Shamanic Healing Wheels - Part 2
Welcome to Part 2 of my article on Shamanic Healing Wheels. If you haven’t already done so, please read Part 1 of the article before continuing.
I hope by this time you're well into your Medicine Walk, collecting your 64 items that'll be placed on your Medicine Wheel.
In this article, we'll learn how to build a Medicine Wheel, and then explore the Lessons and Medicines that we find on the Wheel.
Now the Medicine Wheel has a number of Lessons, and each Lesson is accompanied by its associated Medicine.
How many Lessons do we have on the Medicine Wheel? … you guessed it, seven. There are 7 Lessons and 7 Medicines on the Wheel.
We'll get into that later.
The first thing that we need to appreciate when we walk the Medicine Wheel is that it's a journey. We're taking a spiritual journey into ourselves, into Great Spirit, the Akashic records.
If you're lucky enough to have the space and can build a large enough Medicine Wheel in the garden, then the journey is also a physical one. For those of us who can only build a small Medicine Wheel, such as myself, the physical journey will become a mental one.
The journey explores our innermost beings and leads us to the center, the place of God, or Great Spirit, or the Oneness, whatever you wish to call it.
So, let’s look at the structure of the Medicine Wheel. What does it look like?
Building Your Medicine Wheel
Firstly, we look at the center of the Wheel, the place of all Oneness.
You may like to call this space God, that’s fine because the center is the place of God. Others may wish to name the place Great Spirit, or the Akashic records. That's also fine.
Alternatively, some may call it the Cosmic Memory Field, or even the Singularity, the Oneness.
Whatever you wish to call it, it's up to you. The important thing is that we all understand the meaning of this place.
The center of the Wheel is the place of pure Enlightenment, unconditional love, and unwavering compassion. It’s what we aspire to reach in our lives, a place of complete peace, harmony, and contentment.
Even those of us locked in the cycle of fear and ambition, achievement and elusive success, are striving for this. They just have a bit of a longer journey to travel.
The Seven ‘Song’ Stones
The place of God, the Oneness, is surrounded by what is called, the 7 ‘song’ stones. These stones represent the moon, the stars, the people, fire, sun, earth, and water
These can be interpreted as the following:
Grandmother Moon – the giver of love, patience, and wisdom.
Grandfather Sun – the giver of light and warmth.
Mother Earth – the nurturer, also the turtle.
Father sky – the embracer, home of the stars.
Fire – the cleanser, the one who renews, also the eagle.
Water – the duality of things, home of the frog.
People – the 7 people: Stone people, Standing people, Winged ones, Finned Ones, the Four-leggeds, the Two-leggeds, and the Creepy Crawlies (many and no-leggeds).
The song stones remind us of where we come from, where we're going and who we are. They're the entrance to God, the Great Spirit, the Oneness.
What Does a Medicine Wheel Look Like?
Well, this question is a bit tricky to answer. It's like ‘what does a tree look like?’
We all know what a tree looks like, we can describe it easily enough - it has a stem, branches, leaves, and so on.
However, there's such a diversity of tree forms that it's impossible to actually say universally what a tree looks like.
Even in the same species, you can get a specimen that looks like a shrub, branches low to the ground, and has small leaves, whereas another specimen will be found growing tall with a clean bole, massive spreading branches, and large leaves, and so on.
It all depends on the conditions under which the tree grows. The nature of the soil, the climate, and the amount of water it gets.
Medicine Wheels are pretty much like trees. They have a common set of basic characteristics.
They are all round in shape. They all honor the 4 directions and they all have a center. Other than that, there're many different designs and interpretations.
The one thing that they have in common is that they take one on an inward journey which spirals us up to God, the Great Spirit.
So again, what does a Medicine Wheel look like? Below you can see my Medicine Wheel which I have constructed in my spare room.
Now, this is how I choose to build my Medicine Wheel. It honors the 4 directions, it has the space of the Great Spirit, and it takes one on an inward journey to God.
If you’re building the wheel in your garden, you’ll need some rocks to mark the 4 directions and a special stone or crystal, maybe Rose Quartz, or any stone that looks beautiful to you, to mark the center, the place of God.
Instead of string, you can make the spiral trail in a number of different ways. You can scrape it with a shovel, you can line it with bricks, or you could outline it with stones. It’s up to you.
If you’re building it like me, indoors, you’ll need some string to create the outline.
The easiest way is to start with a cross and then overlay the spiral.
Once the outline is created, you can mark the 4 directions. It’s important that the Wheel must face those directions in reality.
In my Wheel, I've marked the center with an amethyst crystal, representing peace, tranquility, and stability.
The Practical Journey
As you can see, I've used pebbles to mark out the 7 Lessons and the 7 Medicines.
The Four Realms
The 7 lessons and 7 Medicines are encountered 4 times each on the journey, in the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental realms.
The entrance for the 2-legged people is in the east. As you can see, the arrow is indicating this. The journey on the Medicine Wheel is always clockwise. This is the nature of the spiral.
The First Lesson and First Medicine
As you start on the spiral, you encounter the first lesson of the Medicine Wheel. Shortly after that, you encounter the first medicine. Please note that you're encountering this lesson and medicine in the spiritual realm, place of intuition, and your connection to God.
As you progress to the south, you again encounter the first lesson and shortly afterward the first medicine, but this time now in the emotional realm, place of feeling, place of imagination.
Progress further to the west, and again you encounter the first lesson and first medicine, this time in the physical realm, a place of integrity, your body, and your connection to the earth.
Finally, as you reach the north you'll meet the first lesson and first medicine, this time in the mental realm, a place of thought and intention.
Continuing on the Spiral
As you again reach the east, you will meet the second lesson and second medicine, experiencing it in the spiritual realm. Progressing on the spiral, you'll go through the second lesson and medicine in the other 3 realms and reach the third lesson and medicine.
The spiral continues on this journey until you've experienced all 7 lessons and 7 medicines in each of the 4 realms. At this point, you reach the song stones, which lead you into infinity, the place of the Great Spirit.
I hope you understand how the journey works technically on the Wheel. It’s a fairly simple, yet very deep journey into yourself.
What Are the Lessons and Medicines?
Let’s look at what the 7 Lessons and 7 Medicines of the Medicine Wheel are.
The First Lesson
The First lesson is one we learn as small children: Patience.
It’s the lesson of waiting, delaying, and retentiveness. Physically it’s linked to the bowel and bladder, the ability to retain. This is a lesson we learn early on and teaches us to wait for the right time.
It’s the ability to hold energy and wait for gratification, and not seek to gain it instantly.
It’s a state of being present, at the moment, focusing on what is happening now at this time, and showing gratitude for that.
The First Medicine
The fFrst medicine is Confidence.
Confidence to know and believe that we're in the right place at the right time…always. This is exactly where Great Spirit, the Oneness, requires you to be in this space, and at this time – there's literally nowhere else to be.
One has to have the confidence to believe that no matter what they're experiencing - fear, despair, joy, or love - they're meant to be there. The present always brings gifts. You just need to look for them.
The Second Lesson
The Second lesson is Unity.
This lesson is about accepting the duality within yourself – the killer and the lover. One has to ask the question, "Why do I harm, why do I kill?" Because we all do harmful things. We all kill, most commonly for food.
The lesson teaches us that we're both creator and destroyer, lover and killer. We're capable of the evilest, abhorrent acts and at the same time, we're capable of the most tender, loving compassion.
We have to accept that this duality is within us and not deny it. Constantly striving for the light and denying our shadow is destructive. An oppressed shadow, sooner or later, manifests itself in ugly ways.
Acknowledge the duality. Denying that you're a destroyer is denying half of yourself. One can't exist as half a person.
The Second Medicine
The Second medicine is Balance.
Balance is movement. We're moving along a spiral and within this movement, a balance needs to prevail.
Yes, we all do bad things in life. We gossip, we say hurtful things, and we sabotage others to get what we want. Some go further, they harm others physically or even kill.
Balance comes from creativity. Creativity is about exploring every part of yourself and expressing it. Yes, we need to express our dark side, but in a creative, non-harmful way. This allows us to process the Shadow that’s within each and every one of us.
Use a punching bag, express all of your fears and dislikes in your journal, and talk to others in confidence about what you’re feeling. These are all ways we can healthily deal with the Shadow within us.
The key to this lesson is that one needs to accept and express the duality within ourselves in a balanced way
The Third Lesson
The Third lesson of the Medicine Wheel is Origin
Where do I come from? What events have brought me here, to this place, and this time? It's about recapitulation, acknowledging that you're a result of many joyful experiences as well as many tragedies.
Go back into your past and explore every experience, everything that happened to you, and observe these as a bystander, without emotion. Learn from them, and see them as necessary within that space and that time.
Within this lesson a Shaman will go into a sensory deprived environment, even being buried underground with only a straw for air and water, in order to access events from past lives. This is known as the Shaman's death and rebirth, knowing your origins.
You don’t have to do this physically, but you can meditate on your experiences and come to realize their purpose in your life.
The Third Medicine
The Third medicine is Creativity.
Creativity to look at your past life and realize the lessons that can be learned. You are the origin and creator of your future. What you're doing and experiencing now will shape your future.
In the same way, what you experienced in the past has shaped your present. We could find that the things we regret are the things that shape our behavior today.
It’s a process of integrating your greatest tragedies or negative experiences into your present and taking the good out of them in order to shape the future that you want.
Yes, it may be very painful to go back to certain experiences and tragedies. But we need to do this in order to integrate them. They have gifts, and if we can recognize the gift, then we can use that gift to shape our future.
We have to be creative and intuitive to see the bigger picture of our soul’s journey.
The Fourth Lesson
The Fourth lesson is Faith and Trust.
This is about opening our hearts and trusting our emotions, listening to what they're telling us.
Trusting in your emotions allows you to express them freely and therefore get rid of the baggage that you're carrying.
It’s about the release of negative energy and replacing it with positivity. In order for one to do this, the journey inwards needs to explore your fears and anger, your guilt and shame, and listen to what they're telling you.
Only then can they be faced with integrity and processed.
Emotions come from the heart. They represent what we're feeling and they can't be rationally determined. For this reason, we must trust in what they're telling us.
The Fourth Medicine
The Fourth medicine is Growth.
We need to accept that all emotions are memories of the past. They're reminders of what we have done, what has been done to us, and the resulting associated feelings.
By accepting and expressing our emotions, we're then opening our hearts to grow from the experiences and take the lessons.
When emotions are denied or not accepted, when we're ashamed of our emotions and we don’t acknowledge them, this is when dark things happen.
Suppression of negative emotions leads to depression, anxiety, guilt anger, and hate, which when eventually left to boil over, lead to negative experiences and tragedies. No growth can take place in that kind of environment.
The medicine of Growth represents the bridge between above and below, the spirit and the body.
The Fifth Lesson
The Fifth lesson is Sincerity.
This asks the question, ‘What do you value?’
In this lesson, we explore values on all levels, spiritual and physical, emotional and mental.
What principles and ethics do you live by? What do you consider to be right and wrong? What deeds and actions make you feel good? Which ones make you feel bad?
It acknowledges that belief systems are individual, but there are a set of universal principles that apply. For example, do unto others as you would have done unto you; do as little harm as possible in your life; the only true energy that exists is love, everything else is false and is just on the journey to becoming love.
The Fifth Medicine
The Fifth medicine is Truth.
It’s about speaking your truth, being sincere, and knowing what you value.
It’s also about demonstrating your values and ethics and acknowledging the sacredness of things that you value, and value systems that create harmony among people.
The medicine of truth is about realizing that while there are many truths out there, and each individual can have his or her own truth, there is a universal truth that we're all subject to, and that is that all energy ultimately is love.
The Sixth Lesson
The Sixth lesson is Honor, Reasons to Exist.
This lesson looks at our reasons for existence by asking ‘What do we honor, what do we hold sacred?’
The highest religious and spiritual value is to honor the soul, to honor the God that is within me is also within you, like the Hindu greeting ‘Namaste,’ the divine in me honors the divine in you."
This lesson teaches us that we must honor the divine in one another, but also honor the emotions we feel, the thoughts that we have, and the skills, abilities, and disabilities our bodies have.
All are valid, all have a reason for being, and it all contributes to the present moment.
The Sixth Medicine
The Sixth medicine is Wisdom.
Being able to see beyond the ordinary. By using your intuition to see the bigger picture and by having compassion and empathy for those involved.
The medicine of wisdom allows us to validate everything that exists, assign a reason to it, and to accept it as part of the cycle of life. Everything happens for a reason. It can be no other way. You are meant to be in this time and space right now. Nowhere else is valid for you.
It’s a wisdom that provides a deep understanding of the duality of things and honors the divine in all.
The Seventh Lesson
The Seventh lesson is Worth.
It’s a combination of all the six previous lessons. Exploring self-worth, the worth of the world around you, the people you love, the people you hate, and so on. They all have a certain worth.
This lesson asks 7 questions:
What are the biggest disappointments in your life?
What is the worst insult you have received and given?
What are the worst lies you’ve told, or others told you, that actually affected your life or others harmfully?
What are the greatest limitations you have placed on yourself and others?
Have there been any misunderstandings between you and others that had life changing consequences?
What is your worst loss or losses?
What is the very, very worst thing that has ever happened to you?
These questions explore all the lessons and medicines on the Wheel and your worthiness as a human being is embedded in these experiences. Once you have answered them truthfully you'll be faced with your own worthiness.
The Seventh Medicine
The Seventh medicine is Impeccability.
This means to be pure, spotless, and unchallengeable. It means that you're able to stand in your absolute truth with no judgment, and you are closer to God.
Applying the Wheel
If we decide to take the journey of the Medicine Wheel, we're choosing to go within and explore ourselves from top to bottom, our good points, our bad points, our failures, our successes, our darkness, and our lightness.
The bad things we've done to people, the bad things that have been done to us. All of our experiences, need to be laid bare and approached with an open heart.
The point of taking the journey is to integrate the duality that is found within us and to recognize the duality that's all around us. If we do this, we will grow- grow in consciousness, grow in our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
The Medicine Wheel mustn't be taken lightly. It's not something that can be done in a couple of days and ticked off the list. It’s a 64-day journey into the heart of yourself, exploring the intricateness of your connection to the world around you, hopefully bringing you closer to Great Spirit or God.
I hope this article has made sense to you, and I hope you're motivated to take the Journey on your own Medicine Wheel.
In the next article, I will take you through the journey I took on my Medicine Wheel, guiding you each step of the way so that you'll be able to embark on your own journey.
Once again, I would like to honor my friend and teacher, Lionel Berman, without whose teachings and wisdom I would not have been able to write this article.
This post was originally published on July 28th, 2021, and updated on June 6th, 2022.
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