I am fascinated by all sacred circles, not least because my query to a Lutheran minister teaching us Catechism got me ousted from the classes altogether. He was teaching that with God the time line has no beginning and no end. I asked if that, (a line with no beginning and no end,) wasn’t a circle? He was certain I was a witch (I was 12 at the time) and no longer wanted me around the others learning the ways of the church. It’s been a long trail from there to here. An artist friend of mine commented when I related that story to her that that was simply the artist’s perspective coming through.
But, he pretty well guaranteed that all symbolic circles would draw my attention for the rest of my life. Had he known I already heard voices at that time, I am certain he would have insisted on an exorcism right then and there (and Lutherans are not known for that sort of thing.) I didn’t have to deal with that for many years. To the left is a set of chakra wheels, showing sacred sounds that go with each chakra, as well as that chakra’s color when the person is in good balance. The circle on the right is a simple color wheel, used by artists when aligning colors for a project. So, yes, I work with circles all the time.
The circle has an ancient history and of course originates from the circles in nature, which are seldom perfect, but rather near circles. But, to ancient peoples began to symbolize the path one traveled while on the earth. Interesting that the indigenous people, in referencing so much of their lives with the path of the sun, had no difficulty imagining the earth as also round. Sort of makes you wonder at what point learning takes the place of logic, doesn’t it? And should it? We do seem to want to educate ourselves into uselessness, don’t we?
As I said, I am fascinated with the Sacred Circles, Stonehenge, and all other Sacred Hoops found all over the world. They are all wonderful signs of a world that observed the roundness of the sun and emulated it. I have in fact, wondered if the reason the Native Americans did not use wheels was that they felt them too sacred to use them as burden bearers? They were not slow to adapt to the use of horses, and when they were exposed to horses, they were exposed to the wheel. There are many things to learn from these sacred circles, and from the perspective of the indigenous peoples that designed them.
Caution! I am not a Native American teacher, I am a mixed blood who has had the extreme honor of learning at the feet of some wonderful teachers of their path. What I show and explain here is very much my own personal medicine wheel as I understand it, it is not to be taken as something you use as a measuring stick of someone else’s medicine wheel being right or wrong. That is the beauty of this path. I can be right, and they can be right, for it is a matter of personal truth. These pieces of personal truth then weave into the larger truth that is the people, but if one is listening to the song of Creator correctly, it will weave into a beautiful pattern. That is part of why I love this path so, and also part of why I want my readers to understand that this is my wheel, as I walk it, in order to learn your own wheel, I would send you to a Native Teacher to learn your path.
The way of the Native American Medicine Wheel is not so much that of a religion as a way of life. It is a perspective of how life works, and is therefore compatible with any belief system that serves good and compassionate purpose.
As we walk the medicine wheel of our own lives, we find that there are seven sacred directions to be traveled.
East ◊As we are born into this journey, our first direction is the East. This is the place of new beginnings, it is “where” we receive instruction by learning to hear and see what Spirit is saying to us. Most with Eurobred religious backgrounds are sure, when they begin to hear Spirit for the first time that these are messages for the people. This is seldom the case. On this path, Spirit is generally working with individuals for their own well being. It is best to presume from the outset that this is how it is with you.
“There is but One Original Source, learn to heed the messages Spirit is bringing you. The messengers of Spirit are here to help you complete your walk.”
“Grow as the Willow that bends and moves in the wind but seldom breaks. Grow in Spirit, grow in Truth, grow in Love.”
West ◊ The West is the Sacred Direction in which we take on the mantle of responsibility for ourselves and for the tribe. It is when we have reached this point of growth in our sacred walk that messages from Spirit may have meaning for others as well as ourselves. It is the “place” where we learn what is right to do for ourselves and how not to embroil others in our own dysfunctions.
“Walk with a light step, walk with grace, walk with love.”
North ◊ The North is the place of the Wisdom of the Elders. This is where we learn to honor the wisdom of those who have walked the wheel of life before us. “Here” is where we learn to apply that wisdom, both for ourselves, and for others. This is the point where it is appropriate for us to begin to pass on the wisdom that we have learned as we have walked the wheel.
“Be ever mindful that what we do affects Mother Earth and all her children for seven generations hence.”
Above ◊ This is where we learn to honor Creator in everything we do and say. It is from this perspective that we learn that all of life is actually a prayer. Nothing we do or are is ever hidden, all will be revealed in the end, so the best thing we can do is live our lives by the light we now have, and hope for the best possible results.
“From the stars we came, to the stars we shall return.”
Below ◊ This is the “Place” in our lives where we learn how to maintain our grounding in this plane of reality. Those who are truly aware have a tendency, unless they put forth a great deal of effort, to “wander off” into mental or astral realms, and forget that part of our mission is to learn to be “here, now”. In learning to be present in the here & now, we will learn to cope with what we have been given.
“Walk in balance, remembering always that we are astral beings living in bodies made of clay.”
Within ◊ This is our sacred space. This is the place within us that we are to hold separate, where no one else is welcome except by invitation. It is here we learn to honor our own boundaries and those of others. It is here we learn to appreciate who we are and what we have been given. It is here we learn not to desire to be someone else, it is here we learn that all “things” are held in stewardship, nothing is ever truly “owned”, so, even the act of stealing without intent to repay is a defilement of our own sacred space.
“Honor your own truth and walk your path accordingly.”
Each of us has animal totems that go into those slots where I have shown stars, earth and a labyrinth. Those are your teachers, not someone else’s, and their identity should not be lightly shared. You will also have individual teachers to help you connect with the cardinal teachers, according to the teachings, if you really are interested, find a Native teacher to show you how to work with them, it is a fun and productive study, and you will know much more about yourself if you do this.
I hope I have been clear enough that you can see that this is a dynamic path, with learning and discovery as a part of it from beginning to end, not only acquiring more and more bits of information along the way, but then having the wisdom to use them properly as you acquire them. No, I will not pretend, any more than my teachers did, that there were not mistakes made among the Original People, but then, had those mistakes not happened, we’d have had to grow up in Europe or whereever our other ancestors were from. Nor will I pretend that those whom I have had the honor to learn from were not the same sort of flawed people the rest of us are. I wish it were not so, but, we humans tend to be quite capable of living for self as well as living for the good of all, it just happens.