(Essay) The Wheel of the Year in Stone by Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.

This essay is an edited excerpt from Chapter 1 of the author’s book PaGaian Cosmology

Wheel of Stones

centred in the present within the wheel of stones, Glenys Livingstone, 2015

My ancestors built great circles of stones that represented their perception of real time and space – cosmic calendars. They went to great lengths and detail to get it right. It was obviously very important to them to have the stones of a particular kind, in the right positions according to position of the Sun at different times of the year, and then to celebrate within it. [See Martin Brennan, The Stones of Time, 1994.]

I have, for almost two decades now, had a much smaller circle of stones assembled, representing the Wheel of the Year. I have regarded it as a “Medicine Wheel”. I was assisted in the idea for this by Sedonia Cahill, when I participated in a guided meditation that she led, in which she had participants visualize our own circle of eight points.[1] I had already been celebrating some of Earth’s Holy Days, the Sabbats – the ‘Seasonal Moments’ as I name them, and felt a desire to construct my own circle of eight stones, in which I could sit in meditation: eight stones to mark the  two Solstices, two Equinoxes and four cross-quarter days. I did so, and I felt it as “medicine”. My wheel of stones is a portable collection, that I can spread out in my living space, or let sit in a small circle on an altar, with a candle in the middle. Each stone/object (some are not stones as such) represents a particular Seasonal Moment, and is placed in the particular direction. I have found this assembled circle to have been an important presence. It makes the year tangible and visible as a circle, and has been a method of “changing my mind” – my feeling about space and time. My stone wheel has been a method of bringing me home to my indigenous sense of being (Home), though I did not language it that way for some time. I simply knew I needed to do it. David Abram writes that “medicine wheels” found on the high plateaus in the Rocky Mountains,

enabled a person to orient herself within a dimension that was neither purely spatial nor purely temporal – the large stone that is precisely aligned with the place of the sun’s northernmost emergence, marks a place that is as much in time (the summer solstice) as in space. [2]

IMG_0004

Stonehenge, Wiltshire England, 3000 -2000 B.C.E.

The stone circles represent an understanding of, and the creation of, space-time unity, a larger picture of where we are, and who we are.

My understanding of sacred awareness is awareness of all that is involved in the present moment. The wheel of stones has offered to me a way of experiencing the present as “presence”, as it recalls in an instant that

That which has been and that which is to come are not elsewhere – they are not autonomous dimensions independent of the encompassing present in which we dwell. They are, rather, the very depths of this living place – the hidden depth of its distances and the concealed depth on which we stand.[3]

The wheel of stones, which may capture the Wheel of the Year in essence, locates the participant in the deep present, wherein the past and the future are also contained – always gestating in the dark, through the gateways. This is all continually enacted and expressed in the ceremonies of the Wheel of the Year. At Autumn Equinox, there is descent of the Beloved One to the underground for Wisdom, at Spring Equinox, She returns bringing with Her the presence of the underground. At Samhain/Deep Autumn, the future is conceived and gestates in the seething fertility of the Void. At Beltaine/High Spring, the fertility of Life is accelerated, whipping into a froth of passion, that may be returned through the gateway of Summer Solstice, dissolving into the concealed gestating depths. At Winter Solstice, the concealed depths are birthed back into form.

Participation in the Wheel of the Year process may be a re-identification with the entire cosmic process – the time-developmental, as well as the seasonal-renewing processes – thus healing our estrangement from our place, returning us to presence to the Universe, the depths of who we are.

© Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, 2005.

NOTES:

[1] This was at a workshop at the Mind-Body-Spirit Festival in Sydney, 1995. In the meditation we each made our own imagined journeys around the circle. I learnt from her that there had perhaps been a lot of cultural exchange between the indigenous peoples of North America and the Celts.

[2] David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p.189.

[3] David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p.216.

REFERENCES:

Abram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous. NY: Vintage Books, 1997.

Brennan, Martin.  The Stones of Time: Calendars, Sundials, and Stone Chambers of Ancient Ireland. Rochester Vermont, Inner Traditions, 1994.

Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.

2 thoughts on “(Essay) The Wheel of the Year in Stone by Glenys Livingstone Ph.D.

  1. This essay touched me at soul level. About 35 years ago I constructed a “Bear Circle” that represented the Wheel of the year. It had Zuni Indian stone animals that moved around the wheel according to how I experienced particular moments, but I also has some that represented each season. I thought I made this up until I read that the Lakota -Sioux also constructed bear (healing) circles. It too was a living presence – – “a deep presence wherein the past and future are also contained.” Also like you Glenys, I think that “participation in the Wheel of the year may be re-identification with the entire cosmic process.” Thank you so much for writing this essay!

    Liked by 1 person

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