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The Dreamers of San Francisco series: Cyndera Quackenbush is living the labyrynth


"Cyndera at the Labyrynth" photograph taken by Zulema Summerfield

My destiny has been marked by a unique inheritance from my father James Quackenbush, discoverer of a rare sedimentary stone. Over a billion years in age, the layers of the rock reveal naturally occurring imagery. Depending upon your perspective, the images may resemble people, animals and familiar or otherworldy landscapes. Picking up where my father left off (who brought them to the realms of art, science and education), I am interested in what the stones may reveal about the human relationship to the Earth.
-Cyndera Quackenbush, researcher, dreamtender, storyteller

There are pivotal almost magical moments in a lifetime that call for something greater than ourselves. Something outside of our scope of vision so strange, so nuanced that if we are too busy or fearful, we may miss the opportunity altogether. Then there are those people as Joseph Campbell describes who are on a Hero’s Journey. Who “follow their bliss” through any adversity. Who seize the moment with certitude, joy and a bit of crazy wisdom. Cyndera Quackenbush is one such a person. Her answer to the call is a resounding and hearty yes. And her deep sensitivity to nature, indefatigable thirst for knowledge and, of course, a resonance to the dreamtime have been her allies ever since she was a child.

"An Imaginal Stone" photograph by Cyndera Quackenbush

“I have always remembered and been mystified by vivid dreams. As a child, dreams were my proof that something “other” existed beyond ordinary life; they were like proof of magic. As an adult, I have been inspired to encounter dream images as “living entities” and not just symbols to be interpreted. Just like being informed by the gifts of modern science or the advice of a good friend, I view dreams as another source of wisdom from which to listen.” However it wasn’t until her father’s death and a billion year old stone inheritance he had excavated that Cyndera’s path would shift and reveal her true destiny.

It came in a dream.

It is night and a giant owl, my father, visits me. I am fascinated by the beauty and
largeness of his being and his multi-colored feathers. I am moving closer to touch
him, his feathers, but he says, “Beware, for I am also a snake.” He suddenly turns
into a half-human, half-serpent being and whirls around my head so fast I am
overwhelmed. I sense danger in the air, and I beg him to become Owl again so we
can go to safety. He does this, and I fly on his back to a secret room. My father
has returned to his human form. He gives me one of the stones and says with
great emphasis, “Hold onto this stone.”
“I will!” I promise.
He disappears. Outside the window of this room, my past
friends are digging a deep hole to bury themselves in the earth.

"Creation of Earth" Photograph by Cyndera Quackenbush

For Cyndera this was clearly a “big” dream and like her father’s unearthing of the stone, its impact on her was profound, sustaining and deeply existential. Its reverberation also led her on a labyrinthine path of deep spiritual inquiry and study. Cyndera explains “There were many questions I had about the duality of the numinous owl and the terrifying snake, but what the dream seemed to affirm within me was the fact that I needed to carry my father’s legacy. The dream guided me to find new ways to explore work with the stones. I entered graduate school to study Counseling Psychology, citing this dream in my application. I then went on to research the significance of stones for cultures within world history and the psychological significance of stone in a master’s thesis. In my thesis I returned to and was expanded by the images of the above dream.”

Like the stones, Cyndera is a native Californian born in the small but infamous desert village of Joshua Tree: A place steeped in spirituality, history and geological wonders. However it is the city of San Francisco that has given her new vitality that matches her daring and mystical nature. “San Francisco gives me the opposite of what I grew up with in the desert. Here I am close to the unceasing rhythm of the ocean and towering trees; I am even moved by the mists enshrouding the Richmond District. One of my favorite places to walk is to a nearby beach where an artist maintains a labyrinth of stones on a cliff above crashing waves (see picture). San Francisco values what is most important to me: it is open to new ideas and is dedicated to political change impacting the environment and the lives of those who dare to live differently. As someone who pays attention to “soul in the world,” I can say that if the San Francisco streets are dreaming they are dreaming beautifully.”

San Francisco is indeed dreaming and dreaming beautifully of Cyndera.

Photograph of Cyndera Quackenbush

Cyndera Quackenbush, MA is a graduate from Pacifica Graduate Institute with a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology. Cyndera has also studied Creative Writing, Folklore and Theatre at San Francisco State. She was involved with the More Cowgirl Writer's Collective and Bombshell Betty's Burlesqueteers and this year she has joined the Artship Ensemble and was synchronistically cast in their current production Tender Stone. She maintains a practice reading tarot and dream tending and is developing storytelling circles where the imagery of the inherited stones may provoke personal or cultural narrations and recollections of purpose. To learn more about her tarot and dream tending practice visit, and a website specifically for the Imaginal Stones will soon be found at The Imaginal Stone: Stories of Self and World, will soon be available online and on April 30th, there will be a presentation and exhibition of the stones at the Garden House Café in San Francisco at 3117 Clement St. @32nd Ave. 7 p.m. You may contact her at

For more info: If you would like to be a part of this series and receive guidelines or have any question or comments please email me at CypherandClio @aol. com


  • Scott Knutson - Philly Mystical-Spirituality Exami 5 years ago

    Like Cyndera, I too see dreams as another source of wisdom.

  • Jesse - Tucson Atheism Examiner 5 years ago

    An interesting article, enamored as I am with the great city of San Francisco I especially loved the first picture!

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    I was honoured to be involved with Jim Quackenbush as a child. I still remember his enthusiasm when he came to our school and I was chosen to be a tour guide through our school's auditorium to help share his rare stones. I was thinking about theses stones and the mysteries of life today while watching 'Walking with the Dinosaurs" with my son. I was very happy to stumble upon this article :)

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