The Sacred Hoop

endless-starsI have a question for you. Do you believe that all things are related? Do you believe in the inclusiveness of all things? Do you think there is a spiritual “mind-stuff” out of which everything is created? Granted, though I have just lost my audience, I know there is more than a few of you who do believe this and I would like to visit with you a bit. EVERYONE is welcome to read along, for you are welcomed with an open mind and heart.

I have come to believe very strongly that all things are related and in a great infinite consciousness we all live, move and have our being, from a rock to a human. I also believe that all form is temporary (in the infinite sense) and that spirit is eternal. There are many ways one could come to this belief, but however it is obtained, it takes a good deal of internal dialogue, at least for me, to truly come to grasp it.

There are many names for it, but for me it is the Sacred Hoop. That name and the concept behind it was handed down to me from my mother, who got it from her father, who received it from Black Elk, a Lakota holy man, who in another time or place I believe would have been a great prophet. In 1931, John Neihardt had extended meetings with Black Elk with Black Elk’s son, Ben Black Elk, acting as interpreter. The meetings resulted in the book Black Elk Speaks; which is still in print for any who desire to know more about it.

Mona Sculpts Bust of JohnMy grandmother, Mona, was a sculptor and had studied with Rodin as a young woman before coming to America to marry my Grandfather. She came from a world with stately gardens to live on the prairie with a man who grew up in a sod house. That is a very interesting story, but not exactly in the scope of this article. However, if you should want to know more about that tale, The Broidered Garment, by Hilda Neihardt, my mother, is a great read. Anyway, when my grandfather got back from his meetings with Black Elk, and explained the concepts to his wife, Mona, her creativeness immediately went to work on the Great Sacred Hoop. She designed and then built a formal garden based on the concepts of the Sacred Hoop.

The Sacred HoopAs Black Elk told my grandfather:”Imagine a hoop so large that everything is in it – all two-leggeds like us, the four-leggeds, the fishes of the streams, the wings of the air, and all green things that grow. Everything is together in this great hoop.” Thus in a wide open space in her  yard she made a large circle, representing the entire universe and all things included in it. She then marked the 4 directions, South, West, North and East in the large circle. She planted a hedge around the circumference leaving an open space at each of the four directions. Black Elk continued:”Across this hoop, running from the east where the days of men begin to the west where the days of men end, is the Hard Black Road of Worldly Difficulties. We all must pass along this road, for it represents the world of everyday life.” Mona fashioned a path of black rock starting in the east side of the hedge and going to the west edge. “if the black road were the only one along which we may pass, then this life would not mean much. but there is another road: It is the Good Red Road of Spiritual Understanding, and it begins in the south where lives the power to grow and proceeds to the north, the region of white hairs and death.” Now she made a path of red rocks that started in the southern point of the hedge and proceeded to the north edge. Black Elk speaking in Lakota and Ben earnestly and haltingly explaining in English what the old man said:”Where this Good Red Road crosses the Hard Black Road, that place is holy and there springs the Sacred Tree which shall fill with leaves and blooms and singing birds.” Mona then planted a flowering crab tree in the center of the garden where the 2 paths crossed. And in this manner, she built her Sacred Hoop.

Desert Sacred Hoop GardenI remember as a small boy, visiting at my grandparents farm and going into the Sacred Hoop Prayer Garden. As I remember now they all called it simply the Prayer Garden.  I do not know, but was that tingling, special feeling I got then as I entered it from the South real or imagined? Does years of prayers and reverence really make a place holy and sacred? What I do know is that all of my adult life I have built a Sacred Hoop in my own yard, first to honor my grandparents, then because I needed to have that special place to go. Since I live now in the Sonoran Desert, my Sacred Hoop has taken on the character of the desert. It is filled with cactus and the perimeter of the circle is now rocks instead of a hedge. I replaced the crab apple tree with a rock fountain, for water is the most precious thing of the desert. Of course there is more to the Sacred Hoop and how Black Elk spoke of praying in the sacred circle, but that I will relate to you later. Best to all of you.