“The circle of the Medicine Wheel represents represents harmony with nature and with all our relatives. The earth turns in a circle, and the birds make their nests in circles; the Anishnaabe dance in a circle, and the four seasons of life: childhood, youth, middle age and elder hood, form the circle of life. The circle of the Wheel stands for the sun and the moon, and for all round things in Creation. It should remind us that we may do nothing that may harm the children, for they are the ones who must care for Mother Earth tomorrow, and for the generations to come. Each of us is responsible for taking care of the children and of Mother Earth; Each of us is responsible for teaching others to do the same.”
As your already aware from the title and the quote featured above, this weeks Teachings & Traditions Tuesday article is about the Medicine Wheel. In this article Ill be sharing the 7 aspects of the Medicine Wheel, what they are, what they mean and so on. I believe that this teaching is very important for us to share with our children as is every teaching so that they can pass it on to their children, resulting in our teachings and traditions continuing on through each generation and never being lost as the white man has tried so very hard to do.
After reading this article, I would definitely recommend speaking with your elders to learn even more about the Medicine Wheel, and share with them anything that you have learned from reading this edition of Teachings and Traditions Tuesday. I’m sure most of you reading this have already received teachings on the Medicine Wheel, so let this refresh your memory and be a little reminder of this beautiful teaching. Who knows, maybe you’ll remember a part of this teaching that you forgot. Either way, reading about our Teachings and Traditions is a good way to stay connected to our true selves in such a busy and modern world.
The Medicine Wheel teaches 7 aspects within each of the 4 quadrants that represent life in specific stages:
The Four Directions
The Four Elements of Life
The Four Medicines
The Four Seasons
The Four States of Well Being
The Four Colours of Man
The Four Stages of Life
We receive spiritual and physical strength from The Four Grandfathers, Mishoomsag, who are the Spiritual Guardians of the four directions.
North – Giiwednong
The Four Elements of Life:Air
In the North the nights are long and winds are cold, they remind us that our bodies and the earth must rest in order to renew so the element of life gifted from here is air.
The Four Medicines:Cedar
The Cedar tree continues to bear its green branches while all most all other plants and animals rest during the long nights of Winter.
The Four Seasons:Winter
Winter is time for rest and sharing, everything needs time to rest in order to prosper.
The Four States of Well Being:Spiritual Health
Winter is the time the Elders rest and share the stories and traditions of the people, this is the time we must reflect within.
The Four Colours of Man:White
White is the colour of the snow that blankets the earth in the North as well as the race of people that belong to the Northern Doorway.
The Four Stages of Life:Elder
The wisdom of life is carried by our Elders as they have walked through all stages of life and watch as other experience their own trials.
The Northern Doorway represents rest, reflection, wisdom and sharing.
The North is the place of Winter, white snows that remind us of the white hair of our elders. It is the place of true wisdom. The white polar bear teaches us of strength and survival.
South – Zhaawnong
The Four Elements of Life:Earth
The Southern Doorway represents growth and nurturance, as the sun shines and nurtures all plants and life
The Four Medicines:Sweetgrass
Sweetgrass is the gift brought to us by the Southern Doorway was as it reminds us to be kind as we nurture all living things
The Four Seasons:Summer
During the season of Summer it is time for all things to grow and prosper in the light of the high sun and the long days
The Four States of Well Being:Physical Well Being
The season of Summer is the time of Physical endurance since this is the time of hunting, gathering and labour.
The Four Colours of Man:Red
Red is the colour of the race of people that sit in the Southern Doorway
The Four Stages of Life:Youth/Adolescence
Youth is the time of searching and growing into adulthood as well as finding the right path. We must always be kind and nurturing to the ones within this stage.
The Southern Doorway represents growth and nutrance. The South is the place of Summer, as it is time for all things to grow and prosper in the light of the high sun and long days.
East – Waabnong
The Four Elements of Life:Fire
The Sun rises in the easy and brings us a new day, therefore it is the place for the element of fire.
The Four Medicines:Tobacco
Tobacco was the first medicinal gift given to the Anishnaabe people. Tobacco is used as a prayer vessel to the Creator and all things spiritual thus Tobacco sits in the Eastern Doorway.
The Four Seasons:Spring
Spring is the time of rebirth and new beginnings.
The Four States of Well Being:Mental Health
In the beginning of all things, we are in a good state of mind, learning and growing.
The Four Colours of Man:Yellow
Yellow is the colour of the Sun and the race of people (The Oriental Race) in the Eastern Doorway.
The Four Stages of Life:Birth & Childhood
Infants and Children represent purity, innocence, beginnings and knowledge untouched by the world we live in.
The Eastern Doorway represents beginnings both new and renewed as East being the direction of birth and rebirth. Rebirth meaniing new things to learn on a new level of understanding.
West – Epngishmok
The Four Elements of Life:Water
The Sun sets in the West, and this is when the day dies as does all intentions and deeds performed during the day. Before we finish with our day we cleanse ourselves with the element of life that is Water.
The Four Medicines:Sage
The Western Doorway reminds us to respect change and death with acceptance and understanding, Sage is the medicinal gift to assist us in clearing our minds, heart and inner beings.
The Four Seasons:Autumn
Just as the day dies with the setting of the sun, during the season of Autumn, the leaves on the trees also die, along with the harvests of the year.
The Four States of Well Being:Emotional Health
It can be challenging and overwhelming to accept change, as well as to understand and respect death and decay, therefore the Western Doorway promotes Emotional Health.
The Four Colours of Man:Black
Black is the colour of the night sky as well as the race of people that sit in the Western Doorway.
The Four Stages of Life:Adult
We change in mind, body and spirit during the stage of adulthood.
The greatest lesson to learn from the teachers of the West is to accept ourselves as we really are, both spiritual and physical beings, and to never cut ourselves of from the spiritual part of nature.
If you have any questions, or would like me to share a certain Teaching or Tradition, feel free to email me at:
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I just want to make a point in saying that this Medicine Wheel may be slightly different from the Medicine Wheel of your own Nation. For example, Im aware that in some nations the medicine in the Northern Doorway is Sweetgrass rather than Cedar as shown in this post. It doesn’t mean this the teachings you know are wrong, or that the teachings in this post are wrong, it simply shows that many nations, though the base of the teachings are pretty much the same, all have their own variations and reasoning as to why they are different in their own way.