A healing circle provides an excellent focus for healing practices. Healing circles have been used since ancient times by many cultures throughout history and are known by many names. Native American tribes use medicine wheels (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIGrFHy463g); the Celtic stone circles were thought to be used as temples, calendars, or even astronomical observatories; and the Chinese used the Element Wheel. Although each has its nuanced meanings, each culture honored the 4 directions and the natural rhythms of nature through these circles. (Video on Setting Up Your Healing Circle.)
What is the significance of healing circles?
Healing circles are based on observations of the rhythm of life. Much of Nature expresses itself in circular patterns. This can be seen in something as small and simple as a bird’s nest as well as in things much greater such as the cycle of the seasons or the cycle of life (birth, death, rebirth). To Native American peoples, the circle or wheel represents Wakan-Tanka (“the Great Everything” or Universe) and also one’s own personal space or personal universe.
For our community, healing circles will provide a tangible and deliberate focal point for our reflections and following the rhythms of the seasons.
What is Healing or Medicine?
Healing or medicine in regards to healing circles refers to the vital power or force that is inherent in Nature itself, and to the personal power within oneself which can enable one to remember one’s wholeness or completeness.
What is a healing circle and what can it be used for?
The healing circle is many things on many various levels and has many different meanings and uses. It is a circle which represents natural and personal powers in complete balance, and which shows that everything is interconnected and part of one whole. It is the circle of awareness of the individual self, and a circle of knowledge that gives one power over one’s life. It is a map, or philosophical system, that can be used as a guide to help us find our way and ground us when we embark on inner journeys. We can use it to understand ourselves as well as life itself. It can be used for finding direction in life and for aligning physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realities. We can use it to attune ourselves to Earth influences and forces and to the natural energies that affect our lives.
A healing circle can be used:
- as a sacred space
- as an aid to meditation
- as an altar
- as a centering device for one’s consciousness
- as a protector
- as a framework in which to honor the forces of Nature and the levels of being.
Each direction on the circle constitutes a path of self-realization and self-initiation into the mysteries of life, which can lead you to the very core of your being where you can make contact with your own High Self (your Spiritual Self or True Self). Each path can help you to acquire the knowledge to work changes that will put meaning and purpose into your life. Each of the four directions has many natural forces or powers that it is connected to, such as the four seasons, the four moon phases, the four life stages, the four kingdoms, the four planes of existence, just to name a few. Every culture gives different meanings to each direction, including color, elements, and qualities. You are welcome to choose your own meanings, develop your own, or use the ones suggested below. In the practices that I share with you each week, I will be using the following:
the center, the unique, true nature held between earth and spirit
|Animal||songbirds or eagle||wolf||bear||owl||Butterfly or Personal totem|
|Gemstone||citrine||carnelian||lapis lazuli ||malachite||quartz crystal points|
|Life Stages||Birth and hopeful childhood years||Dynamic young-adult years||Insightful mid-life years||Wise senior years||True nature, inner wisdom|
|Qualities||Renewal, awakening, beginnings, yellow light of love, energy, consciousness, healing breath of life||Transformation, healing power of fire and the sun, strength, purpose, creativity, community, friendship, sensuality, passion||Healing power of water, change, |
reflection, introspection, forgiveness, letting go, surrender, silence, stillness, peace, power, dying, flow
|Oneness of us all, rest, restoration, clarity, focus, wisdom, knowledge, healing power of mother earth, spaciousness, compassion, mystery, majesty, magic||Uniqueness of being,
Connection between earth and spirit, protection, health,
How to make a healing circle:
The healing circle can be of any size. Outdoor healing circles can be made large enough for a group of people to sit within it. It can be made much smaller so that only you can sit within it. Or it can be made in a small travel-size which you sit outside of and that can be taken anywhere and set up anywhere.
At its most basic, the healing circle consists of a large or special center stone and four smaller stones to represent the cardinal directions (N, S, E, W). Sometimes four even smaller stones representing the ordinal directions (NE, SE, SW, NW) are also used.
First, you need to decide which stones you wish to work with. Very large outdoor healing circles usually are made of big rocks of whatever kind that can be found in the area.
I chose to have my healing circle outside. It is on the hill above my home and is about 5 feet across. I started it by placing a simple stone in each of the 4 cardinal directions. You may want to create a small, portable circle. We offer a variety of stones to support you in creating your portable healing circle including smooth, unique river polished stones and to semi-precious stones.
Making your personal healing circle
For the small portable healing circle that we will be building, we recommend using semi-precious stones. (link to product) Each of these stones has specific properties that support the qualities of the direction for which they are suggested.
For semi-precious gems, I recommend using:
East: Citrine – yellow-golden-brown. The dynamic expression of this quartz supports us in our spiritual meditation and everyday life. Citrine’s purpose is to manifest the golden life force into the physical plane. It is also knows for its psychic powers.
South: Carnelian – red-orange, Fire element. Know for protection, physical strength, courage and will power, promoting peace and harmony and dispels depression.
West: Lapis Lazuli – royal blue with flecks of golden pyrite, element of water, Venus, reflecting peaceful vibrations, promotion psychic and intuitive awareness. Used in healing rituals, knows for its protective properties.
North: Malachite – a beautiful green stone with band of varying hues related to the earth element, promoting peace, grounding and centering. Good for business and stability, protection and power.
Center and Ordinal Directions: Quartz Crystal points – protective and receptive energies. Elements are fire and water. Planets are Moon and Sun. Powers are healing, power and protection, Used in ceremonies, meditation, to stimulate psychic awareness. Crystals are thought to amplify magic.
All crystal points, except for the center point, should be placed with their points pointing outwards, away from the center stone which should be pointing upwards.
Another option is to use smooth, naturally polished river or beach stones for each direction. (link to product)
Setting up a healing circle:
To set up your Circle, in addition to your stones, you will also need to have a cloth of natural fibers (silk, cotton, etc.), and a compass. You should choose a quiet space in which to work with your healing circle. You may also wish to light candles, burn incense, or play soft music while you do your work.
- After you have gathered your materials and chosen which stones you wish to work with, the first step in setting up a healing circle is to spread the cloth over your work surface.
- Next, place the center stone in the middle of the cloth.
- Your circle should be set up in proper alignment with the Earth. Using a compass, place the cardinal direction stones in their proper places around the center stone about 6 inches away from it. Place them in this order: East, South, West, North. If a compass is not readily available, determine where the Sun rises and sets and this will give you an approximation of where east and west are.
- Orienting your circle in alignment with the Earth will most likely cause your circle to be in misalignment with your work space, meaning your north stone will not be positioned at the ”top” of the circle, but rather in the North. If you wish to face the circle so that the north stone is at the top, south is at the bottom, and the east and west stones are on the right and left respectively, then change where you are sitting. Sit facing North with the south stone directly in front of you.
- If you wish to also use ordinal stones, use the compass to place them in their proper places on the healing circle, or simply place them about halfway in between each of the cardinal directions. Place them in this order: south-east, south-west, north-west, north-east.
You may also choose to place on the healing circle other items representing different aspects of each direction. For example, you may wish to place items on your healing circle to represent each of the Elements – a burning smudge stick (link to product) or incense or a feather by the east stone to represent Air, a lit candle next to the south stone to represent Fire, a small glass or ceramic bowl of water in the west to represent Water, a small glass or ceramic bowl filled with soil by the north stone to represent Earth, and a large white candle in the center of the Circle to represent spirit and true nature.
Let your intuition guide you as you create your personal healing circle. The above are suggestions, but you are invited to use the stones and symbols to which you are drawn.