Friday, September 30, 2011

The Medicine Wheel

We took Medicine Wheel Passage (US-14A) eastward from Lovell, Wyoming, toward Sheridan. When we saw the sign that pointed to Medicine Wheel National Historic Site atop the Bighorn Mountains, I told Jim and Gloria what I had read about the rock formation. It is a wheel-shaped structure made of stones. Measuring 80 feet in diameter, the wheel has 28 spokes. It is assumed to have been constructed by indigenous peoples of North America for astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes. I had it on my bucket list but I didn’t think there would be enough time to stop on this trip so it was not on “The Plan.” Gloria said she would like to see it. Jim turned onto the unpaved road and drove the three miles to the parking lot.

There was a gate across the road leading to the site so Daddy was going to wait in the car while we walked the rest of the way. We met a couple on their way back and we asked them how far it was. They told us it was about 1½ miles. Gloria and I knew we couldn’t walk that far. The couple suggested we open the gate and drive on out. They said persons with a handicap were allowed to take their vehicles to the site. I walked to the gate as Jim brought the car around. I ducked under the telephone pole-sized gate to get to the other side and released the hasp. The log was so heavy and it swung open with such force that I barely had time to get out of the way. Jim drove through and, with a struggle, I closed the gate and got in the car.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t going to enjoy this ride. The road was wide enough to pass a pedestrian but probably not another car, there was no guard rail or shoulder, and it was on the side of a mountain. I said, “Jimmy! I don’t know about this!” He asked, “Do you want me to back down?” I looked behind us at the narrow dirt road. I told him to keep going. I turned my head toward the bank on the left.

We finally reached the Medicine Wheel and Jim got the car turned and parked. He, Gloria, and I walked over to the rock formation which was enclosed by posts and rope. We walked around the circle to the left, as the sign instructed, so we wouldn’t disrupt any karma. We wondered what ceremonies might have been performed here by ancient peoples. Other visitors had left mementos, such as scarves, beadwork, and amulets, on the rope. As a show of respect, I sometimes place trinkets at places I visit so I decided to leave something here as well. Remembering that I had broken the charm off my bracelet the day before, I went to the car and retrieved the chain. I squatted down to wrap the bracelet around the rope and fasten it. Jim said he felt he should say something and began chanting, “Mekka lekka hi mekka hiney ho.”

Gloria said she was going to pray for me because I was dabbling in spiritism. She said, “Jehovah God, forgive her because she knows not what she does.” At that very moment, a great wind blew from the north, pushing me off balance, and I fell flat on my behind. I was startled and embarrassed at first, but when I realized I couldn’t get up, I started laughing. Jim and Gloria stood there laughing at me until Jim finally felt sorry for me and helped me to my feet. Gloria said she was glad to see me get my comeuppance. Was I being punished for “dabbling in spiritism” or for leaving a broken bracelet at this sacred site?

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