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Sacred Sites: Circle Sanctuary's Stone Circle

by Selena Fox

The Stone Circle is the best known and one of the most frequented of the ritual sites at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, which is located 13 miles west of Mount Horeb in southwestern Wisconsin, USA. The Stone Circle is atop a naturally occurring sacred mound known today as Ritual Mound.

I first journeyed to the place that was later to be the site for the Stone Circle during the Summer of 1983 as part of my explorations of the property prior to purchase. Sensing an energy vortex, I climbed the mound and discovered a naturally occurring grassy circle space that was in the center of a grove of Oak and Birch trees. Immediately upon discovering this wonderful place, I knew it would be a great site for the Stone Circle we had planned to create on Circle land. Others that accompanied me to this spot that afternoon agreed.

The first Shamanic Wiccan ritual done at this site occurred on Halloween night in 1983, just prior to Circle's signing of purchase papers for the land. I did a Samhain rite there with Jim Alan, who was my spiritual partner at the time. It was during this rite that we discovered that this circle area was a gateway to the Spirit world and to the realm of Faery. As we held up the Samhain offerings we had brought, a radiant white ball of light appeared in the darkness in the North. In our meditation that followed, we strongly connected with the Spirit of the land. We knew it was right to proceed with the land purchase, as well as to create a Stone Circle at this place.

Construction of the Stone Circle began at Yule 1983. Eight of us (Dennis, Beket, Jim, Jeff, Axis and Starfire and their young son Little Hawk, and I) carried rocks and trekked to the circle area through more than a foot of snow in below zero Fahrenheit cold. In the center of the circle, we placed our large altar stone, which had been at the center of Circle's first stone circle near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Then we placed smaller stones next to it to form a fire ring. We lit a small Solar fire there to celebrate Winter Solstice and this group ritual space.

At Spring Equinox 1984, a much larger group joined together for ritual at the Stone Circle. We brought and placed stones of various shapes and sizes to form cairns at each of the four sacred directions. More stones were added to these cairns during rituals that Summer. At Fall Equinox 1984, we expanded the circle in order to accommodate the growing number of people taking part in rituals. We moved each of the quarter cairns several feet outward, began forming the stone ring connecting these quarters, and did a realignment ritual. Just prior to Yule 1985, a small group of us dedicated the Stone Circle to Mother Earth as a planetary healing place.

We usually work with seven directions in our Community rituals at the Stone Circle, beginning in the North and honoring the spiritual forces we associate with the directions. Our directional associations are: North=Earth; East=Air; South=Fire; West=Water; Center Above=Cosmos; Center Below=Planet; Center=Spirit. We make a distinction between the Element Earth, which we call in the North and associate with soil, rocks, and the physical realm, and Planet Earth, which we call in the Center and associate with the biosphere containing all the Elements.

Over the years, numerous group and individual rituals have been held in the Stone Circle. In addition to Sabbat and Moon ceremonies, there have been rites of passage, including weddings, baby blessings, and memorial services. My husband, Dennis Carpenter, and I had our legal handfasting there on June 7, 1986. Each year, Circle's public Earth Day ritual is held at the Stone Circle. It has also been the site of individual and small group quests and vigils.

The Stone Circle is open for visitation by participants in festivals and other events at Circle Sanctuary land. Except for our annual Earth Day and Fall Equinox celebrations, most rituals, meditations, and other spiritual activities at the Stone Circle and Circle Sanctuary land are closed to the media. However, in the few cases where we have permitted media with advance arrangements, coverage has been accurate and positive. The Stone Circle, the most public of our ritual sites, has been featured in several documentary films, magazines, newspapers, books, and on television. From time to time, some university professors and Sunday School teachers have arranged field trips here and brought classes of students to the Stone Circle as part of multicultural and interfaith learning experiences.

Over the years, our ring of stones has continued to grow. The Stone Circle is now comprised of several thousand rocks, pebbles, boulders, and crystals from all over the world. Some of these have come from contemporary and ancient sacred areas. The Stone Circle also includes a variety of small objects, such as amulets, coins, shells, fossils, feathers, and beads left as offerings. Some of its more unique items include some copper from the Statue of Liberty obtained during its restoration, a piece of the Berlin wall obtained during its dismantling, and a pottery chard from ancient Crete. Stones are added to the Stone Circle at most group rituals. Each stone or offering item is placed with a prayer or wish for well-being for the planet. Individuals also make additions as part of individual meditations and rites.

Contributions of rocks, stones, and crystals for the Stone Circle are welcome. Stones can be any size. Mail stones to us at Circle or place them there yourself during a visit at one of our events (see the gatherings page in issues of this magazine for dates). Send stones to: Stone Circle, Circle Sanctuary, P.O.Box 9, Barneveld, WI 53507 USA.

Selena Fox is High Priestess and founder of Circle Sanctuary.