How I Became A Rock Hound

April 22, 2016

I guess I’ve always been a stone gatherer. My love affair with stones and rocks and pebbles and crystals began in childhood. On our summer vacations Up North, as we Michiganders like to say, I would walk for hours along the shoreline searching for stones that caught my eye.

How I Became A Rock Hound

I loved the ones that seemed to vie for my attention with their distinctive colors, but the prize of all prizes was spotting the elusive Petoskey Stone (Hexagonaria Percarinata) on a Lake Michigan beach.

Their gray color makes them hard to spot but when you see the distinctive hexagon cell-like shapes, well, you might as well have struck gold. My heart is thumping just at the thought.

The Ottawa name for Petoskey is Pet-O-Sega, which means “Rays of the Rising Sun”. Having just learned that, I will never look at a Petoskey Stone the same again, should I be so lucky as to spot one on my next vacation.

You know somebody really loves you if they give you a Petoskey Stone that they’ve found after searching for one for hours.

How I Became a Rock Hound, Barbara Sinclair, Lake Michigan, Earth Day

Lake Michigan, Home of the Petoskey Stone

As I grew into adulthood, I never stopped looking for stones. Finding a good one on a vacation always excited me more than any souvenir I could buy.

One day I wandered into a store in NYC called East West Books (sadly, it no longer exists) and the world of crystals welcomed me. I would spend hours in there plunging my hands into the bins filled with hundreds of different crystals.

I was in there so often that I’d become friends with the staff. They were always telling me that you could feel the energy from the crystals, but it just wasn’t happening for me.

As I stood in front of the bins one day, a salesperson named Jen said to me “Just keep picking them up until you feel something. The right one will call to you.” Still, nothing was happening.

I had chosen a purple fluorite palm stone and was holding it in my right hand while we moved onto another topic. All of a sudden, I felt a buzzing in my right palm, like little baby electrical charges. I jumped!

By the time I handed the stone to the cashier (of course, I bought it!) my palm was warm and still tingling.

This had to have happened over a decade ago and I still have the purple crystal. It’s settled down a bit, but every now and again I’ll feel the buzz. Often when I’m meditating or at night.

So, here’s where I tell you that I sleep with stones.

I’m not quite sure how or why or when this started to happen, but I can’t seem to go to bed anymore without a stone or two clutched in my hands.

It depends on what’s going on. I might choose a rose quartz crystal if my heart feels heavy, or the stone I brought home from the Fairy Glen in Scotland last year if I’m up for some interesting dreams.

The purple fluorite is always on my nightstand and even though I don’t even know its properties, it often makes the cut and ends up in my bed.

As I type this I think “Wow, people are going to think I’m nuts.”

But there’s magic in those stones and I almost always drift quickly off to sleep when I’m clutching one.

I’m rarely without a stone when I’m meditating, as well. I feel more grounded and it makes perfect sense.

Rocks are alive.

Energy Muse puts it much more eloquently

“For thousands of years, ancient civilizations have utilized the power of crystals to release mental, physical and spiritual blockages, thus facilitating the free flow of energy throughout the body. On a cellular level, our bodies and quartz crystal are both made up of mineral silicon-dioxide. Because of this, we are naturally receptive to the vibrations of crystals as they transmit, reflect, store light and receive energy. When crystals are placed directly on your body, they have a powerful vibratory effect that surges from the crystal to you. According to the law of physics, thoughts direct energy and energy follows thought. “

Or, as Sandra Ingerman says

“We’re not connected to Nature, we ARE Nature.”

A couple of years ago I was in the Arizona Sonoran Desert with my energy healing group. It was summer and the most beautiful storm clouds were gathering. The sky opened up and a deluge of rain poured down.

I’d been out hiking the day before and as we crossed a sandy path about twenty feet wide, the guide mentioned that if a summer storm is torrential enough, the rain comes down the mountain and a river is born.

In Spanish, this is called an “arroyo”, which means “brook”. It’s also referred to as a “wash”.

Omg. The most exciting thing ever! My friend, Paul and I had discussed this. He’d already experienced it (I’d missed the first opportunity and wasn’t going to miss it again) and knew exactly where to go.

We grabbed our cameras and headed into the desert in the rain. My heart was pounding with excitement. There was one issue of a keep-out kind of barbed wire fence, but Paul, like an expert rule-breaker, parted the wires so I could pass through. A piece of cake.

Seeing a river flowing through the desert was one of those “Mother Nature, I’m in awe of you” moments. Okay, it was more a brook than a roaring river. And it had already started to go down. But awestruck, I was.

Without saying a word, Paul and I quietly started looking on the edge of the wash for stones. I must have told him at some point of my love of gathering stones because all of a sudden he declared “So, you’re a rock hound.” A rock what?

I’d never heard that term but I attached it to myself that day and have never let it go. Lo, and behold, when I was researching the Petoskey Stone for this article, there it was again – “That said, the rockhounding is good from the springtime thaw until the snow flies late in the year.”

Thank you for that, Paul. Takes one to know one.

I’m proud to call myself a rock hound. I guess I’ve been one all my life but didn’t know it.

How I Became a Rock Hound, Sonoran Desert wash, Barbara Sinclair

My friend, Paul, rock hounding

The more in love I fall with the Earth, the more alive the stones feel to me.

I never leave home without a stone in my pocket. I have one right now that I picked up on Long Island last weekend when I went to my friend, Karen’s memorial (which was more like a celebration).

I have no idea what type of stone it is. The color is sort of a golden umber and it has lots of interesting crackles and lines. It sparkles. I’m pretty sure Karen placed it there for me. It’s a happy stone to remind me of my dear friend. It’s always warm to the touch. It’s alive.

There are anti-rock hounders out there, I know. I’ve been chastised for taking stones, as well as flowers and sticks and feathers, from the outdoors. These naysayers believe we should leave everything in its natural habitat.

But I always ask permission – especially from the fairies at the Glen 🙂 – before I pocket anything to carry home. And when you live in a city, bringing a part of Nature home can be a great way to stay connected, and grounded.

I still treasure the one week a year I spend in Northern Michigan with the possibility it holds of discovering a Petoskey Stone. And as I think ahead to my summer trip to Ireland and Scotland, I can’t wait to see what I discover.

This article has been sloshing around in my head for months. Today I thought “What am I going to write for Earth Day?” and then rock hounding popped into my head.

So this is my tribute to our beautiful planet, rocks and all. I hope you enjoyed it. Are there any other rock hounders out there? Maybe we can start a club. 🙂

Happy Earth Day!

Much love,


  1. Happy Earth Day Barbara! I loved this post for two reasons. One of my favorite childhood memories was biking to a local marble factory and ‘digging for treasures’. I would then store my findings in a shoe box safely hidden in my room. And then came Walloon Lake, one of my favorite adult memories and the treasure island for Petoskey Stones. Our children and nieces and nephews would spend hours searching for them on the beach at Walloon or Lake Michigan and it was the joy of the day when they found their treasure. This post brought back both of those priceless memories, thank you for sharing yours:). xoxo Mary

  2. Barbara Happy earth day to you! Love, love love, your article as usual❤️ I am so there with you every step on your rock journey! Thank you so much for sharing that !❤️❤️❤️

  3. I loved this article!! I am something of a novice rock hound myself but look forward to welcoming in more of Mother Nature’s jewels into my life. I know the fairies will help me!? ???

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