Thursday, June 6, 2013

Making Whole: Healing Through Art: Stone Cairns

by Diane Steinbach

Making Whole is a bi-monthly art therapy column focused on art to heal.

A stone cairn is basically an elegant stack of stones, not held together by any mortar or cement. Found in ancient civilizations all over the globe, they are currently found in desert communities, hiking trails and used not only as an art form, but as navigational and ceremonial markers.

From larger stones at the base, to smaller stones on the top, the rocks towers can be placed in a single placement, or in groups, and in any location. Depending on the stone colors and shapes and the way the stones are stacked, the cairns convey an emotion or feeling to the viewer. For some reason, most people feel a connection to the cairns... do you? 

Collect stones from local beaches, woods or anywhere you can find them. Pick out an indoor or outdoor area where you can safely construct your cairn. Feel free to use superglue or epoxy to hold your cairn together especially if you have pets or children around who may bump or topple your cairn.

Stack the stones into a cairn. Make one or a grouping of cairns.


The act of creating the cairns is a meditative process that connects us to the earth in a healing and peaceful way.  When done in a thoughtful way, the cairns can provide a moment of peace and calm both when created and when viewed later. They provide a visual cue to take a moment and rest, relax and discharge all of our stress.  We don't know why this seems to work... but it does. 

Diane Steinbach is an art therapist and the author of: Art As Therapy: Innovations, Inspiration and Ideas:, Art Activities for Groups: Providing Therapy, Fun and Function and A Practical Guide to Art Therapy Groups

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1 comment:

  1. I love this and the subject on healing stones/ Somehow stones really do have this power to renew our energy and remove our stress.


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