A Timeless Star Circle: The Bighorn Medicine Wheel
By Ivy Merriot, PhD
April 4, 2019
Join us for our April Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expedition lecture, when Dr. Ivy Merriot of Sky Traditions in Bozeman, Montana, presents A Timeless Star Circle: The Bighorn Medicine Wheel. The talks in this series are free, and take place in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Coe Auditorium the first Thursday of the month.
Of the Medicine Wheel, Ivy Merriot says, “A night cloak of piercing stars lashed by frigid wind isolates a circle set in stone high in the Bighorn Mountains. Quiet to the night yet loud to the spirit, this ancient wheel holds the stories of those now gone from these mountains. Not just a stone circle but a star circle, it has held knowledge of Earth-Sky relationships for millennia while those who travel to visit it, have changed in form and culture.”
It has been forty-five years since John Eddy’s research confirmed the solstice alignment at the Bighorn Medicine Wheel, launching this stone circle to global status as an archaeoastronomical site. In the 1980s, Jack Robinson refined Eddy’s work. Astronomy research then went silent for more than thirty years until 2008 when Ivy Merriot began an odyssey that transcended science and culture. She discovered this high altitude stone circle can act as a mnemonic device capable of transmitting ancient sky knowledge by mirroring the sky itself as the language of translation.
About our speaker
Ivy Merriot holds a BA in philosophy, an MA in history of science, and a PhD with an American Studies major and Native Studies minor. She now spends her time as an archaeoastronomy researcher and writer, but has had a diverse career and life experiences, including: professional musician, mother of four, ski host, immunology researcher, high school science teacher, solar physics researcher, outreach astronomy educator, and director of an astronomy-based online school.
Merriot’s special interest is in ancient stone circles and their connection to cosmic cycles. Her first book is a copy of her dissertation, describing the cultural and scientific history of the Bighorn Medicine Wheel that examines the wheel’s use as an indigenous pedagogical instrument for learning about the sky. Her second book, Star Circle, is written for the general public, based on her dissertation research with added sections on “how to see the Sky at the Wheel” plus some fun personal stories. Merriot is currently researching stone wheels around the world for their astronomical commonalities due to latitude, elevation, and sky conditions. Her next book will include a global perspective on stone wheels created circa 3,000 BC.
Draper Natural History Museum Lunchtime Expeditions are supported in part by Sage Creek Ranch and the Nancy-Carroll Draper Foundation.
Join us the first Thursday of each month February through December for a Lunchtime Expedition! These free lectures explore a variety of natural history subjects and issues. Lectures take place in our Coe Auditorium at 12:15 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
Upcoming Lunchtime Expeditions
- May 2: Leslie Patten with Ghostwalker: Exploring an Animal Living at the Edge of Human Awarenesss
- June 6: John Mionczynski with Some Interesting Plants of the Ancient People of the Yellowstone
- July 11: Robert B. Smith with Anatomy of Old Faithful and Upper Geyser Basin and Its Ties to the Yellowstone Magma Reservoir (Note the change to the second Thursday of the month)
- August 1: Mike Kochert with Fifty Years of Studying Golden Eagles: What Have We Learned?
- September 5: Jeremy Johnston with Theodore Roosevelt, the Unscrupulous Concessioner, and the Insane Adversary
- October 3: Doug Smith with Wolf Populations in Yellowstone National Park
- November 7: Speaker TBD
- December 5: Tony Mong from Wyoming Game & Fish