Updated: Sep 19, 2019
You may not be familiar with the rich spiritual traditions and beliefs of the Native Americans but these traditions and beliefs can bring a new spirit to your life. In this Guide you can work through the entire medicine wheel. You will find instructions that discuss every element of a medicine wheel.
There are many Native American tribes, each with its own spiritual beliefs and customs. Although each has its own culture, all of them share a common, deep appreciation and genuine reverence for Mother Earth and the Creator, otherwise known as the Great Spirit. They all share a belief that all nature is to be respected - the land, trees, animals, rocks, and resources that make up our home – this Earth. We can all learn a great deal from them as we seek to live in harmony with our own natures and the nature of this earth.
While each tribe’s practices and beliefs are theirs alone, their concept of the Medicine Wheel we find resonates with those of other cultures, many of which have traditions of spiritual circles. It seems the stone circle is a somewhat universal symbol of the relationship of the physical and spiritual world across cultures. Such monuments have been constructed in many parts of the world throughout history for many different reasons. The medicine wheel, stone circles, mandalas, and the like, are all vehicles used in one form or another (and called one thing or another) by highly sophisticated ancient societies. These include the Hopi, Maya, Inca, Olmacs, Druids, and Egyptians. Circles are the symbol of wholeness, healing, and integration—and their incredible power, have been understood by and familiar to these ancient peoples for thousands of years. They were, in other words, peoples “of the Circle,” and connected into a Source of power lost to antiquity over the ages; until now.
The Medicine Wheel, representing the many cycles of life, is an ancient symbol that has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years. The circle is representative of life's never ending cycle (birth, death, rebirth) and each stone or spoke placement in the wheel focuses on a different aspect of living. The Wheel is a ceremonial center, an astronomical laboratory like Stonehenge, a place to pray, a place to meditate, a connection to nature, and a focus for enabling connections with all creation.
I suggest you start with understanding the Creator and Inner Circle elements and then work outward. The journey will be rewarding and most certainly enlightening. Below you will find information on constructing and using your Medicine Wheel. I trust you will find this guide as useful in your journey to spiritual enlightenment as I, and many others around the world, have.
The medicine wheel represents the sacred circle of life, its basic four directions, and their associated elements. Each direction of the wheel offers its own lessons, color, and animal spirit guide. Animal totems serve as guardians or ambassadors of each of the directions.
These stones lie in a pattern resembling a large 28-spoke wheel, 80 feet across. It is estimated that perhaps five million similar stone circles or medicine wheels, from 5 to 30 feet in diameter, existed across North America. Artifacts found at the Majorville wheel in Alberta, Canada, indicate the age of this medicine wheel is from 4000 to 5000 years old, built at the time of the construction of the Egyptian pyramids.
1Creator - Center of life, the Medicine Wheel itself.
The Creator is the beginning of life and its ending, the Great Mystery within all things and around all things, the Universal Energy"............"In many Native languages the word for Creator......... "was a verb, indicating the movement, the activity, the motion, the pulsation of this sacred, never-ending force."
2 Earth Mother - Gives us our home, and lives.
Our Beautiful Mother Earth gives birth to, nurtures, and sustains us all:: Green Growing People, Standing People (Trees), Water Dwellers, Winged Ones, Creepy Crawlies, Four-legged and Two-legged. Materials for our homes, clothes, and tools of all kinds, as well as the food we eat -- all are provided by our Mother, the Earth. In this era we two-leggeds have not properly appreciated this, nor taken care of her. We need to start doing so NOW, or she may not be able to continue to give so generously and abundantly.
The animal totem for Mother Earth is the tortoise.
Not many giant Tortoises are left. They have become an endangered species. They are a long-lived Earth being, living to be 100 to 150 years old. Most of those alive today live in the Galapagos Islands. The ancient Native legends credit a Very Giant Tortoise with providing a place for humans to live after the Great Flood. This legend is told in similar forms by different Native American groups. "This large reptile (the Giant Tortoise) has the lumbering grace, the patience, the experience, and the endurance of the Earth herself."
The plant totems for Mother Earth are the Three Sisters:
Corn, Beans, and Squash. When grown together these help each other. Plant some of each in the same "hill". Corn grows tall, reaching for the Sun. Beans twine around and up the cornstalk, each supports the other. The beautiful large leaves of Squash shade the ground and keep in moisture for all three. Each extracts different elements from the soil. After harvest, turn the remains of these plants back into the Earth. Each replaces different elements, so the soil does not become depleted of necessary nutrients. When eaten together the Three Sisters provide a completely balanced meal. Meditating on the lesson of the Three Sisters teaches us to live in Harmony with each other, and to return something to the Earth Mother for what we have taken from her. The Three Sisters are also used ceremonially, both as offerings and in Medicine bags. Corn, especially, is a common traditional offering. You can use either cornmeal or whole kernels.
Clay is the "mineral" totem for Mother Earth.
Clay is mainly aluminum silicate, a fine- grained and malleable earth. Native peoples who work with clay, making pottery, fetishes, and other items, understand the connection between their medium and Earth. Their work is done with prayer and ceremony, Working with Clay to create bowls or other items is a wonderful way to learn patience. Some Clays have healing powers. Working with Clay, either literally, or by holding, feeling and "connecting" with it, can help you learn about healing, malleability; help give you strength , and teach you about your connection to Mother Earth. The Stone honoring Mother Earth is Forest Green.
This is the color of all Green Growing People, when they are full of life, energy and water. Sometimes lighter, sometimes darker, but with little yellow or brown mixed in. This color brings warmth and growth stimulated by our Mother, the Earth, promoting deep healing, nurturing. It also helps us with an abundant harvest, just as Mother Earth produces so abundantly for All her children.
3 Father Sun - Warms life, source of energy and light.
Is the second stone south east of the Creator stone
The animal totem for Father Sun
Lizards are reptiles of the suborder Sauria or Lacertilia, with more than 3000 species in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They differ from amphibians in that they have dry, scaly skin, and most have clawed feet and external ear openings. Lizards are generally small, with four legs and a long tapering tail. In diet, they range from insectivores to vegetarians to carnivores. An interesting defense mechanism of many species is to display colors that blend in with the environment. Generally harmless, Lizards benefit humans by controlling insect populations. They love to bask in the wonderful warm rays of Father Sun. Some of the lessons we learn from Lizard are cheer, warmth, optimism and adaptability. The plant totems for Father Sun is
The plant totem for Father Sun is the beautiful Sunflower who is renown for loving Father Sun. Various parts of Sunflower are good for the heart, kidneys, skin and hair.
The "mineral" totem is an open Geode.
Geodes are round stones with a cavity lined with quartz or amethyst, usually, but not always. The Eagle is said to fly skyward toward Father Sun to bring messages from humans to the Creator. They have been known to put Geodes in their nests - showing a special relationship between Father Sun, Geodes, and Eagles. Geodes increase energy and brain activity. Carrying this stone and/or meditating with it will help us to connect with the vitality, creativity and energy of Father Sun, and help teach us other qualities and/or knowledge he has to share with us. Meditating on and connecting with any of these totem Spirits will help us learn lessons regarding action, creativity, energy, and in understanding the Masculine principle. The Stone honoring Father Sun is deep sky blue
The color for the Stone honoring Father Sun is Deep Sky Blue. This color "honors the sky home of Father Sun and reminds us that blue is one of the colors of fire burning hot, without impurities." Encourages spirituality, good for ceremony and meditation, healing for the soul and the body's energy systems.
4 Grandmother Moon - Guides dreams and visions.
The Spirit of Grandmother Moon is very ancient. She is one of the first three placed by Great Spirit to watch over, guide, and assist the children of Mother Earth. The Stone honoring her in the Wheel is the fourth one of the Center Circle. It is placed a little to the West of South (just West of Father sun), near the Creator Stone.
Grandmother Moon is in her glory during the night time hours, when Father Sun is on the other side of Mother Earth. She can help you with your dreams and visions; either to help bring them, or to assist in interpretation.
In many Native traditions Grandmother Moon is the leader of Feminine life. She teaches about the intuitive, introspective side of your nature. She is also very much connected to "Cycles". If you need assistance with changes in your life, or wish to create changes, Grandmother Moon is a good one to ask.
The animal totem for Grandmother Moon is the Loon, a bird that swims and dives,.
They have three calls, a yodel, a wail, and an eerie laugh. They nest along the shores of lakes, in marshes or swamps where they can slide into the water, because they cannot walk on land. The fish they dive for are their main food. Loons enjoy the company of other Loons, so we call them "gregarious". They also mate for life. From Loon we can learn about transformation, maneuverability, mystery, and fidelity.
The plant totems for Grandmother Moon
The plant totem is Mugwort, which can be found just about anywhere. Use Mugwort to balance female energies. Also a powerful ally and protecting force when used in a smudge or when working with the powers of Grandmother Moon. It is also good for help in promoting dreams. For this reason it is a popular ingredient of dream pillows.
The "mineral" totem is Moonstone
Moonstone, of course, is the mineral totem. Moonstone is a form of the mineral albite,
sodium feldspar, and has a beautiful pearly luster.
Connecting with Moonstone will assist you in developing prophetic ability, to gain wisdom, strength, and with your connection to Grandmother Moon. The Stone honoring
associated with the color silver-white. I am unable to show this color exactly. . Use this color when seeking purity of spirit, innocence, and truth. It is helpful when perfecting your intuition; powerful for balancing male/female energies.
The 4 Elements Earth, Water, Fire and Air
5 Turtle Clan - The element of earth. Growth and life.
The Stone for Turtle is placed in the Center Circle about halfway between West and North directions. It is the Fifth Stone of Seven in this inner Circle. Turtle, like its larger relative, Tortoise, North America is often called Turtle Island to show respect for this animal. In ancient times this continent had the shape of a Turtle. As "legend" tells us, Tortoise gave two-leggeds a place to live. Turtle is for the Element of Earth, physically - soil or "dirt"
The Element Earth is stable, solid, practical, giving one a place to stand. When you are in this position on the Wheel you will exhibit those qualities and move slowly and deliberately. But if you find yourself "rooted" and unmoving, it is time to seek the guidance of another Element or Totem of the Wheel to guide you.
The plant representing the element Earth is Cattails.
You will find Cattails throughout Turtle Island, just about anywhere "there is standing shallow water for at least part of the year." Marsh wrens, muskrats, and water voles nest and feed in cattails. The leaves are used for making chair seats, mats, and baskets. Cattails are extremely useful and versatile. The Original population of the Americas uses Cattail as follows: the cob down (flower head ripened to seed) is very absorbent and used as matting; the raw root is ground - used for bread flour, used in salve for ulcerated wounds, hives, and is a blood coagulant; the roasted root makes a great "potato"; and the raw stem can be eaten as a vegetable or mashed and used as a salve for burns!
The "mineral" totem is
Petrified Wood is the member of the Stone or mineral kingdom for this elemental clan. This "mineral" is wood from trees of long ago that has been turned into stone by our Earth Mother. Working with this stone will connect you to both the plant and the mineral, or earth, kingdoms. Petrified wood comes in many colors, showing the great variety of our Earth and All Her Children. Sometimes there are scenes that show mineral or plant life in different stages of our Planet's cycle of life. This Stone brings us messages from the distant past, bringing home the long cycle of life of Mother Earth as well as the knowledge that many changes are a natural part of this cycle (and all life cycles).
The color for the Stone honoring the Element Earth is green-brown.
Use this color whenever you have become too spacey, to help stabilize you, and bring you back to Earth. You could even make a special object of this color, something as simple as a line drawing of a Turtle, or something on a background of this color (on cloth, leather, stone, your choice) to meditate on, or just stare at, whenever you need this kind of energy.
6 Frog Clan - The element of water. Cleansing.
Frogs, with their comical antics and wonderful songs, teach us about joy, humor, and communicating. They also have other teachings and help for humans. The Center Circle Stone for Frog is the last of the Sixth Center Stones. Father Sun, Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, and the four Elemental Spirits form the Seven powers close to Creator that help to build and maintain our Home. They also watch over us Two Legged Beings and All Our Relations, and will assist us to grow Spiritually, Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally if we ask and listen.
The plant totems for Water is Algae,
The brown algae, commonly called kelp, are the largest seaweeds. Pacific species can reach 65 m (213 ft) in length and have structures that resemble leaves and stems, as well as large air-filled bladders and strong hold-fasts that anchor them against heavy surf.
Red Algae, a large group of water plants with reddish pigments (about 6000 species), are abundant in clear tropical waters Their red pigment enables them to carry on photosynthesis at deeper levels than is possible for ordinary green algae. Most species grow near tropical and subtropical shores below the low-tide mark. A few are found in fresh water. Most red algae are small to medium-sized and multi-cellular. They vary greatly in shape and may be plate like, coral-line, crust like, leathery, or feather like. Coral-line species accumulate lime as they grow and contribute to the structure of coral reefs. Green Algae, numbering about 6000 to 7000 species , are known as green algae because of the bright green color of their two chlorophyll's which are unmasked by other pigments. They are believed to be the most immediate relatives of the green land plants. Green algae occur as single cells, in colonies, and as multi-cellular filaments. Still water ecosystems are divided into different zones. In open-water zones, plant plankton and filamentous green algae supply most of the energy to the ecosystem. Green algae are an excellent addition to food. They are rich in minerals and vitamins, and are also important as a source of food for our aquatic Relations.
The "mineral" totem is
River Rock, which can be obtained in any river. Please be sure to ask the Rock Spirit if it wishes to leave it's home and come with you, to help teach you about your Water connection and emotional understanding. Native peoples honored River Rock because they contain the energies both of the Earth and of the waters on the Earth. River Rocks were considered to have the medicine of both these elements and to make the water medicine particularly accessible to people who need it. They were thought to aid people in singing the songs of Earth and Water." "River Rocks can aid you with healing, cleansing, stabilizing, or changing your life. Working with River Rocks can release negative patterns, particularly emotional ones. River Rocks are especially potent if you work with them in their natural surroundings. These stones are soothing, calming, and healing on deep physical and emotional levels. They can evoke change that is concrete, tangible, and unshakable. River Rocks are particularly helpful for problems that arise from growing up in a dysfunctional family system. They assist people in releasing the old, allowing it to flow away from them
The Stone honoring
The color for the Stone representing Frog, the Element Water, is Blue/Green, the color "of the ocean on a clear sunlit day." Use this color, or blue and green, for cleansing, purifying, soothing, of the body, mind and spirit. Having these colors around you also promotes healing, happiness and contentment.
7 Thunderbird Clan - The element of fire. Energy.
Thunderbird's Stone is placed just barely North, in the Center Circle around the Creator
The plant totems for
appropriately, Fireweed. The younger shoots are somewhat like Asparagus and are good used either raw in salads, or cooked in soups. Fireweed "is so named because it is often one of the first plants to appear in a burned-over" or damaged area. It has an extensive root system and spreads quickly, thus helping to heal the Earth in such an area. As our totem plant for the Element, Fire, we turn to Fireweed for lessons in healing the Earth, in helping ourselves and others heal after cleansing experiences, and in being of service to all our relations.
The "mineral" totem is
is Lava Rock. Lava Rock, born of Fire from the depths of Earth Mother, offers inner depth, evolution and purification to all of Mother's children. When you study Lava Rock and connect with it, you will find many deeper teachings. The Stone honoring
Fire, is, quite naturally, Vivid Red. Use this color when you need physical strength or need an assist to take action; also at those times when you need fearlessness or warrior/leader energy. Fearlessness and warrior/leader energies are not something one needs all the time. That can get us into trouble!
8 Butterfly Clan - The element of air. Transformation.
The Stone honoring Butterfly is the 8th Stone in the Center Circle. It is placed in a due North East position, near the Creator Stone. Beings influenced by Butterfly are always moving, like air, except when undergoing transformation (metamorphosis). From Butterfly we learn about transformation and change.
The plant totems for
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), also known as milkweed or pleurisy weed. It is an agent that stimulates healing and transformation. In small doses, the root is good for lung aiments.
The "mineral" totem is
Azurite, is a beautiful blue color, ranging from pale to an almost purple hue. It, too, can aid in transformation, especially the Mental part of your being. Carrying this Stone and/or meditating with it will help you develop your psychic abilities, aid inspiration, and increase your energy.
The Stone honoring
a clear translucent with a hint of blue. This color bespeaks and teaches gentleness, faith, tenderness, love, and peace. It is good for inner child work and "especially good for healing the spirit."