Cairns

While walking Willa in the Laura Moore Cunningham Memorial Arboretum, I saw this small cairn. 

Used by people around the globe, cairns—a human-made stack of stones—serve many different purposes:

Utilitarian: to mark a path, territory, or specific site

Spiritual: inviting passersby to stop and reflect

Ceremonial: when placed within a circle of enclosing stones

Memorial: when friends and family members voice a fond remembrance of a loved one while adding a stone

Symbolic: the uses are endless including love, prayer, and artistic expression

In Scotland, it’s traditional to carry a stone from the bottom of a hill to place on a cairn at its top. In such a fashion, cairns grow ever larger. An old Scottish Gaelic blessing is Cuiridh mi clach air do chàrn — “I’ll put a stone on your cairn.”

Have you ever built a cairn?

© lauriebuchanan.com

Rock On!

Cairns—we saw them aplenty when we climbed Ben Nevis. We noticed quite a few in Nova Scotia. We spotted them as trail markers in John Muir woods, on Palomar Mountain near the observatory, and now in the shallows of the Boise river—in this case, parents built them symbolically, one cairn each for a family of seven.

Used by people around the globe, cairns — human-made stack of stones — serve many different purposes:

  • Utilitarian: to mark a path, territory, or specific site
  • Spiritual: inviting passersby to stop and reflect
  • Ceremonial: when placed within a circle of enclosing stones
  • Memorial: when friends and family members voice a fond remembrance of a loved one while adding adding a stone
  • Symbolic: the uses are endless including love, prayer, and artistic expression

Have you ever built a cairn?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

The Intersection of Scotland and Zen

With seventy-percent of the earth’s surface covered by water, it’s no wonder the ocean is nature’s most spectacular force.

Colloquially known as Paddy’s Milestone, Ailsa Craig—a beautiful island just off the west coast of Scotland—is where the stones in our pendants were collected. The stones were smoothed by the tumbling waves of the sea, and are now worn by my husband, son, and self.

Scottosh Sea Slate

Symbolism

  • Simplicity
  • Inner peace
  • Strength to weather a storm

Reminder

  • Be calm and patient
  • Be yourself—down-to-earth, non-superficial
  • Flow—move forward with the natural current of life, don’t fight against the tides

In Scotland, it’s traditional to carry a stone from the bottom of a hill to place on a cairn at its top. In such a fashion, cairns grow ever larger. An old Scottish Gaelic blessing is Cuiridh mi clach air do chàrn — “I’ll put a stone on your cairn.”

Do you have a favorite tradition?

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are  choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

The Book — Discovering the Seven Selves
The Experience — Life Harmony

© Laurie Buchanan 2014

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