Shamanism and Native Spirituality

Medicine Wheel

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


~Harley SwiftDeer

Let me sing to you the Song of the Twenty Powers within the Song of the Universe. It is like an Orchestra whose members have played together, since always. Each member of this Orchestra has its instrument, its sound, its light, its energy, its harmonic vibration called orende. Each has its giveaway to the collective sound even though it has its separate distinct sound.

Within this Orchestra called the Everything there are twenty sections or parts, the Twenty Sacred Powers. This Everything Orchestra has a Great Spirit within every member and within every instrument, and how it plays the sound and songs of Beauty and Light is indeed a Mystery. This Great Mystery has existed Since Always and will continue For Always, even as it is playing now.

This Great Mystery, this Everything Orchestra and its twenty sections, is the Great Wheel, the Universal Medicine Wheel of the Twenty Sacred Powers. Each Power has its sitting place on the Wheel within the Orchestra so that its orende can contribute in a perfect harmonic way to all the songs and sounds that resonate within the Wheel as well as those that go otu from it in an ever increasing circle of Light. Let us listen and see if we can hear our Song…

The first part of this Song also contains all other parts. It is the Zero, the Nothing That is Everything, the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit of this Everything Orchestra. Light is an energy or power which includes cycles of four as it manifests itself into this sacred Twenty Count Medicine Wheel.

The first Power is Grandfather Sun who sings His song of Illumination and Enlightenment from His sitting place in the East on this great Medicine Wheel. The Sacred Fire burns here singing of our Fire From Within

Across from Him in the West is His mage, the second Power, Grandmother Earth. She sings the song of Introspection and chants the Mysteries of Death, Life, Rebirth and Movement. Hers is the song of the beauty of Change.

To her right is the third Power and Her first children, the Sacred Plants. They are sitting in the south singing the songs of Trust and Innocence, the songs of the Give-Away. The Waters are singing the songs of Carrying the Myths of Our Lives, the joy of having Pleasure Within Our Emotions in everything we do.

Sitting in the North across from the Plants and the Waters are the Sacred Animals. They are the fourth Power and the second children of the Sun and the Earth. The song they sing is one of Balance and Harmony, and they carry the sacred chant of Wisdom and Logic. For this is the chant that is carried on the sacred Winds which sometimes blow fiercely through our minds like hurricanes bringing awakening and at other times blow gently whispering Clarity.

These Powers of the Four Directions are dancing with the Four Elements carrying the Song into the South of the Center of the Wheel where we Humans are sitting, playing our instruments and dancing our Dance of Life as the fifth Power. Sometimes our instruments, our bodies, are out of tune and our Song and Dance become disharmonious.

So we must turn to the Southeast where the sixth Power is sitting, singing the Power of the Ancestors’ song. Their song is of the Beauty of the Concepts of Self as a Spirit, a Soul, who can sing and play in harmony if we will learn the Enlightenment chant and begin to SunDance. They teach us this SunDance in order that we might learn songs of Self-Acceptance, Self-Appreciation, Self-Pleasure and Self-Love.

As they sing their song and play their music, we begin to hear from the seventh Power of the Southwest. This is the Power that is the most difficult to hear because it comes from within us and yet is outside us. Here sits the Power of the Sacred Dream. It sings to us the songs of the Beauty of Symbol, of the Beauty of Experiencing Life and chants of the Memory Circle. And when we hear this chant, we begin to Awaken. We begin to realize that the Past, the Present and the Future may appear to be different songs, but they are really different lyrics within the same song.

To know all the lyrics and melody of this song we must turn to the Northwest, to the eighth Power, for here sings the Circle of Law. At first we seem confused. There appears to be more than one instrument playing and we hear many different songs. They seem almost dissonant, so we listen more closely. They are playing about the Laws of Cycles and about Patterns and Paradox. Here resonate the Sacred Image and Rules and Laws chants. We begin to see and hear that within this Circle of Law chant is our Book of Life and all the songs that we have ever sung and all those that will be our future songs.

We are playing and dancing almost in perfect harmony, but we are a little bit out of rhythm. We are drawn to the cadence of the ninth Power in the Northeast, the song of Pure Energy and Movement. This ninth Power is dancing and flowing with the rhythm of all the other sounds, catching them and turning them like a Great Choreography. Change is here as well as the beautiful harmony of Female/Male Balance. We begin to perceive that maybe our Song is written here.

It seems as though the Circle is complete, but then we Awaken further. We feel pulled by spinning, whirling sensations, as though winds of a tornado are sweeping us towards the North of the Center of this Great Orchestra. This Power is elusive, the sound from this tenth Power is on a very high scale. For a brief moment as we are singing our song, playing our music, dancing our dance, we fall into perfect rhythm and harmony and realize that this tenth Power is the Great Measure of Intellect, all possibilities within ourselves. It lies within every note, song, sound, light, presence and Power within this Great Orchestra. We are conscious of it and yet unconscious of it. We seem to be part of it and yet not part of it. We struggle to remain in harmony, for we know intuitively that it is here that all of the energies, all of the instruments, sounds and songs are collected and blended together into a Collective Unified Circle.

Now we dance at a Gateway. We see, hear and sense the experience of this great SunDance. We realize that if we can dance through this Gateway an even greater song is being played. This song is coming from within the Circle and from outside the Circle at one and the same time. A Double Energy is coming from each of these Powers on this Wheel of Life.

We turn again to the East and we hear many voices, many songs and instruments harmonizing with Grandfather Sun’s song. These are the Grandfather Stars, the eleventh Power. They are singing the song of Inspiration and the chant of the Heyoehkahs. These songs are Sacred Teachers, and the Light coming from them begins to reveal to us our own Illusions.

We have sung many songs and danced many dances in many lives, and we had thought there that was but one. That was our feeling of separation. We turn to the West so we might hear the Looking Within chant that is coming from the twelfth Power, the Grandmother Planets. All the songs and dances from this Power speak of many lives, of all our brothers and sisters, throughout the planets and worlds of this Universe and of all the other Great Orchestras. They are singing to us the Grandmother songs of the Power of Woman. Especially they chant Everything is Born of Woman. We begin to spin and dance with this Beauty.

We seem to be playing faster now, more smoothly. We can no longer separate the instrument from ourselves, the sound from the music. It is a part of us. Deep within our hearts we realize that the song and dance have always been there, and we sing for joy as we turn toward the South. We hear beautiful lyrics, a sweet gentle voice singing to us from the Heart of the Plants. We realize their Spirit is singing to us the Song of Nature. This is the thirteenth Power, our Earth Mother. Her song is so beautiful, for it carries the Light and the Spirit of all the Plants straight into the fibers of our Being, traveling straight into our Hearts. Here is the beautiful song of the Blessed Beauty Way chant.

Our hearts begin to soar like an eagle as we spin towards the North and become the dance within the Winds of the fourteenth Power. We see that this fourteenth Power swims as the dolphin carrying us through the rivers of life and flows into the great Lakes of Memory, for this Power is the Earth Father. He teaches us the dance of the Snake so that we might be close to the ground and hear the songs of the Rock People. He teaches us to love to dance with the 4-leggeds, the animals, through the flowers and the trees and hear the songs of the Plant People in a world of magick. We feel the Medicine of this sacred chant and we realize that this is indeed the Sweet Medicine chant ant that within it are the songs of the Spirits of all our Sacred Animal brothers and sisters.

We dance with joy. We begin to see through the eyes and hear through the ears of all our brother and sister humans, now realizing they are our Mirrors if we choose to look into them. In fact, everything around us, every Power within this Orchestra is a Mirror, reflecting back to us our own Inner Light, which is carrying the songs of Our Soul on the Sacred Winds. We can see this Great mirror reflected back to us from the East at the Center of the Circle. It is the fifteenth Power, the Souls Of All Humans. It sings the Gathering Together Circle song and chants the Sacred Rainbow chant of the SunDance Way. It sings to us: Little Sister, Little Brother, sing the Look Within Yourself Songs, see the Beauty Of All That Is. Open your eyes and look around you and see the many Mirrors and the many Powers. When we look through the eyes of our brothers and sisters, we can see the Whole Universe.

We can play all the songs, know all the music, dance all the dances. They sing to us to go beyond all that appears to be by going within the song of the sixteenth Power of the Southeast. These are the Enlightened Souls and they sing a Song and carry a Light that is a Great Rainbow. They sing the Many Paths chant. Their powerful song says: You, Little Brother, Little Sister, are the Way, the Light and the Truth. Look within yourself and find the Light. Know that Truth can be found from anywhere on the Wheel and that towards the Center of the Wheel is The Way. They begin to teach us how to find our Way. They sing the Honor Your Brothers and Sisters Way chant.

They play the sounds of All The Ways Will Gather Together Within The Rainbow Circle Dance. You must Dream. You must awaken within the song of the seventeenth Power of the Southwest. Hear the Great Kachina Powers, the Dream Teachers. They are chanting Dance Your Dream Awake and Walk in Beauty. Dance to the Sacred Medicine Way chant and the Sacred SunDance Way chant.

Their chants are as infinite as the Stars within the Great Sky and all of them are the Sacred Dream of the eighteenth Power of the Northwest. In this place on the Great Wheel we hear the Great Magick chant, for within this Power are the Chuluamadahey, Keepers of the Keys to the Books of Life of all Humans. Their most sacred chant is the Children’s Fire chant, which sings that Nothing Must Be Done To Harm The Children, including Grandmother’s children. They sing gently to us that within us as within all Humans is a Child. They sing the Become As A Child song. They sing the Honor The Child Within song.

As they sing, they point to the Northeast to the Light that Speaks with a Voice of Thunder, the ninetheenth Power. Here are the Great Hokkshidehheys and they are singing the Cosmic chant, the chant of Total Balance and Harmony of All Things Within The Everything. They sing to our Highest Spirit Selves. You Are, they chant, You Are.

There is a Flash of Lightning and a Clap of Thunder. In an instant that becomes infinity, we are imploded into the Sound of the Lightning and exploded into the Light of the Thunder. We soar through the Gateway of Infinity, flowing through time, space and dimension, awakening finally in the West of the Center of the Circle. We have met the twentieth Power, the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit. You and I, all things, have now become One With The Everything.

The Song is finished.

Moon Tracker
Truth
"Take your false face off. There is no need to throw your hands up in despair!"
Be Merry


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