01 Feb The stone gate ritual
Has anyone else ever had an experience with performing this ritual? I came across it by sheer coincidence and was wondering if anyone had found a way to escape the loop.
If you’re unfamiliar with the “Stone gate ritual” I’ll do my best to fill you in. You might have passed right by the ritual several times and just never paid any mind to it. It’s fairly easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for though.
You can’t force it to happen, either you’ll happen to find a gate in your path or you might just go your whole life without seeing one. The word ‘gate’ is a little misleading though, as all there really is to the ritual is two stones.
As you walk around, just anywhere will do I’ve come to find, you may notice two stones on either side of your path. These stones will be oval and fairly flat in shape, their colors will be similar but different enough to be distinct from one another. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the sidewalk or a hiking trail, the stone gate can appear anywhere.
When you spot these stones and wish to not partake in the ritual you can simply pass right through them and suffer no consequences. On the other hand, if you do decide to involve yourself with the gate as I did than you can never stop.
Standing in the middle of your path there will be a stone on either side of you. All you need to do to begin the ritual is choose which stone to pick up. It will be random each time but these stones each have their own effect. One will grant you good luck if you are still holding it at the end of the ritual and the other will give you bad luck if you aren’t holding it at the end.
As I said I happened across this ritual by happenstance. I like to go jogging in the nearby woods, I try to make time for it every morning. It’s how I justify all the garbage I shove down my throat. While I had just turned around to start heading back home I stopped for a moment to take a drink. My eyes focused on the trail ahead, one I had run countless times before, noticed a pair of rocks resting across from each other.
Feeling cool streams of water traveling down my cheek after escaping the corners of my mouth I pondered about the rocks. I wondered how many times I had passed by and failed to notice them or if they had recently been placed there. They seemed far too picturesque to be an accident, the way the sun bounced off each rock causing them to look like headlights.
The more I stood and stared at the set of rocks the more transfixed I became on their sudden existence. Lowering the water bottle I stepped forward with a sense of caution that can only come from ancestral uncertainty. With each step the appearance of the rocks became more abnormal, drawing closer I came to the conclusion they arrived recently.
Sitting perfectly on either side of the dirt path, undisturbed by anything and without a speck of dirt on either of them. One was a solid gray while the other shimmered with lighter tones under the morning rays. Kneeling I ran my fingers across the surface of the right-side rock, feeling its smooth and uninterrupted surface. A surface that was surprisingly cool to the touch, surely if it had been resting long enough in the sunlight it would soak some warmth in but the thing was nearly frigid.
I didn’t want to interrupt the symmetry but the rock had such a pristine presentation I could help but wrap my fingers around it, and lift it from the ground. Only the underside of the rock was sullied by fractional clumps of dirt clinging on. With a swipe, my fingers knocked the rolling grains of grime back to the ground.
Twisting my wrist around I observed the nearly hypnotic surface of the rock, it catching ever so gently in the beams peeking through the sparse trees. I’m not the “see a cool thing and collect it” kind of guy but even so, I couldn’t help but think the rock would be beautiful resting on a shelf. Even more so if I had both of them so I turned to face the other rock only to discover, it was gone.
Curiously I swiveled my head, feeling a wave of static run along my body prickling my arm hairs up as I searched for the other rock. They were so perfectly adjacent from one another that it should have been right behind me but it wasn’t. The forest was pretty quiet in the morning hours and I heard nothing skittering behind me. Even if there was something, why take the rock?
Stepping in the direction of where the other rock should have been my eye was flooded by a white light. Raising my arm to shield my eyes I peered further down the trail leading back home and there it was. Reflecting the light into my eyes, almost as if it was beckoning me, was the other smooth rock resting on the left side of the path.
Even though it was around forty or so feet away, the way it bounced the light, where it was resting, it was unmistakably the same stone from before. As a lighthouse can lead a ship to the land I started pacing my way down the trail. My vision so fixated on the other stone that I foolishly ignored the light trickling into my pupil.
Without knowing what I was in the middle of, that I had already thrown myself into the stone gate ritual, I couldn’t have noticed it right away. With every step, the rock that my fingers were still clutched around, was becoming heavier. I first really felt its effect when my once angled elbow had become straight, with my hand hanging down at my side.
Stopping in place, finally free from the siren call of the stone still ahead of me I was able to observe my surroundings better. More than just the aching the was starting to develop in my shoulder I noticed the forest around me was shifting. Or rather it was becoming bleached.
The color of the once firmly brown soil that made up the path I traversed was becoming flushed and dull. Green leaves were losing their vibrancy and the tree bark was becoming a milky shade of what they once were. As if all the colors around me were being washed away. I took a few steps forward, this time keeping an eye on the world around me.
Indeed with each step, I lost a little more of what made the world around me so beautiful, more and more stark black outlines were becoming more apparent. Not to mention my grip on the stone in my hand was starting to loosen. Just as the world was washing away, each step made the stone I was holding heavier. My grip was failing and finger strength was giving way, a few more steps was all it would take for the rock to fall from my hand.
When the thought of dropping the rock where I stood crossed my mind, I was filled with an unrivaled sense of dread. Telling my fingers to just drop the stone felt like trying to pass through a solid brick wall. Some part of me, some firing synapse knew my safety was only assured if I continued to hold the stone. Some part of me knew the stones were a pair that need to exist across from each other.
I had already made it about halfway, if one arm had the strength to carry it that far than two should have been enough to make it the rest of the way. There’s no explanation to why I knew, but I did, that all I could do was keep moving forward.
The weight of the stone ever-increasing each step became harder to perform, I was already halfway but the half I still had left was going to take much longer. Even still, the brown dirt faded into a hazy gray and the foliage lost all luster as the stone grew nearly unbearable. Then another wave of static shuttered through my body, the feeling of being watched.
Such a small stone at that point had accumulated a weight that must have exceeded my own body. Even with both hands cupping it and all my muscles working in tandem I could feel my knees buckling, it became tough to focus on anything other than fighting it. I did manage to catch several glances though.
As the color of the world had nearly vanished altogether all that remained was the thick black outlines of trees and foliage. These outlines began to squirm. It wasn’t as if they were being pushed by a harsh wind, they were waving back and forth. It reminded me more of those crazy straws than they did tall proud trees.
My knees were burning and my back felt as though it was bound to snap but my destination was within reach. Surroundings up until that point were mute but as I got closer to the other rock I heard a hungry chorus of howls perforate the air. The squirming lines beginning to stick together creating thicker streaks of black.
Gritting my teeth and with the backs of my cupped hands landing on the bleached soil I dragged myself along. The weight of the rock at this point was too much for my hands if the weight wasn’t shared between both palms I have no doubt bones would be shattering at that point. If I had to travel just a few more feet I don’t think I would have had the strength.
With one last heave, I pulled my hands across the ground feeling the specks of dirt-digging in and ripping my skin and I offered the world one last glance. So many of the lines had come together forming one. It was a jagged line, jutting out in all directions from a central point that had more girth than any tree I’d ever seen. My feeling of being watched was caused by it. Somehow I knew that thing was looking at me. And then-
It was gone.
All of it had vanished. The forest around me flooded with colors and a vibrancy that seemed more intense than ever before. A crushing weight that took my entire body to move a mere inches was once again relegated to the expected weight of just a small stone. A small smooth rock resting in the palm of my hand, on the side of the path, adjacent to the other rock.
I slipped the stone from my palm and placed it gently onto the soil. Despite the throbbing in my hand and the burning throughout my body, everything had returned to normal. Things had become better than normal.
Upon returning to work that day I discovered that I was being considered for a promotion that month and had gotten it. The pay raise was nice and when I went out to celebrate that nice I ended up striking up a conversation with a very lovely, very drunk women. One who slipped me her number.
Everything after that trip to the woods had been coming up roses. I was on top of the world, things just kept improving. That is until I saw the rocks again.
I had stopped going for so many runs but still walked to work, to keep some semblance of exercise. Stopping dead in my tracks I begrudgingly noticed the two pristine rocks that were laying on either side of my path. Refusing to go through all that again I just stepped passed the rocks without so much as offering a second glance.
It’s not that my life went to shit after that or anything but I could tell that things had stagnated, that I was no longer rising, I had plateaued. After you participate in the ritual once, you’ll begin to see the gates everywhere. You can try to do what I did and just ignore them, however, every time you step through without picking one up your world will shift.
A slow and almost invisible change at first but each time I passed through or avoided a gate without picking up a stone, my world would lose a little color. Around a week of avoiding the gates was enough to notice the change and within another week the feeling of being watched returned. Fearing what would happen if whatever that was watched me for too long, I decided to pick up a rock the next time I saw a gate.
The next time I picked up a rock the ritual progressed as normal, only instead of the rock getting heavier, it became lighter. Like the stone was being pumped with helium it would begin to try and pull my hand upwards. I thought it would be easier to fight than the rock getting heavier but near the end of the ritual, it became difficult to keep my feet on the ground.
That’s when the rock slipped from my hand. I dropped to the ground and watched the small rock spiral away from me and into the pure white sky above. I was so close and still, it slipped away from me. That thing, as the seconds went on it moved closer and closer. When I tried to get up and run I smacked into a wall, I couldn’t see anything though, it was all white and I had no idea where I was anymore.
As the undefined line got close enough to touch me I hear the pitter of something hitting the ground and the ritual ended. I thought I had gotten lucky but I was wrong. I already explained the rules so you should have already guessed but my life feels into disarray. A lost job, an unfaithful wife and missed payments. It all came down on me.
It would continue until I picked the correct rock and dragged it to the end. That’s the game you play when you take part, a life of extreme highs and lows. The more rituals I complete the more often I’ll come across a gate and it’s, so exhausting. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep up with it, even when I receive the good luck I can’t enjoy it, I know it’ll be taken away.
Even more than that I know now. Even without performing the ritual, even if I get the correct rock every time, it’s watching me. Waiting for me to break down and give in. It’s waiting for me to pass through the stone gate-