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Stones of Divination, Portals into the Spirit World
Gary A. David

All cultures in all ages have used prognostication. It is humankind’s valiant attempt to pierce the mysterious veil of temporality. The South African Sangoma Baba Credo Mutwa is pictured in one book holding an imposing bronze staff surmounted by a doughnut-shaped stone.1 He specifically calls these “stones of prophecy.”2 The indigenous tribes of South Africa used to beat the ground with them in order to call up the spirits of the ancestors. Of course, materialist archaeologists attribute a utilitarian function to these stones—namely, a weight for a digging stick. For ancient cultures, the physical and spiritual realms interpenetrated each other to a degree we can hardly comprehend, so it’s probably not strictly a case of “either/or.”

Dr Cyril Hromník is a diffusionist archaeologist at odds with the mainstream, especially in regard to these circular ring stones. “Hromník says the stones (called !kwe by the Quena and Soaqua) are common in Hindu temples, where they are called yoni stones and represent Siva’s female energy. This position brought Hromník in very direct conflict with the South African Archaeological Society, whose newsletter is called The Digging Stick, and has a drawing of this implement –complete with stone– in its masthead!”3

Born and bred in South Africa, rock art investigator Rob Milne comments on the significance of the round stones to the indigenous tribes. “The Tswana people in Botswana say that these are ‘The Stones of the Gods’—they were handed down by the Gods from the skies in very ancient times. The Tswana beat these stones on the ground near the graves of their ancestors and in this way are able to communicate with them. I also heard another angle from someone who spent a lot of time working on the diamond mines in Botswana. He said that some of the Medicine Men hang them in a tree and look through them whilst meditating. This enables them to communicate with other Medicine Men who may be many miles away, and also to see into a different dimension.”4

Bored stone, dug up from a garden in Machadodorp, South Africa. Weight: 5.2 Kg. Diameter (not perfectly round) maximum = 17.5 cm.; minimum = 16 cm. Thickness: (width of wheel) 12 cm. Hole diameter: at top end 5 cm; in middle 2.5 cm. Estimated age: circa 12,000 BP or older. Photo by © Rob Milne.

In Botswana these bored stones were also called Lentswe la Badimo, or “stones of the ancestors.” The Ancient Ones looked through the hole in these stones to see what the people were doing in the village. Occasionally these sky-beings would drop one from the heavens, so now they sometimes can be found in the veld. The !Xam Bushmen used the unique stones to communicate with deceased sorcerers or even Kaggen, a creator god. Some researchers speculate that in the sacred cosmology of the San, the stone’s hole represents the vortex that shamans have to pass through in order to communicate with the spiritual realm. The Bantu tribe of the central Transvaal made offerings to the ancestors by pouring boiled grain or beer through the hole before the rest was consumed. The Dodomo tribe of Tanzania connected the bored stones with rainmaking ceremonies. This was done, however, only in conjunction with phallic stones, which tends to corroborate Hromník’s theory of lingam (male) and yoni (female) stones. “These accounts all support the concept that bored stones, irrespective of their possible mundane uses, were also regarded by various communities as communication channels with the spirit world. Thus, the term ‘Lentswe la Badimo’ is regarded as inordinately appropriate for these unique southern African artefacts.”5

However, they are not quite exclusive to Africa. This same sort of worked stones has been found in the American Southwest as well. Made from basalt, diorite, or sandstone, they average about three inches in diameter with the inner hole 5/8 to 7/8 of an inch wide. They are sometimes referred to as “lava stones.” Traditional archaeologists in the U.S. also call these digging stick weights.6 Make no bones about it: these “digging stick stones” are pure surmise. Why go to the tremendous effort to bore, abrade, and smooth a hard stone into a perfectly symmetrical shape unless the geometric form had some spiritual significance? It would be much easier just to haft a non-worked stone rounded by erosion to the digging stick’s shaft. The Hopi also have a vegetative version of this stone, which is called a silaqapngöla, or “…cornhusk wheel, used as part of ceremonial paraphernalia or as a target in a game.”7

According to one survey of the Chumash tribe’s territory in southern California, at least a few archaeologists are cautiously willing to admit to the non-pragmatic explanation of these round stones.

“Great numbers of perforated stones of steatite and sandstone and looking rather like fossil doughnuts have been found, especially on the islands. They are from 2 to 4 inches in diameter with a hole between ½ inch and one inch. They have been variously described as weights for digging sticks, war club heads, and fishing sinkers. They have been found in fetish bundles with other typical shaman paraphernalia. The neighboring Yokuts used similar stones in rain-making ceremonies and as a game stone.”8

The game referred to is the hoop-and-pole, apparently similar to the Hopi game played with a cornhusk wheel. Other archaeologists stress the ritual use of the circular stones. “Some donut-shaped artifacts were clearly used in ritual/ceremonial contexts—in death rites, in sacred caches, and in shaman’s kits. They have been recovered archaeologically from or near burials and cremations. They are found in both male and female burials.”9

Old photo of perforated stone slab, loom stones, Four Mile Ruin, Arizona. This may have been a grave stone with a hole for the soul’s escape. The hole resembles that in the Sipapuni.

Hopi Sipapuni, place of emergence from the previous Third World (era) to the current Fourth World, located on the north bank of the Little Colorado River a few miles upstream from its juncture with the main Colorado River.

The torus, or doughnut-shape, is a geometric form that allows energy to flow from the axis mundi with its roots in the nadir of the previous Hopi Third World and its corn (maize) tassel in the zenith of the stars. The vertical staff of life contains the future as well as the subjective realm of all thoughts, emotions, and desires. This wellspring of energy constantly manifests the objects of the physical world in the present. The energy transference flows toward the past on the horizontal plane of the high desert and ultimately reaches mythical consciousness, where it is again channeled inward toward the heart of matter in a perpetual circuit of numinous awareness.

See my accompanying essay: []

This torus geometry and its structuring of the temporal domain is radically different from the Judeo-Christian notion of linear time with the past positioned behind, the future in front, and the present somehow interpolated. According to certain Christian eschatologies as well as Hopi cosmology, we are possibly approaching the End Times, or use the term of the French paleontologist and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Omega Point. On the other hand, the torus, which permits a perception of time in a far more sophisticated way, may in fact be the key to understanding prophecy. In other words, by using this sacred symbol the ancients could have unlocked the mystery of seeing into the future—essentially, a form of a-somatic time travel.

Bronze torus with hexagonal grid, Igbo Ukwu, Anambra State, Nigeria, circa 9th century AD

Copyright © 2018 Gary A. David


1. Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, Zulu Shaman: Dreams, Prophecies, and Mysteries, edited by Stephen Larsen, original title Song of the Stars (Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books, 2003, 1996), facing p. 1.
2. Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, Zulu High Sanusi, edited by Bradford Keeney, Ph.D., (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Ringing Rocks Press, 2001),
3. Maré Mouton, “‘South Africa is denied its rich cultural history’”, Village Life, No. 15, December 2005-January 2006, pp. 22.
4. Rob Milne, personal email communication, June 6, 2010.
5. Marlize Lombard, Isabele Parsons, and maria van der Ryst, “‘Lentswe La Badimo’: Stone of the Ancestors,” The Digging Stick, Vol. 20, No. 1, April 2003, pp. 5-7.
6. Franklin Barnett, Dictionary of Prehistoric Indian Artifacts of the American Southwest (Flagstaff, Arizona: Northland Press, 1973), p. 98.
7. Ekkehart Malotki, Hopi Dictionary: A Hopi-English Dictionary of the Third Mesa Dialect (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1998), p. 502.
8. Campbell Grant, The Rock Paintings of the Chumash: A Study of a California Indian Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p. 48.
9. Henry Koerper, Mark Q. Sutton, and Polly A. Peterson, “An Unusual Donut-shaped Artifact for CA-LAN-62,” Pacific Coast Archaeological Society Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 4, p. 82.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 26-Apr-18 02:23 by gadavid.

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Stones of Divination, Portals into the Spirit World 1229 gadavid 25-Apr-18 22:41
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