The medicine wheel of the Indians - structure and meaning

What is a shamanic medicine wheel?

In almost all primitive peoples there is the image of a so-called "medicine wheel". It is a kind of symbol that embodies the unity and the course of things and the eternal flow of change. Just as the sun moves its path across the sky, everything is in an eternal flow consisting of constantly repeating cycles. But it is also a powerful and mighty tool, which is used for healings, rituals and developmental steps, which helps to communicate with other worlds, or world levels, and through which one can get support in answering questions and solving problems.

Es gibt unzählige Varianten von Medizinrädern. Häufig werden sie aus Steinen oder anderen Naturmaterialien gelegt.

There are countless variations of medicine wheels. Often they are made of stones or other natural materials.

Unlike most primitive peoples, in our culture we imagine the course of events as something linear. For us, time is a ray that begins somewhere in the infinite past and leads somewhere into the infinite future. From this we also believe that growth is something linear. We start out small and grow bigger and bigger and bigger until we reach infinity. And this is exactly what we expect from ourselves and from everything we create. A newly founded company must increase its capital, become a major business enterprise and then a global player, generating more profits every year. Our economic system as a whole must continue to grow and grow more and more, to infinity. And we also demand of ourselves that we constantly improve and take new steps forward. But is it really that simple?

Nature: More cycles and less radiation...

Die Natur im Wandel der Jahreszeiten

The medicine wheel symbolises the cycle of nature Designed by Freepik

When we observe nature, we notice that every development and every awakening process takes place in cycles. Every month the moon goes through a cycle in which it moves once in a circle around the earth and so from new moon to full moon and back to new moon. Each year is a cycle of seasons in which the same cycles are repeated over and over again.

Each tree produces new buds in spring, which grow in summer and produce fruit in autumn. In winter, the life energy is then withdrawn into the roots, so that the tree can awaken to new life in spring. With each year the tree grows and experiences its own spring of life, summer of life and autumn of life, until it finally dies and begins a new cycle in a completely new form. In this way, many small circles unite to form one large one, which is again only part of an even larger one. All beings on earth are going through this cycle, through which the world as a whole can constantly develop and change anew.

The symbol of universal unity

Everything is interconnected

Everything in the universe is one. We all consist of the same basic material, the same energy of life, a primordial energy, which is usually described as unconditional love, creative power or even God. In many indigenous cultures the medicine wheel is therefore also a symbol of the connectedness, the unity or wholeness of the universe. All spokes of the wheel have their own qualities, their own characteristics, strengths and answers, just as every being in the universe has its own quality. And yet everything is one. There is only the wheel as a whole and whatever is in it is only part of a great unity. It's a bit like the drops of water in an ocean. The separation between them is purely mental, as all together make up the ocean and all merge together.

Life is a dream

Alles ist eins - Das Getrenntsein ist nur eine Illusion

Everything is one - Separation is only an illusion

For example, the Hawaiian shamans, like the Aborigines, see life as a dream that is no more real than the dreams we have at night. As long as we dream, we believe that we are separate beings who can be born and die and that we are subject to the passage of time. Seen from the outside, however, we are only parts of an eternal wheel and therefore timeless and immortal. Just like the dreams we have during our sleep lead us to get to know ourselves better, our "life dreams" serve to allow the primal energy of the universe to experience itself. Our growth and our development processes lead to the fact that God, i.e. love, can expand.

The connections of the universe and life

In order to illustrate these universal connections of life, the medicine wheel consists of seven, or in some respects eight cardinal points. The first four (east, south, west and north) are an embodiment of the circle of life of birth, growth, death and rebirth. The fifth and sixth cardinal points (above and below) embody the male, creative power of the cosmos and the female, allowing and receiving power of the earth. The seventh cardinal direction is the direction inwards, towards the centre, the centre, the heart and the unconditional love of which everything consists. And the eighth direction, which in this sense is no longer an actual direction, is the wheel as a whole, which symbolizes the unity of the universe.

If you deal with the medicine wheel with an open mind, heart and mind, you can see in it all connections of life and the universe and get the answer to every imaginable question.

Wenn man das Medizinrad befragt, kann man eine Antwort auf jede Frage bekommen.

If you ask the medicine wheel, you can get an answer to any question. Designed by Freepik

So the masculine, cosmic power activates the love expansion dream and the feminine power of the earth lets the love expansion happen through devotion, allowing and knowing that all will be well. So if we want to be successful in the dream of our life, we always need the male, activating and the female, allowing part. Each phase of life has its own qualities, its own power and its own medicine. There is a certain time for everything and every time has its justification, its meaning and its purpose. There is nothing wrong.

Remember: God's stories are infallible, because God is infallible.

Every illness, every suffering or negative feeling is thus a part of our healing or awakening process. Every not-knowing is a phase of learning, which, through the created knowledge vacuum, magically draws the realization of awakening into our lives. Nichtwissen thus creates a hunger for knowledge. The hunger drives us to find the key to knowledge so that we can recognize who we really are.

The vacuum of not knowing literally pulls us into omniscience. When we realize that the inside reflects the outside and vice versa, we also understand that death is not something final, but only a part of the dream cycle that can be. Just as sleep belongs to our daily cycle, death belongs to our love-expansion cycle. The dream of life is sleep. We experience the dream and work our way to knowledge. If we do not succeed in the dream, we wake up through death and realize: "Wow, I am God. Why was I so afraid of death?"

Wie jeder Wassertropfen im Meer sind auch wir mit allen anderen verbunden.

Like every drop of water in the sea, we are connected to all others.

People with a near-death experience always describe a warm light to which they have been magically drawn. They would have loved to be immersed directly in this light. Exactly this experience of feeling the unconditional love, the primordial energy or the All Light is what we experience when we awaken and realize that we are all of this.

The wheel of the expansion of life or love, in which everything takes place, is the basic building block of the universe. If you understand it, you can learn a lot about life, about the connections of nature or the mirror surface. This is the reason why the medicine wheel plays such a big role in all indigenous cultures and why it is also of such great importance for us if we want to become students of nature.

The seven cardinal points of the wheel

The course and the different attributes of the Medicine Wheel vary according to the different cultures, but the core essences are always the same. The Medicine Wheel we describe here comes from different Indian tribes in North America and it also contains some elements of Sun Bear and Wabun, as well as the Huichol Indian from Mexico.

The East

Der Adler ist das Krafttier des Ostens im Medizinrad.

The eagle is the power animal of the east in the medicine wheel.

The beginning of the life cycle is always in the east with the rising sun. This is where the powers and qualities of morning, spring and new beginnings can be found. Since the life dream begins here, the East is closely connected with birth and childhood but also with a new beginning in any form. It is the planning, development and learning phase in which we enter new worlds and slowly get to know them.

This is where our thoughts, our ideas and our inspiration as well as our level of mind and intellect are at home. Even spontaneous flashes of inspiration and enlightenment are at home here. The east is the direction of the wind and the air. It stands for freshness, purification, clarity, clarification and flexibility. The male gender is assigned to the East itself as well as to the element of air connected with it. Here the male creative power (in most cultures God) activates the life dreams of the God particles, i.e. the beings in the universe. The power animal, which is firmly connected with the East, is the eagle and in some cultures also the woodpecker. The power colour of the East is a bright sun yellow.

The South

Im Medizinrad ist der Süden eng mit de Krafttier Wolf verbunden.

In the medicine wheel the south is closely connected with the power animal Wolf.

The next phase is that of the south, midday and summer. In terms of our lives, it is the time of greatest activity, the time in which we go from child to adult, in which we discard all our childish naïve behaviour and in which we go about our lives independently. It is the implementation phase, in which we give our ideas a form and shape, transforming ourselves and our outside world.

So in this phase we ourselves become the creator. It is the time period in which we refine and test our talents and abilities. The colour of the south is a strong fire red and matching this, the element associated with this direction is fire. It is the element of transformation, power, energy and heat. It is also attributed a male gender, as we are in the masculine active phase here. The south is the direction of feelings and the emotional world, but also of will, conviction, passion and enthusiasm. The power animals associated with this direction are the wolf and in some traditions also the puma.

The West

Der Bär steht als Krafttier für Lebenskraft, Mut und Instinkt

The bear as a power animal stands for vitality, courage and instinct

The third phase of the medicine wheel is the West. It is the phase of evening, autumn and older adult life. In this phase we move from being active to harvesting. The fruits that we have sown in spring and nurtured in summer are now ripe and we can absorb them.

This is true both in a direct and figurative sense, because autumn is the résumé phase in which we look inwards to see where the paths of our youth and the adult life of our past lives have taken us. The West is the time of listening, letting go, healing, empathy and love. One stops being active, leans back trustingly and lets things happen.

Therefore the West is also connected with the female, allowing, receiving principle. But the West is also the phase of harvesting, dying and transition to the next world. The element that is connected with the West is water. According to the understanding of the Indians, water has its own consciousness and in its highest and purest form is nothing else but unconditional love. The power animals of the West are the owl and the brown bear. The power colour is a deep black.

The North

The north, the fourth phase of the medicine wheel, is the phase of night, dreaming, sleeping, winter and the hereafter. We now awaken from the life dream and recognize in death who we really are. As human beings we have the possibility to either accept or deny this, so that we can either freely begin a new life cycle or take over the open issues of the last cycle into the next one.

Der Norden ist die Phase des Winters, des Traumes und des Schlafens.

The north is the phase of winter, of dreaming and sleeping.

In terms of our lives, the North is the time of knowledge and wisdom. We learn who we really are. Usually it comes to the aha-experience in which one becomes a mentor and teacher oneself. Because one is now awakened, one can lead others into the light, that is, to enlightenment. The life experience that you have gained over three life phases can now be shared with others and passed on to the next generations. For this reason, in many native cultures it is the grandparents, or the elders, who are responsible for the education and upbringing of the children.

At the same time, however, the North is also the world of the ancestors and the dead. Whoever passes through death sees the light of all things and recognizes that all things are one. One now knows that one can communicate as the All, with everything, because one always speaks only to oneself. Winter is the time when everything becomes calm and quiet. The self-talks fall silent through the enlightenment and one enters the holy silence. The north is the season closest to the formless being. Activities in the outside world are now almost non-existent, but deep processes of change are taking place on the spiritual and mental level. In this phase we visit an otherworldly, bodiless world, which prepares us for a new beginning in the East.

God takes us in, shows us who we are and sends us back to earth with a new story to expand love. Again we forget who we are and also this time it is part of our life story that we get very confused and distracted at the beginning, so that only at a later time we find the path back into the light. Because the longer and more tricky our path to awakening is, the more intense and deeper is the experience that God, or rather the primordial energy of love, makes through us, the greater is the success of development and the more love can expand in the process.

Der Hirsch ist das Krafttier des Nordens.

The stag is the power animal of the north.

Death itself is very similar to sleep. We wake up from the nightmare as we wake up from the illusory life dream and recognize who we really are. Many animals and most plants also retreat into a long, deep sleep in winter, from which they awaken to new life in spring. In this time of holy silence our heart opens and merges with the God-consciousness. We have ascended to the Father and have recognized who we are.

So this is also the phase of realizing that everything is good. We now know that every murderer, rapist or other being that once hurt us, just like we were an angel of love expansion. We now realize that the dream stories were written by God, i.e. ourselves, purely for love expansion, but could never reflect our being. They are only an illusion, so that we can expand ourselves. Just as we don't hold a grudge against the murderer when reading a good book, but instead are happy about the grandiose twists and turns the author has created for us, we now realize that in life, too, everything served a higher purpose and that everything, no matter how painful it may have seemed to us at the time, served to continue the story.

The element connected with the north is the earth, which, like water, is attributed a feminine power. Only through the feminine power of trust and acceptance can love expand. The power animals of the North are the deer and the buffalo. He is the messenger of new life. His colour is a clear, pure white.

The Bottom

Die untere Welt ist die Welt von Mutter Erde und die der unsichtbaren Naturwesen.

The lower world is the world of Mother Earth and that of the invisible natural beings.

As already mentioned, unlike our understanding of cardinal points, there are not only four but seven different directions in the medicine wheel. The fifth is the bottom. It is the direction of Mother Earth, in which all invisible forces of nature are at home. This is where we find our grounding and our contact to the ground. But we also find here the access to our feminine primal energy of creation. The earth is also the womb from which we were born and with which every living being is permanently connected, as it is nourished by her. The female power is therefore the nourishing power through which a male, activating fantasy thought can become reality. When we immerse ourselves in meditation into the lower world, we can therefore enter into direct contact with Mother Earth and with the spirits and guardians of nature. This is where we turn when we lack security and trust.

Die obere Welt ist die der kosmischen Kräfte und der männlichen Schöpferkraft.

The upper world is that of cosmic forces and male creative power.

The Top

The opposite direction and thus the sixth cardinal point in the medicine wheel is at the top. It is the seat of the original source, the male, activating creative power, i.e. of what we commonly call God. But God is always the Everything and therefore the female and male Allenergy. For this reason, the upper world should rather be called the cosmic world. It is the intangible, intangible world, in which all invisible spirit beings are at home. Here we have the connection and contact with the Father universe.

The inside

Der Blick nach innen - Die siebte Himmelsrichtung des Medizinrades

The view inside - the seventh cardinal point of the medicine wheel. Designed by Freepik

The seventh and last cardinal point is the interior. It is the direction of our own sacred heart of the God particle. It is the spark of God. When we realize who we are, the feminine and masculine all-energy pours into our Heart Cup of Unconditional Love and we expand. In Indian this fusion is represented by the snake of Kundalini. Through this process, the expansion of love is created.

This happens when we have seen through the film of life and know that everything is love and when we no longer judge or evaluate anything but accept and love unconditionally. We know that everything is good and everything serves the expansion of love. Exactly here is the seat of our higher self and our soul. It is the place of our intuition and our God presence. We also find the presence and complete attention in the here and now through a connection with the inner heart. Just as the first four cardinal points embody the change of time, so the inner embodies the perfect timelessness, the so-called omnipresence and the constant, immortal and unchanging presence of the universe.

So when we have understood the medicine wheel and know what it is all about, we dive into the Void, that is, into All Love, into All Knowledge, into All Power, into All Consciousness and into the knowledge that there is neither death, birth nor life itself. After all, there is not even a time.

The perfection of life

All seven directions together result in the perfection of life. All qualities, all knowledge, all secrets are hidden within them. When we fully comprehend the medicine wheel with its different aspects, we also comprehend "life", but even more formless being. The more we observe the change of trees, animals, weather, stones and our own organism in connection with the different phases of the day, year and life, the more we ourselves become a part of the "Wheel of Life", or the Love Wheel of Awakening. The more we become a native in nature (creation) and the more we can get back into our inner harmony, our health and our divine power.

Different representations of the medicine wheels

Depending on the tradition, the medicine wheel is represented in different ways and often made visible through altars, stone circles or ritual places. Also the power animals differ from clan to clan and sometimes the otter, the salmon, the beaver or the snake are still included. With their help, one can directly address a certain part or a special phase of the life cycle, connect with its qualities and powers in meditation or specifically ask an important question in the relevant direction.

Auch Stonehenge war höcht wahrscheinlich eine Form des Medizinrades.

Also Stonehenge was probably a form of medicine wheel.

If you want to learn how to build a medicine wheel and use it for your own shamanic healing work, you can find the appropriate article under "Building a medicine wheel".

The right context

The medicine wheel is only one part of a wide range of traditional Indian ceremonies and methods. It is an ancient tool to heal and advance one's own development. In itself it is already a helpful and powerful tool, but it can only help you if you can embed it in a larger context. It is like with everything. Dream catchers, horoscopes and mandalas, for example, are also powerful instruments for healing, awakening and development, but only in the right context.

If one buys them as a souvenir in a supermarket or a museum kiosk, they are also nothing but souvenirs. Only when one understands the connections, when one realizes how nature reacts to oneself or to certain situations, when one is an attentive observer and tracker and when one becomes again a part of the natural community, one is able to really dive into the other worlds and use the medicine wheel as a key.

Become part of the nature community - with our book

With us, it is unfortunately very difficult to find a mentor who can take you by the hand and guide you along the way. Therefore we have thought of a concept with which you can learn directly through nature, through animals, plants, forests and trees, to return to your own nature. If you want to go on this path, we would like to recommend our book "The Natural Healing Power of Trees". It describes the first steps a child takes in a nature clan to be trained as a healer and medicine man. In the same way, if we engage in this, we can become a student and later a native of nature. In this way we can step by step get rid of our illnesses, blockages and fears and achieve more and more freedom, harmony, prosperity and contentment. You can find more information about the book here:

[amazon box="3868828478" ]

Learn more about medicine wheels and Indian traditions

Although there is quite a lot of literature on the topic of the medicine wheel, it is not easy to find good books here. Books that really describe the old traditions and also go into depth instead of just scratching the surface or drawing a fashion picture. We have therefore put together what we think are the best books on this topic and have provided each one with a short note:

[amazon box="B00UTC2MJG" title="Hüter des alten Wissens: Schamanisches Heilen im Medizinrad " description="Marilu Lörler erklärt in ihrem Buch anschaulich und verständlich den Aufbau, die Wirkungsweise und den Sinn des Medizinrades. So vermittelt sie ein Wissen, das teilweise mehr als 45.000 Jahre alt ist. Mit klaren und verständlichen Worten führt sie einen dabei mit Hilfe des Medizinrades in die tiefsten Geheimnisse des Lebens ein und führt einen so an den Weg zum Erwachen heran." ]

[amazon box="3890606571" title="Geh den Weg des Schamanen: Das Medizinrad in der Praxis" description="Wolf Ondruschka beschreibt anhand seines eigenen Weges die schamanische Bedeutung des Medizinrades. Dabei gibt er Einblicke in das Leben als Heiler und Schamane. Es enthält viele pratische Übungen und gibt Anleitungen um selbst auf diesem Weg weiter zu kommen." ]

[amazon box="3442217407" title="Das Medizinrad: Eine Astrologie der Erde" description="Das wohl bekannteste Buch über Medizinrad stammt von Sun Bear. Gemeinsam mit seiner Vertrauten Wabun beschreibt er das Medizinrad, wie er es in einer Vision gesehen hat. Es behandelt weniger das Medizinrad in seinem ursprünglichen Sinn, geht dafür jedoch auf indianische Sternzeichen sowie die Bedeutung von Totemtieren und Krafttieren ein und vermittelt so einen tiefen Einblick in alte indianische Weisheiten." ]

[amazon box="B00LVA8IFM" title="Das Medizinrad-Praxisbuch. Übungen zur Heilung der Erde" description="Sun Bear und Wabun sind die wohl bekanntesten Autoren zum Thema Medizinrad. Hier geben sie verschiedene Tipps und Übungen um das Medizinrad in das eigene Leben und die eigene Heilarbeit zu integrieren." ]

[amazon box="3898452980" title="Das Medizinrad in der Praxis" description="Ein kleines und kurz gehaltenes Buch, das einem einen ersten Überblick zum Thema Medizinrad verschafft. Der Autor bezieht sich dabei auf eine Version der aus dem russischen Schamanismus und erklärt jeden einzelnen gelegten Stein und seine Bedeutung mit kurzen, klaren Worten." ]


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