The Medicine Wheel is representative of American Indian
Spirituality. The Medicine Wheel symbolizes the individual journey we each
must take to find our own path. Within the Medicine Wheel are The Four
Cardinal Directions and the Four Sacred Colors. The Circle represents the
Circle of Life and the Center of the Circle, the Eternal Fire. The Eagle,
flying toward the East, is a symbol of strength, endurance and vision.
East signifies the renewal of life and the rebirth of Cherokee unity.
The medicine wheel is a symbol for the wheel of life
which is forever evolving and bringing new lessons and truths to the
walking of the path. The Earthwalk is based on the understanding
that each one of us must stand on every spoke of the great wheel of life
many times, and that every direction is to be honored. Until you have
walked in others' moccasins, or stood upon their spokes of the wheel, you
will never truly know their hearts.
The medicine wheel teaches us that all lessons are
equal, as are all talents and abilities. Every living creature will one
day see and experience each spoke of the wheel, and know these truths. It
is a pathway to truth, peace and harmony. The circle is never ending, life
In experiencing the Good Red Road, one learns the
lessons of physical life, or of being human. This road runs South to North
in the circle of the medicine wheel. After the graduation experience of
death, one enters the Blue or Black Road, that is the world of the
grandfathers and grandmothers. In spirit, one will continue to learn by
counseling those remaining on the Good Red Road. The Blue Road of the
spirit runs East to West. The medicine wheel is life, afterlife, rebirth
and the honoring of each step along the way
East = Red = success; triumph
North = Blue = defeat; trouble
West = Black = death
South = White = peace; happiness
There are three additional sacred directions:
Up Above = Yellow
Down Below = Brown
Here in the Center = Green
Winter = go-la
The color for North is Blue which represents sadness, defeat.
It is a season of survival and waiting.
The Cherokee word for North means "cold" u-yv-tlv.
Spring = gi-la-go-ge
The color for East is Red which represents victory, power.
Spring is the re-awakening after a long sleep,
victory over winter; the power of new life.
The Cherokee word for East is ka-lv-gv
Summer = go-ga
The color for South is White for peace, happiness & serenity.
Summer is a time of plenty.
The Cherokee word for South means "warm" u-ga-no-wa.
Autumn = u-la-go-hv-s-di
The color for West is Black which represents death.
Autumn is the final harvest; the end of Life's Cycle.
The Cherokee word for West is wu-de-li-gv.
RED is symbolic of success. It is the color of
the war club used to strike an enemy in battle as well as the other club
used by the warrior to shield himself. Red beads are used to conjure the
red spirit to insure long life, recovery from sickness, success in love
and ball play or any other undertaking where the benefit of the magic
spell is wrought.
BLACK is always typical of death. The soul of the
enemy is continually beaten about by black war clubs and enveloped in a
black fog. In conjuring to destroy an enemy, the priest uses black beads
and invokes the black spirits-which always live in the West, bidding them
to tear out the man's soul and carry it to the West, and put it into the
black coffin deep in the black mud, with a black serpent coiled above it.
BLUE symbolizes failure, disappointment, or
unsatisfied desire. To say "they shall never become blue"
expresses the belief that they will never fail in anything they undertake.
In love charms, the lover figuratively covers himself with red and prays
that his rival will become entirely blue and walk in a blue path. "He
is entirely blue, " approximates meaning of the common English
phrase, "He feels blue. "The blue spirits live in the North.
WHITE denotes peace and happiness. In ceremonial
addresses, as the Green Corn Dance and ball play, the people symbolically
partake of white food and, after the dance or game, return along the white
trail to their white houses. In love charms, the man, to induce the woman
to cast her love with his, boasted, "I am a white man," implying
that all was happiness where he was. White beads have the same meaning in
bead conjuring, and white is the color of the stone pipe used in antiquity
in ratifying peace treaties. The White spirits live in the South.
Two numbers are sacred to the Cherokee. Four
is one of those numbers, it represented the four primary directions. At
the center of their paths lies the sacred fire. Seven is the
other and most sacred of numbers. Seven is represented in the seven
directions: north, south, east, west, above, below, and "here in the
center" the place of the sacred fire. Seven also represented the
seven ancient ceremonies that forms the yearly Cherokee religious cycle.
Medicine Wheel -
Circle of Life
The native people believe the medicine wheel is sacred
because the Great Spirit caused everything in nature to be round. The Sun,
Sky, Earth and Moon are all round, thus, man should look upon the Medicine
Wheel (circle of life) as sacred. It is the symbol of the circle that
marks the edge of the world and so, the Four Winds that travel there. It
is also the symbol of the year. The Sky, the Night, and the Moon go in a
circle above the Sky, therefore, the Circle is a symbol of these divisions
of time. It is the symbol of all times throughout creation.
The medicine shield is an expression of the unique gifts
that it's maker wishes to impart about his or her current life journey.
This can be a new level of personal growth, or illustrate the next
mountain a person wishes to climb.
Every shield carries medicine through it's art and
self-expression. Each shield is the essence of a time and space that
carries certain aspects of knowledge. All persons carry shields of the
lessons they learned from the four directions on the medicine wheel.
They are the healing tools we give ourselves to sooth
the spirit and empower the will. The truth needs no explanation,, just
reflection. This allows intuition to guide the heart so that humankind may
celebrate more than it mourns.