Thursday, November 11, 2010

Medicine Wheel the Experience.

Imagine the Medicine Wheel as a wigwam (tepee). The anchors hold the wigwam fasten to the ground. In the east there’s the door. The clans are at the center where the fire should be. The moons are orbiting at the top where there’s usually an opening to let out smoke. The poles which give the three dimensional aspect to the wigwam are the mysteries. The elements identify everything that moves or remains within the dwelling: People, stories, blankets etc… The winds refer to life’s challenges: Natural storms, death, accidents, war etc…

Lots of people come knocking at my door to learn about the Medicine Wheel. Most will say that the reason why they are approaching this indigenous philosophy is because they are looking for healing and self-discovery. From a Western point of view or from a New Age point of view this actually makes sense; but from a Sacred Circle perspective it hides a few inconsistencies. The whole idea behind the Medicine Wheel is that we are born and we live according to the Sacred Circle way. In Western society when we’re sick we usually consult a medical doctor. We basically refer to a physician to diagnose the problem and help us treat it. We can’t approach the Medicine Wheel in the same manner because it’s understood that nobody knows the Wheel better than the person who lives according to it; and as far as illness is concerned, it’s understood that through the Wheel we should be able to diagnose and heal whatever is ailing us. The Wheel doesn’t bring healing or self-discovery per say – “It’s a journey of teachings which brings us to walk towards healing, wellness and wholeness.”

Someone once argued with me that there was no such thing as living shamanically. He said that Shaman was the only word which existed in the Tungus language and that it was wrong to create vocabulary which describes a Tungus reality; but can not be understood by these people. My reply was that I wasn’t familiar with the Tungus language; but “if it’s anything like any other indigenous language, words were always meant to speak of experiences and impressions with the intention to share with others.” In the Inuit language for example there are approximately 250 words to speak of snow and each word describes a different snowy experience. Shamanic people in general share common perspectives, behaviours and attitudes like any other collective. If we explore the word Shaman closely we come to understand that these people understood life as a journey which explores medicine (power, sacredness and influence) and that they hoped to communicate, to use, to create, to better understand this power in order to connect to the basic nature of life. In other words they walked the talk (so to speak). They lived the Shaman way.

If the word Shamanism separates the Shaman way from the Western way for example then I agree with the young man who argued against “shamanic vocabulary.” Yet if the word Shamanism or shamanic simply bring forth the fact that there’s something more to our daily living and that it offers a very particular impression then, aren’t we following exactly what the Shamans have been saying since the beginning that life is medicine and that we can interact directly with it?

I don’t say that “it is wrong for anyone to learn the wheel as a philosophy”. Heck I don’t say “anything is wrong” unless I’ve experienced it and it’s taken away from me healing, wellness or wholeness. Still, I strongly suggest to those who want to learn about Sacred Circle tradition that they apply it to their daily living and that they explore the different facets of the wheel from an empirical point of view. There’s no other way from a shamanic point of view to reach healing, wellness and/or wholeness.

P.S. Wouldn’t mind some questions or suggestions for future blog entries. I’m drawing a blank these days. Don’t be shy to suggest something that I haven’t done yet!!! I’m open to anything.

P.P.S. I'll be back with a picture.


WampumBlueRaven said...

Loved this line Lisa

.. life is medicine and that we can interact directly with it?

As for topics, I do not know if this is been covered- I know it tops up in your story here and there- but
this came to mind right after reading this blog..

Shaminism and Gratitute

Lulu said...

Hi Lisa,

I enjoy reading your visual of the MW as a wigwam.

Not sure if a blog could be written about this but i have a question.

Do you think connection with some levels of dreaming affect us physically at times?

I will share my experience if it helps understand the question.


Michelle said...

love the picture that I got of the Tipi most of the tipis i have helped raise up had 16 poles so its neat that they connect to the mysteries. We want a Tipi in our yard someday.
Some topic questions I thought of were roles of the wheel.
Cosmological and Natural laws what are these?
When mars came close to earth some of us were influencd in a powerful way.
With the galaxy aligning in 2012 how is this affecting Earth and its Magnetic force.
what are Guides are they from other planets, past souls why do they pick us to work with?
Is being a guide another level or path that our spirit can take when you die? Is it a calling like our own roles in this life?

ChristyDeer said...

I really don't like to pop the bubble, but I feel I must bring out this truth since I have a connection to the Inuit people.

It is an Urban legend that they have so many words for snow. They actually have the same number as the english language, though both do have different ones to describe different kinds of snow.

The urban myth was started in 1911, when people began to misinterpret from a book written on the subject by anthropologist Franz Boaz.

Can anyone figure out what the different kinds of snow are in english...what's the experience you connect to each one?

Wapeyit Malsom said...


Please do share some stories to help me understand your question better. It sounds interesting.


Wapeyit Malsom said...


You haven't busted my bubble at all!

I was very much aware of Boaz's claims and the Urban Legend. If you research the topic a little bit you'll discover that this anthropologist claimed that there were 400+ words for snow in the Inuit language.

After working with an Inuit linguist for a few years -- his research showed 250 words which refer to snow, in the Inuit language. Believe it or not there's always truth behind every Urban Legend.

Where Boaz was claiming synonyms for the word snow, modern linguists have proven a vocabulary that is based on impression which was the point behind my blog.

Linguistic research show us that
1. Snow is an important part of Inuit living.
2. They pay attention to impressions and that their language represents experience.
3. The words within their language aren't defined but experienced.

The words were divided into sections like snow formation, snow particles, snow accumulation, snow affects, avalanches, snow storms etc.... Once you count these words they come up to about 250 words.

If we counted the words in the English language we would come up to approximately the same count. The only difference is -- in the English language our vocabulary centers more on synonyms than impressionable words.

The blog was simply meant to show that Aboriginal languages are based on the empirical.

I should have mentioned the Urban Legend and given reference to linguistic modern research. To be honest when referring to the French language - 250 words for snow isn't that much.

Finally, we may connect experiences to SNOW in the English language but our language doesn't consider words as experiences.

I hope I'm making sense here...

Thank you for challenging the blog.
It brings forth clarity, knowledge and illumination - the eastern elements on the Medicine Wheel.



Emily said...

Hi Lisa,

I skimmed through the past blog entries to see what you have written about already.
I'd be interested in reading more about Initiations, the different stages, for example, the final stage of a Dreamers initiation. Remember you talked about it a little with me before I left? You shared a little of your experience.
I wonder how we find out where we are in our own initiations. Maybe I'm not too far from the final stage.

I also like when you take a dream and break it down according to the wheel. I'd like to read more of those so that I have a better understanding and can apply the same to my own. Rather than working with impressions alone.
I'd like to get better at this especially considering how much I dream in the space of others.

I will come back with more topics.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


I'll consider your suggestion on the topic of "initiations." Since we are being influenced by the wind of the initiator this month it would certainly be synchronic... I'll see what I can do.

As for dreams.
You've heard EMILY -- send your dreams in for interpretations.


Cougar-D said...

When we talked last you talked about values for men and women and the idea of carrying the burdens. I can't stop thinking of this way of being in contrast to our lives now. I would really like to here more stories and information about these values and roles.


Wheelkeeper said...

I find it interesting that people come to the MW to look for healing. I always thought it was a calling to something that resonated with my inner being. I wasn't looking for healing when I came to the Wheel, I was following my guidance and it brought me there. I try to live my life according to the wheel every day.

There's lots to your post that I will need to sit with...


Wheelkeeper said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Wapeyit Malsom said...

Mary Rose,

Your last comment posted twice. I erase the extra one.

What is it about this particular blog that is asking for extra introspecting? Just curious...

I love the fact that you all take the time to write comments. I feel honored to be journeying with all of you.


Fishrarr said...

Hi Lisa, I really enjoy your blog and the way look at things. I find it refreshing.
It is my understanding that the Tungus word shaman means "To see, or travel (journey) the other world.
As for other topics to talk about I was wondering if you could talk about and ceremonys that you have experienced.
Blessings, Tom.

Lulu said...

Hi Lisa,

I'll do my best to explain what i mean....
All of the various bodies affect each other right? Mental to physical etc...
Recently i began the topic in the Lodge about the journey to life and death and i beginning to understand that although we have free will there is also a paradoxical issue of things taken out of our hands...whilst we are dreaming elsewhere or journeying elsewhere this i imagine has an affect on our body which is here in this reality.
Lately i feel changes in my body. I hear different pitches within me. Sometimes i feel i am elsewhere, it lasts seconds but i feel and hear the 'in a tunnel' or 'underwater' impression.
Lately i have begun to feel disorienated but just like my dreamer is pulling me somewhere else. I do not feel ill.
It is difficult to explain especially to those around me that i study with.
I have noticed when a cetain person enters the room that i begin to feel dizzy. I kept saying it was becasue of the lights flickering in class that i felt unusual but i had it again in a different classroom.
I understand hypersensitivity may be going on to some extent but it does not explain the more frequent noises and impressions i receive.

With all of the dreams i have seen lately perhaps my mental body is working overtime but i felt as though something was evolving because of my dreaming or something was affecting me because of the dreaming.

I hope this makes sense.

I will check myself out at the docs but i feel this is something related to my Dreamer.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


It's a good idea to check things out medically so that you can eliminate certain concerns.

At this point in time I don't know how these symptoms could relate to your dreamer. Not that I doubt -- they do!!! Dreaming has created its share of phenomenon in my life. I think we would need to talk more on the topic and look at synchronicities. With what you've shared - it's not enough for me to bring some guidance or assistance. Get in touch with me at

Talk to you soon.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


Thank you for leaving a comment.
Yes actually -- Shaman does mean "to see or travel to other worlds." It also means the "breath of Creation" and has implied "journeying through many different realities." When studying Shamanism, initiates often explore the lower, middle and upper worlds where in some traditions divides into 24 different levels of dreaming. This shamanic knowledge takes countless forms.... I never cease to be impress by people's stories as they journey shamanically.

Are you someone who is curious or devoted to Shamanism?

Finally, thank you for your blog suggestion. I will definitely try to write an entry on ceremonies that I have experienced. Are you looking to hear stories about particular ceremonies?


Fishrarr said...

Hi Lisa, to answer your reply about my comment, yes I have studied, at times I teach folks how to journey, do healings, and try to live the best I can shamaniclly in this crazy world. I started in 1992, and have had many teachers myself from all over the world, from many different tribes and cultures. As to ceremony’s I would be interested in any that you would care to share. The ones that I find most interesting are those that empower everyone in a good way. Power is a very interesting thing and takes a lot energy to get it balanced, without going overboard one way or another. We all have ups and downs with power that is for sure. Hope that helps,
Blessings, Tom.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


Where do you live?
It's always great to come across other teachers of Shamanism, the Medicine Wheel or Indigenous Dreaming etc....

I'm on the South Shore of Montreal, Quebec. Are you First Nation? Not that it is necessary to walk a shamanic path. Just curious.

I have been writing a blog for you... It will be posted shortly. I hope it answers your question about ceremonies.

Take care.
Glad to have you reading.

Fishrarr said...

Hi Lisa, Thank you for writing the blog, I have not had time to read it yet, but I am so looking forward to doing that soon. (busy day). I live in the other end of Canada, Nelson, BC. And in this life time I am not native that I know of, but do seem to walk in both worlds somehow, sometimes. Thank you again, I really enjoy being able to read wisdom from one so wise and does not fear walking the path of empowerment. Will post again when I have more time. Blessings, Tom.

Wapeyit Malsom said...


Beautiful place Nelson.
My brother-in-law lives in Nelson, B.C.

I look forward to reading your comments.
Do YOU write a blog?