The medicine wheel consists of the four cardinal directions and four sacred colors representing certain properties:

  • blue (north) … defeat; trouble … winter – a season for survival and waiting
    Wisdom, intellect, the adult self, MIND
    Element = Wind/Breath
  • yellow (east) … success; triumph … spring – a re-awakening, the power of new life
    Illumination, creation, the wonder child self, SPIRIT
    Element = Fire/Life Source
  • black (west) … death … autumn – the final harvest, the end of life’s cycle
    Introspection and intuition, the physical body, MANIFESTATION
    Element = Earth
  • white (south) … peace; happiness … summer – a time of plenty
    Trust and Innocence, EMOTIONS
    Element = Water
  • Center … learning, SELF
    Balance, beauty, harmony

The symbolism may vary from tribe to tribe.

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  1. shinichi

    Native American Medicine Wheels


    Medicine wheels appear all over the northern United States and southern Canada, specifically South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.

    There have been between 70 to possibly 150 medicine wheels discovered, with most of them being found in Alberta.

    The Native American Medicine Wheel was used for various spiritual and ritual purposes, especially for healing almost any illness. Since it was believed that illness sprang from spiritual imbalance, the focus of the healing was on treating the source of the problem, not the symptoms. As the medicine wheel focuses on balance of all things, it was thought this balance would help the spiritual in balance in the person who was sick.

    Most medicine wheels have a basic pattern – a center of stone (cairn) then having an outer ring of stone with “spokes” of stone radiating out from the center.

    Being a wheel, it is round depicting the circle of life, the shape of the sun and the moon, etc.

    One of the oldest Native American medicine wheels is said to be 4,500 years old. It is said that it was built and added on to by successive generations.

    Medicine wheels are still used today in the Native American spirituality, however most of the meaning behind them is not shared among non-Native people.

    For non-Indians, medicine wheels are believed to create a roadmap to sacred spaces…it’s a mapping of the sacred landscape we live in…it’s spinning…it’s rotating like the earth…the things in your life are spinning and you are the center.

    Native American medicine wheels can also be made by hand and it can be as small or as big as desired. Some are stone formations on the ground, some are shields, some are held in the hand.


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