The Seven Lessons of the Medicine Wheel

The Sci­ence of the Medicine Wheel

Say Magazine - - COVER STORY -

Many cul­tures have at­tempted to track the move­ments of the sun, the moon and the stars and have used th­ese ce­les­tial bod­ies to mea­sure time, to fol­low spe­cific geo­graphic routes us­ing car­di­nal di­rec­tions and to re­late to the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual world they live in. There are nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of an­cient sites around the world where an­cient cul­tures and an­ces­tors laid out stones in pat­terns that re­late very closely to the move­ments of the sun and can be used as cal­en­dars show­ing ac­cu­rate sun­rises and sun­sets on the sol­stices and ob­served equinoxes.

The Medicine Wheel, some­times known as the Sa­cred Hoop or Sa­cred Cir­cle, has been used by gen­er­a­tions of var­i­ous Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes and First Na­tions in Canada for health and heal­ing and as a tool for learn­ing and teach­ing. There are many in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Medicine Wheel by many peo­ple and cul­tures, and no one is wrong. De­pend­ing on the teach­ings they re­ceived, many El­ders, in­clud­ing SAY Mag­a­zine’s con­sult­ing El­der Nor­man “Red­sky” Monkman, re­fer to the Medicine Wheel as the Medicine Cir­cle. In fact, “Medicine Wheel” is not an Indige­nous term this term was given to the struc­tures by the first Euro­peans and is not the way the first peo­ples re­ferred to their rock struc­tures. In fact, a wheel was a for­eign con­cept to the an­cient first peo­ples, but this is how they are com­monly re­ferred to in present time.

For the pur­pose of this ar­ti­cle we will use the more widely rec­og­nized term Medicine Wheel.

There are seven com­mon teach­ings as­so­ci­ated with the medicine wheel in many First Na­tions’ cul­tures. Th­ese teach­ings vary by tribal cus­tom and by the el­ders re­lat­ing their own her­itage and sto­ries. How­ever, there are a lot of com­mon themes that can be taught and dis­cussed that are very rel­e­vant to mod­ern life and can be proudly taught as ev­i­dence of the high level of knowl­edge in cos­mic things, in the chang­ing of sea­sons, in time­keep­ing, in the use and re­spect for an­i­mals, in plants and in the el­e­ments.

There is no right or wrong way to use the medicine wheel as a teach­ing tool. It is both a uni­ver­sal sym­bol and a per­sonal mnemonic tool for var­i­ous cul­tures. Invit­ing el­ders to re­late their as­so­ci­ated learn­ings about the medicine wheel is an im­por­tant way of pre­serv­ing and pass­ing on cul­tur­ally im­por­tant knowl­edge. The knowl­edge vested in el­ders should be hon­oured and re­spected.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.