Different people will teach the Medicine Wheel in different ways. Still the Wheel and its contents is pretty much the same. Recently I was making a comparison between learning the Medicine Wheel and learning Karate. I explained that in Karate, the initiates called Karateka have to earn belts by memorizing katas which are patterns of fighting moves; and by passing practical fighting tests. With each new coloured belt the techniques and challenges get more difficult until they finally reach the black belt. Once the Karateka reaches the black belt, he or she has to show the Sensei (the Karate Master) that they have learnt what has been taught to them; but they also have to show the Sensei that they can contribute to the art of Karate by creating katas of their own. They have to show that they can be masterful as well which in many sacred arts means being able to be in service to the art. In the end, there may be different schools of Karate but they all share a common ground of fighting based on a spiritual philosophy.
Committing to the study of the Medicine Wheel is not very different than learning Karate except for the fact that the Medicine Wheel is not a martial art. Traditionally the Wheel is taught through stages and the initiate learns with the help of a teacher or Keeper of the Wheel. There are no belts earned but there are visions or dreams that mark the process as well as sacred tools. By the time initiates reach the point where they can become Keepers of the Wheel they are asked to show the teacher that they have learnt what they’ve been taught, and can also bring a self-originated awareness to the tradition. For those who are more familiar with teachings of the Medicine Wheel you’ll notice that every teacher has their own style or their own approach to the Wheel showing that they’ve reached a level of mastery. Traditional teachers of the Medicine Wheel like a Sensei in Karate commit and devote to the art their whole life.
Today, we see the Medicine Wheel being used by facilitators in corporate settings; psycho-therapists; and even teachers. Many of these individuals will have a basic notion of the Medicine Wheel and will incorporate it in their main field of study. Yet, there’s a difference between using elements of the Medicine Wheel to complete one’s perspective on life and being completely in service to the Sacred Circle Tradition. A teacher of mine once said: “It takes many life times of devoting to the Medicine Wheel before someone can fairly say they know the Wheel.”
I learnt the Medicine Wheel as a spiritual philosophy which was meant to be a guide in my practical life. And it has been for more than 20 years. Most people will understand the Medicine Wheel as a circle divided into four different colours (yellow, red, black and white). I’ve seen crafts representing the Wheel and hanging from the windshield mirror of cars. Other individuals will refer to the Wheel as a transfiguration of 36 stones. I’ve met psychics for example who will use this diagram of stones to do their readings. We see more and more massage therapists using the Medicine Wheel (structures of stones) as well. Finally, a good number of people will refer to the Medicine Wheel as Native teachings. The fact of the matter is Medicine Wheels can be found all over the Planet and in countless different cultures. Like Karate you can find different kinds of Wheels but they all share a common ground. They all share a wisdom that relates to nature and the stars; hence, no doubt the Wheel is a shamanic tool which guides us to better understand our human role in nature and the cosmos.
If you have any questions on the Medicine Wheel please don’t hesitate to ask. One of my goals this year is to offer an entry on the Wheel once a month. If you’re looking to learn something specific on the Wheel or you’d like for me to trigger a discussion on a particular component of the Wheel please leave me a comment…
P.S. This picture was taken in Golden, B.C. This Medicine Wheel is a permanent WHEEL.
When we first made the Wheel it attracted a lot of wild life. The owner of this Wheel and the property where it permanently resides kept us informed of the phenomenon this Wheel produces. We've been constantly amazed by this Wheel and we continue to collect data in connection to it. I was impressed with how the Wheel showed us through literal magnetic changes that it was connected to the seasons. Wheels teach us so much about the Earth we live on and the planets or cosmos we live in.