Tag Archives: medicine wheel

Springtime: The East direction

It’s Springtime! The East direction and its meaning

Hello all!

I know I am a few days late as Spring was officially here over a week ago….But the change of spring timeseasons within the Native culture is important so I wanted to discuss it here. This is a short post as I have covered some of this in my post about the medicine wheel. But let us look at what Spring is, when seen from the East direction.

 

The Eastern Journey of Spring

Ah Spring! For some of you it means the melting of the snow, the flowers peeking out from the ground, the warmth of the sun getting stronger, the smell of blooming trees in the air. Or it means allergies for some others…lol! But over all, our relations in nature awaken, communicate with us, the birds are singing, the animals are out and about, the trees are green and lush, the sky is blue (generally…). Our cousins, brothers and sisters are alive! There is a fresh smell in the air (not always a good smell but a smell nonetheless). sunlight

The Medicine Wheel and yellow

If we think back about the concept of the Medicine wheel, which is divided in 4 quadrants, East, South, West and North, we know that the East direction is associated with Spring. As well as with the color yellow, the color of the sunlight and of spring. The East direction is also the direction of childhood, of new beginnings. It is where we begin our journey in the cycle of life, where we enter the physical world. It is the direction of the first light, of light of Mother Earth. I am sure you have heard the expression “spring cleaning”, which when one thinks about it, is a new beginning. We get rid of the old, of the excess baggage and start fresh. Spring time, in the East direction is a new beginning, of ourselves but also of nature all around us.

Magnolia trees

With new beginnings come changes in our lives. I personally see it as a more appropriate time for our “new year resolutions”. As it is a time of rebirth in a sense, where as a child we come from the spiritual world into the physical world. That’s one heck of a change! But it’s a more natural transition than it seems. Just like death is, as I see it not as death but rather a change of worlds. We leave the physical world to return to the spiritual world. But I digress…My point is use the East direction as a time of change, a time of improvement, a time to start new projects. Use the East direction to look at how you can find balance within your life, how you can overcome challenges. How you can connect with nature more, a nature which is waking up. forest creekGrow your own herbs, your vegetables, plant flowers to brighten your days. Smell the roses as they say! Embrace your new beginning!

 

 

I leave you with two quotes, which I love. The first one is from Chief Dan George, a Coast Salish chief from the Burrard Inlet in BC, Canada (where I am :)).

May the starts carry your sadness away, may the flowers fill your heart with beauty, may hope forever wipe away your tears and above all may silence make you strong.

The second one is from Ten Bears, a Yamparika Comanche chief.

My heart is filled with joy when I see you here, as the brook fills with water, when the snows melt in the spring, and I feel glad as the ponies are when the fresh grass starts in the beginning of the year.

Happy Spring everyone!

Native American Medicine Wheel

Native American Medicine Wheel

Hello all!medicine wheel chart

I know I have been alluding to the concept of the Medicine Wheel for some time now. Soooooo, the meaning of the Medicine Wheel is the topic of this post. And where to begin!! The Medicine wheel is the Great Symbol for Life and is such a central concept within the native culture, embodying and representing a series of beliefs. It is basically the center and the source of all other concepts.

Well, as you can see from the image on the right, the wheel is separated in 4 quadrants. Those four quadrants themselves represent more than one concept. Let me explain. The quadrants represent the phases of life (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, Elder), the seasons of the year (spring, summer, fall, winter), the four cardinal directions (east, south, west, north) as well as our four sides (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). Although the picture provides you with a lot of information, you will also find variants of it, especially in regards to the colors (their location) as well as each side associated with each position. The way how one looks at the wheel however, never changes: one always starts at the East direction going clockwise.

I will now go through the concepts as they were explained to me. This is another version of the wheel, which summarizes the concepts as I will explain them.

medicine wheel

The East direction 

The East direction, Spring, is associated with beginnings. The yellow represents the light of the sun in the Spring, the light of the innocence of childhood. As beings, we begin in the spiritual world and the East direction represents our arrival in the physical world. It then represents new growth, the conception of a new day, of a new being. It represents creation. We move, exploring the new world that we are in.

The South Direction

The South direction, Summer, is associated with experimentation. The red represents the heat of summer as well as adolescence and its associated growth spurt. It is a direction of growth, ofFour directions learning, of building one’s identity. As we all know, it is a time of differentiation and separation from our parents, of growing outward. This separation involves our emotional side.

The West direction

The West direction, Autumn, represents our adult years. It is a time when we build knowledge and wisdom. We throw away the “shoulds” and “should nots”, as they are no longer needed (well sometimes they are…). We empty our life of those should and should not (black) and fill it with wisdom (white). As adults, we form our own opinions and develop our own values, we live our own life rather than someone else’s. It is a time when we fill our bucket to feel fulfilled. It is a time of maturity, where our mental side is exercised.

The North direction

The North direction, the direction of the color white (which, when we think about it, is an accumulation of all colors, think of white light here, and your high school sciences classes). It is a time of enlightenment, where we become Elders. It is a time of refinement and purification. We wear the crown of white on our heads and enter a more spiritual life. From the North we are renewed, light and darkness mix and accent one another. We return in the spiritual world where we came from.

Balance

So there you go, the four quadrants of the Medicine Wheel, the meaning of the Native American medicine wheel. Even though each quadrant is associated with a different side, we all strive to find balance between those four sides, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Ways to accentuate or connect with each of those sides could be to attend ceremonies, sing, drum, meditate, spend time with friends and family, pray, smudge, talk with an Elder, exercise, fast, etc.

four directions

But wait there are 2¬† more directions….

Yes there are. Well what are they, I am guessing you are wondering! Well, the native culture actually speaks of 7 directions. Yes 7…. So far we have covered 4, east, south, west and north. However, we have to remember where we come from, Mother Earth, the fifth direction. Our Earthconnection to life, represented by the color Green. And finally, Father Sky (blue), the sixth direction, representing our present world as well as the world we are moving toward.sky

 

 

 

And…. the Seventh direction: YOU. Both the physical and spiritual you, at the center of it all. At the center of the medicine wheel. So not only are we striving to find balance and a connection between our four sides, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, we also are striving to achieve a connection between what was, what is and what will be.

medicine wheel

All my Relations