Less than five minutes from my former home in Sedona's Village of Oak Creek, there's a medicine wheel of which few people are aware. That's because it's hidden in the high desert and concealed among cacti.
I became aware of this site during a magical mystery tour with LaLa and Emmy. During our outing, I also learned about a Native American practice involving circular patterns, cardinal directions, cyclical seasons and the rhythm of life.
LaLa navigated our way to the obscure site, which she previously visited with a hiker friend. The less-traveled path is accessed via a dry desert wash adjacent to a private residence. Hiking up the rocky trail, we passed fallen trees and prickly pear cactus that seemed to point the way. Once we found the site, sun rays beamed directly into the center of the medicine wheel.
To many Native Americans, the term "medicine" refers to forces of nature fused with our personal power for spiritual well being and healing — which starts from within and expands outwards. As I understand it, a medicine wheel is used for meditation, prayer, introspection, enlightenment, and healing. The wheel (also referred to as a circle of life) involves the Great Spirit and one's own spiritual universe. Some believe the wheel facilitates physical connection points with the spirit world, and creates a healing energy vortex that flows from the earth and spirals into the environment — benefiting every living thing.
Mirroring the shape of the moon and sun, the meaningful design of a medicine wheel incorporates ...
Emmy taught us that the medicine wheel involves a ceremonial ritual in which everyone participates. Empowered by her training in spirituality, shamanism and other woo-woo stuff (a phrase attributed to certain "spiritual" practices in Sedona), Emmy conducted our ceremony — maximizing potent precious rocks she brought with her, along with cornmeal and dried white sage.
I was aware of smudge sticks used in numerous Native American traditions to summon positive energy. Smoke from the burning smudge stick is believed to bless, cleanse, and heal the person or object being smudged. (I often used them to rid my home of negative energy when I lived two blocks from the U.S. Capitol.)
Before we stepped inside the medicine wheel, Emmy smudged LaLa. Working in a clockwise fashion, she “wanded” the burning sage while simultaneously "sweeping" the smoke — to drive out negative energy and summon positive influences. After Emmy repeated the ritual with me, I smudged her in turn.
Once purified, we approached a painted boulder designed as an altar, to offer our gifts before entering the circle. Chanting a blessing, Emmy sprinkled cornmeal onto the altar and then offered a rock as her gift. Following suit, I placed a freshly picked branch of lavender from my garden, along with an apricot from a neighbor's tree.
Stepping into the circle, Emmy perched on a rock, pulled out a couple of tuning forks, and began to meditate. Sitting cross-legged, LaLa meditated on the magnificent vista from this high desert hilltop. Awed by the beauty surrounding me, I turned my attention to artistically painted boulders arranged at cardinal points of the circle.
The unknown individual (or group?) who designed this medicine wheel is clearly passionate about nature and art. I was captivated by the boulder painted with a multi-colored tree of life. Within its center, there’s a double-triangle Star of David. Drawn at the base of the tree of life, Mother Earth stands her ground. Broader brushstrokes within the overall drawing depict forces of nature — among them, lightening bolts, snowflakes, rain, and a rolling river.
Shutterbugging as Lala and Emmy sat beneath a twisted juniper tree, I captured rainbows, sunbeams and orbs in my photographs, which we like to think indicates we summoned the great powers that be. Fusing these forces with our own energies, it was our intent to harness spiritual powers aligned with the natural order of nature.
After our ceremony as we trekked back down the wash, we built a cairn to express our gratitude. While gathering stones for the cairn, I found a fragile spiral amongst prickly pear cactus and glittery red rocks. Fittingly, I later affixed that spiral (with découpage) to the heart-shaped red rock that summoned me to Sedona.
To learn more about our ceremony, peruse my captioned photo-backstory about the medicine wheel in the Village of Oak Creek. ❤ v!ctor!a colette
6/16/2014 11:20:24 pm
Such a beautiful and spiritual connection to nature. I am drawn to water, and Oak Creek provided a purifying if chilly connection for me.
6/17/2014 07:46:05 am
Victoria, thank you for sharing this informative backstory and the wonderful pictures.
Patrick (aka Island Boy)
6/17/2014 09:33:55 am
Victoria, I loved your latest blog. The medicine wheel, the wonderful painted rock, the sage smudging ceremony, and of course Emily & LaLa.
6/17/2014 10:29:59 am
Wonderful and so inspiring. Thank you so much for helping us be AWARE.
6/17/2014 09:36:12 pm
I really enjoyed this blog post. It resonated with me as I had recently contacted a friend of mine, Lakota One Heart, with whom I've been out of touch for about a decade. I served as firetender for her sweat lodges in the past.
6/18/2014 07:48:04 pm
Hi V girl!
Happiness on the Rocks was inspired by a shift in perspective and relocation from America's capital city to Arizona's rocky deserts. Here, I muse about hiking on the rocks and road-tripping across the American Southwest while pondering the nature of existence. Surrounded by mountains and the world's largest concentration of Saguaro cactus, I feel happiness flow like a wash during monsoon season.
🌵 v!ctor!a colette #HappinessOnTheRocks
Please visit again for more journal content ;-)