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Stones Coming Home

Sorry Rocks of Uluru

By James Donahue

Deep in the heart of the vast desert lands of central Australia stand two massive rock giants known among the aboriginals as Uluru and Kata Tjuta. They are both geological enigmas since they appear like giant red rock mountains standing in the middle of a massive flat desert. Uluru rises to a height of one thousand, one hundred and fourteen feet and measures over five and a half miles around the base. The red sandstone rock is better known to the Australians as Ayers Rock.

Only eighteen miles to the west stands Kata Tjuta, a series of massive rounded rocky domes. The highest dome, called Mount Olga, towers one thousand, nine hundred and seventy feet above the desert floor. Separated by narrow gorges, the domes cover an area of about five miles long and three miles in width. Naturally, both monuments are considered sacred to the Aboriginal people. They also are an attraction to tourists who enjoy climbing the rocks, especially Uluru. The area has been declared a national park by the Australian government. So much for the geography lesson.

Park employees say that something very odd is happening at Uluru. Many tourists that climb the peak have had a tendency to pick up pieces of the red rock, or even chip away a piece of the monument for souvenirs. After a period of time, the stolen stones are returned, sometimes with letters explaining the bad luck they are believed to have caused. They say most of the pieces come in the mail. Some are only small stones while others weigh as much as seventy-five pounds. The park receives an average of one rock a day.

The stones are cluttering the park offices and officials say they don’t know what to do with them. The natives are calling them "sorry rocks." One article said the letters indicate a variety of reasons for the strange mailings. One man’s note said that "six years' bad luck is enough." Others say they have repented for stealing from a sacred monument and are returning the stone out of respect for the Aborigines. Writers even suggest that the pieces of Uluru are returned "out of sadness and guilt."

It does not appear that the Aborigines have put a curse on the stones. But it is clear that something magical is happening to the people that take the rocks from Uluru. That is how magick works, of course. After living with the Native Americans in the Southwest United States, my wife and I can attest to its strange power.

Notice that I use Aleister Crowley’s spelling of magic because there is a distinct difference in definitions between the two words. While magic is a reference to trickery, illusion and slight-of-hand, Crowley's definition of "magick" is very different. In his book Magick in Theory and Practice, he wrote that magick is "the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will." He said it may be defined "as any event in nature which is brought to pass by Will."

I have often heard the warning that we must "be careful about our thoughts" because the human mind expresses personal will. A strong thought can send powerful energies that are capable of bringing about a "magickal" reaction. Some people, often through study and practice, have the ability of sending controlled thought patterns off to bring about a desired effect. By Crowley’s definition, they are called magickians.

The Hopi, Navajo and Apache people that we associated with during our years in Arizona were all practitioners of magick. Their medicine men used it for healing and changing lives. They used it to bring rain, and to ward off evil spirits. I have no doubt the aborigines of Australia know the same rituals and practice the same kind of magick. Thus it is no surprise that the stolen pieces of their sacred red rock in the arid desert region that is their home are coming back.