In magick the circle has been generally accepted as being the universal symbol of protection, in ritual work it should not be seen as being a two dimensional disc but rather as a sphere of energy that totally encompasses the practitioner. This sacred space can then be safely utilized as a portal between our world and the mysterious other worldly realms of the gods.
The worship of gods and idols has been well documented throughout history and is evident within the belief structure of nearly every culture, but if asked the question, “From where and why did the pantheon of familiar idolized gods we know so well today arise?” most would be lost towards proposing a plausible answer, in fact I myself have been involved in many such empty ended raucous debates.Then several months ago whilst I was having an in depth chat on the subject of ritual healing, a chance remark by one of the people involved opened up a new avenue of thinking that may perhaps go a long way towards revealing the truth of the matter.
Before I discuss the implications of this chance remark we firstly need to look a little deeper into the reason it was mentioned. Many of you may be familiar with the techniques that are traditionally used in the practise of spiritual healing, or more to that, the methods that are employed by a healing circle. But for the benefit of those of you who aren’t I’ll briefly outline the ritual work that often tends to be involved.
A healing circle is usually created with everyone involved holding hands either in a seated or standing position; the ritual itself may involve a vibrational chant or be carried out in complete silence. If it is aimed towards the healing of a particular individual they are then mentioned as well as the intent of the healing ritual.
As the circle steadily raises the level of its vital energy, that energy is then circulated and condensed as it passes from one to person to another along the chain. As the energy builds it can be visualized as a cone of power that is ever increasing in intensity.
At the crucial moment the hands are slowly raised and the energy is released, but rather than each individual releasing their own share of the energy, it is focused towards one person who has been chosen to be the head of the circle, thus amplifying the effect several fold.
Although many see healing circles as being quite a modern affair, it is my belief that this system of working is, in fact, based on a very ancient activity, and that humanities obsession in creation of circular ritual structures such as the well-known megalithic stone circles or ancient temples such as Gobekli Tepe in Turkey were in fact an attempt to not only mark out the boundaries of a sacred space, but also to contain and direct the energy and sound of these ritualistic gatherings or even store it, for a long while I’ve suspected that many of the stone circles were specifically created as vibrational auditoriums, newly published scientific research has confirmed this to be the case. There is some evidence that the stone circles were a later addition to earlier ones that were created from tree trunks, the larger ones either being utilized for larger gatherings or perhaps became symbolic temples to this activity.
Going back to the revealing conversation that I had with the spiritual healer, I was asking how their group had chosen which person was going to release the energy. She replied that only someone the entire group completely trusted without question would ever be allowed to do this as unscrupulous individuals have been known to absorb the energy for their own benefit.
And it was this very point that got me thinking. In prehistory the village shaman or spiritual leader would naturally be the person that would direct the energy raised in a ritual. Perhaps there came a time where he or she was no longer trusted to be doing the work for the true benefit of the community, or commune with their gods. This could be down to something as simple as the shaman retaining his or her health whist the rest of the community fell foul to illness.
Amongst the first “Gods” to be worshipped were the sun, moon and the elementals, in fact some people have suggested that circle building was basically no more than a representation of the sun, then a little later along the line, some kind of spiritual evolution took place, and although the sun and the elementals were still worshipped by many cultures they were then joined by a myriad of new exotic deities.
Those of us that have bravely ventured into the realms of the unspeakable, whether that be via meditation or techniques such as self-induced trances, tend to agree that many of these idols may actually be representations of the kind of sentient beings that they have encountered; and that the freakish appearance of some deities may be down to the possibility of them being ascended spiritual creatures from other parts of our universe or even other dimensional existences. After all, taking into consideration the vastness of the known universe the likelihood is that it is teaming with life, it would therefore stand to reason that other intelligent life forms may have also followed a spiritual path and perhaps even evolved beyond the constraints of physical life.
As to many of the other idols, if communities had in fact started to distrust their shaman or holy leader in the matter of communing with their chosen deities, what actually may have occurred is that they simply decided to remove all sense of doubt by taking them out of the equation and replacing either them or their god with a representative idol.
If this was the case and idolization did take place in this way it would make perfect sense, everyone in the community would have now had their own personal access towards direct contact with their chosen god, even a gathering could direct their energy via the idolized shaman or deity without worrying that it was somehow being misused or misdirected.As time progressed the idols would have slowly evolved from these first simple representations towards the more complex and familiar examples we know from prehistory onwards.
Whilst researching this theory it first appeared that it would be almost impossible to find any evidence as there are next to no Stone Age records to work with, and then a friend suggested that I should perhaps look towards pre-Colombian America for clues as their Stone Age development continued into relatively modern times.
Ancient stone circles can still found today in several South American countries such as Chile. As these cultures tended to make endless ritual items there was more than plenty to research. Two images appeared to stand out as possibly being examples of ritual circle work. The first was a set of small jade figures that are known as “The circle of dreamers” that were created by the Olmec culture that flourished between 1500 BC to around 400 BC (see photo), it could be said to represent several different scenarios but to me it appears to be a group ritual, with the figures in green focusing their energy towards the central figure which is red. I think an interesting point is the fact that this group are also backed by megalithic style standing stones.
The second example will be well known to most of you as it is often offered in esoteric or spiritual supply shops as a candleholder, entitled the circle of friends. The circle of figures range from three to seven individuals that are embraced with both arms outstretched towards the adjacent figure. Traditional native stories tell that this was thought to be some kind of bonding ceremony, but as no records exists as towards its exact meaning it wouldn’t be out of the question to speculate that they were perhaps involved in ritual work that was not dissimilar to that which may have taken place on a world wide scale.