Thursday, October 28, 2010

Savoring the Anchors of the Medicine Wheel.

What do you know about gravity?

Two decades ago when I started learning about the Medicine Wheel, the first thing that I noticed was how important gravity was to the Wheel. For starters, Medicine Wheels are built with stones where the space between the stones is precisely and strategically calculated. Both Isaac Newton’s and Albert Einstein’s theories are represented within Sacred Circle tradition. Isaac Newton for example explained gravity as “a force or a kind of magnetism.” With the help of an apple, he came up with three basic laws of motion. Albert Einstein on the other hand saw gravity as “the result of a curve between space and time.” Both their theories are crucial to today’s scientific exploration.

The Medicine Wheel shows us that our First Nation ancestors were as interested in natural laws as Newton, Einstein, and other great physicists and philosophers. They connected gravity to the stars, the sun and the moon as well as the daily story of life on earth. We all know that without gravity we would all be floating in space; but indigenous ancestors understood that without gravity there would be no stars; the moon wouldn’t orbit the earth; and without gravity there would be no Universe.

Anchors on the Medicine Wheel speak of gravity; which in turns speaks of laws of motion, magnetism, time and space. Most people feel comfortable enough with the idea that the East implies the rising sun and new beginnings; the South describes the peak of day and hence the peak of our own power/medicine; the West depicts the setting sun or a time for initiations, letting go and death; and the North brings us to dark skies where spirit guides us to our wisdom. Yet, when taught about the Wheel the elders often entice us to look deeper and to set the kind of anchors that will bring us to movement/change; magnetism/beauty and abundance; time/learning and healing; and space/attitudes and gratitude. Setting the anchors to our personal Sacred Circle is crucial because it’s what will determine the worth and purpose of our inner Universe.

Suddenly after I was initiated as a traditional dreamer my evening dreams would always end with the rising sun. Still does… I would wake up every day between 4:00 and 5:00am just before dawn. In complete, utter silence, I would sit in bed and watch the sky fill with colors. In time my observations showed me that dawn was a short lived moment: It would come and go in less than a few minutes. It became clear then that light and darkness was influenced somehow by motion. If it wasn’t the light or the darkness that moved, then it was the Earth and ME. Clearly, the Dream Time expected me to journey through the anchors and to set some anchors of my own. Dawn and what I experienced at sun rise described the East.

I often like to explore the anchors by looking at the gravity in my life. What makes me feel heavy, present to the world around me and connected? In my family as I was growing up quite a few of the women suffered from eating disorders: Anorexia and bulimia. For some time in my early adolescence everything seemed to be about food. I was a bit chubby then, and my weight seemed to be a preoccupation to everyone but me. Life suddenly became about what I should or should not eat to stay slim rather than about healthy eating. I didn’t know it at the time but juveniles diabetes ironically saved my life. I suddenly got skinny for no obvious reason and shifted my focus to uncomfortable physical symptoms. I sought to find out what was ailing me and it took almost a decade before someone was willing to step out of adolescent stereotypical issues and look at what was really going on. During this time I learnt to trust myself. This was huge for me because I was extremely introverted, timid and somewhat insecure. I progressively developed strong perspectives on modern medicine, my family issues, and miraculously (and so it seemed) found some warrior courage to change my life. By mid adulthood I finally chose to walk the red road and to be happy / healthy.

Life’s challenges bring forth very specific events in our lives that allow us to grow in medicine. The south of the Medicine Wheel is about the time we spend kneeling and praying for wisdom. It’s also the time we spend journeying towards our medicine / power. Remember gravity is about magnetism, movement, time and space. These different properties which explain gravity are important to keep in mind for each anchor.

As most of you know, death has always been an important part of my life. I’ve been able to see spirit since birth; I’ve assisted people and animals to face death and die; and I’ve died twice and chose to return. The west of my Wheel often refers to this very important facet of my life. When I dig deeper into this anchor I also understand that death on my Wheel definitely triggered in me the need and the desire to learn and to teach. It’s also brought forth an exploration into duality. I think that death awakens in most people this strong desire to live or to experience all that we can experience.

We often explore our anchors with the help of totems. I know that the north of my Wheel would have been difficult to crack (so to speak) without the help of the Snowy Owl. I used to often dream that I was killing snowy owls by hitting them in the face with a shovel. I would wake up sweating and screaming each time. I knew nothing of these birds and couldn’t quite figure out why I was hurting them even though it was in my sleep. It certainly pushed me to do some research on them. Finally, in 9th grade I had the pleasure of witnessing a show on bird’s of prey. For the first time in my life I stood in front of a snowy owl and watched it look straight at me. It was the most beautiful creature in the world.

It actually took me a little over two and a half decades to finally uncover the meaning of this awful dream; to accept this bird as kin; and to allow myself to fly as an Owl. Ironically, it was a simple as coming across an old Mohawk, Creation story. In this tale Creator is giving form to the souls of Creation. One of the formless souls keeps hooting with excitement. It wants to be chosen first. It wants to have a say in the shape it inherits. It wants all of the attention. Creator suddenly looses patience and grabs the soul quite aggressively. With humour, sarcasm and a bit of vengeance Creator decides to give this impatient, arrogant and pushy soul a flat face, big bulging eyes and a head that can spin around 360 degrees. He tells the bird that from now on it will learn about the virtue of patience; let go of expectations and vanity; and look at everything that exists around him/her.

“You are not the only creature on the Planet,” Creator says, “be mindful of those around you and use your eyes especially to see in the dark where most creatures are forgotten.”

Touched by the story, I finally came to realize the meaning of my dream. I understood that it was not a nightmare after all; but a glance into the well of Creation where all the memories are etched in the rock. Learning about my wisdom took time as I believe it should for pretty much everyone. We often waste lots of time and space complaining and running away from who we are, and our path and purpose. Strangely enough it fits into natural and cosmological reality. The north takes time to discover and even though I understand it today, I still continue to explore its deeper meaning every day.

It’s the anchors of the Medicine Wheel which create the famous cross that its recognized for. The stronger the anchors the stronger the container which holds every little detail of who we are, our journey and where it is taking us. Once the anchors are set the magnetic force begins to spiral and magically it reveals the Universe that exists around you. It reveals the stars, the planets and every other astral mass out there that will either cross your path, repulse, attract or collide with you. It makes it possible for you to become part of the story. It gives you life!

I strongly recommend that you do not rush through the exploration of your personal wheel. Savour every step. You are in no hurry to find every totem, every role, every moon, your clan or your anchors. The beauty of the Medicine Wheel is that the more you learn about it the more there is to learn.

P.S. I recommend that you explore the blog:
I found the pictures of the MOON on this blog completely mesmerizing. Every month we explore a MOON.
Imagery is an important part of the journey -- it's a language we should never forget and continue to develop even as we grow up. Remember anchors are about the HEAVY STUFF in our lives but it doesn't have to always be about suffering and hardships. What leaves an impression is anchoring? You figure out what is anchoring in your life.... I look forward to your comments.


taranova said...

ooh... that mention was a surprise! Thankyou x
I'm glad you *found* me, cos i'm really enjoying your writing & insights... so informative & a big nudge towards that inner knowing, and where my thoughts have been leading me lately. I agree that the more you learn, the more you realise there is to learn... i'm reading back through slowly...Thank you again.
(i also post more pictures & thoughts at too)

Emily said...

Wow, there is a lot here to sit with and reflect on.
Reading your words makes me look at myself and my own experience, my own wheel.
When you talk about the North it makes me question what I know about this anchor on my wheel.
I had thought in finding all of my totems I would complete my wheel. What I didnt see is that my wheel is already complete, I just dont fully see it all yet.

I thought I knew what my totem was in the North but now Im not so sure. In saying that - I'm ok exploring this further, getting to know myself, while getting to know my wheel.

I might look at where the gravity is in my life, what grounds me, contains me, and prevents me from floating off into space!

Thank you.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


I'm glad you are reading my blog. I love yours!!
The pictures are amazing and the way you connect to the MOON is inspiring. We have a Moonlodge in Montreal. You'd be the perfect VISIONARY to lead it.
Looking forward to getting to know you.


I'm glad to hear that you are OK with exploring you totems a little bit more. It is so important to savor our totems and to really integrate the experiences they offer. Without the integration we can not fly with the wings of our Owl, our Raven or run with the paws of our Wolf....

Your comment was inspiring.
Thank you.


Michelle said...

Great Blog Okwaho and yes the Moons on Moondreamin are stunning!
What anchors me I am still exploreing this but I know my spouse my kids the wheel so many things give me a grounding to who I am growing to be. I have gone back to researching and exploreing my totems I recieved a Horse news paper in the mail *dreaming* and I read through the whole thing highlighting information that stood out to me and I noticed some diet tips for horses so i am going to try the diet for a bit and it spoke about movement and touch Horse is in my East I am also trying to wake up early to catch the mornings color changes I like how you said savour!
Thank you.

Belinda FIreman said...

Lisa, Thank you for the reminder not to rush knowing my Wheel. And reading what you wrote about the "more you learn, the more there is to learn" totally echoes what I wrote yesterday: that the more I learn, the more I want to learn. SO true. Patience is a big thing for me to learn right now, in many areas of my life, so I appreciate the reminders, and how it shows up.