Meditation on the Medicine Wheel: Prayers on the Sacred Circle

By Max Klinkenborg

Like the labyrinth, the most dominant geometric shape of the Sacred Circle is the circle.

“The circle acknowledges the connectedness of everything in life, such as the four seasons, the four stages of life and the four winds, and it represents the continuous cycle and relationship of the seen and the unseen, the physical and spiritual, birth and death and the daily sunrise and sunset.” —Kelly Beraulieu, an Ojibway woman.

As opposed to the linear view of life where we go from A to B to C, the circle goes from A to A; every beginning is an ending, and every ending is a beginning. The more we are in harmony with nature, the more aware we are of the cycles of life.

The second dominant geometric pattern that you see on the Sacred Circle is the two lines that bisect the circle and are at a right angle to each other. They are placed so that one is on a north-south axis and the other is on an east-west axis. The Sacred Circle is a giant compass that points to sunrise and sunset each day. Below the circle is Mother Earth and above is Father Sky; the Great Spirit is at the center where the axes cross. It is marked by a green rock that symbolizes the Spirit of Life.

The third pattern is the four quadrants of the circle that are created by the two bisecting lines. Each quadrant represents a season of the year: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. It also marks the four stages of life: childhood, youth, adult and elder. And it marks the four times of the day: sunrise, midday, sunset and midnight.

To use the Sacred Circle for Meditation and Prayer, one can move from quadrant to quadrant, beginning at the southeast quadrant for birth and move counterclockwise, praying for friends or family members at each stage of life from childhood, to youth, to adulthood and, finally, elder. One could also think about their own life at each stage and the people who were their spiritual teachers or mentors, praying for them, their memory and influence on our growth.

Focusing on the seasons of the year, one could move around the circle thanking God for the beauty of Spring flowers, the growth of plants in the Summer, the harvest of Fall and the earth resting in Winter.

Or one could mark the four times of day with a prayer of thanksgiving for the beauty of each time: the promise of sunrise, the labor of a midday sun, the beauty of a sunset, and the quiet and serenity of midnight.

There are limitless possibilities for using the Sacred Circle as a source of meditation and prayer. Everyone can make it fit their orientation to life and their appreciation of nature.