Lines and Circles – A Meditation in Words (4) in the Circle of Stones Series
Circles are ancient symbols of sacred wholeness used across human cultures: standing stones, beehive cells, labyrinths, rose windows, chalices, mandalas, even the wedding ring…each is based on the circle.
Circles are the central forms of our world, the sun and moon and stars, the seed, the stone. The egg from which we were formed, the cells which divided and redivided to make our physical being, the cervix through which we emerged, the vagina which birthed us, the eye that first saw us, the mouth which kissed us.
“The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and so on throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.” Emerson
Circles are the movement of nature, our spinning planet and eliptical orbits. The cycle of life and death. Our cycles of fertility, the seasons, night and day, the unending round of lightness and darkness, endlessly moving, changing and flowing in the great dance of creation.
Many traditional and tribal cultures hold community meetings or celebrations in circles. Quakers worship in the round. American Indians passed the talking stick around their council of elders. Circle dances: the circling hips of a bellydancer, the maypoles of England speak of the associations of the circle with fertility. The ancients in Britain and Ireland built circles of standing stones to mark sacred ground on which people would gather to celebrate the seasonal changes.
We are beginning to recognise circles for their crucial community building potential, for their inclusivity and non-hierarchical nature. New national and international assemblies are designed in the round, rather than the traditional form of two opposing lines of benches. Women’s groups always meet in a circle. Therapy groups meet in them. In a circle we encounter each other as equals.
Both circles and lines are important, for with these two forms we can weave complex webs, solid structures. Respecting both the linear yang and the circling yin are central to balance and health: for us as invidividuals, our culture and environment.