Sacred Garden Spaces

Create a sacred space in your garden

| February/March 2004

  • Although you’ll find a variety of herbs to use in your Medicine Wheel Garden (as listed on Pages 16 – 19), this is an example of how herbs and markers might be placed in a sacred space.
    Photographs By Pat Crocker Illustration by Gayle Ford

  • Use a stone cairn to mark spots in the medicine wheel garden, representing various elements.
  • The center marker for this sacred space is a pole with a prayer for world peace.
  • Place an interesting piece of driftwood, tree branch or large rock as the center marker of your medicine wheel garden.

Like giant wagon wheels silently foretelling the coming of the 19th-century pioneers, some 20,000 human-formed stone circles greeted migrating Europeans as they rolled westward. Situated on and around the Great Plains of Saskatchewan, Alberta, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, today less than 200 of these magnificent, mysterious wheels have survived.

For more than 5,000 years, natives of the Western Hemisphere built sacred cairns surrounded by one or more concentric circles, with spokes or stone lines radiating outward. Based on the number four (representing the cardinal directions and thought to be situated at energy vortexes), sacred circles were used all over the world for ceremonies, as places of worship and to communicate creation stories. Rich in symbolism and powerful as healing places, these edifices stand testament to nature-based and deeply spiritual cultures.

Today’s medicine wheel gardens are based on the circle—the sacred natural shape symbolic of the interconnections of all life. Their round designs feature a central focus and four or more paths that carve the garden into pie-shaped beds. Most are planted with perennial and annual herbs, some featuring only medicinal herbs, others encompassing a wide variety of culinary, ornamental, tea, heirloom, cosmetic and healing herbs or indigenous herbs, grasses, shrubs and cacti. Medicine wheel gardens are intensely personal, and one’s choice of plants, materials and symbolic ornaments reflects the inner garden of the spirit.

Here at my home, our medicine wheel is small—8 feet in diameter—with culinary, tea, butterfly and medicinal herbs in each of the four distinct beds. Herbs require six to eight hours of sunlight daily, so the only absolute requirement is to situate the wheel in the open with tall trees or structures to the north.

To create a medicine wheel, gather five marker stakes, a hammer, measuring tape, compass and some string or lime. Rocks mark the important yearly dates around the outside circle (see diagram below), so a good-size rock pile also would be handy. To start the wheel, drive a stake into the ground at the desired center point. Using a compass, locate the four cardinal directions and mark each with a stake 4 feet from the center. Mark the circle by joining the four cardinal direction stakes with string.

Once the circle is marked, prepare the circle as you would any herb bed. If the site is on a lawn, till or dig out the sod, being careful to keep the five stakes in place. Mix in peat or compost, a small amount of bone meal (or lime or wood ash) and topsoil. In general, herbs tolerate a wide range of conditions but prefer well-drained, slightly alkaline soil. Lay 24-inch-wide heavy plastic landscaping cloth from each directional stake toward the center to form paths. Spread gravel, shells, wood chips or other natural material over the plastic and replace the four directional stakes with large rocks. These represent the spirit keepers of each direction and may be adorned with drawings or artifacts.



September 12-13, 2019
Seven Springs, Pennsylvania

Fermentation Frenzy! is produced by Fermentation magazine in conjunction with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR. This one-and-a-half day event is jam-packed with fun and informative hands-on sessions.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me