Dwelling on Rocks

Maja Kuzmanović & Nik Gaffney

Geomantic sensing and sensemaking, or sifting through the noise of our mineral substrate.

Incorporating excerpts from the authors’ contribution to Alchorisma, a workshop and publication hosted by Constant vzw exploring ways of “integrating cosmogenetic views with the charisma surrounding technology”.


To begin with, find a small stone and hold it in your hand while you read.

Rocks, stones, pebbles; this thin planetary crust of minerals. Recycled bodies of plants, animals and insects; the Earth’s volcanic and sedimentary regurgitations. Some as old as the planet, others as the stars that birthed it. While you might see yourself as a radically different being from the stone in your hand, minerals circulate through your body, shape your bones and support your digestion. When you die, you return to the mineral realm. The organic dissipating into the inorganic. On a geological timescale, human bodies are transient flows, as transitional as wind, weather or lava. We endure continuous erosion and the inevitable entropy. Geology and biology, geology and technology, our inner and outer topographies are inextricably entangled. We are grains of sand gauging their place among their neighbours, settling gradually in response to internal and external pressures, and over immense timescales fusing into rock; a pattern of stone chiselled from the noise of sand dunes.

According to Arabic geomancers, masters of “the science of the sand”, patterns are always present in the noise, one just needs to attune to their dynamics. Geomancy reads the landscape from a relational viewpoint, where the practitioner and their surroundings are inextricably linked. As much as we sense the presence of a stone, the stone is subtly affected by our presence. An elemental scrying to uncover latent possibilities for mutual influence. Geomancy does not offer answers but suggests ways of relating to different beings in an indifferent universe. For self-guided experiments, see Some Lithic Attunement Exercises.

Through a process of attrition, nature has fashioned stones as strange offerings to the human imagination. With their landscapes and cloudscapes, and their nebulous writing. These figures in stone bind an arc between our proclivity for pattern recognition and our mythological imagination. They commune with the deep memory bank of human experience and expose this connection as a higher intention — a gift to us from the Earth itself.
Paul Prudence

By attuning to rocks, stones, and other lithic entities, we connect with the mineral substrate of bodies, landscapes, and (digital) technologies, as they function or break down, diverging from human timescales. We are immersed and implicated.

ishi no kowan ni shitagahite “Follow the request of the stone” trans. Jiro Takei and Marc P. Keane



Further reading & references