In the Native American & Indigenous traditions, there is always ceremony. Ceremony is a way of honoring life through ritual. It is a way of invoking the power that dwells within us all, and connecting it to Nature and the Earth Mother, putting us in alignment and therefore in harmony and wholeness. Our ancestors from all over the world have participated in ceremony since the beginning of time. Our modern society has moved away from ritual and the celebrations of ceremony, which has resulted in a great thirst by humans to return to these ancient ways. As human beings, we are coded for ritual. It is in our DNA from our ancestors. When we engage in ceremony, we are reawakening and affirming our innate wisdom and power as children of the Earth Mother. We are invoking our ability to heal body, mind, spirit and planet. We are connecting with nature and our natural rhythm. All of life is in rhythm. When we go with the flow of rhythm and the changes of life, we are in a state of harmony.
The Medicine Wheel, and the directions contained within the Medicine Wheel are metaphors for this natural rhythm and the circle of life.
In truth, there is no death. Life is simply an ongoing spiral of birth and re-birth. We are born as pure spirit and birth ourselves into physical form where we will move in a spiral of experience until we rebirth back to pure spirit. We go around the inner circles of the Medicine Wheel many times as we move around the Great Medicine Wheel of life. Beginning with our birth into the physical in the East, our childhood in the South, our awareness of who we are in the West and our wisdom and ultimate knowing as we reap our life’s abundance in the North. Only to be born again as we move towards the East.
Each indigenous nation has a different way of honoring the directions of the medicine wheel. Although I am of Cherokee heritage, I embrace an eclectic view of many different Native American beliefs. And so what I share with you here is from this eclectic point of view. There is a common thread that weaves a oneness between all nations, and so all is honored and respected within this viewpoint.
When we honor the directions, we are really looking at 7 directions. East, South, West, North, Above, Below and Center. In the East we have illumination, birth, awakening, the rising of the sun. We experience the element of Air, the wind that propels us along our journey in life. We have the support of the Animal Energies of Eagle, who is Spirit, and Hawk who is Messenger.
From the South we have healing, childhood, trust, the warmth of the mid-day sun and lessons. We experience the element of Fire, the force of change and growth. We have the support of the Animal Energies of Porcupine, which represents innocence, and Mouse, which represents scrutiny.
From the West we have introspection, darkness, intuition, personal awareness, cleansing. We experience the element of Water, the cleansing and nourishing force of life, the basis of our biology. We are supported by the animal totems of Bear, which represents introspection and growth, and turtle, which brings us cleansing.
From the North we have Abundance, Wisdom, Wholeness, Rest and Completion. We experience the element of Earth, our Mother. We are supported by Buffalo who represents abundance and prayer and by Wolf who is our teacher and provides us wisdom.
Above us is Father Sky, where Grandmother Moon, and Grandfather Sun reside. The essence of our Grandmothers & Grandfathers is the very force of life itself – light and rhythm. Below us is Mother Earth, the soil that creates all nourishment. She is our home and our sanctuary. She is beauty in all things. The Center of the Universe Within us is our Sprit, our Heart. We are the result of the divine holy union of Mother/Father God. We are children of the Earth and Sky and represent unity.
And so in Ceremony we honor the various aspects explained here as the Medicine Wheel. This term by the way is a term given to the various rock formations that the Europeans discovered when they came to Turtle Island – the Americas. It is not an indigenous term, but a European one. They would discover rocks in a circle, and circles and spokes within that circle. These circles are prayer altars and metaphors for life to the Native people of the Americas.
As we connect with that inner coding for ritual through ceremony, we are connecting to our core essence, our wisdom, our light, our power. You do not need to be of Native American heritage to experience this connection. You simply need to have a sincere desire to honor nature, the 2 legged, the 4 legged, the 8 legged, the winged ones & the fined ones, the plants, the trees, the land and the rocks – all of life. Through this honoring, and the connection you experience through ceremony, you will come to know a power that lies within you that is the power of the universe. This power is WISDOM – all knowing – all healing – it is divine, and so are you!