The Stonecutter

“Everyone is special, you know. […] No matter how Useful we may be, sometimes it takes us a while to recognize our own value. This can be illustrated by the Chinese story of The Stonecutter.

There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering stone. “How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a stone!”

Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.”

- The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff

Father figure

Based on “Imagine Thorin when he had to give Fili and Kili ‘the talk’” from Imaginexhobbit 


You were already bent over your parchments when Thorin came through the sitting room in the morning on his way to his council chamber. He pressed a kiss to your cheek and paused to look over your shoulder as your quill described an intricate pattern, asking, “carvings for the new doors?” 

“Mm-hm,” you murmured, carefully finishing a line before standing back to give him a better view of the work in progress. “I woke up with an idea, and I wanted to draw it while it was fresh in my mind.“ 

“Beautiful, as always,” Thorin smiled. 

You leaned in to kiss his lips, and asked, “what are your plans today?” 

“I am to the council, then the Hall of the Kings to see the tapestries that have already been restored, and the stonecutters wish to show me their progress on the statues for the Front Gate. Oh,” he remembered, “and Kili will be here this afternoon, I have asked him to come and see me.” 

You nodded approvingly. “It’s good for you to spend some time together before everyone is busy with the wedding.” 

Keep reading

Armed with a 3-D printer and a computer-guided stonecutter, cultural heritage advocates are taking on the jackhammers of the Islamic State and its destructive ideology.

When Islamic State militants seized the Syrian desert town of Palmyra last May, an orgy of demolition began. Using dynamite, fire, bulldozers and pickaxes, the wrecking crew targeted 2,000-year-old Greco-Roman temples, monuments and stone statues. Palmyra’s 20-foot-tall Arch of Triumph, a symbolically important monument, lay in ruins.

For ISIS, it was a frenzied attempt to erase the past — and profit from the illicit sale of the leftovers.

Now, the destroyed Arch of Triumph will rise again, thanks to advances in photogrammetry, which turns photographs into 3-D models. A 12-ton replica of the arch, made of stone, will be installed in London’s Trafalgar Square on Tuesday, with plans to bring it to New York later this year.

Palmyra’s Ancient Arch, Destroyed By ISIS, To Rise Again In London

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

At night, Pa tells the story & we hold hands
& sleep. When things were simpler, the men  

stoned the stonecutter’s son & all the brave
girls didn’t look away until it was over. When

things were simpler, a slice of apple skin could
be sold for a kiss, for damp palms and soft hair.

When things were simpler, we chewed our teeth
until our teeth chewed back. We never spoke of

what Pa did when he left the house. Never spoke
of how sugar becomes violent, how the word tender

describes both what we desired & what we were.
We saw & were seen but we were heard only when

the moon allowed pieces of herself to drip into
our hands, into the dirt. At night, Pa tells the story -

once upon a time, there was a cottage
& a pair of girls & a witch with a mouth of gold.

When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.
—  Jacob Riis
Cat’s Cradle

In the meantime, all the birds flew south. In the meantime, the farmer’s daughter smokes too much, steals the tractor keys. In the meantime, I turn to snow. In the meantime, the library burns. In the meantime, she swallows fire. In the meantime, no one kisses you good night. In the meantime, a man raises his hand and a woman lowers her voice. In the meantime, all the birds flew south. We watch as the men shoot them down, one by one.

It is also important, however, to search out the religious concepts and practices of the common people, insofar as they are accessible to us. In our own world, we recognize that the religious beliefs and actions of a cleric or professional theologian may differ from those of a tenant farmer, assembly-line worker, or homemaker. So, too, in ancient Egypt the religious beliefs and actions of a king, priest, or erudite author might differ from those of a peasant, stonecutter, or serving woman.
—  P 5, Religion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice edited by Byron E. Shafer
Middle eastern deities

Another windfall from Conway’s Little Big Book of Magic. Fantastic resource.

ADDAD - Canaan, Babylon, Assyria, Syria, Mesopotamia. God of storms, earthquakes, floods, and furious winds.

Associated with lightning and the bull.

ADONIS - Semitic god. Harvest, death, and resurrection.

Associated with the boar.

AHURA MAZDAH - Persia and Zoroastrianism. God of universal law, purification, and goodness. One of his symbols was the winged disk.

ASSHUR - Assyria, Babylon. Supreme god represented by a winged disk. Fertility, protection, victory, and bravery.

Associated with the bull.

ASTARTE - Known as Ashtart in Phoenicia. Queen of Heaven. The moon, astrology, victory, revenge, and sexual love. Among her symbols were the eight-pointed star and the crescent.

DUMUZI/TAMMUZ - Mesopotamia, Sumeria. Called the Anointed God. Harvest and fertility.

EA/ENKI - Mesopotamia, Babylon, Sumeria. Creator god of carpenters, stonecutters, and goldsmiths; patron of all the arts.

Associated with the goat, the fish, the eye, and the vase.

ENLIL/BEL - Sumeria, Babylon, Assyria. King of the gods. Destructive winds, hurricanes, floods, storms, and the laws.

INANNA - Canaan, Phoenicia, Sumeria, Uruk, Babylon. Queen of the Heavens. Defense, victory, love, fertility, destiny, prosperity, and justice.

Associated with the star, the serpent staff, and dogs.

ISHTAR - Lady of Heaven. Patroness of priestesses; sexual love, fertility, revenge, resurrection, marriage, initiation, overcoming obstacles, and social laws.

Associated with the lion, the serpent staff, the dragon, the eight-pointed star, the dove, the double ax, the rainbow, and the bridge. She had a rainbow necklace similar that that of the Norse god Freyja.

LILITH - Protectress of all pregnant women, mothers, and children.

Associated with the owl.

MARDUK - God of fate, courage, healing, justice, the law, and victory.

Associated with the bull.

MARI/MERI/MARRATU - Syria, Chaldea, Persia. Goddess of fertility, childbirth, the moon, and the sea. One of her symbols was the pearl.

MITHRA/MITHRAS - Persia; god of many Middle Eastern cultures. The sun, warriors, contracts, predictions, wisdom, sacred oaths, prosperity, and spiritual

Associated with the disk or circle and the cave.

SHAMASH/CHEMOSH - Mesopotamia, Sumeria, Babylon, Assyria. God of the sun, divination, retribution, courage, triumph, and justice.

SIN - Mesopotamia, Ur, Assyria, Babylon, Sumeria. God of the moon, the calendar, destiny, predictions, and secrets.

Associated with lapis lazuli and the dragon.

TIAMAT - Mesopotamia, Babylon, Sumeria. Goddess of destruction, karmic discipline, death, and regeneration.

Associated with the dragon and the serpent.