The nature of life changes greatly when we begin to walk a spiritual path. Many of us encounter times so challenging that we often doubt whether we are doing the right thing. One student recently asked if it was “okay to be falling apart every second day”. The truth is that this is very much a part of the path, which differs from a ‘normal’ life in just this way. A spiritually-led life is full of growth and change; unpredictable and often dramatic, but with one feature that underpins and supports the process; the circle.
The nature of the spiritual path is to live “in a circle” or as some would have it, a spiral. This is known as the ‘Medicine Wheel’ in shamanism and the ‘Wheel of the Year’ by the celtic and druidic traditions. It refers to spiritual work and inner transformation occurring alongside the turn of year and in tune with the seasons and directions, rather than in a straight line with a single goal or levels of attainment. With each cycle we find ourselves in a different place, both externally and internally, and can measure our progress through this means only. Continuous change is only the constant on the path, just as the annual and universal cycles are the constants of the earth. All experiences are part of this sacred cycle and it is impossible to go back, just as it is impossible for the seasons to reverse.
The first few cycles can be the most difficult, requiring trust in transformations and challenges without the presence of a pattern to understand them. When things get tough it can helpful to undertake a ceremony or rite of passage to acknowledge the change. With time this softens, and we can relax in our ability to constantly grow and deepen. A fundamental shift in consciousness takes place when we choose to see life as circular rather than linear; the modern idea of ‘progression’ from birth through education, work, child rearing, retirement, death and other cultural markers must be let go of. Linearity is the idea many of us are reared upon however humans have traditionally approached life in circles, and many believe a ‘linear view’ to be the cause of much strife and confusion in the modern world. Something magical happens when life is lived in each moment; in the cycle of each hour, of each day, each season and year. Transformation occurs through challenge, release, joy, sorrow and pain, and within the spiral gather skills and wisdom, along with spiritual strength and a deepening connection to the divine.
We originally grow by means of a spiral of energy in the womb and carry this capacity of movement with us for life. It is within the very structure of our DNA, reflecting the way we were born to live as part of the universe. Embracing life in a circle and climbing towards heaven, whilst simultaneously rooting and connecting with Mother Earth, the universe actually supports us in our natural path. And despite how it often feels, we are never alone.