Friday, August 16, 2013

Circles and Hoops of Willow

Earlier this week 5 of us from the Web PATH Center met on our front porch and created a willow goddess-green lady figure for our ritual use in the coming Full Moon. She is a table top version of the larger-than-life Goddesses in the Temple in Glastonbury. I have wanted to do this for years! Imagine how delighted I was.  We had no pattern nor directions, but followed our Web dictum, "Just do it!" Personally I think she is lovely.

As we sat there working with the green willow branches, drawing them into hoops as the wood gave us permission to bend and form it, one of us said "We are making ensos!" Galadriel is was right! As an alumni of Wicca IV she was there when we made and meditated on painted circles.  That enso lesson is repeated in my book Identity and the Quartered Circle (which you should read if you haven't already.) Here is an excerpt from Identity and the Quartered Circle that tells you what Galadriel meant.

Enso: The Japanese Word for Circle

The enso is a circle of enlightenment, the state of being we aspire to as apprentices and enter as adepts. That enlightenment of merger with the Gods and of our wise detachment is enhanced by meditation. When understood, the silence of the adept is seen as stillness. There is no love/hate, desire/lack, courage/fear. There is only the circle of life, the be-ing is us and Goddess. When we meditate on the enso, we peal back our illusions, even those about time and space. The Shin Jin Mei, written in the 6th century, refers to the Great Way of Zen as ‘a circle like vast space, lacking nothing, and nothing in excess.’
Our willow hoops spoke to us in the same way Zen circles do. Some were as symmetrical as we and the willow could make them. Others looped out in ovals or leaned a bit on one side. Each is a different kind of truth. They are all beautiful, green and wise. They smelled wonderful.
There are many different messages in a willow hoop, in a painted enso, or in a ritually cast circle.  

A mirror enso is a simple circle, free of any accompanying inscription, leaving everything to the insight of the viewer. It reflects truth to us according to what it is and who we are.

The universe enso is formed by nebula, clouds of energy and representations of the cosmos as enclosed curved space. We see them in photographs from the Hubble telescope. These enso are breath taking, larger than life and glorious. Their truth reminds us of who we are and how we are connected to the vastness of space.

A moon enso is found in any full moon representation, or in real time observation. The moon  reminds us of illumination and enlightenment, freely available to all beings.
A zero enso underscores nothingness. We see  the curvature of  time and space as ‘empty,’ yet we know All Being springs from nothingness. We learn the truth of how that is possible from the zero.

A wheel enso represents movement. Everything changes, all life revolves in circles as in the Tarot’s Wheel of Fortune. A wheel rolls and turns back to where it started in itself but in a different place. Paradox and truth sit in a wheel.

A sweet cake enso reminds us that truth is found in common objects. Round cakes illustrate the sphere of enlightenment as does eating them. We find truth in willow hoops.

The ‘What is this?’ enso includes this most frequently used inscription on Zen circle paintings. The inscription is a pithy way of saying, ‘Don’t let others fill your head with theories about Zen; discover the meaning for yourself!’

Circle-green.svgThe same can be said for our willow hoops and any sacred circle. Each person finds the meaning of the hoop. No one can explain it or teach it. The point is to pause and consider the willow hoop. Where does the endless circle woven around itself take you? 
For me, the hoop means completion, a dream realized, and the beginning of what's next. Making the hoop was a simple act, once I got the hang of it. Understanding it, well that is a matter of knowing what is true. Knowing is both simple and profound. What do you think a willow hoop means?