A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Friday, 3 September 2010


So come all you ramblers, hear my tale - when you look into the darkness beyond the trees lining your route, consider that things dreadful and marvellous may lurk there. ROY BAYFIELD Bypass Pilgrim

Serpentine is a rare and beautiful mineral - in Britain found only in a small area in the extreme south west called the Lizard Peninsula. On my recent coastal walk I'd been looking forward to buying a piece. The bigger objects - worked and polished into lighthouses, table lamps and such - were much too heavy to carry in my pack, so I settled for the amulet photographed above.

Green emerald, jade or malachite are no match for the mystery of this sea-green mineral-stone - here buffed as smooth as snakeskin, and laced with thin rivulets of yellow fire. Its oily, olivaceous surface is mottled like a lizard. Formed by slow alchemies of fire and water, serpentine is part of the ocean's crust made visible through the immensity of deep time. My piece feels like a Druid's ceremonial stone, a magical amulet, a shining quern of healing power. I wore it round my neck to encourage the marvellous and protect against the dreadful (though what we fear may not be as dreadful as all that, and may contain little marvels).


The Weaver of Grass said...

Amulets are interesting Robert - do you know the book 'Amulets' by Sheila Paine? I met her once and had a long chat with her - fascinating subject. Hope you enjoyed your holiday. Has R gone back to Spain - is she recovered?

am said...

"It was a rock person, not man or woman, not human, but in shape like a heavy human being, with the blue, blue-green, and black colors and the surfaces of serpentine rock in its skin. It had no hair, and its eyes were lidless and without transparency, seeing very slowly. Serpentine looked at me very slowly with those rock eyes."

(from Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home)

There is Serpentine in the north coast region of California, too. A beautiful ceremonial stone with immense healing power, Solitary Walker.

George said...

Great to have you back, Robert, and what a nice post to mark your return. That's a beautiful stone, marked with as much history as mystery. I trust that you were well-protected by the amulet and that you will soon regale us with great tales, hopefully exaggerated, of your great adventure.

Rachel Fox said...

Lizard Peninsula is lovely - we were there about 9 years ago. Feel a long way from there now!

The Solitary Walker said...

I don't know that book, Pat.

As for the 'holiday', it was hard work - in terms of ascent and descent, the total distance was equivalent to climbing up and down Everest several times (someone apparently worked this out, don't know if it's true or not). Feeling rather exhausted since I returned home a few days ago, and slightly under the weather with a cold.

R has recovered from her infection, but she still has a painful neuroma on her foot. Nevertheless she seems intent on going back to Spain in the middle of Septemeber.

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. The Lizard was my favourite bit, Rachel - and that's really saying something, since most of whole coastal path was staggeringly beautiful.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Welcome back! I'm looking forward to reading of your adventures in future posts. And I hope you're feeling better.

I've always loved the "earth power" of stones. I have a box of various ones on my desk, and carry in my pocket a wave-polished amethyst I picked up on a Lake Superior beach decades ago. Serpentine is one of my favorites—and you're right, it is Druidic…

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Grizz. Stones, rocks, gems, minerals ... are fascinating, I agree. I love to get to know the underlying geology of the areas I walk through - which is the basis for everything: agriculture, industry, wildlife, settlement, the whole landscape and culture.