by Sela Weidemann Moser
I have been a fan of the Grateful Dead for about as long as I have been using and sharing stones and crystals for healing. It seemed inevitable that the two would eventually come together in some way. It certainly did not occur in any way that I could have predicted! Having already attended dozens of Grateful Dead shows, on June 22, 1986, I felt compelled to try to get backstage at the Greek Theater show in Berkeley, California, in order to make a connection with Jerry Garcia.
Yep, I know! Crazy, right?
I’d never felt “compelled” to do this type of thing before. Oddly enough, a manager for one of the band members rode to the show with me that day, and I told him I needed to get backstage. When he asked why, I told him it was better if he didn’t know, but he gave me a backstage pass! I waited to go backstage until just at the encore, and was panicked when I concluded that I was too late, and Jerry had already exited the venue area. I was stunned and didn’t even know why, but I felt scared and upset that I had not been able to complete my task. My friend came over to me and asked what was wrong, and I told him I was supposed to touch Jerry! Minutes later, the band returned to the stage, reset the microphones, and did one more song, ‘Box of Rain’. I waited at the bottom of the stage stairs so that I’d not miss Jerry again. After the song was over he was the first one off the stage, and he stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned to me. I put my arms around him, hugged him and said “Thank you!” He replied, “No, thank you!” and he left.
A couple of weeks later, as a last minute decision, my partner and I decided to fly to catch the Dead’s show on July 7, 1986 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C.
Being originally from the east coast I stayed on to visit family and friends in Philadelphia. I learned upon arrival that a dear childhood friend was in end-stage cancer and went immediately to the hospital to treat him with Rock-Medicine. I stayed by his side treating him with Nephrite Jade, Amber and white Calcite for four days. He had an unexpected and miraculous recovery. However, because I was not really in touch with the outside world, I was unaware that Jerry Garcia had collapsed into a diabetic coma on July 10th.
When I returned to my home in Reno, I was inundated with messages from my friend who’d given me the backstage pass in Berkeley, and who was part of Grateful Dead management, asking for my help in treating Jerry. I immediately left from Reno, and he from the Bay area, and we met halfway in Tahoe for me to give him the necessary stones for Jerry’s treatment. Because Jerry was comatose, I made an essence from the stones, which would be more easily administered than having someone try to get the stones themselves in his hand four times a day, without his participation. The essence I gave to my friend was made up of Nephrite Jade to detox, Amber for the memory of wellness, green Tourmaline for the diabetes, and Petrified Wood to relieve the stress on his systems.
Jerry’s prognosis was very bad. They did not anticipate him coming home from the hospital for at least 3 months, or being able to play for 3 months beyond that. The essence was given by Nora, Jerry’s housekeeper of nine years, and she sat by his side and administered it to him faithfully. He awoke and improved quickly. The doctors called his recovery miraculous!
Jerry went home from the hospital on his birthday, August 1, just 22 days after his collapse. On October 4th, barely eight weeks later, he played his first post-coma show at The Stone in San Francisco with The Jerry Garcia Band.
This experience was a real turning point in my life, and in my work, on many levels. The fact that Jerry was given the Rock-Medicine essence while comatose spoke volumes to its validity and not being credited as merely placebo.
It was at this time that my work “Rock-Medicine” received its name. Originally, I was calling it “Stone Medicine”. As a result of Jerry’s recovery, my work caught the attention of Bill Graham, the renowned music promoter as well as co-founder of the Haight-Ashbury Free Medical Clinic. There was, and still is, a branch of the clinic’s services called Rock Medicine which is a medical team that specializes in administering to concert goers in need of medical assistance at shows. Bill and I established a friendship, and one day he told me that what I was doing was truly ‘Rock medicine’ and he’d be honored if I used the same name. I was deeply honored myself, and we agreed to hyphenate the stone work, to differentiate between my work and the work of the concert medics.
This story is but a brief overview of some of the involvement I’ve had with the band, and the immense blessing that being part of the Grateful Dead community has been. I’ll write a book someday and tell the whole thirty-year history. For now, I offer this one story, as the whole world celebrates: Fifty years of the Grateful Dead!