Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Wreath of Stones

Wreaths, stone circles and sheepfolds. What do they have in common? This holiday season, if there is a 'holy-day' presence to be discovered, I would suggest that is all wrapped up in 'rings'.

Consider the circular configuration known as Stonehenge. Overlooking the Plains of Salisbury like some monumental ornament, on this day the huge stones align our attention to the moment of the earth's orbit when the sun reaches the critical angle marking the winter solstice.

For years it has stood there as a reminder of the cycle of life, and a signal to the start of each new year. The standing stones of many other ancient circular structures have the same function. Their 'rings' tell a timeless story.  We earth dwellers come and go. Those of us going round on this tiny globe realize once more the timeless potential for love, hope and peace, as we align ourselves with that story. 

Is it that strange that these stone circles have such a 'ring of truth' about them?  Do they not all echo the same circular shaped message of unity and completion? Gradually the megalithic theme is developed through other configurations as it echos down through history in a variety of circular reminders . Our lives are encircled by wreaths signalling the celebration of life and creativity. Like children around the maypole, all our lives move in circles - family circles - social circles - musical, dancing, festive circles - calendar cycles - decorative, spiraling motifs, every one of them. All of this is alluded to in the ornamental loops of Christmas garlands and balls we decorate with. 

From before birth, to our departure from this mortal coil, we are enclosed in a protective circle.

Here we are, metaphorically speaking, huddled in a circle around the camp fire, drawing circles in the dirt with our sticks and making glowing circles in the night sky with our fiery brands. We look up to see the familiar round shapes of the moon (and the sun) as they cross the vault of heaven, and we celebrate the circle.

As in olden times, and still to this day, Shepherds enclose their flock within round walls of stone to protect them from harm each night. As one approaches such an enclosure of stones, stacked in a free-standing circular configuration, there is, for those who enter in, a reaffirming sense of place and purpose amidst the wreath of stones.