Wheels Of Resonance. Wheels Of Perfection.

The great spiritual wheel of Ireland described in the Manor of Tara story (Wheel of Spirit posts) holds a resonance with cosmologies around the world. Cultures define themselves in terms of the ways people perceive the cosmos, their cosmology providing a foundational model for life itself. Because indigenous elders and ancestors who first created these wheels were intimately connected with the Earth this sacred and iconic art of how the universe is put together will reflect Earth elements and aspects.

I have long admired the work, life and writings of Malidoma Patrice Somé. In his book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community, he shares the cosmological wheel of his Dagara tribe.

Dagara wheelThe medicine wheel of the Dagara people is a symbolic representation of the relationships between the five elements that form the cosmos. Earth is at the center and touches all of the other elements. Water is in the North, opposite Fire, in the South. Mineral lies in the West, and Nature is in the East.

I am always amused when someone comes to one of my ceremonies, experiences my ritual working with the four sacred directions, and then takes me aside to carefully explain how the energies, colors, and attributes I ascribe to the directions are all wrong according to what they have been taught. They most likely wouldn’t appreciate the Dagara medicine wheel either. Variations are as vast as the number of peoples and cultures on this planet. If a wheel invokes the sacred cosmology for people and helps them know and live from their place in the universal web of life, then the layout is perfect.

Wheels of Sacred Harmony

The stones were translucent orange. As we sat in the dark and watched them being placed one by one in the earth bowl, we knew this lodge would be hot and intense. It was a promise more than fulfilled.

The heat and intensity, as with all sweat lodges, was also a reflection of the spiritual power of the participants and the potency of our purpose – to pray the Metta on this Spring Equinox day that all beings may have fresh clean water to drink, food to eat, a home, and someone to share love with. That they may know their true purpose, be well and happy, and free from suffering.

In the womb cave that is sweat lodge, we began our ceremony by grounding and centering ourselves in the web of all life, our place in the universe. As is the way of lodge ceremonies, we called to and honored the four directions of the sacred Earth wheel. To seasons wheelthe East and her knowledge of birth and new beginnings. To the the South and her knowledge of abundance and fullness. To the West and her knowledge of death, release and transformation. To the North and her knowledge of the dream time, of vision and inner wisdom. In this way we stepped into the circle of wholeness and harmony, the place from which sacred unfolding and manifestation is possible.

Whether in a sweat lodge or the Great Hall of Tara, spiritual people throughout time have invoked the power and presence of these great harmonious wheels and circles. Some call them medicine wheels. Some call them mandalas. Some call them sacred hoops. But the intention is the same. To touch and connect with the sublime knowledge and wisdom of the universe. To find our place. To remember who we are. To live in sacred harmony.

Wheel of Spirit. Wheel of Wisdom. Part Three.

Fintan the Wise roared at the assembly, “Why have I been called here!?”

A druid spoke, “There is both a dispute here, O Wise Fintan, as well as a matter of grave concern to each of us. Some of the nobles here have challenged the High King. They feel that the current boundaries of the manor of Tara are too great. Additionally, knowing that such things are arranged based on the ancient knowledge and that similar principles of alignment exist for human life, we have discovered that we are without such knowledge. It is as if our minds are engulfed in a mist. We are told you know of such things.”

Fintan looked into the eyes of the High King and scanned the faces of the nobles, reading their intent, discerning all things that dwelled in their souls. He nodded knowingly and made his way to the judge’s seat. After several moments of silence, he spoke.

hermit“I am Fintan, sone of Bochure. I have been a one-eyed salmon. I have been an eagle. I have been a hawk on the wind. I have been a man of verse. I know of every people who have ever occupied this green land. I have seen the rising and falling of kings like waves on the sea. Ireland was my mother long before she became a kingdom of men, long before her glens and valleys were filled with paltry nobles squabbling over land. When I speak today, I speak for her, and for all that I have seen and been.”

Everyone fell silent for a time. A fire crackled in the center of the room. The wind could be heard blowing outside. Fintan continued. Continue reading

Wheel of Spirit. Wheel of Wisdom. Part Two.

A sentry stood guard at the gate and intercepted the messenger.

“The nobles of Ireland have a message for the High King. They are not in full agreement regarding the matter, but they have decided that they cannot attend the Great Feast this year until that particular matter is settled.”

“And what matter might that be?” the sentry asked.

“Some of the nobles feel the High King has taken far more than the king’s portion of land. Others of us are uncertain but know full well that the arrangement of Tara, just as the arrangement with all things within us and within our home provinces, must be guided by the proper order of things. However, none of us possesses the knowledge of this proper order, and thus we are uncertain about whether the king has taken more than his due for the manor of Tara. Until the manor of Tara is settled, partitioned, and resolved, and until we can discern – once again – the sacred alignment with which all must live in accordance, the nobles are forced to boycott the feast.”

Tara landscapeThe sentry raised an eyebrow. He knew the manor of Tara had always had the same defining boundaries as it did now – at least within his memory.

“Very well,” he replied and turned on his heel, moving quickly into the main compound at Tara. He passed through a shadow cast on the ground by one of the ramparts, giving the illusion that he had disappeared into thin air. Continue reading

Wheel of Spirit. Wheel of Wisdom. Part One.

As we step back into an exploration of the Oran Mór, the Great Song of Ireland, I will begin by sharing a story from Irish mythic history, The Settling of the Manor of Tara. A story that calls to be told in three parts. Many have written and shared this story, my favorite is the following which is excerpted and adapted from Frank MacEowen’s book The Celtic Way of Seeing: Meditations on the Irish Spirit Wheel, a book and author I highly recommend.

A voice rumbled from deep within the empty hall.

“Where are the nobles?” one of the High King’s advisors snapped, at no one in particular. “It is the custom that they and their retinue attend the Great Feast! They should be here by now.”

A druid standing nearby nodded in agreement. “Indeed, you are correct. They are not only expected to be in attendance, they are expected to contribute to the feast itself, as it has always been done.”

The two men looked at one another and knew something was amiss. They had felt a disturbance in the Great Peace for quite some time and had noticed the seeds of chaos beginning to sprout. The usual harmony of the land and of their souls had gradually entered a troubled state.

high kingIt had always been the custom for the nobles of Ireland from the far reaches of the island – lesser kings and chieftains alike – to travel every three years to the Great Hall at Tara: to sit in council, swear fealty to the High King, to attend a banquet in his honor, and then to aid in giving a grand feast to the Irish people over several days of celebration.

It was an ancient observance, and ancient feast that involved music, storytelling, foot races, horse races, jousting, as well as the announcement of marriages, all against a backdrop of ale drinking and lovers courting. The Great Feast was a way to honor the bounty of the land, to remit the bond between the High King and the land, and to maintain the memory of who they were.

This year was different. Continue reading