All sacred circles put you “betwixt and between”, the make you feel alone but vulnerable to the eyes that watch. From where? Deep in the trees. From the sky above. From earlier ages. Stepping into any circle’s centre – whether of trees or standing stones – is to make yourself at once vulnerable to the expensiveness of the universe and, at the same time, to experience the encompassing, embracing wholeness that surrounds you. It turns you around. You feel like you are neither here nor there. It can make you dizzy.
(Tom Cowen, 2003, Yearning for the Wind)
Natural circles have never felt particularly protective or safe to me. They dizzy me. They are funnels. They expose me to all the world. I can feel drunk in a circle, drunk on the ‘expansiveness’ that Cowen describes. There is no place to hide. The sky comes down. The earth rises up. The boundaries retract and then close in again. The experience can be exhilarating, liberating or even frightening. The heightened awareness makes it impossible to feel completely relaxed. I am standing on the centre stage, I am the axis mundi, fully exposed, And I am always aware of the boundaries of the circle, wondering what may lie beyond them. How can I possibly relax here. How could I be safe.
Circles do not offer me protection.
They do not shield me from harm
Neither does my religion.
But they do offer other things.