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NATIVE AMERICAN
Medicine Wheels

Medicine Wheel in Cherokee: (nvwati gaqluadodi)

HISTORY OF THE MEDICINE WHEEL

There is a lot of mystery surrounding the history of Medicine Wheels. Actually, there are more unanswered questions by researchers than there are answered questions. It is similar to understanding the history of Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids in Egypt.

What is known is that medicine wheels have been found relative to the Plains Indian people, which their symbolism and meaning may have varied from tribe to tribe. There is no known consensus of belief within tribes. Being that I AM a Cherokee and we are river people, medicine wheels are not usually practiced in our culture.

The oldest stony wheels date back approximately 4,000 years ago, to the time of the Egyptian pyramids and the English megaliths like Stonehenge. Much of the history of medicine wheels in the U.S. was collected from oral history than researched and proved archaeology. And since the carbon dating goes back 4,000 years, then the oral history throws me for a loop. There is some evidence that the Blackfoot tribes used medicine wheels, and like the Indian groups before them who migrated to the Northern Plains adopted the medicine wheel as a cultural and spiritual icon. But the question still remains, "why?"

Some people believe they were used for a ceremony or ritual, and more than likely this is the case. But what was the ceremony or ritual? Some people claim they were for cleansing, praying, meditating, etc., but there still seems to be no consensus by Elders, archaeologists, researchers, etc.

  • Faithkeepers
  • Fire Ceremony
  • Sweat Lodges
  • Talking Circles
  • Have I used a Medicine Wheel?

    I have written on this site before, if I find or experience any information with the Medicine Wheel, I will pass it on to you. Here goes with the new information:

    Being a woman of science and feeling the need to experience a Medicine Wheel first hand rather than read a few pages off the internet and then claim to know the secrets of the Medicine Wheel; I was curiously drawn to experience its mystery while on a vision quest in Sedona, Arizona.

    While I AM half Cherokee with citizenship in the Eastern Band of Cherokees in Cherokee, North Carolina, medicine men and women are part of our culture, but Medicine Wheels are not commonly practiced or studied.

    Are you clair-audient (audio), sentient (feeling), voyant (visual) or kinestic (tactile)? Naturally, the curious Gemini in me, piqued my interest while staying at the Enchantment Resort at Boynton Canyon in Sedona, Arizona. I packed my backpack with energy bars, water, cornmeal, tobacco, a compass and naturally a first-aid kit and then set out on my journey. Now I'm a highly 'energy sensitive' type of gal and I have practiced using my intuition enough to know when to tune in to the 'buzz' or mind my own dang business. Being clair-audient, I 'hear' a buzz or words that I decipher and also clair-sentient because I'm sensitive to the emotional feelings of myself and those around me. I do not believe that my sensitivities were heightened on this particular day because I was in Sedona, Arizona but I do believe that my sensitivities were heightened because I was in a quiet physical place, I was in a quiet mental space and I was a willing soul, searching.

    I had heard this buzz once before in Boynton Canyon while on a day hike with a friend several years earlier.

    On this particular day, as I climbed to the top of a large flat rock formation, I began to hear a different type of buzzing. Almost as if electrical wires were buzzing directly above my head. Through the familiar, yet oh so unfamiliar buzzing, I kept hearing in the depths of my soul that I needed to decipher the buzz. It was a code.

    The Deciphered Code

    I have deciphered a similar buzzing code before but nothing like this! Yet the first thing I felt compelled to do before attempting to decipher the code was build a Medicine Wheel. So I did!

    I often walk a Labyrinth at home in St. Louis when I meditate and the desire to build the Medicine Wheel reminded me of how much I enjoy "moving meditations." Once I reach the center of the Labryrinth, then the stillness sets-in as I sit in the center and meditate. Just as it does after building and walking a Medicine Wheel, the stillness sets-in.

    For the 3rd time in my Life, I experienced the collective consciousness of every living and unseemingly living thing on the planet from humans to birds to trees, to rocks, to wind, and on and on. The first time I experienced this collective consciousness was through Ashtanga Yoga, the second time through walking a Labryinth and the third time was walking a Medicine Wheel.

    [More text on its way] . . . ->->->->->->->->->

    How to build a Medicine Wheel:

    It is my personal belief that you cannot build a medicine wheel wrong. If you have "purity of intent" then it is the intent and prayer that outweighs the construction of the wheel. I believe Great Spirit (God) 'gets it' and 'gets you.'

    I do believe that the teachings and mysteries contained within the Medicine Wheel are the teachings that come to us through our meditative experience within the wheel. These meditative experiences are what I called DLG's (Downloads from God).

    I do not believe there is a one-size fits all Medicine Wheel or a standard Medicine Wheel. To this Indian, I believe a Medicine Wheel is personal and sacred to you and will reflect your own spirituality with Great Spirit (God).

    Typically a Medicine Wheel is constructed with 12 or 36 stones depending on the person building the wheel. This is where knowledge and experience determine the amount of stones used.

    The 36 stone method is as follows:

    [More text on it's way . . . . ] The Center Stone (Stone #1) is the 'Many worlds' stone that contains the essential person - the deepest inner soul. Some post-European descriptions of this stone refer to it as 'The Creator' stone, a concept born out of the notion of a Supreme Being which was imposed by Christianity on the belief systems of many First Nations. Ms Thunderbird builds her wheels in the 'old' way, prior to the imposition of Christianity. This stone can also be called the Cosmos or Universe Stone (1); Four Directions Stones (stones 2-5): East (Teacher), South (Healer), West (Visionary), North (Warrior) (within these stones are the four colours of human; These stones sit at the four corners of the centre stone. Seven stones (stones 6-12) surround the Centre stone, and stand for: Father Sky, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, Grandfather Sun, Star Nation, Other Worlds (Planets), Wolf Road (Milky Way); Two stones between each Direction on the outer perimeter of the circle: -Northeast: Earth Crawlers, Flying Beings (13-15) -Southeast: Rooted Beings, Earth Walkers (4 leggeds) (16-17) -Southwest: Ancestors, Stone Beings (17-18) -Northwest: Rainbow Spirits, Water Beings (19-20) Four stones between each direction and the Universe stone, with the "Element" stone closest to the Direction stone: -East: Air, Illumination, Wisdom, Clarity (21-24) -South: Earth, Spirit, Trust, Love, Growth (25-28) -West: Fire, Emotions, Dreams, Experience, Introspection (29-32) -North: Water, Body, Physical Cleansing, Purity, Renewal (33-36)

    DISCLAIMER

    **This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.