In Europe during ancient times the Druid would slink out of her hut, adorned in her green tunic and boots made of animal hide. Beads would rustle around her neck as she slowly took careful steps towards the standing stones on the hill to the North. Fog clung faithfully to the wild grass like a lover. The Druid was a lover too. She was a lover of the tribe to which she belonged, a lover of the hallowed Earth that gave her food and remedies, and a lover of the animals whose totemic energy she drew from to heal those around her. She was a lover of all of the Sacredness around her. She had been put upon that land to be a compassionate healer, and she embraced her purpose with the fervor of a great oak for the first rains of winter. But, she did not simply come into this world equipped with all the gifts she needed–she had to develop them over time. The very first component being: Compassion for all living beings. This was learned within the Sacred Circle of Stones.
I received my first initiation regarding this information on Imbolc, February 1st, 2014. In my Shamanic studies I had learned of the need to obtain/create a Sacred Circle. As we in modern times don’t always have the ability to create a Circle of immense standing stones as they did in times past, I was instructed to gather up 9 Stones I could carry with me, representing the following:
1) (a large stone): To represent my connection to the center of all being.
2) (a medium stone): To represent the East, Goddess Brigid, Spring, Air, Flying Creatures, Thoughts & Inspiration.
3) (a medium stone): To represent the South, God Lugh, Summer, Fire, Reptiles, and Passion without Exception.
4) (a medium stone): To represent the West, God Manannan, Autumn, Water, Swimming Creatures, Love & Compassion
5) (a medium stone): To represent the North, Goddess Macha, Winter, Earth, Four-Leggeds and Insects, Grounding & Centering.
6) (a small stone): To represent Imbolc – the time of gestation and birth.
7) (a small stone): To represent Beltane – the time of childhood through being a teenager.
8) (a small stone): To represent Lughnasadh – the time of adulthood.
9) (a small stone): To represent Samhain – the time of the elder.
Although it made sense to me to create an area around me that exalted all of these energies, as I had been creating altars since I was a child–and understood the need to focus energy–I still wanted MORE. I still didn’t understand what the purpose of infusing all of these forces into these rocks was. And to be honest, I felt kind of silly caring a pile of rocks around. Being ever inquisitive, I wanted to know what I was supposed to DO from within these stones, and the book I read offered no answers. But, I knew I had to trust the process and that the answers would come. And when my studies told me to focus the power of Brigid’s Holy Day into rock #6, I did.
So, in the afternoon on February 1st, I gave offerings to Brigid for all she had given me and went on my way outside. The moment I stepped out of the old Tudor-style dorm on the top of Holy Hill in Berkeley, CA, upon the ground I collected a small bottle brush–glowing red like a giant flame had dripped from the otherworld, crystalizing as it splashed into our existence. At that point, unbeknownst to me, I began gathering the nest for my Imbolc Stone. I left an offering for the bottle brush (more on that in another post) and headed up the stairs to the quad. I nestled into my spot on the ground between two small spruce trees. Around me people were enjoying the afternoon sunlight. Some adults were chatting, children were stumbling around after a ball, dogs were playing; the sound of the city echoed up the hill, and planes floated above hurrying people from one space to another.
For a moment–after I had set up my Sacred Circle Stones around me–I closed my eyes and felt it all! That is when she came to me, my Inner Shaman, telling me to FEEL the innocence of all that was around me and to send it deep into that Imbolc stone. I picked the stone up off the ground and squeezed it in my hand, projecting the feeling brimming up inside me down my left arm and into my palm, allowing it to pool.
My Inner Shaman spoke to me in her revitalizing voice, saying, “This center point, after all, is the place you are going to learn about COMPASSION! By truly feeling, by bringing into your body, by learning to energetically inhabit these aspects of creation, you will have a deeper knowing of all of reality–developing true EMPATHY and the driving connection to help others. By feeling all of these spaces, times, directions and really knowing more about the world around you, you are creating a sacred place where you can: CONNECT, CREATE, SERVE, and HONOR!”
That was a true AH-HA moment for me! My purpose as a Shaman and how that would filter into my career as a Chaplain became clear. Shamans help people heal because they have developed true compassion and empathy. THAT is what I was supposed to do within these stones.
(NOTE: For all of you out there who would like some clarity on the definition of empathy, here is a cute little cartoon that explains it perfectly:
In Ann Ulanov’s article on, “Theology after Jung” (Journal of Jungian Theory & Practice, Vol. 8 No.1 2006, P 66-67) she states, “Jung’s focus on the image, at the personal, cultural, and archetypal levels, corresponds to the theological recognition that we need mediators between us and the Holy. Whether we choose a favorite saint, or sutra, or meditation practice, a relic, a guru, a piece of silk blessed by the Dalai Lama, as finite creatures we need concrete symbols to make a bridge to the infinite they convey.” This is what I am doing on a deeply theological level by using the Sacred Circle Stones as a path to Compassion. I am creating a concrete symbol in the physical realm to hold that energy for me. It is one thing to say, “I need to develop Compassion,” it is another thing completely to FEEL the great spaces, times, beings, and energies of creation on a regular basis–focused into Sacred Space–and create a place in my heart that connects me to all living beings.
So, this has become my Shamanic focus since February 1st. Every week I invoke the energies into my Circle and then I hold that Imbolc stone. FEELING the incubation of reality within me. Knowing that is is a part of the cycle of life. Knowing that all living beings experience it before they are born. Knowing that each time a person or creature has a thought, it triggers the gestation of a concept–eventually spilling forth into the creation of something outside of themselves. I breath in the sweet knowing of the Earth as it transitions from Winter to Spring, letting roots dive deep into my soul and find nourishment there.
And when the Wheel of Time shifts us into Spring I will hold that stone and inhabit those energies. And so on and so forth, until I make my way back around to this in-between time and it all starts again, developing Compassion as I go. That is why I have this Sacred Circle of Stones…and these are the lessons that I am learning.
All Love and Blessings to You,
Pamela Dawn, The Sacred Circle Shaman