A Loreta/Gilchrist Prayer Wheel created for our August 27, 2005 celebration
All Photography by Charles Gilchrist

Prayer Wheel and Drum Circle Projects
An Interview With The Artist Charles Gilchrist
By Leslie Page

L.P. "How did this latest Mandala project get started Charles? It's really interesting."

C.G. "My friend, Janice Loreta (a fellow Mandala artist) and I where talking about things of mutual interest and the subject of drumming and drum circles came up. We both had some positive experience with this kind of meditative drumming. So we told one another our best drumming stories, and had fun dreaming. And wouldn't you know it Leslie, The Universe responded to our collective prayers. About a week later I witnessed a powerful Prayer Wheel and Drum Circle combination which really impressed me. It was created by Merit Corcoran (Shamanic artist) and Baba Jubal Harris with his Inner Peace Drum Circle."

Shamanic Artists
Merit Corcoran, Charles Gilchrist,
Janice Loreta:

Baba Jubal Harris:

L.P. "Tell us a little more about that experience, Charles. You know I love details."

C.G. "It was definitely a spiritual experience which happened at Jim Roby's Lake Erie beach in Bratenahl, Ohio. The actual Prayer Wheel was just two simple circles Merit constructed in the sand, mostly of rocks and shells and feathers. The outer circle was about 15 feet across with a small circular center piece. Late in the day she (Merit Corcoran) conducted a very nice group prayer ceremony around her sand Mandala. Merit had created a small Prayer Ship and we all breathed our prayers into it. Merit then corked the little hole and we sent our Prayer Ship to Spirit via the waters of Lake Erie."

L.P. "Sounds lovely."

C.G. "It really was. And then Baba and his drummers created a wall of meditative rhythm which lasted into the wee small hours. Everyone really got into it, dancing and drumming and just celebrating life and the love of Mother Earth. I truly enjoyed the very pagan celebration and saw huge potential."


Merit Corcoran




Prayer Ship

L.P. "Alright, let's talk about this potential you envisioned. What did you intend to accomplish?"

C.G. "When I talked with Merit and Baba I realized we were all trying, each in our own way, to positively effect the evolution of human consciousness. Both Merit and Baba were very aware of the power of Sacred Geometry and we almost instantly decided to collaborate on another Prayer Wheel/Drum Circle celebration to be held at the same beach on August 27, 2005. The idea was to combine the power of Sacred Sound in the form of repetitive rhythm with the power of Sacred Geometry."

L.P. "And you brought Janice Loreta into the mix?"

C.G. "Yes,
it was a no-brainer. Janice Loreta made a huge contribution. All four of us are deeply aware of the power of group prayer and ceremony. And we all knew this was a wonderful opportunity to magnify our individual efforts."

L.P. "Collective effort is always a powerful force Charles. Tell us about the actual construction of the wheel."

C.G. "Janice and I were in charge of the creation of the Prayer Wheel. We began by hanging out at Roby Beach which is always loaded with drift wood. We collected about 250 interesting pieces and eventually stained them with fabric dyes. Then we carved them a little and painted them with acrylic paint. Each became a small talisman which was used in the construction of the Prayer Wheel."

Drift Wood Talismans (click on images for enlargements)

Authors Note: At this point in our conversation, Charles produced a flyer which describes the details of the Prayer Wheel. It was handed out on the day of the celebration, August 27, 2005 (see excerpts below).

This Prayer Wheel follows the classical native form, a large circle struck on the surface of Mother Earth and accented by references to the Four Cardinal Directions. Each of the four quadrants is marked in colors symbolizing the powers of the four directions and the natural cycles of Mother Earth.

The South Quadrant (Yellow): The Grandfathers and Grandmothers of the South hold the nurturing powers of our life giving Sun, the source of all life on Terra. The South is the place of the child.

The West Quadrant (Blue): The Grandmother and Grandfathers of the west represent the mysterious, transcendental powers of the night. The West is Dream Time, internal illumination.

The North Quadrant (Black and White): The Grandfathers and Grandmothers of the North bring us the lessons of test, trial, and survival. The North is wise council.

The East Quadrant (Red): The Sun rises in the east and begins the new day. The Grandmothers and Grandfathers of the East are associated with the wisdom of waking life. The East is Daytime, the golden door to illumination.


North Doorway


West Doorway

The Center

East Doorway

Construction Detail

South Doorway

Baba Jubal

There are also three more directions in this symbolic mix . . . #5: Below (Mother Earth) . . . #6: Above (Father Sky) . . . and #7: Center (The Sacred Mountain). The seventh direction is the omnipresent and omnipotent center of ALL. We honor the Seven Directions.

The numerous small Talismans used to construct this Mandala (stained and painted rocks and driftwood collected on Roby Beach) were ritualistically created by Janice Loreta and Charles Gilchrist. At the end of our ceremony, each visitor involved in this Prayer Wheel Ceremony is encouraged to take one of these small Talismans as a potent reminder of our collective prayers for the enlightenment of Humankind.

L.P. "Well that saves us some time . . . very informative. But Charles, I'm fascinated by the very last paragraph. Did you really just give those beautiful little sculptures away?"

C.G. "Yes, we did. The participants (about 80 people) disassembled the entire Prayer Wheel and took it with them. That was part of the plan from the beginning, to seed our prayer energy."

A Loreta/Gilchrist Prayer Wheel created for our August 27, 2005 celebration

L.P. "Tell us about this upcoming Prayer Wheel you're currently working on."

C.G. "I'm not going to give away our plans. It's a surprise. But I guarantee this celebration will be more beautiful and more powerful than the last one. Join us and experience it for yourself, and bring a drum."

L.P. "Come on Charles, you have to give us more than that. Bring a drum?"

C.G. "OK Leslie, a little more. The Prayer Wheel (also known as a Medicine Wheel) will be even more graphic this time, with four spokes running to the center, North, South, East, and West. The four Doorways will be larger this time. The four talismans will be open wooden cubes, hand painted and decorated, with dream catchers stretched across the tops. There will also be three giant drums (created by Baba Jubal) inside the circle. Baba, Janice, and myself will handle the ceremony and everyone will be drumming. There will also be a Prayer Ship Talisman which will collect our prayers for the enlightenment of Humankind. And, as light fades, the center of the Prayer Wheel, or Medicine Wheel if you like, will become a good sized fire. The Prayer Ship and the driftwood Prayer Sticks will be released to Spirit in that fire. Like I said before, bring something percussive. We intend to drum till we drop."

Our next Prayer Wheel/Drum Circle celebration
will be announced soon

Thanks To Jim Roby!

The web sites of:

Baba Jub
al HarrisCharles Gilchrist

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