© Charles Ramsburg

The idea for the series "Pathing Sticks" came to me as I attempted to cross a wide and fast running section of the Yellowstone River in the wilds of Wyoming.  When I finally reached the other side, dripping wet from head to toe, I decided to make myself a walking stick. I soon discovered that I had just joined the ranks of an ancient tradition of the walking-staff users.


Sticks, staves and poles have been incorporated into many religious traditions and philosophies for millenniums.  Some have put an emphasis on protection, others on symbolic stability and spiritual grounding.  Shamans used a magic staff to help them travel to the underworld.  Taoist monks perfected stick handling to protect themselves while traveling.  Christian shepherds guided their flocks.


I have read that there is a Sanskrit word, pratipadyate which means, 'he or she paths.' A noun becomes a verb, stillness becomes movement.


- Charles Ramsburg



For Charlie



Below the last arrow of cloud


Your guide disappears.


Stick in hand you


Point at each cardinal direction.


Stabbing the path it dissolves.


Ever-more violet air


collapses ceiling and ground.


Pink haze tops it;


white clouds beneath spill rain.


Then everything moves: air eats itself and


spits out blue powder.  Fear melts.


The stick falls from your hand









Gretel Ehrlich