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.


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




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





21 thoughts on “Native American Medicine Wheel

  1. peter

    I learned a lot from this site. Amazing how much these people knew and how all the ancient cultures had a similar understanding or philosophy of life. Interesting. I will come back and see more. Thanks

  2. Vera

    These are very interesting and comprehensive information, I never heard about the Medicine Wheel but it sounds very meaningful. Think I´ll come back to learn more, thanks for sharing your knowledge!

      1. Graywolf Davidson

        Graywolf 3/17/2020
        The medicine wheel as growing up in native American cultu
        re for me represents our animal spirits.
        The east represents the eagle flying free and high renewing winds which is the beginning of the day. Which is wisdom.
        The west represents the bear which is our animal spirit for strength and fullness maturity for the end of day. The strong winds represents the end of day.
        The south represents the cunning muskrat which is the hot winds of summer. Represents our struggles and growth.
        The north is the wolf which represents our warrior side. The cold is our maturity in indivaual lives and spiritually.
        I enjoyed the post of the medicine wheel which I was taught this was because the medicine is the hearths and minds of our people. It allows to remain focused and our spiritual walk of life as well as our physical walk.
        Thank for your time .

    1. Emily Post author

      Hi! Yes you are right, that is what I meant when I said that the seventh direction is you. ESWN, Father Sky, Mother Earth and you in the center, your within.

  3. debbie

    thank you so much im just learning this way of life.i know the basics but its nice to have someone explain fully,i have been to afew cerimonies they are all beautiful and uplifting.i went to a 7 door sweat 2 times now ,it wasvery hard to stay in for all doors but the benifits…undiscribable i walked around for a week with an ear to ear grin after i left the first one.Thanks again. debbie

    1. Emily Post author

      You are welcome Debbie! I am sure that it must have been hard to stay in that sweat! But you are right the ceremonies are there to give us clarity and with that comes inner peace and joy.

  4. Laurie

    Concise and well explained! Love your site and am learning so much from it. Thank you for all the interesting topics and sharing what seems so perfectly natural to me.

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Laurie!
      awwww so glad you are liking it! It is good to hear that this feels natural to you. I do enjoy writing the articles too. Such a good way of life, one in which I find a lot of comfort and peace.

  5. Jim Hoffmann


    Would you mind if I used a quote and the picture of the medicine wheel in Pete De Poe’s (Redbone drummer) memoir? I cannot afford to pay you, but I will cite you.

    Please let me know.

  6. sandra mccown

    i believe I was born too late… am an old woman now, but have always felt a closeness to Indians and Indian culture. their way of life , altho not perfect, was so much better than we whites have now. How I wish I had been born Indian 200 years ago. how wondrous my life might have been.

    1. Emily Post author

      hi Sandra
      thanks for taking the time to learn about the concepts and cultures. I am going to say that sometimes I also wish that I was born many centuries ago (more than 200 years ago I would say as by then First Nations ancestors were already facing a lot of oppression and abuse) in a simpler time at peace with nature and all our relations around us.

  7. Dafna Rosenblum

    I took a workshop in NYC about this for 7 weeks we did rituals and meditation with dance it change my life for ever

  8. Tim

    My shamanic journey started this year. I attended some shamanic workshops in the UK and now started to explore and learn about a different way of life and view of the world. Thank you for sharing above it helped my learnings.


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