The concept of a universe continually striving to achieve balance and harmony is central to many spiritual pathways and symbol systems. Some, such as the Taoist and Christian traditions, have primary symbols that envision a dyadic balancing act: light and dark, male and female, good and evil. Others, such as many of the Native American and Neo-Pagan traditions, Hinduism, and Buddhism, have symbols based in quarternary patterns, often visualized within a circle, and often connected to the four cardinal directions: North, East, South, and West. The mandala, the medicine wheel, and the wiccan sacred circle are among these.
My own mind seems to be highly symbolically / metaphorically oriented, and thus when I studied comparative religion, with a focus on emerging traditions, as part of my diversity focus during my graduate work, I was particularly fascinated with these symbol systems. I had been raised in the dyadic Christian tradition, and I spent many hours pouring over books and talking to practitioners in chat rooms, seeking to gain some understanding of other worldviews.
Eventually, I found that I felt very comfortable within a quartered symbol pattern, and I enjoyed learning about the many ways my Neo-Pagan and Native American friends envisioned them: the elements (Earth/Air/Fire/Water), times (Dusk/Dawn/Noon/Night), seasons (Winter/Spring/Summer/Autumn), colors (green/yellow/red/blue or white/yellow/red/black), activities (painting/poetry/healing/music), animals (wolf/eagle/coyote/dolphin), and many others. So when my husband told me that he wanted me to look at a house on FourWinds Court, I felt a connection before knowing anything else about it.
For many people, the Four Winds symbolize the spirit beings who bring messages to us from the Creator. In the Cherokee tradition, for example, they were placed at the four corners at the beginning of time and charged with minding the movements of the sun, earth, and stars. The ancient Greeks knew them as the Anemoi: Boreas, the cold and stormy north wind, bringer of winter; Eurus, the east wind, bringer of warmth and rain; Notus, the south wind, bringer of the storms of late summer; and Zephyrus, the west wind, the gentlest of the four, nurturer of plants and flowers. In Judeo-Christian tradition, the four winds are associated with the angels Gabriel (north or midnight wind), Michael (east or morning wind), Uriel (south or noonday wind), and Raphael (west or evening wind). In the Hindu tradition, the winds are four Maharajas, the Regents of the four cardinal points.
Yesterday afternoon, as I watched my grandchildren dye eggs for today’s festivities, I realized that the Easter symbolism of renewal is the perfect time to update this blog’s title to better fit with the central focus of this period of my life, which is seeking balance in some areas that had gone a bit askew. And I immediately knew the name that would best describe this period of my life would bring in the FourWinds metaphor to merge with the original Parkour symbolism.
At the time I began this blog, I was inspired by the work of Kansas State University Professor Michael Wesch, and its title, Emerging Traceur, and tagline, Moving from Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able, were drawn from his discussion of using the Parkour metaphor in relation to education, and particularly the use of emerging technologies in education. The concept of being a traceur – one who aims to get from point to point in the most efficient way possible, making use of whatever opportunities the environment offers and leveraging any obstacles to become springboards to new possibilities, resonated with my own struggles to move through and beyond being a “digital immigrant.” The Parkour metaphor has helped me as I sought to negotiate a number of obstacles to technology usage, but I have also found that it has applied equally well to a number of other situations. I love that Parkour is non-competitive, can be practiced alone or with others, encourages seeing the environment in new ways, and stimulates the imagination toward creative potential. And so, while my thoughts are no longer focused on the technology issues that stimulated the blog’s birth, the traceur concept continues to be one I heartily embrace. Thus, I want it to remain a guiding concept for my writing, although I will apply it in new ways.
After a seemingly endless winter in which a “polar vortex” blasted some of the coldest, most dangerous weather in decades throughout northern America, Spring has finally arrived in Kansas – right on cue, it might seem, for this Easter week. And while I am no longer a practitioner of any one specific religious tradition, the spiritual themes of resurrection and rebirth remain significant for me. Earlier this week I wrote about my great-grandparents, who built a new life out of the ruins left when a tornado spread death and destruction through their college town. Yesterday I purchased petunias to bring my front porch flower baskets back to life. The tom turkeys in my backyard have been fanning their tail feathers to attract the ladies and begin new families. In ways large and small, rebirth surrounds us at this wondrous time of year.
Although I fell in love with our FourWinds home the minute Gary walked me through the front door, it was a real struggle – and many tears were shed – when we chose to give up the home that we had loved and nurtured for more than a decade to move to a new one that we knew better met the needs of our family. The rebirthing process was in many ways joyous, but it wasn’t easy. We had poured much of ourselves into the old home, and it was hard to let go. But there is so much we love even more about the new place, and we are now so happily settled in. Where in the old home we were down in a gully surrounded by a grove of oak trees, now we sit on the ridge of a hill that allows for lovely views in all directions – and a full experience of the Four Winds! It is indeed aptly named!
And this Easter morning, it feels right to bring that new symbol to my writing. Emerging Traceur had been reborn as FourWinds Traceur.
May we all continue to experience the renewal and growth that springs from letting go of what is no longer productive in our lives and moving into new ways of thinking and being.
A blessed Easter to all.