Everything’s a Circle

The Sacred Spiral – The spiral represents the universal pattern of growth and evolution. The spiral represents eternity and continuity. The spiral in nature appears frequently. It is a symbol that represents innocence, rebirth, and the eternal. The sacred spiral is also an energetic symbol, it represents energy. In fact, if you look at pure energy under a microscope you will see that energy forms spiral patterns.

Nature loves to make things round: planets, soap bubbles, oranges, eyeballs, the circular swirl of a spinning hurricane. A lot of forces are at play in favoring natural circles and spheres—the equalizing force of air pressure pushing out or gravity pulling in; the rotation of the Earth, creating vortices in air; the evolutionary imperative of efficient packaging.

WESTBROOK, ME – JANUARY 14: This 30-second exposure shows a circular ice floe spinning counter-clockwise in the Presumpscot River below Bridge Street, as viewed from a nearby parking garage. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)

The power of the round is in the news again, with the appearance of a massive, rotating ice disk in the Presumpscot River in Westbrook, Maine. The disk was first noticed on January 14, spinning in a lazy, counterclockwise direction. On social media, the ice circle was an instant sensation, alternately said to resemble a British crop circle or the mottled face of the moon—both fair descriptions. Either way, the Presumpscot ducks loved it, settling down for a slow-motion ride.

Ice circles are rare but hardly unheard of. What makes this one special is its size: 300 ft. in diameter, or 10 times bigger than the common 30-footers.

The circle has always been an important symbol to the Native American. It represents the sun, the moon, the cycles of the seasons, and the cycle of life to death to rebirth.

Represented by the circle is the Medicine Wheel, an ancient and powerful symbol of the never-ending cycle of life, used by Native Americans for various spiritual and ritual purposes.

Our fascination with the ‘Ice Circle in Maine’, speaks to an instinctive longing within humanity.  A longing to be filled with awe and wonder.  This phenomenon serves a spiritual purpose…putting  our lives in perspective.   A reminder that it isn’t all about us.

Rather, we are part of a universe that is awe-inspiring.  We have a place in a cosmology that is far bigger than us, than we can imagine.

Throughout time, such awareness, evoking humility, has spoken to the spiritual journey of countless people.  We’ve taken various paths but are fueled by a shared passion to connect to that which is greater than oneself.

The ancient prophet, Isaiah spoke to this journey:

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? Creator sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. The Holy stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.”  (Isaiah 40:21-22)

 

The labyrinth found in Christian cathedrals and forest glades, invites the traveler to walk the way of the circle and to be open to the blessings to be found.

It has been said, that ‘everything is a circle’.  If we allow ourselves to enter upon such a path, we may find ourselves returning to the Source of all that is good, lasting and true.

Outdoor Religion: Part One

The Latin for religion is re-ligio meaning to attach or re-attach. Our word ‘ligament’ is from this root. Religion in its myriad forms is intended to help us attach to a source which is greater than oneself. Since the beginning humans have collected stories that seek to describe our relationship to the mysteries of life. Rituals help us connect so that we might be transformed and transported.

In Celtic theology both pagan and Christian, there is the concept of the ‘thin place’. The Celts believe that there is a permeable membrane that separates the conscious world from the supernatural. Thin places are often found in nature where our senses are heightened. In nature we become aware of a different level of reality and are invited to consider our place within it. The island of Iona in Scotland for a thousand years has been a thin place for countless pilgrims.

photo Iona

Today many in our western culture are moving away from traditional forms of religion. A book called ‘The None Zone’ point to a trend particularly among the young, away from organized religions. Yet, the majority who say that they have no religious affiliation, consider themselves to be spiritual. By that, many refer to an openness to a source of wisdom greater than oneself. A presence that inspires and transforms.

Many whether they be religious or not, find spiritual meaning in nature. Mountains, rivers, deserts, forests, oceans, the night sky remind us that nature is complex, mysterious. Such complexity both humble us and inspire. The natural world calls us to look up and out and in so doing, to go within. Religions seek to guide us so as to tap more deeply and intentionally into this mystery that some call God/Creator/Sprit/Sacred Mystery/Other.

Mechtild of Magdeburg, the 12th century Christian mystic said: ‘The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.’ John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club put it this way: ‘I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.’

What helps you to attach or re-attach to that which you hold sacred? What rituals do you practice that help you go up and out and within?

A few days ago I went skiing at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire.

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The day was crystal clear, the temperature a bracing 10 degrees. For me it was a mystical place that blessed and transported me. Rather than simply observing I felt connected, attached to this beautiful and complex ecosystem to which we all belong. Perhaps this is what the mystics and monks of various religions aspire to, to feel apart of all that is.