphus. However, each time he pushed the boulder to the summit, the stone would slip from his grasp and roll back down to the base. And in this way, the gods were appeased. But did the gods truly prevail over Sisyphus? Perhaps not. The myth says that each time Sisyphus turned to descend and begin his task anew, he smiled.

Stonehenge Trilith


And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands.

And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. l Samuel 17:38-50