Monday, January 15, 2007

The Circle of Hearts Medicine Wheel

Taking the form of a North American "medicine wheel", and echoing the European tradition of building stone circles as meeting places, the medicine wheel (constructed to celebrate the Millennium) consists of two concentric circles of stones, with longer stones at the north, south, east and west points. The grass space between the circles is divided into four sectors representing the elements of fire, water, earth and air, and a depression for occasional fires is located in a smaller circle covered in gravel and planted with wild flowers.

It was another incredibly beautiful winter's day. Just how I'd ordered it!

The blue sky was high and cloudless. The sun splashed warmly down on us as we moved through the waterlogged grass towards the Medicine Wheel. Families were out walking, dogs running about and all the birds were yelling their heads off in an excess of cheerfulness.

We were off to meet the goddess in a more recently constructed ritual space.How fabulous that the rate payer had consented to such a memorial! Willen Park also housed a Japanese Peace pagoda - complete with about thirty Buddhist monks, and a maze, all constructed by artists. All of them held a space in which to work spiritually and for peace.

The South-Westerly wind tugged determinedly at us as we explored where to set up the alter. The best shelter was offered by the South stone. I sat down on the picnic rug and cast my circle. With my back to the soft sandstone, I allowed the sounds of the park to be with me as I called the spirits of the land.

I was standing barefoot in a wide green field. The sky was a high blue, the sun was warm. Judging by the feel of the air, Summer was almost here.

The field dipped down in the middle . Deeper, mossier green showed dark against the occasional half-submerged yellow grey stones scattered apparently haphazardly across the grass. I moved closer to the mossy compression and saw it was a small bubbling spring. I stepped into the soft, wet velvety moss and wriggled my toes happily in the cool water.

Mesmerised by the gentle trickle of the water, I was lost in time, I knew nothing till the sound of hoof-falls approaching at a trot, broke in upon my revery . I raised my eyes and saw a tall white stag silhouetted against the sun. Stepping from the spring, I moved slowly towards him. He stood still and we gazed at each other in silence.

His head turned towards the Spring, I turned too and saw a bowl I had not noticed before, sitting on a small rock beside the very source. I crouched to fill it with clear water, and brought it to him. Slowly he bowed his great head and drank. Eyes closed, I held my breath, not daring to move.

An eternity passed, the bowl was large and heavy and my arms grew tired. Still I did not move. In time, I felt him shift. Opening my eyes, I watched him as he walked towards a taller stone and waited for me. I climbed up and got onto his back.

Then we were riding fast across the lands, speeding through the centuries and the changing landscape. Years flew by us as we pounded the ground.

Slowing, he stopped outside the Medicine Wheel and I slid off.

Turning to bid him farewell, I saw only grass where he had stood. I walked back into the circle, to the South stone and the blanket. In a tree by the lake opposite, three crows sat and cawed. I opened the circle and we got up to go.

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