I mentioned in one of my YouTube videos that, back in the day, one of the earliest books I’d read on Paganism was In The Shadow of the Shaman, by Amber Wolfe. And since I’ve been going back to basics, I picked it up again. And I noticed something that I only cursorily glanced over before.
Throughout the book, Wolfe refers to, “wheels within wheels.”
A quote from the introduction is, “All of the worlds of nature spin like wheels for the shaman … All worlds spin and vibrate for the shaman.” Another is, “Like the shamans of old, we may learn to ride the wheels within wheels, which are all the vibrations of the worlds of Nature.”
And then, in the shower the other day, I had this epiphany: she wasn’t talk about flat, 2D wheels drawn on piece of paper. We don’t live in a world like that. Our world is a sphere.
In my Tradition – and in many Pagan faiths the world over – the tree is the center of the cosmos. It is the axis mundi, the central pillar that binds all the worlds together. In my worldview, there are three: Sky Realm, Middle Realm (which my Coven lovingly calls, “Middle Earth”), and Lower Realm (which others might know as the Underworld). The tree binds the three.
The tree also binds the three major Celtic elements: land, sea, and sky. These elements can be taken as synonyms for the Upper, Middle, and Lower Worlds.
Like the three worlds and the three elements, we teach a triplicate human being: Younger/Child Self, Middle/Conscious Self, Higher/God Self.
Another example is ritual work. When you create sacred space, you’re literally creating a microcosm of the macrocosm. You’re creating a sphere within a sphere – or at least, that’s how my tradition views it. You create your own little universe, wherein you are Goddess and God, and through sympathetic magic, affect change in the larger world around you.
These worlds – and the triplicate human being – however, are not wheels. Not like the flat, 2D wheels drawn on paper. They are spheres. Earth is a sphere, the rest of the planets in our solar system are spheres, the Sun (a star) and the Moon (a satellite) are spheres. Everything is a sphere – a 3-dimensional wheel.
And it made me think about the “music of the spheres.”
Linda Goodman wrote quite a bit about the music of the spheres in her book Star Signs. The biggest point that I took away from the chapter on this music is that the planets (even though not audible because they’re in space) make music – they have vibrational frequency, just like everything else in the universe.
The vibrational frequency, bouncing betwixt all the planets, creates harmony – the music of the spheres. Goodman also talks about how the planets affect us as humans on Earth (astrology). And she refers to this influence as music of the spheres, from time to time.
That whole spheres within spheres thing got me to thinking about what’s important. And that is:
We, as Pagans, should be real with each other – more vulnerable with each other. We need to bounce our individual vibrations off of each other to create that harmonious “music of the spheres.” We can’t do that unless we’re real and open with one another – unless we talk about the shit parts of life, as well as the fabulous parts.
This, to me, is the importance of group work – of Coven work. Spirituality is certainly personal, but without that connection of group work – without a real Tribe with whom you can be vulnerable, and tearful, and open – our notes don’t bounce off each other, and we don’t create the music of the spheres.
Now that’s not to say you have to find, and be Initiated into, a Coven.
Side note: I advocate strongly for the Coven life because it fulfills the communal needs of many people, and I think learning is best done with trusted Elders. And there’s the literal transference of currents of power, without which, whatever is practiced is not likely to give you epiphanies of the mysteries. But that’s a whole other topic.
What I really mean is: you can have an online community with whom you’re vulnerable. We’re all busy and a lot of people don’t have the time for Coven life. (I could argue that if you really wanted the real transference of power bad enough, and the communal experience of spirituality as it’s meant to be, you’d fucking make the time, but that’s another post.)
Outside of being taught and trained in a specific Tradition, I think online communities of Pagans are amazing. The Pagan YouTube community is one example. It’s so huge, open and supportive, you’d be remiss if you couldn’t find one or two of us you have something in common with.
You’re a wheel. I’m a wheel. You’re a grouping of spheres. I’m a grouping of spheres. These ever-spinning wheels of life, nature, planets, the Universe – our connection with these, and how we dance the wheel – is how we create harmony. We can’t create the profound, harmonious tones without each other.
If you can find a Tribe – even one of only two or three people, physically thousands of miles away – with whom you can be open and vulnerable, you can create the music of the spheres.