By Kimberley - (U.S.A author)
As a little girl we only had two television channels at my house. The only one that came in with a clear picture was PBS, the learning channel. I remember catching a show on rock gardens and was completely enamored. My first rock garden was made on my tree-house. I remember lying in between all the stones that I had dragged up into my platform in the trees. I remember thinking about Stonehenge and Easter Island and how right I felt lying in my garden of rocks. I imagined a future garden full of stones and moss and knew that one day I would have such a garden.
Not long after I married and moved into my own home I became a student of Shamanism. I was learning about the Medicine Wheel, or Sacred Circle Tradition. I got a very nostalgic feeling when looking at the Wheel. It reminded me of the rock garden of my childhood. About a year into my learning I built my first tentative Wheel on the empty lot next to my house. I didn’t have enough stones to do much more than the Anchors and Clans and so I started collecting Stones every time I went out of town. I even recruited my friends and family to collect stones for me on their travels. It took two years, but I finally had enough stones to build an entire Wheel in my yard.
I had to take apart the Wheel on the lot next to mine when the property started being developed for a new home. At that same time MR, a friend and long time student of the Wheel, suggested that we each build an Integration Wheel. The idea was for us to not only learn the placement of each Stone, but also to ponder and absorb the meaning of each Stone on a personal level before placing the next Stone. In this way, by the time we finished the Wheel, we would each have a much deeper connection and understanding of the Medicine Wheel.
I was immediately enthralled with the project. I had an idea to create the Stone and Moss Wheel that I had been interested in planting for so long. I can’t say that I had a Vision of what it should look like as much as I knew what I would need to accomplish it. I required the ability to draw a circle, Edgers, Soil, Stones, Shade, Moss, Water, Time and Commitment.
We are taught by the Medicine Wheel so many things. One of those lessons is to let go of expectations. I had many expectations at the start of this Project. I expected that I would get a better understanding of the Medicine Wheel as well as myself. I expected it would take time and hard work to see this Dream through to the end. But honestly, the most magical things were the things that I didn’t expect. I didn’t expect to meet Guides, Totems and Gatekeepers along the way. I didn’t expect the changes that the Wheel would bring to my family, my friends, and my home.
The first step of building my Wheel was to lay out all my Stones by size, stack all my edger-bricks, and clear the area I wanted to place the Wheel in. I was momentarily stuck when I was trying to figure out how to make a perfect circle out of the bricks. I saw two pieces of broken bamboo nearby and it struck me: I would stick one stick firmly in the ground and use the other stick to measure out from the stick in the ground. If I placed a brick at each measurement while circling the Wheel the resulting shape would be a circle. As I did this I felt very connected to the Ancestors. Our Ancestors had to figure out how to solve their daily life problems with what they had at hand. It was so simple and stupid but in my own way I felt connected to the pyramid builders of the world. When I finished I stopped and looked around at my progress.
I remember busting out in giddy laughter when I realized that I somehow managed to sort all of my Stones into piles of seven. I thought, “Aha! Seven Clans! I must need to learn more about the Clans.” Synchronically, when it was time to place the Clan Stones, I found that they were huge! Compared to the Anchors they were only very slightly smaller. Also synchronically, both my husband and roommate began asking me questions about Clans. They wanted to hear examples of people we knew and what Clan they fit into. It got to be a game of sorts. I was placing everyone we knew into possible Clans… including famous people, people on the radio, family members etc.
When placing the Stones I found myself oftentimes making them stand in such a way that they were taller than wide. It felt very important for the Wheel to be three dimensional. I could almost see, in my mind’s eye, an egg of energy that grew both above and below the ground as I placed the Stones. At certain times it would feel like the energy was diminished and I would keep arranging the Stone until I could feel the energy grow and spread.
Gathering the moss for my Medicine Wheel became an adventure in and of itself. It was something I worked on in between placing Stones. All the moss at my work died after a hurricane flooded them with salt water last year. I had to find a new place to harvest moss. Since I live near a Maritime Forest (swamp) I figured I could find some pretty easily. As I hiked the woods I would contemplate the Stone I had just laid down. I would think about all the ways it fit into my life. I could see moss everywhere but it was all inaccessible… like in the middle of a pond. I was walking in a different part of the woods one day when I began to follow a Deer trail. I was descending the side of a tree-covered sand dune when I very nearly stepped onto a Lizard. We looked at each other for awhile and I decided to walk down into a valley behind him. It was covered in moss. Huge clumps of neon green moss. It was more than I would ever need. More than I could ever damage by harvesting.
Collecting moss continued like that. It soon became one of my favorite things to do. I had to walk 3.5 miles for every bag I collected. It took at least 8 bags of moss to complete the Wheel. Every time I went I would see a Totem/Gatekeeper. I had experiences with Deer, Turtles, Frogs, Butterflies, Hawk, Crow, and Bees etc. I got at least one tick bite every time. And although I have found other valleys with the exact same conditions, none of them have moss. There is no other valley like the one that the Deer and Lizard led me to.
In laying down the moss on the Wheel I noticed that I was planting it in a spiral pattern. Without putting thought behind it and just going with Intuition I started planting the moss in the East, following the perimeter of the Wheel. When I made a full circle and found myself back in the East I would start again. I made three circles around the Wheel before reaching the Center. And I realized that I may have been laying the Moss down following the Loops of Consciousness.
I also knew that I wanted to put a Birdbath in the center of the Wheel. Usually people put a bowl of water or a crystal in the center. And it occurred to me… I had a large geode half and bamboo. I made my own birdbath be making a teepee of sorts out of the bamboo and placing the geode, like a bowl, in the top. It added to the height and three dimensional feel of the Wheel Garden as well as adding both Crystal and Water to the Center of the Wheel. Its really important to me that the Wheel is a welcoming place to my neighbors in nature. I have already seen some evidence that the birds are making use of the bath.
Water is very expensive in my neighborhood. I noticed that the Wheel needed to be watered twice a day to keep the plants from dying. I prayed that rain would come and help me… otherwise the water bill was going to get very high come summer. Starting the next day it began to rain every afternoon. It carried on that way for about a week and people were really starting to complain about the weather. I smiled inwardly, gracious for the moisture. I began thinking about the Moon and Rain and how it would cleanse and charge my Stones. And then the Tropical Storm came. My entire yard was under 8 inches of water, including the Wheel Garden. People began to give me their condolences and I laughed… I knew that it would be fine the next day. Happier even. All the remnants of emotion left over from people who had gifted me Stones… everything was washed away and kissed by the Moon.
Since then I have been enjoying watching me Wheel evolve. I get a tremendous kick out of seeing my house-mates bring their friends out to see the Garden; hearing them explain how each stone means something. I saw my house-mates boyfriend reach down and pick up a Stone, unconsciously. He replaced it and I explained to him that he had just picked up the Stone of Clarity, an Element in the East. After the flood I noticed that I could no longer locate the Element of Strength in the West nor the Moon of Surrender. I’m still sitting with what that means in my life right now. Sometimes I go outside to find that moss has gone missing and I know a Squirrel or Bird has taken it for a nest. I like thinking about part of the Wheel being a bed for a newly born Squirrel or newly hatched chick. Even my husband, a self-admitted grump, contributes by watering and pulling weeds.
Lately I have been adding plants here and there. I placed a ceramic Fox I made in the Center, a Crow on the West Anchor, and an Angel on the Father Stone. I like to keep the Wheel well-fed. I nourish it as it nourishes myself, my family and my animal neighbors.
P.S. Thank you Kimberley for your story. I love it when people share their stories with the Wheel with ME (Lisa). Thank you for giving me permission to publish your story - on my blog. LISA.