Why the Name "Whitestone"?
In ancient times, a white stone, whether in rough, tablet or tesserae (mosaic) form, symbolized multiple things. In sum, it could signify a decisive vote in one’s favour, a judgment of innocence, a reprieve from death, a covenant of safe passage, a celebratory welcome for a victor, honourable status with free privileges, and religiously as, a new and everlasting identity known only by, and intimately in, God, and finally an eternal hospitality with God. All together, the white stone represents a new identity, election, innocence, safe passage, security, victory, honour, privilege, and hospitality.
There are many ancient symbols for the white stone. Today it is considered a gardening option, something to spread around bushes or replace grass. But in ancient times, particularly in the middle east (south-west Asia) and Mediterranean, the white stone represented important details about one’s social status. In some cultures, the trial judges on a panel would each deposit a black stone or a white stone in a bowl or urn, or reveal one from the palm of their hands, to cast their votes on the verdict of the accused. A black stone indicated a the judge favoured a guilty verdict and a white stone meant the accused was considered innocent of the charge. If the accused received more white stones than black from the panel, he was acquitted. So, the white stone became a symbol of being judged innocent.
(See Metamorphoses, by Ovid. (A.D. 8) Lib XV, verse 41. Translated by John Dryden, et al . “A custom was of old, and still remains, Which life or death by suffrages ordains: White stones and black within an urn are cast, The first absolve, but fate is in the last.”)
Similarly, in ancient Rome, before a gladiator match, the gladiators pulled stones from a bag and the ones who drew black stones were to fight while those who pulled white were given a reprieve.
In other situations, a person who carried a white stone with a name of a patron on it, enjoyed the privileges of a modern day credit card, with expenses charged to the patron. Often it was a white tesserae (mosaic stone) that was used to permit charging expenses to another’s account. (See Pliny Natural History, 7.40.131).
Also, in Thrace, Greece, following the Olympic Games, winners arriving back in their native cities were received in celebration, at which time each winner was presented with a white stone that bore his own name. Possessing such a stone entitled him to be maintained at the public’s expense for the rest of his life. (See Plutarch: Life of Pericles 64; Pliny, Letters 6:11).
Sometimes the white stone (again, usually a tesserae) had an identifying mark carved on it that had meaning only for those who owned it or those to whom it was presented. It could be one half of a pledge, or contract, with half of a symbol which was complete when matched with another piece. For instance there was the “tesserae hospitals” (hospitality tablets). In a covenant between two parties, they would exchange a white stone and write their own name on the one piece they gave to the other. Whenever the one party entered the other’s territory, they were treated with special hospitality, as though they were the patron of that territory himself. The hospitality tablet was much like a passport with privileges.
It was also common, in ancient times, that the identifying mark on the stone was the name of one’s household god. In this way tesseraes were used to establish identity, admit entrance, give permission or allow privileges in religious and civic venues. (See Poneulus, by Plautus, c. 254–184 BC, from Act. V, Scene. 2, Verse. 80)
The ancient Israelites had stones, made white with lime, as a sign of a covenant between their God and them. (See Deut. 27:28). In this instance, the stones act as a tangible reminder of their God’s law and a memorial of that covenantal event.
In the New Testament, Christians are promised a white stone with a new name written on it as a reward for persevering faithfulness. We find this in Revelations chapter 2, verse 17, where the Apostle John writes that in his revelation Jesus has a word to speak to the church of Pergamum, and by extension to us. The people are affirmed in their faithfulness and called to repentance for their following false teachings and in engaging in sexual immorality. In finding victory over these things Jesus promises “… I will give him a white stone and a new name written, which no man knows except him that receives it.”
Some infer this to mean that it shows a special relationship to Jesus the Christ and that it reveals their own true identity as God sees him or her. It also carries with it some of the other possible meanings found above. It is from this verse which the founder of this project drew his inspiration.
So in conclusion, a white stone, particularly as described in Revelation 2:17, signifies a decisive vote in one’s favour, a judgment of innocence (or new innocence), a reprieve from death, a covenant of safe passage, celebratory welcome, honour with free privileges, a new and lasting identity known only by and intimately in God, and finally an eternal hospitality with God.
It is important to note that, although this project draws its inspiration from the founder’s personal faith, White Stone is not a religious or even Christian program. People of any faith, or no faith for that matter, are welcome to participate. There is an encouragement for clients to follow more of a 12 step belief in a higher power, as one understands that, and so the client is asked to be open to a broader sense of spirituality.
This project, however, does not attempt to evangelize, proselytize or in any way convert people to a particular religious belief system and people are free to express their beliefs as they are. The therapists are also of varied faith backgrounds and are encouraged to speak of their own beliefs if it is deemed beneficial to the client.