Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Wheel of the Year & the Slinky of Spiritual Growth

The eight spokes on the Wheel of the Year are lovely waypoints for me to check in spiritually -- with myself, with my spiritual friends, with That-Which-Is.

How are things going?  What is happening in my spiritual life?  In all parts of my life?  What is happening in nature?  How is what's happening in my spiritual life connected with what's happening in nature?  (Is it?)  

A photograph of a painted Wheel of the Year from the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle
Used with permission. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wheel_of_the_Year.JPG

The spiral of the seasons -- a circle that never quite returns to the same place it was, but keeps progressing through time -- reflects for me the rhythms of life, and also provides a model for my spiritual life and spiritual growth.

Picture a slinky in your hands.  (If you have a real-life slinky, feel free to take an actual slinky in your hands!)

Is it a classic silver one, or perhaps one of the rainbow plastic ones?

classic silver slinky in arc shape
Used with permission.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2006-02-04_Metal_spiral.jpg

rainbow plastic slinky in arc shape
Used with permission.  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Slinky_rainbow.jpg

Take the slinky in one hand.  Take your other hand, grasp the top, and pull it up; stretch it out vertically, so it looks more like the path a spiral ramp or spiral staircase would take. 

Granville Road Spiral ramp footbridge
Used with permission.  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HK_TST_Urban_Council_Centenary_Garden_%E5%8A%A0%E9%80%A3%E5%A8%81%E8%80%81%E9%81%93_Granville_Road_Spiral_ramp_footbridge.JPG

Spiral staircase in Cologne Germany
Used with permission. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cologne_spiral_staircase.jpg

Imagine you are walking along that spiral.  As the spiral curves gently upward, imagine Spring Equinox; about an eighth of the way around, imagine Beltane; a quarter around, Litha; another eighth, Lammas; half-way around, Fall Equinox; another eighth, Samhain; three-quarters of the way around, Yule; another eighth, Brigid; and, as you reach the spot directly above where you started, Spring Equinox again. 

The repeated cycles of the Wheel of the Year travel in time along this vertical spiral.

At Spring Equinox each year, I might be at the same place on the spiral in one sense.  But I am at a completely different place in another sense.  Those two loops of the slinky, those two loops of the ramp, those two steps on the staircase, cannot occupy the same place at the same time.

As I have traveled the spiral, I have continued to travel in time -- and hopefully in other ways, too. I'm in a similar place, but it's not possible for me to be in the exact same place. 

How does your spiritual life resemble a spiral?

How is the image of a slinky, or a ramp, or a staircase, useful to you?  How does it help you? 


Hystery said...

The image of a spiral or a winding staircase is valuable to me. At this time, I am feeling present in multiple layers of time as I reflect upon the layers of birth, love, death, mourning, and memory that create my family.

Maggie said...

I appreciate the image of the spiral staircase. But my own spiritual path is more like what you would get if you held the slinky differently. Holding it fully compressed, pick it up and look through it, so that its central axis is horizontal, parallel with the ground.

Keeping it in this orientation, grasp just one of the rings by the 'top' curve and slowly raise it, stretching the slinky sideways to its central axis, but holding it so that the rings stretch away from each other vertically.

If I've been atall clear, you should be seeing a 'stack' of slightly intersecting, nearly perfect circles.

My spiritual life seems to travel a path like that: today's high is higher than any previous high; today's low is higher than any previous low. But sometimes today's low is much lower than yesterday's high.

It's also a bit like breathing. Sometimes I am full to the brim with spiritual energy, aware of Divinity speaking into me or to me or through me; other times I am barely aware that Divinity exists. But still I am more clear than I was last week or last year.