A Journey Through the Four Directions
by Diana Griffiths
"Love is its gift, endless is its life, perfection is its character, truth is its lesson, harmony its purpose. The circle is the Spirit of Earth Harmony. It is the symbol in which we can understand ourselves in relation to the universe." Twylah Nitsch - Seneca Grandmother.
A while back Sig asked me if I would write a piece on "Working with Circles," we were at an Oak Dragon camp in the beautiful countryside of Dorset, England, running a 10 day camp which we'd spent the best part of a year planning. The Camp was entitled "Awakening to the Circle - a Journey through the Four Directions." The idea for this camp had been formulating in my being for several years through the work I was doing and my own personal journey around the circle.
"Long ago at the beginning of time the shape of Harmony created the circle. Its shape radiated gentle peace and possessed such soothing qualities. Earth manifestations embrace and praise its existence." Twylah Nitsch - Seneca Grandmother.
The circle is a symbol used by many traditions the world over from time immemorial and referred to by such names as the Medicine Wheel, Sacred Hoop, and the Wheel of Life. Ceremony and religious rites were practised in circles, life was lived in circles and moved with the changing seasons.
Today's lifestyle has removed us from this natural experience, cushioning our senses with central heating, piped water, flush toilets and supermarkets. The seasons pass us by year after year and we become more anaesthetized. To step into the circle is to say yes to becoming - becoming more aware of who we are as individuals and more aware of our interactions with others and the environment we find ourselves in. It brings a fuller sense of being and knowing, that the journey we walk in this life has a rhythm, and that rhythm can become revealed to us.
Quabalic Circles in Australia, Medicine Wheels in America and Stone Circles in England
Some twenty-five years ago I found myself way out in the Australian Bush with 35 to 40 other people. It was Spring Equinox and we were to celebrate this balance point in the year as part of our Quabala studies. A circle was drawn into the ground and the Four Cardinal Directions aligned to the compass points. The circle was cleared using frankincense and myrrh and the Guardian Angels. Spirit keepers of the four directions were called in bringing with them the qualities of the four elements, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. We then entered the circle in silence and the ceremony began....... I had entered a sacred space with an intent shared by every participant - we became the circle. It was an experience that shifted my consciousness forever.. as one being our energy took us beyond the realms of the known world.
Ten years later I stepped onto the Medicine Wheel of the Native American people and soon began to see the same Circle emerging but from the eyes of a different spoke on the wheel… Again the four directions held the key and were brought from the etheric realms of angels into sacred animals and sacred plants.
Duloe Stone Circle,
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire
My journey has taken me into many circles, experiencing different traditions with the same base map. England is covered with stone circles each with their own Sunrise or Moonrise alignment to major turning points of the year indicating importance of that energy in that place at that time. At the Avebury megalithic complex in Southern England is a monumental map of a journey around the wheel where a site for each quarter and Cross quarter day of the annual cycle is represented. Ripeness and harvest yields the Lammas celebrations of the start of August at Silbury Hill, a mound the shape of the pregnant woman's belly ready to birth rising out of a gentle rolling landscape. When nature returns to the earth West Kennet Long Barrow with its five inner chambers offers the complete darkness and density of the mid-Winter point.
Stepping into the Circle, Stepping onto the Wheel
Stepping into the circle is about aligning ourselves to a rhythm. Nature offers a constant reminder of movement through the changing of season, from the Sunrise and Sunset points to the Moon's ebb and flow.
To bring ourselves into alignment with these changing seasons brings us onto the wheel of life and our own energies into alignment. How often have we felt frustrated in the middle of Winter wondering what to do with ourselves instead of taking the time to be still and allow ourselves to rest? In becoming aware of what our changing energies do at these seasonal times gives us a picture of who we are, how effective we are in our actions, how our energy comes and goes....
Stepping onto the wheel means becoming conscious of where we stand at any one moment on the cycle or rhythm of life. In the Seneca teachings (Iroquois, Native American) we sit in the South of our own wheel. In the South we become the qualities of trust and innocence and open again as small children to the wonders of experience without judgments. When sitting in different circles we may find ourselves sitting in any of the directions, but if we place our circle into the greater circle we still remain in our South wheel, though we may be in the West of that circle. In other words we are experiencing the West from the point of view of trust and innocence and allowing the circle to come to life.
Native American Medicine Wheel
All my work is in circles. When working with a group, we sit in circle. Everyone is able to look at everyone else, no one is hidden behind anyone, we are all equal. Some years ago we were given the Talking Stick Teachings by a Native American teacher when he visited a camp we were having near Glastonbury in the UK. We have used it with some startling results. It is more of a listening stick than a talking stick. The stick is passed around the circle clockwise and everyone is given the space to talk, or not. The idea is to talk from the heart and not the head and allow whatever needs to be spoken to be spoken. With a greater understanding of the qualities of each direction one is able to see these qualities speaking through those sitting in the different quadrants of the wheel, and the circle begins to reflect the sum total of its whole. It becomes a living entity created by its individuals. It is interesting to look across the circle and see who may be there and what they are saying - more often than not it is the mirror reflection of where you are - another point of view to look at! A question posed to a circle will be passed around and by the time it gets back to the beginning again every aspect of it will have been put into the centre to give a greater understanding of the answer needed.
To become aware of our own personal circle of energy also brings us in touch with a greater sense of awareness around other peoples' energy fields - knowing when to offer healing and when to stand back; knowing that perhaps what is being said is not quite what the person is feeling.
It is important whether working within your own circle, or when working with others, to keep the circle clean. That the edge of the circle defines a boundary that requires permission to be granted before being allowed entry. On a personal level that means being aware of the food we eat, how we take care of our health and well-being.
On an outer level it's how clear we keep the spaces we create. On a conscious level we can create our circle around us by envisioning a circle around our house; the top above the ground, the bottom in the ground, linking us to heaven and to earth. Feel where the centre is and then find the four compass points and mark each place with an altar that reflects the energy of that element for you. It could be a feather, a candle, a chalice of water and a stone, or simply four stones, one white, one red, one green and one black. Spend time with each of the altars, feel the different qualities of their energies and become familiar with them in a way that when you stand in the centre of your own circle at any time you can feel them around you. Invite in the Spirit Keepers of each of the directions and become familiar with them. You may have a particular animal that represents a place on the wheel, invite them in too..
Allow your circle to grow and become a part of you.