Building Medicine Wheels

Calling the Sacred Masculine
Building Medicine Wheels

RainbowHawk and WindEagle walked side by side down the narrow track which led from the village of the Shining Stones to the new Medicine Wheel. Twenty-eight of us walked in silence behind them. Our procession was overlooked by the black, flat-topped flint mesa “Cerro Pedernal” in northern New Mexico which Georgia O’Keeffe painted so many times. “God said I could have it if I painted it enough.” O’Keeffe said.

The silence enabled me to feel more fully the clear freshness of high desert in the early morning. The narrow track opened out to a wide flat circle delineated by sixteen standing stones set in pairs to denote the eight doorways of the Medicine Wheel. The stones were clean, the sand inside the wheel was flat and hard-packed. It had been recently swept, there were no footsteps in the sand. Here in the high desert of New Mexico was a natural altar like the Zen gardens of Kyoto.

In single file, we walked around the perimeter of the wheel until we formed a human circle under the eight different coloured flags fluttering in the light breeze.

“This is an ancient symbol of man’s relationship to the Universe” said RainbowHawk. “When the Sacred Humans moved from one place to another, they would build this symbol of remembrance, this reminder that we are all related, that we are all part of the oneness”

Bowing and saying “All my Relations” this little man with the huge fists of a featherweight boxer stepped into the wheel. He gave an offering of tobacco to the fire that burned brightly in the middle and then turned to look around the circle of us standing outside.

“Yet this wheel is more than a symbol, it is an energetic focus so that when Sacred Humans gather to connect to all their relations, the energy goes down into Grandmother Earth” and he crouched down with his palms on the earth, “and up to Grandfather Sky”. His hands met at his heart in the namaste position and then slowly moved up and opened above his head.

“It is a messenger to the Ancestor Spirits asking for their support. It is a lens in the way that it focuses the universal energy into the wheel. It is a portal, a gateway into the Delicate Lodge”

RainbowHawk and his soul twin, WindEagle had moved to this piece of desert in Hawk’s early eighties. They were still living in a trailer whilst their Hogan was being completed. But what was the first thing they had done when they arrived at this empty piece of desert overlooking a steep-sided ravine? It was to build a Medicine Wheel. These Medicine Teachers modeled what they talked about.

At this time, in the mid-noughties, I had been a student of Earth Wisdom for about ten years. I had co-founded a creativity consultancy in 2000 which was based on a practice we had developed that integrated earth wisdom and constellations with organisational development. Our work became increasingly successful and increasingly global because we were able to help people and organisations gain breakthrough insights that they could not access in other ways. The essence of this practice was to integrate the rational with the intuitive, the explicit with the implicate, the visible with the invisible. We used the medicine wheel as a way of helping people to navigate the unknown.

In 2008, my business partner Nick Udall and I published a book summarising the practice, “the Way of nowhere”. The book was based on eight questions one for each of the directions of the wheel.

Over the next couple of years, a few people from different places in the world wrote to us saying something like, “there is something about the practice you outline that really speaks to me but I don’t know why. I want to learn more about it and I want to experiment with it in my own life and work but I need more help to do so”.

In 2010, I did what I thought was a vision quest with RainbowHawk and WindEagle but which turned out to be a transition ceremony into the first phase of my elderhood. As a result of this, I resigned as MD of the consultancy and with some friends from the Ehama community, Michael Two Eyes, StarSong, and Prairie Dancer we designed and ran a developmental program based on the book. I ran these programs in Vienna, Shanghai, Bogata, Buenos Aries, and San Paulo and on our own land in the UK. Each program began with people building their own wheel which then became the ceremonial centre of the work.

In 2011, WindEagle and RainbowHawk visited us at our home in Derbyshire and we took them onto the land we had bought near our house.

“Should we build a Medicine Wheel here?” I asked.

“If you are going to use the wheel for Sacred Humans to meet in community then it is a Medicine Wheel, if not it is a pile of stones,” said RainbowHawk.

“Will you help us call in the energies, sing the songs and say the prayers?” I asked

“If you commit to it, we will help. But it is a commitment, we are not interested in helping you make a pile of stones”

Over the next year, we found the stones, transported them to the land, used fengshui to ascertain where to put them and stayed close to our teachers using their guidance in how to build it, where to place the crystals and what prayers to say in each direction. Hawk was giving us this guidance as he was preparing to pass on to the next round. Our first ceremony in the wheel at the land was a celebration of his life.

We, and the community that has gathered around this wheel, have held ceremony every Solstice and Equinox since then and hold annual medicine gatherings.

In each of the countries where we shared the Medicine based organisational practice small groups of practitioners began working together to apply the practice as leaders, change agents and consultants.

In Vienna, for example, we ran the program at a lovely hotel in the countryside. The owners, Josef and Ute, came on the program and asked if they could build a Medicine Wheel in the grounds of the hotel. We walked around the grounds together but we could not find a suitable place. We were just beginning to give up when Josef pointed to a woodland which was separated from the hotel by a field.

“We own that woodland too but we don’t use it” Josef said.

We walked across the field and into the woods. In the middle of the woods was a small clearing exactly the right size for a wheel. We all stopped, looked up at the clear sky framed by the trees in the clearing and knew it was the right place. They built a wheel there which has been used for ceremony ever since.

It was strange to be teaching a creativity practice based on the earth wisdom of the Native American to people in China. But what was even more strange was the enthusiasm and alacrity with which it was adopted. “Bah queue s” mandarin for the eight questions became the basis for the co-creative approaches which propelled Allibaba into the stratosphere.

We would give them the instructions on how to build a wheel and watch as some people vied with each other to lead the process whilst most others stepped back and waited to be told what to do. When the wheel was built we would teach them Tslagi (which they learned faster than any other country I have ever taught it) then we would ask them to reflect on the dynamics of leadership and followership in the building of it. You could see the lights of insight going on immediately and then they yearned for an alternative way based on interconnectedness.

One of our team in China, Ada, decided, with her husband Tony (many Chinese people have western names as well as their Chinese names) to build a retreat centre just outside Shanghai. We built a wheel there overlooking a lake. After a couple of years, Ada and Tony decided to step back from commercial work and devote themselves entirely to Tibetan Buddhism. I wonder if they still use the wheel, I hope so!

Over the last few years, we have been very influenced by the wisdom practices of Brazil particularly in the way that Brazilian people accept the disincarnate spirit world as an everyday living reality. Because of our friends Jose and Cristina, we have been shown how to connect directly to that world. So we now have channeled spirit guides who advise us what is wanted of us. We call them the NEDBODS – the Non-Executive Disembodied Board Of Directors!

But the learning has been two ways. As well as being leading constellations and business consultants in San Paulo, Jose and Cristina have a retreat centre in the countryside based on a 17th-century farmhouse. An ancient pilgrimage path goes through the land and when a pilgrim walks through the farm they ring a bell to tell the world, both seen and unseen, that they are on a sacred journey.

The retreat centre has an area devoted to the sacred symbols of different traditions: a small Catholic chapel, Gyan chauper, the original Hindu version of snakes and ladders, a labyrinth, and a Celtic stone circle.

Three years ago, we ran our current program, The Realms, at their retreat centre, built a wheel and showed Jose and Cristina how to use the wheel for ceremony. Like us on the land, they now use it to run the Realms program four times a year.

As I sit here writing about the wheels that we have built, I see them, I feel them, I recognize them as portals of energy. I honour the wheels in California and New Mexico where I first experienced the power of ceremony held in the sacred space of the Medicine Wheel.

I see and feel the energy of the wheels I have built around the world and the Sacred Humans who practice there. We are interconnected with All our Relations. 

I’m left with the question…

How can we connect these portals to build the quality of consciousness that we need at this time?

Nic Turner (a.k.a CrowCrown Rabbit) has developed a personal and organisational transformation process that has influenced some of the world’s leading Creativity Consultancies:

Fieldwork (UK),
nowhere (UK),
Dwarves and Giants (Austria),
P2 (China),
Corall (Brazil).

OD Director of the Boots Group, Co-founder of nowhere and Fieldwork, author, therapist, speaker, facilitator, he has worked with some of the world’s most influential and transformative leaders.

He has been harnessing the power of ceremonies of transition for thirty years with individuals, organisations, communities and governments.

He is happy to receive emails at: nic@knowingfieldwork.com