This Council Ring is located at The Clearing Folk School in Wisconsin. The ring is an outdoor stone area where famed architect and school founder Jens Jensen would meet with others to hold council, especially when spiritual or grounding clarity was needed for major decisions.
A cedar tree raven presides over a path leading to the Council Ring. He has huge spreading wings and all the majesty of one of Odin’s three ravens, who are sent out each morning to track the events of the mortal realms. Beneath his wings is an old cedar stump with the image of a man in a hat seen full face (and looking remarkably like Jens Jensen, founder of the school). Beneath his head is another head seen sideways.
The raven is a mystical messenger of the gods, connected to the ruler of the Norse gods and to all the majesty and power of that realm. Jensen’s work is infused with that same majesty and power.
Now while I was busy admiring and photographing all this grandeur – a small voice kept insisting I go smaller and look at him. At last I listened, and studied where the voice was coming from. It was from the right side of the stump – a verrrry tiny image of a distinguished Oriental philosopher. He might be small – but when focused on, I saw that in his world he was very large and greatly venerated. He deserved his own photographic study.
Then the silent cedar spirit of the area made itself known and asked me to admire the trees themselves. One of the very very old cedar trees had a beautifully curved trunk, and in the dampness of the post-rain period, some autumn cedar leaves had landed against the dark maroons of the cedar. A joy to see for its sheer beauty of form!
You can see how tiny the Oriental Wiseman is – the leaves on him are the same size as the ones in the cedar curves.
This experience was a profound lesson for me about how so many different worlds can co-exist with each other in the same place. Each of these photographs offers a glimpse into an entire micro-world whose beings don’t come in contact with each other. These worlds are built in different sizes and based on different premises of how reality works. We have so much to learn on earth about the nature of consciousness and about the peaceful, non-interfering co-existence of different perspectives!
I had heard of The Clearing for many years. It is a residential folk school where you can stay for a few days or a week, take some top level workshops in various crafts, enjoy excellent home cooking…and the opportunity to explore the wild grounds that hug the coastline cliffs of Lake Superior. I finally took the opportunity to do a photography workshop, and to spend a lot of free time exploring. This location is so worth a visit and a stay.
The folk school was founded by Jens Jensen, one of the premier Chicago landscape architects who helped develop many of the natural sites around this area of the Midwest.