Medicine Wheel Ceremony and Teachings

Medicine Wheel Teachings…

sedona vortex tour medicine wheel ceremonyA Medicine Wheel is a ceremonial tool used by Native Americans to perform rituals that honor the four directions, the sacred hoop of life, the animals, the sun and moon, Mother Earth and Father Sky, and many more aspects of the natural world. Many other tribes and ancient cultures have other purposes for the wheel that are still a mystery today. The teachings here are mostly Native American based and are a collection of what I have found and studied.

Native Americans believe that “Medicine” is anything that deepens your relationship with the Creator and the Great Spirit.

boynton canyon medicine wheel sedonaTo understand the significance of the Medicine Wheel, we need to go back to a time when most Indian nations were constantly at war with each other. Tribes were obsessed with wiping out their “enemies.” Then a dramatic shift in perception occurred, and a peace was realized, which lasted for a period of 150 to 200 years. This long truce was the result of a great Iroquois chief, later to become Hiawatha, who urged the tribes to cease the madness of brother killing brother, and formed an alliance, which came to be known as the Confederation of Nations. The Confederation recognized that Indian peoples were more alike than different. Even though they spoke different dialects, they had the same basic belief systems and followed similar traditions.

hopi medicine wheelThe wheel is a circle divided by a cross to create four directions, the east, south, west and north. Also a symbol of astrology, each person is represented somewhere within that circle depending upon their birth moth and day. That placement is associated with a special moon, power animal, totem clan, healing plant, color and mineral.

What is your Animal Totem? What is Animal Medicine?

When we are seeking more balance and answers in life, we may call upon the animal spirit guides as the ancient Native Americans once did. Have you ever wondered why a stray dog wandered into your yard, or a hawk flew past just in front of you as you were driving? Do you collect pictures or figurines of pigs, dolphins, or frogs? These are all gentle messages from the animal spirit world offering you insight and clarity to your daily tasks and challenges. Find your animal totem below…

Birth Date Totem Animal Spirit Keeper or Clan Direction Element
Dec 21-Jan 19 Snow Goose Waboose – Buffalo North Wind
Jan 20-Feb 18 Otter Waboose – Buffalo North Wind
Feb 19-Mar 20 Wolf/Cougar Waboose – Buffalo North Wind
Mar 21-Apr 20 Hawk Wabun – Eagle East Fire
Apr 21-May 20 Beaver Wabun – Eagle East Fire
May 21-Jun 20 Deer Wabun – Eagle East Fire
Jun 21-Jul 21 Woodpecker Shawnodese – Coyote South Earth
Jul 22-Aug 21 Sturgeon Shawnodese – Coyote South Earth
Aug 22-Sep 22 Bear Shawnodese – Coyote South Earth
Sep 23-Oct 22 Crow/Raven Mudjekeewis – Bear West Water
Oct 23-Nov 21 Snake Mudjekeewis – Bear West Water
Nov 22-Dec 20 Elk/Owl Mudjekeewis – Bear West Water

There may be variances depending on different tribes, as shown by a slash (/). We recommend you research both, then you will know which one is you! The astrological animal may not be your own personal totem animal. Use it instead as an additional helper.

medicine wheel ceremony sedonaExperience a traditional Native American Medicine Wheel Ceremony in Sedona. Learn how the wheel represents the circle of life and how we can use it for healing our past and creating more abundance and gratitude in our lives now. Contact Rebekah at 928.420.2077

At the wheel, we say two prayers, one for releasing and forgiveness and one for gratitude and abundance. When we speak out loud to the universe we are stating our intentions and this is very powerful. I’ve seen miraculous things happen, some of which most people won’t believe or even understand.

Before entering the wheel in the East we will offer some kind of herb or prayer. This is an offering to let the spirits know the we enter with pure hearts and leave any ego or negativity outside of the sacred wheel. The Hopi may offer white cornmeal, the Navajo and Lakota may offer tobacco. Some also offer sage, cedar or water. I’ve also seen fresh rose petals and recently gold glitter. Offering something before we enter the wheel is a good practice. It is said that before we enter any sacred space or even just going out into nature for a vision quest, it is good practice to offer something at the “door.” Just as some tradition will do, going to see someone at their house, they will offer a gift. It’s also common practice to smudge yourself before going into ceremony.

We’ve worked with children from the age of three and the grandmothers and grandfathers, all seem to have something to pray about.

Medicine Wheel CeremonyThe prayer we hold is not tied to any religion, it is a Native American prayer that includes all living things such as the Creator, the Great Spirit, the animals, the four directions of the universe, our ancestors, and other things that bring us closer to nature.

The sound of the drum is healing and has been used for thousands of years. Some receive healing from it and some receive a vision.

The medicine wheel dates back thousands of years originating from the Lakota Sioux. Today, Medicine Wheel ceremonies are becoming more popular and can be found all over the world. As the teachings spread to different cultures, it is a bit modified, therefore not every ceremony will be alike. Each will be a bit different and that’s okay.

DigiCamMy training’s to hold the ceremony have come from several sources, some Lakota, Cherokee, Navajo and Hopi. I have also read many books from Sun Bears “The Medicine Wheel” to “Medicine Wheel Ceremonies” by Vicki May and C.V. Rodberg. I’ve also read books published by shamans and healers around the globe that have included teaching about the Medicine Wheel along with other native teachings and ceremonies. Over the years I have developed my own ceremony keeping it as authentic as possible.

In the Medicine Wheel we sing songs for forgiveness and gratitude. We offer our blessings and prayers to Mother Earth and Father Sky, to Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon, to the four directions and the animals that represent them.

medicine wheel sacred journeysMost people experience a lightness and tingling sensation. Some don’t want to leave the wheel because they feel so connected a sense of true security that they are afraid to leave the wheel and loose it. This is a feeling and an experience that can be done at any time and in any place.

So if you are coming to Sedona and want to experience this ceremony, I would highly recommend it whether it’s with us or anyone else, it is healing and will be an experience you will remember forever.

we build medicine wheelsRecently, we have been getting more requests to do the Medicine Wheel ceremony and requests to build Medicine Wheels on people’s property. We would love to build a Medicine Wheel for you! Do you have a perfect location picked out on your property? Contact us to set up a time to build a wheel and hold an activating ceremony. 928.420.2077

The medicine wheel is a symbol of symmetry and balance. During the process of constructing the wheel you will begin to recognize what areas of your life are not in balance, and where your attention is lacking and requires focus. Continuing working with the wheel after you constructed it. Sit with your wheel in silent meditation. Allow the wheel to assist you in gaining new and different perspectives.

medicine wheel animalsThe medicine wheel represents the many cycles of life. The circle is representative of life’s never ending cycle (birth, death, rebirth). Each stone or spoke placement in the wheel focuses on a different aspect of living.

A personal medicine wheel can be made using fetishes such as crystals, arrowheads, seashells, feathers, animal fur/bones, and so on. Take time to reflect on each aspect of your life (self, family, relationships, life purpose, community, finances, health, etc.) as you place objects within the circle.

Over the years We’ve been assisting people from all over the world to heal past wounds, physical, emotional and spiritual. We never know what to expect with each one and they are all different. No matter what you want to do from heal physical pain to an old emotional wound, drumming in the medicine wheel can help. This can help release negativity that you have been carrying around for a long time, sometimes we don’t even realize we are carrying it.

medicine wheel bighornThe term “medicine wheel” was first applied to the Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, the most southern and one of the largest in existence. That site consists of a central circle of piled rock surrounded by a circle of stone; “Rays” of stones travel out from the central core of rock and its surrounding circle. The structure looks like the wheel of a bicycle. Alberta and British Columbia, have two-thirds of all known Medicine wheels (47) which suggests that Southern Alberta was a central meeting place for many Plains First Nations tribes who followed Medicine Wheel ceremonies.

medicine wheel sedona red rocks

Medicine wheels were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center cairn of stones, and surrounding that would be an outer ring of stones, then there would be “spokes”, or lines of rocks, coming out the cairn. Almost all medicine wheels would have at least two of the three elements mentioned above (the center cairn, the outer ring, and the spokes), but beyond that there were many variations on this basic design, and every wheel found has been unique and has had its own style and eccentricities. The most common deviation between different wheels are the spokes. There is no set number of spokes for a medicine wheel to have. The spokes within each wheel are rarely evenly spaced out, or even all the same length. Some medicine wheels will have one particular spoke that’s significantly longer than the rest, suggesting something important about the direction it points (see Meaning below). Another variation is whether the spokes start from the center cairn and go out only to the outer ring, or whether they go past the outer ring, or whether they start at the outer ring and go out from there. An odd variation sometimes found in medicine wheels is the presence of a passageway, or a doorway, in the circles usually starting in the east direction. The outer ring of stones will be broken, and there will be a stone path leading up to the center of the wheel. Also many medicine wheels have various other circles around the outside of the wheel, sometimes attached to spokes or the outer ring, and sometimes just seemingly floating free of the main structure.

medicine wheel yavapai sun symbolThe Medicine Wheel can take many different forms. It can be an artwork such as artifact or painting, or it can be a physical construction on the land. Hundreds or even thousands of Medicine Wheels have been built on Native lands in North America over the last several centuries.

Movement in the Medicine Wheel and in Native American ceremonies is circular, and typically in a clockwise, or “sun-wise” direction. This helps to align with the forces of Nature, such as gravity and the rising and setting of the Sun.

Meanings of the Four Directions

medicine wheel wyDifferent tribes interpret the Medicine Wheel differently. Each of the Four Directions (East, South, West, and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow, and white, which for some stands for the human races. The Directions can also represent:

  • Stages of life: birth, youth, adult, and elder.
  • Seasons of the year: spring, summer, fall and winter
  • Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
  • Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water, and earth
  • Animals: Eagle, Bear, Coyote, Wolf, Buffalo and many others
  • Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage, cedar

medicine wheel prayer pahoIn the Hopi Medicine Wheel of the Hopi prophecy of the four peoples of the Earth, the cardinal direction North represents the body, plants and animals, the color white and ‘white skinned peoples’, and Childhood. (can also represent birth, and/or meeting a stranger and learning to trust as in infancy, explained in Erik Erikson’s stages of Psychosocial development).

You can read my version of the Four Directions Prayer here.

The East is held to represent the mind, air, the color yellow and ‘yellow skinned peoples’, learning the groups to which people belong and the infant.

The South holds the heart, fire, the color red and ‘red skinned peoples’, and the child.

The West holds the spirit, water, the color blue or black, and ‘black-skinned peoples’ and Adulthood.

medicine wheel four directionsThe North represents the final life stage in the wheel, being an elder and passing on knowledge to the next generation so that the wheel may start again just like the circle it takes after. It is also associated with the color white, representing the white hair of the elders and the white skinned people.

In many other tribes, however, the Northern direction corresponds to Adulthood (the White Buffalo), the South represents Childhood (the Serpent), the West represents Adolescence (the Bear) and the Eastern direction represents Death and Re-birth (Eagle). In terms of social dynamics, community building and the use of Circles in Restorative Justice work, the four quadrants of the circle correspond to Introductions.

The Native-American concept of the medicine wheel symbolically represents a nonlinear model of human development. Each compass direction on the wheel offers lessons and gifts that support the development of a balanced individual. The idea is to remain balanced at the center of the wheel while developing equally the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of one’s personality. The concept of the medicine wheel varies among Native peoples: different groups attribute different gifts to positions on the wheel. But the following offers a generalized overview of some lessons and gifts connected with the development process.

Medicine Wheel Healing HandsLessons and gifts from the EAST, the place of first light, spring, and birth, include:
Warmth of the spirit
Purity, trust, and hope
Unconditional love
Courage
Truthfulness
Guidance and leadership
Capacity to remain in the present moment

Lessons and gifts from the SOUTH, the place of summer and youth, include:
Generosity, sensitivity, and loyalty
Romantic love
Testing of the physical body/self-control
Gifts of music and art
Capacity to express feelings openly in ways respectful to others

Lessons and gifts from the WEST, the place of autumn and adulthood, include:
Dreams, prayers, and meditation
Perseverance when challenged
Balance between passionate loyalty and spiritual insight
Use of personal objects, sacred of life’s meaning
Fasting, ceremony, self-knowledge, and vision

medicine wheel rachel knoll sedonaLessons and gifts from the NORTH, the place of winter and elders, include:
Intellectual wisdom
Ability to complete tasks that began as a vision
Detachment from hate, jealousy, desire, anger, and fear
Ability to see the past, present, and future as interrelated

These are all different teaching from all corners of the earth, and as you can see they each slightly differ from one another. Therefore in creating and performing a Medicine Wheel Ceremony, there is no wrong way to do it. So dance, sing, shake the rattles and beat the drum as it all will help you on your personal medicine path.

Experience a traditional Native American Medicine Wheel Ceremony in Sedona. Learn how the wheel represents the circle of life and how we can use it for healing our past and creating more abundance and gratitude in our lives now. Contact Rebekah at 928.420.2077

Aho, Rebekah Two Moons