Somehow, by happy accident? – medicine wheels have been a part of every School Retreat we’ve held since 2008. Several have been at the WD Ranch north of Big Timber, Montana. It’s a special place where Paul and Ellie Hawks, students of mine, built a very large wheel – a single circle – with a VERY large crystal planted in its center. We would begin with the silent “walk of intention” – like the Buddhist kinhin walking meditation – up the hill, with a few rattles and drums to accompany us.
Once there, we did some ceremony – sometimes it included movement, sometimes an art project (like our ”dream sticks” that we planted around the wheel one year). Having in mind a basic structure for a ceremony, and then creating it on the spot, makes it lively, personal, and deeper with the meaning of the moment. So let loose and make grace!
And a few times (brought back by popular demand) our art project was a “to-go” personal medicine wheel. A faux suede circle with a drawstring and slits along the edge, it was a pouch of tumbled semi-precious stones when gathered up in a bundle. Laid out, it was a mini-wheel that could enhance any space.
Our 2012 Retreat was at the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming. I was told by Blue Thunder (of the Wind River Reservation) that it was actually the center point – the hub – of ALL the medicine wheels in North America.
Generally, medicine wheels are located at earth “chakras” and on my scouting trip I tried sensing down into its root – and it took me deeply into the earth. I saw the surface energy extending at least 3 miles across (and the energetic influence expands out much farther).
The three days up there on Retreat was mind-blowing. The first night there I realized my chakras were all out of whack. So when the group arrived, I had them do a technique to align and stabilize their energetic systems. Like ceremony, techniques often have to be created on the spot to meet the moment’s needs!
That huge vortex of energy was destabilizing to people who live near it, which was another aspect of the chaos. In light of this, Natives don’t often live in these areas – they go there specifically to perform spiritual rituals. Our schedule was out the window the first afternoon, and it became a lesson in spontaneity and truly Being in what were many magical moments.
At the Wheel we did a ceremony I received from guidance on my scout trip. Our art project/offering, as was traditional at this Wheel, was tobacco wrapped in red cloth and tied to the fence around the Wheel (only Native Americans are allowed inside). We were at the Wheel later than “scheduled,” and just at the right time to see a full blood moon as we walked back to the parking lot. Perfect.
Soul body healing is part of what I teach, and indigenous spirituality and shamanism go hand in hand with that aspect of reality. All my medicine wheel adventures have been a beautiful way for me to engage with earth energies, rocks and crystals, and powerful, ancient realities that guide us still today.
Whether your wheel is in your bedroom, a hotel room, your backyard or on a wild mountainside out in nature, create one to amplify your intentions and celebrate the beauty of this world!