Sundown at the Medicine Wheel
Taken in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming on our way home from the Tetons. We were attempting to visit the Bighorn Medicine Wheel for our first time and were stopped on the account of deep drifting snow and a lack of light.
The Medicine Wheel is an important place to many peoples. From the Stanford Solar Center:
On top of the Bighorn Range in Wyoming, a desolate 9,642 feet high and only reachable during the warm summer months, lies an ancient Native American construction -- an 80' diameter wheel-like pattern made of stones. At the center of the circle is a doughnut-shaped pile of stones, a cairn, connected to the rim by 28 spoke-like lines of stones. Six more stone cairns are arranged around the circle, most large enough to hold a sitting human. The central cairn is about 12 feet in diameter and 2' high.
If you stand or sit at one cairn looking towards another, you will be pointed to certain places on the distant horizon. These points indicate where the Sun rises or sets on summer solstice and where certain important stars rise heliacally, that is, first rise at dawn after being behind the Sun. The dawn stars helped foretell when the Sun ceremonial days would be coming. The area is free of snow only for 2 months -- around the summer solstice.
The wheel has 28 spokes, the same number used in the roofs of ceremonial buildings such as the Lakota Sundance lodge. These always includes an entrance to the east, facing the rising Sun, and include 28 rafters for the 28 days in the lunar cycle. The number 28 is sacred to some of the Indian tribes because of its significance as the lunar month. In Bighorn's case, could the special number 28 also refer to the helicial or dawn rising of Rigel 28 days past the Solstice, and Sirius another 28 past that?
Still interested in learning more? Keep reading this article here ( http://solar-center.stanford.edu/AO/bighorn.html ) .
WyomingLandscapeSunsetBighorn MountainsMedicine WheelSnowNatureNikonD70MountainsFall2006NPSMichael Menefee