Yesterday morning we joined our friend and colleague, Alicia Daniel, to build a medicine wheel and conduct ceremony. The occasion was the opening of the Full Circle Festival here in town. The conference is the first arts focused gathering locally to explore aging with grace and creativity.
Alicia has, over the years, been deeply committed to working with, and teaching, the medicine wheel. Several months ago the conference organizer invited her to open and close the conference. Alicia, in turn, asked Dee Brightstar and me to participate with her. I feel honored to be included.
This past week the snow melted, revealing a patch of ground at the site that had been chosen for the construction of the wheel. We were relieved! Early yesterday, we gathered, along with Jennie and Dee’s son, Peter, at the site and constructed the wheel. Dee’s daughter, Wendy, Peter, and Windy’s work colleagues created the eight poles. We are immensely grateful for their aid and support.
The Medicine Wheel is lovely and is easily seen from the main lobby of the building that holds most of the conference. Jennie came to help even though she had gotten home from India after midnight!
We opened the ceremony with drumming and smudging. Although the sky was mostly cloudy, there was a blue patch directly overhead. That bit of blue sky and the trees around the site seemed to awaken to the sound of the drums. We had the strong sense they were paying close attention.
Dee invoked the directions. We spoke to those gathered for ceremony about the role the Abenaki hold here, as protectors of the land and ancient ones. We also acknowledged the central task of the passing on of wisdom to the next generation, a recurring theme both in the conference and for those gathered. We also invited the participants to share something of their journey around the wheel. Although the temperature was only in the high thirties and everyone was cold, the mood of the group was buoyant and the sharing deep.
Dee closed the ceremony, then once again we drummed. As the drumming ended, the sun burst out from behind the clouds and filled the world with light! The Wheel remained open for the use of any festival attendee or passer.
This morning, in a cool female rain, we reawakened the Wheel. This evening we will return to close the Wheel and the festival. Following a brief concluding ceremony in which we will thank the spirits for their aid and guidance, and invite participants to share their journey through the weekend, we will dismantle the Medicine Wheel. It has been a good experience; we feel blessed to be invited to provide ceremony for the conference.