Sunday, October 09, 2011

Everything's Round: Reflecting on Wyoming

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored" and our 50-state challenge! We're setting out to prove that "One Nation under God" isn't, and isn't. I'm not going to bet that it's "indivisible" either. As for "liberty and justice for all" ... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Not.

Most praise and worship teams construct some kind of symbolic building or monument to their deities and philosophies. These monuments come in all shapes and sizes, from the Great Pyramids to the humble Amish church. It's not surprising, therefore, that cultures from different parts of the globe would evolve similar worship techniques without knowing that other cultures worshiped the same way.

This is the Medicine Wheel National Historic Site in Wyoming. It's on a plateau that overlooks Big Horn Basin. This Wheel, one of many Native American Medicine Wheels in the U.S. and Canada, is still used for praise and worship rituals by its people. It is 74 feet in diameter with spokes and cairns that align with stars that are sacred to the Crow Indians.

People who live in temperate climates tend to see life as circular. Each year there's a spring, summer, autumn, and winter, revolving to spring again. Human life, on the other hand, is linear -- its seasons are childhood, child-rearing, providing wisdom, and needing the help of others. If you look beyond your own self, however, you'll see that life begins anew when your child is born, and her child is born. When you die, your descendants carry on. (Which is why you should revere Ancestors. They are part of the Wheel.)

I once had a conversation with a Lenapi Elder after he had given a talk about the Wheel and about reverence for the land. It was a pleasant chat in which we compared Druid and Lenapi beliefs. I said to him, "Maybe there was more criss-cross over that ocean than our historians know about." He agreed, and he proudly added that, since the wind blows west-to-east, it probably was his people coming to see ours.

Makes sense to me.

It's entirely possible, though, that similar bored gods spoke to the creators of Stonehenge and the Medicine Wheels, without any human intervention. It is humbling and moving to look at the Directions (or the Quarters) and associate them with seasons of the year and with intentions we make during these seasons. The circle is the most gentle and egalitarian of all shapes. Cultures that worship in the round may disappear from the face of history, but their constructions will still move the visitor to reverence and reflection.

Here's a lovely homily for the Wyoming Medicine wheel, found on a site full of Spirit Quest material:

"And there are Four Corners of the Earth that we talk about, the Four Colors
of people, and the Four Winds. You see, the Winds -- they are Spirits."
(Grandfather William Commanda, Algonquin)
 
The Elders teach us about the four directions. If we learn about direction, we
also learn about attention, about focus, and about power. Each direction has
spiritual power. In the morning, go outside, face the east and get still, then,
listen to your thoughts. After you have done this for a while, turn and face the
west. Get quiet once again and listen to your thoughts. Did your thinking
change when you changed directions?

 Also below, two beautiful songs for the People of the Sacred Medicine Wheel.

Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As above, so below.  

2 Comments:

At October 09, 2011 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read often and seldom comment, but I couldn't let this series go by. Thank you for providing a focus to draw a boundary for those who have foolishly appointed themselves give-and-takers of the Divine. I'm learning and standing with you. Dee

 
At October 09, 2011 , Blogger BBC said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

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