Stone clan people at work on Salt Spring

July 12, 2014

On Salt Spring Island, you can metaphorically wade through the many,many bodyworkers a.k.a. healers that practice there. You can also metaphorically wade through the number of healing modalities that these practitioners offer. One of my personal favourites is stone massage therapy.

When Suzanne Ambers gave me stone therapy, I saw visions. True story and here it is:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
November 10, 1999
Stone clan people at work on Salt Spring
by Tanya Lester

Stone massage therapy is a beautiful earthy experience that can heighten your spiritual awareness.

With the physical sensation of warm stones soothing your body, and the spiritual interaction, it is probably unlike any other body work.

“The stone clan people” are now working on Salt Spring.

Mary Hannigan, the Arizona woman who developed stone massage therapy over a six-year period, recently conducted a workshop at Salt Spring Lodge.

People from across Canada came to learn the art.

Suzanne Ambers, who had wanted to meet Hannigan for quite some time, was there.

“I’ve been drawn to stones for a long time,” said Ambers, who does a variety of energy and body work…

“I gather stones, heat them up on wood stoves and give them to old people to warm their hands.”

Native people in Hannigan’s state of Arizona believe the stones have a spirit and are almost like people.

The 54 stones used in the therapy are called “the stone clan people”

In Hannigan’s teaching manual, she explains that, in some cultures, it is believed the stones contain the memories of all events on the planet and in the universe.

The therapy aids humans in enhancing our memories and helps us in our journey to heal.

Most of the stones are basalt which Ambers dubs as “blueprints of creation.” When heated and placed on the body, they relax it.

Polar stones, which are marble and kept in Ambers, freezer, provide stimulation when used. A favourite use is to stroke them around the eyes to make the person feel more awake.

Ambers gathered her stones near Sooke, BC. “I went to a beach that my Dad used to take me to as a little girl,” she said.

The massage process begins with most of the stones being heated in an electric turkey roaster. Ambers adds cedar to the water.

She does a layout of the stones on her massage table.

The client then lays down on the stones which lineup on the spine. Muscles begin to relax.

Next, Ambers puts stones along the chakra points (energy centres) on the front of the body and places a stone in each of the client’s hands.

Warmth seems to penetrate up through the arms and to other parts of the body.

Similar to the Hawaiian massage called Huna Kane, prayers are recited throughout the therapy.

For example, there are wishes to the client to love herself or himself and to live in the now moment in accordance with divine law and order.

Ambers will often massage parts of the body by using the stones as extensions of her hands. When I arrived, I told her that I had a sore jaw from a recurring problem of grinding my teeth in my sleep. During the massage, she took two stones and gently “chiseled” at my jaw.

It has not been sore since.

I also had a strong vision in my mind of an ancient tree in the desert which seemed to me to be a nurturing companion. It is an image I have re-visited when I found I once more needed to feel this kind of comfort.

When Ambers did an infinity sign around my eyes with the cold stones, I saw through the eyes of an Inuit and understood a love for the snow which was strangely healing.

(Having barely survived too many winters in Winnipeg, I had come to hate it.)

At the end of the massage, Ambers takes the stones back outside to be re-energized by the earth.

She offers two of her collection of stones to the client who can heat them to warm his or her hands later.

An hour and a half with “the stone clan people” is a good thing to do for yourself…

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To read the early posts in this blog, go to
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reading by Tanya Lester can be purchased directly from the author or to read the first pages and to buy go to the title and author name at


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