Journeying The Medicine Wheel


The teachings and offerings of Native American Spirituality are based upon the Medicine Wheel, the Magic Circle, or the Circle of Life and Power, as it is often called, is rooted in the distant past of all cultures and teachings and allegorized in the myths and legends of all Peoples.

It is so ancient that its origins have been lost. Yet is has appeared throughout all ages and its presence is confirmed in the symbology imprinted on the artifacts that have stood the corrosion of time. The teachings of the Medicine Wheel, embrace the notion that every living thing contains the primary forces of life in perfect balance. The Medicine Wheel speaks of the Oneness of, the wholeness of life. A life that is forever evolving and bringing new lessons and new understandings of the truth.

"Black Elk states, " Everything an Indian does is in a circle and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain, and the north with its and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion. Everything the Power of the Worlds does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests; where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children."

In her book, A Voice From The Earth, Judith Pintar states, 'The quartered circle has represented the four winds, the four directions and the four quarters of the world since humankind first scratched on to bark or placed a standing stone. The symbol is not an arbitrary one. It is keyed into our most basic human understandings of space and time."

With the teachings of Black Elk in mind, she explains, "If we could stay away from calendars long enough to forget what day of the week it might be, our short-term, visual orientation of time would fade and the moon would become our guide, corroborated over time by the sun's relative position in the sky and the dancing reactions of the seasonal world around us. This time sense is cyclical, not linear; our world moving in a circle, not a line.

"The place where the sun came from was named and also the place where it later disappeared, East and West. By observing the place where the sun rose and fell against distant mountains, we drew our symbol as a circle with a cross in it. This image revealed an amazing truth. It placed us at the center of the circle. The four directions spread out and away from us to the unknown lands farther than we could see.

"Once we had created the symbol, we looked for it everywhere.She concludes her remarks by saying, "I hungered, not for something new to believe in, but for something that would simply allow me to comprehend what I had seen. When I became acquainted with Native American spirituality, I was drawn immediately to the open-ended nature of a symbol system which offered no dogma to take on faith, required no rejection of other beliefs, but encouraged a personal relationship and communication with the earth."

The Medicine Wheel is a tool that leads its user to the discovery of the Inner Self, and to a knowledge of the purpose of one's life. It assists one in tuning in to the unseen forces of Nature, as it assists in uncovering the meaning behind some of the deepest mysteries of life, as well as the deepest mysteries of self.

For me, this symbol serves as a reference point that I use to help me understand, as well as solve the particular challenges I find myself facing. It offers me a structure to help find my purpose in my life. It is the most powerful symbol I can use, for it allows me the greatest freedom to explore my own individual identity. And in so doing affords me the opportunity to change and move and grow in whatever fashion I require. In this way, I not only honor my own story and my own path, but I also acknowledge and honor the One who has placed me on this path and who walks with me every step of the way.