“This essay is a story of longing. In my reflections on the MA Creative Project, both process and outcome, I have seen the story emerge from the shadows. It has been there for most of my life, but the telos of the narrative has become much clearer through engaging wholeheartedly with the project. During that time I have felt inspired, frustrated, ecstatic, liberated, stuck, maddened and ultimately touched by something sacred that is at once very ancient and experienced as new. At the beginning of December I wrote to a friend that ‘my project has fallen off the cliff of sanity and is so deep in my heart and soul that I have no idea how to explain any of it”.
With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. (Eliot, 1969: 197)
The Medicine Wheel
The medicine wheel is both a physical thing and a complex metaphor for the cosmos and the human experience within it. There is a 5,000-year-old stone wheel in Canada, almost certainly created for ceremonial and ritual use; the indigenous peoples of the Americas also used it to transmit sacred teachings which guided individuals and the community. This essay, and my story, is not an academic critique of the concept, nor a ‘lesson’ in the teachings of the medicine wheel. However, in order to locate it in my narrative and talk about its impact, I must describe it briefly, based on what I learned in my mid thirties.
The wheel represents seven directions: four cardinal (East, South, West, North) and Above, Below, Within. There are many intermediate directions; for simplicity however, and because I am not an adept, I chose to limit myself to five for the project – the cardinal directions and Within, which I have called the Sacred Centre. Understanding the four directions, and living them, brings a person or a community to a state of balance where they can experience, rather than just think of, themselves as part of the sacred whole.