Shamanism and Native Spirituality

Monthly Archives: October 2018

In the Native American world, wheels or circles have been used since the ancient times as tools for teaching the ways of the universe. Nothing is seen as linear, for the idea of a linear existence is considered to be an illusion. There is no “beginning” or “end,” simply a change of reference points. Birth into physical existence is not the beginning of life ~ for spirit is eternally alive; it is a different perception point through which spirit experiences its aliveness. It is simply movement in the wheel of life.

Learning of the universe through wheels offers a way to perceive how one form of life is completely interconnected with all other life: flowing, changing, and reaching out to touch all forms of things with beauty. All the wheels of the Sweet Medicine SunDance Path spin and interconnect with one another in this way. Each position on the wheel corresponds to one of the four cardinal directions: South, North, West, East – or one of the four non-cardinal directions: Southeast, Southwest, North west, and Northeast.

Furthermore, there are specific qualities and characteristics that exist for each direction. Thus, no matter which wheel is being used, the subject matter is placed in a particular direction because it contains the corresponding properties. For example, the earth element sits in the West. West is also the physical body, strength, power and stability. One can quickly see that these energies all work with and carry within themselves similar properties.

And so the wheel goes. Even properties that have seemingly nothing to do with each other, when overlaid, allow you to make amazing connections into deeper understanding. Those of us who were taught to think in linear terms will find studying wheels a particular challenge! However, it is also fun.

On any medicine wheel, the cardinal directions will hold the energy of a circle and the non-cardinals will move energy in and out of the circle.

When you are studying a particular aspect of a wheel or trying to gain understanding of something, you first determine where it is located on the wheel. That direction is called its “sitting place.” Directly across from it is the “working place.” This means you are gaining an opposite perspective of what you are studying – you “work” with the information.

There is another way to study something on the wheel once you have located its sitting place. Look at what is to its left to see what energies it is receiving from. This is the female and creative receptive side. Look to the right to see what energies it is giving away to. The right side is the masculine active conceptive side which gives out energy.

For example, if I am studying something which has a sitting place of southeast. It’s working place is north west. It will receive energy from the south, and give away energy to the east.

There are many ways to play with wheels, to gain much deep understanding. Keep in mind that wheels are not static, they turn and breathe for use to see many different perspectives. All study of these teachings invite you inside the wheel of life to receive, to give, to see from another point of view.

~Mary Flaming Crystal Mirror

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