by Selena Fox
With the resurgence of Nature religions and ecospiritualities in the late twentieth century, growing numbers of people are doing rituals and other spiritual practices in stone circles. Not only are ancient stone circles being reactivated, but new ones are being created.
During my Priestess life thus far, I have created and cared for a variety of sacred stone circles. The first was the Pentagram Circle Garden which I created in 1975 near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, USA on rented property we called Circle Farm #1, which served as Circle's first rural home through 1979. My next circle was a small one under a rock overhang on a cliff near Black Earth, Wisconsin, which, from 1980-1983, I primarily used for personal rituals. In the years that followed, I have helped create and bless other stone circles, large and small, in a variety of places in America and in other countries, including Scotland and Antigua. The largest and most well known of the sacred rings of stones I have helped birth is the Stone Circle on Circle Sanctuary land, begun in 1983.
Most of what I have learned about creating and working with stone circles has come from direct experience guided by intuitive connections with stones, sites, and spiritual wisdom. In addition to being sacred forms of environmental art, stone circles are focal points for connection with spiritual realms and forces. In this article, I give an overview of what I have come to know from doing this sacred work for more than twenty years.
- Intention & Plan. Before you begin, carefully consider the reason(s) for wanting to create a stone circle and what function(s) it is to serve. What types of rituals, meditations, and other spiritual activities will take place there? Who and how many will use it? Who will help create it? Who will maintain it? What is the anticipated lifespan of the circle? Meditate, consult your dreams, journal, and do other inner work to clarify intention and develop a plan for the creation and upkeep process.
- Site Selection & Design. Keep intention and plan in mind as you consider possible sites, and then develop the design for the site selected. Choose the site for the stone circle carefully. Commune with the spirit of place as part of this process. You might want to create a circle at a certain spot, but does that place, its history, and its present community of plants and creatures want you and your circle there? Also, who legally owns the property and what are the terms for using it as a circle site? Are stones for creating the circle available nearby? If privacy is desired, how secluded is the site? Do a sound check as well as a visibility check. What is the incline and texture of the proposed site terrain? Flat and either grassy or sandy are best if the circle is to be used for reclining meditations and dancing. Size is also an important factor to consider. If the circle is for on-going group work, it should not only be big enough to accommodate the present membership, but also have room to spare to allow for guests and future growth. If dancing and drumming are to be activities, the terrain should not only be flat, but the design should include a fire ring to serve as a focal point for dancing, as well as a place to tune drums. Once the site is selected and any necessary arrangements are finalized with the property owner, the circle design should take form in such a way that it harmonizes with natural features and the surrounding environment as a whole.
- Consecration & Construction. Before beginning construction, do an honoring of the spirit of place and ask its cooperation in the work. This can be done through meditation and/or divination. Do this at the center of the circle-to-be. Once contact is made and spiritual collaboration has been established, proceed with the consecration. Physically remove debris from the area, and then, using incense, a crystal wand, sound, and/or other ceremonial tools, clear away any unwanted spiritual energies, thoughtforms, and emotional influences resulting from past human activities and other factors. Begin at the center and spiral clockwise outward around the entire area for the circle as you do the consecration. Once this is completed, begin construction. One way to do this is to place a stake in the center of the circle. Attach a rope, the length of the radius of the circle, to the stake and, using a compass, place stones equidistant from the center at each of the four directions and then the midpoints between each. I prefer to work clockwise around the circle, beginning in the North. Construction may be done in phases or all at one time.
- Alignment & Activation. After the stones have been placed, align them with each other and with the spirit of place through ritual. One way to do this is to use toning in combination with imagery, such as visualizing a ring of light circling clockwise, connecting the stones with each other. Once this is done, dedicate and honor the circle as a sacred site and begin working with it. If a circle has cairns or standing stones as quarter markers, these can be worked with as portals for connecting with the sacred directions. Many circles also have a centrally located altar stone which is linked to the circle as a whole, as well as to the Divine as unity and/or in particular aspects.
- Development & Upkeep. Once the circle is created, it develops in power each time it is used. Treat the stone circle with respect and encourage others who visit and work with it to do the same. Keep the circle free of physical and psychic debris. At least once a year, adjust the positions of stones as necessary. Each time more stones are added or stones are repositioned, do another alignment. Should a time come when the circle is no longer to be used as a sacred site, do a thanksgiving, and then deactivate it. Stones may be left in place unless the circle is to be relocated, but any portals that have been in use should be closed and sealed. Let the circle sleep until the time it is to be reactivated. For stone circles that are intended to be long lasting, knowledge of circle protocols, history, and traditions should be passed on to succeeding generations. The new circles of today may endure to become the old circles of centuries yet to come.