Out of all the names I could choose for my business why the heck would I choose Thunderstone? It sounds like I hired an eight year old boy to pick it out. A quick internet search for “Thunderstone” will give you results for a Pokemon character and a fantasy card game. Although I do think the eight year old me would have liked it - it's tough, it's bold, a bit funny and campy - the story goes a little deeper than kid appeal.
When I travel, I usually like to stick to the wild places and backroads, but if I find myself in a city I’ll look up the local museum of Natural History. Whether small or large, I love exhibits on ancient ways of life, or the skills and tools that made humans successful in survival. While in Arizona I saw such an exhibit. There was a display with arrowheads, stone axes and other stone tools originally made by prehistoric Native Americans. Above this display was the word, “Thunderstones”. The explanation alongside it simply said: “Ancient tools and weapons like these once were believed to have been formed by lightning and were called Thunderstones.”
Long after the stone age, these curious stones would be uncovered by farmers plowing the ground throughout the classical and middle ages. Having had no knowledge of prehistoric life they assumed the gods made them.
Lore from all over the world explains that these thunderstones became amulets used for protection and good luck. In the middle ages, stones found in the ground were believed to have been used to defeat Satan during the War in Heaven. In Switzerland, they were used in ceremony to ward off lightning from striking your home. The Swedes used them as protection from elves, while the Japanese believed they cured ulcers and boils. According to old southern American lore, if you placed the stones in the fire it would protect your chickens from the hawks. To the Norse, thunderstones, or “dian-stanes” were thrown from the sky by Thor to keep the trolls at bay. In other cultures, they were used to find treasure, ward off madness in dogs and cure warts. Archeologists in North America have found that Native Americans kept special collections of the much older Folsom points, (unique form of knapped stone used until 8000BCE).
You can get lost down the google rabbit hole reading about lore from nearly every corner of the earth regarding these special stones. But they were all wrong. The thunderstones they found were not created by lightning, used by the Gods, or held any special abilities. They were made by man, their ancestors, thousands of years earlier during the stone age. Before the advent of iron rocks, bones and wood were used for knives, hide scrapers, arrows, spears, axes and like tools.
In the right hands, a piece of flint could be quickly turned into tools or weapons and provided technology to advance their lives. A basalt stone pecked at with another rock and lashed to a stick could be used as a stone axe to cut down hundreds of live trees to build a fortress or a village. A small knapped stone lashed to a shaft becomes an arrow to produce meat for a family. This is primitive technology and humans would not be where we are today without it. Try your hand at Flintknapping and you’ll have a new appreciation for the past. You may even be surprised how well a stone axe holds up against modern steel.
We chose Thunderstone as part of our name because we respect the rich heritage of our ancestors. We honor the ingenuity and resilience of those early survivors as they battled the elements, recognizing nature as both their foe and their deliverer. That strength and humility seems like a tradition worth pushing forward. We also honor those that rediscovered ancient tools and gave them new purpose and life. Next time you see a stone tool in the museum, or in a prehistoric ruin, maybe think of the historic and spiritual importance of stone tools to all ancient people. Without them, likely none of us would be here.