Founder and CEO- Stone Medicine LLC
My heritage is like many natives these days….quite mixed up. From my father’s, Chas Thompson’s linage, we are Santee’ Dakota Sioux and from my mother Jean Carper, I have my Irish heritage and a bit of Cherokee. I am very humbled that you would share your time with us to read this website and inquire about the Medicine Ways of Inyan Oyate (Stone Nation).
I have had the privilege to study with many great teachers from several cultures. My late father, Charles Thompson, known as Chas to his Native friends and as Chuck to his white friends, was an inspiration for much of this study. He was thrilled that one of his children wanted to follow the traditions of his people. My sister Nancy also follows the ways of our ancestors, although on a bit different path from mine.
My family (mom’s side) were known as ‘Rock Hounds’ from day one. I grew up with them trooping us kids over hills and valleys of the Northwest in America. We learned geological names for many of the stones from my Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. It was a great way to grow up getting acquainted with all the Stone Nations. I learned to pan for gold in Oregon and hunt star garnets in Idaho. We would dig up ore samples and find agates to tumble. The list went on and on. Always the stones were in my pockets and around our house. The first conversation when someone came to visit was usually about some ore sample or bowl of rocks sitting on a shelf.
Much of my work with the stones has been in ceremonial ways, but since 2000 it has been focused on developing a workshop format for teaching these methods to the professional massage industry. This required some digging and education on the modern scientific portions of our work. Thank goodness for the internet and willing teachers.
When I first moved to Washington State I became acquainted with Shelly Bolton-Walden. Shelly is a professional massage therapist with many hours of education in a variety of modalities. After she took a course from Patricia Warne in LaStone Therapy she offered me a ‘stone’ session. I did not speak of my work with Inyan Pejuta (Stone Medicine) because I wanted to experience this approach to stone work.
You can imagine my surprise when much of what she offered followed the traditions of Stone Medicine! I asked if I could give her a session of Stone Medicine. She was a bit hesitant as she did not know I did bodywork of any kind. After I gave her a session she was blown away.
She insisted I contact Mary Nelson the founder of LaStone Therapy. Coincidentally (or not) during this same time period Charles Light Walker called to see if I would offer Inyan Pejuta to Robert, a new friend of his. I went to Roberts’ home and in a traditional way his wife and sister-in-law were witness while he received Stone Medicine. After we shared a nice lunch and talked of traditions his wife Judi gave me a wonderful massage in trade for the offering I had given Robert.
Then Robert asked if he could write an article about the session. I said yes if I could read it first. He just smiled and said no one edited his work as he owned the magazine. You may have guessed I am speaking of the late Robert Calvert, then owner of Massage Magazine. He and Judi were to become good friends and held the torch high for me to step into the public arena. I thank Creator every day for the gift Robert offered the Stone Tribe with the article that soon brought Stone Medicine into view for all the world.
After the article was published I connected with Mary Nelson of LaStone Therapy and eventually I made my way to Tucson to offer her a class in Stone Medicine, and as they say…’the rest is history’. Mary opened the doors to the professional world of massage and body workers for me to carry the traditional aspects of our stone work into the modern industry. She directed me toward hydrotherapy education so I could learn the language and find the documentation and science behind our work with temperatures on the body.
Over the last decade I have been to many points in the US, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Germany, Denmark, Japan and Australia to carry the message of Stone Medicine. The Stone Tribe has literally walked me around the world.
In 2009 I was honored to be inducted into the World Massage Hall of Fame. Joining such amazing leaders of this profession is very humbling. The first day Mike Hinkle called to tell me of the honor that they had chosen to bestow on this work, I thought it was a sales call and hung up on him. Lucky for me he called back and fully explained the recognition that the massage industry wanted to offer our people. It has little to do with me so I carry this honor for all Native people who have protected our heritage.
As I continue to write more course materials and establish workshop formats for this education process I am amazed at the enthusiastic response from the professional massage industry. There is another magic coincidence in all this….Janelle Lakman who is a very well educated and experienced massage therapist (with so many CE certificates to her credit she has them in file drawers rather than wall paper for her office!) came to seek education in the ways of the Red Road. Just when I needed help to bring Stone Medicine to the professional world she entered my life. She helps edit every manual and brings professional language to the courses.
I am so grateful to Charles Lightwalker, Shelly Walden, Robert and Judy Calvert, Janelle Lakman, Mary Nelson, Mike Hinkel and Cindy Michaels and many others who have paved the way for the Stone Tribe and allow me to carry it to the professional world. Thanks most of all to the elders who shared the wisdom of Inyan Pejuta with me so I could pass it on.
I thank Marlene Locke (Elder and Chief, Lakota) for her genuine embrace of the Stone Nation. Her sister Carol once told me after a brief Stone Medicine session that the stones had ‘lifted a load from her shoulders’. I am blessed to say Sandra Locke is my friend and her deep respect for all the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota traditions shines forth in her hospitality. The late Chief Richard Grass (Lakota) was so generous in his blessings of the work we offer through Stone Medicine and he is greatly missed. Whether at my home or theirs, when we have been together we all walk gently with the cultural differences we struggle with while honoring each other for the work we do.
Native people have used hot and cold stones and specific stroke and layout systems for over ten thousand years. I feel honor bound to always carry the message of the Stone Tribe with a gentle voice and quiet respect, for they have many more songs of wellness to sing for us.
If you should join one of our instructors in a workshop we pledge to you that along with the technical aspects and scientific education of Stone Massage you will receive the history and traditions of Stone Medicine. We may offer a free gift of ceremonies that will change your life. We never charge for ceremonies.