Updated: Sep 19, 2019
All tribes have a form of medicine wheel. There is no single answer as to its meaning. The Anishnaabek often referred to the medicine wheel as the CIRCLE OF LIFE symbolizing the natural cycles of birth, growth, death, and regeneration.
The FOUR CIRCLES are viewed in a clockwise direction. East will be to the viewer’s right, south on the bottom and west on the left. In native culture we start in the east and rotate to the south and west, arriving at the north circle on top.
The East - Daybreak, Illumination. Spirit. In the East is the Giniw- Gold Eagle and the color is the Gold of the morning star.
1st color of man East – Niibiish aabooke ininwag – Yellow, Physical, Binoojiinhsag – Childhood Beginnings, Spring, Sunrise, Water, Semaa – Tobacco – Prayer, renewal of life.
Awakening, Ascension, Vision, Spiritual wisdom. This is where the new beginnings of creation stir at the cusp of dawn. With the rising sun, a dawning of a greater spiritual awareness envelopes us. As the new warmth presses upon us, our own divine spark ignites and we are aware of far more potential in life than ever before. In this spiritually-focused quadrant, the intangible self lives vibrantly and scintillates creative wisdom.
Giniw Gold Eagle SPIRIT KEEPER OF THE EAST The time of Wabun begins with the Spring equinox, the beginning of our solar year. The "times" of Wabun are the times of new beginnings: the time of Dawn, of Spring, of early Childhood, of Birth, the bursting forth of all new things with renewed energy. The first three Moons are under the direct influence of the East. If your Moon is Budding Trees, Frogs Return, or Corn planting Moon, then your special Spirit Keeper is Giniw Gold Eagle . But you also need to realize that all the Spirit Keepers are there for you, each with their special gifts and lessons, each with their own time, in a day, in a year, in our lives.
The Stone for Giniw Gold Eagle is placed in the Outer Circle marked out for the Medicine Wheel -- exactly in the cardinal direction East; or as near as you can reckon it. On March 21st of each year Father Sun is directly East. This is the date of the Spring Equinox, meaning that Father Sun is halfway between his southernmost point of (apparent) travel and his northernmost point: an equal distance between the two points. This is also when Father Sun is exactly in the East.
The beautiful, majestic (and endangered) Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is the animal Totem for Wabun. Eagle soars high, higher than any other physical being. And yet from this lofty height He can see the mouse far below. At the same time He sees the whole picture. The first gift of Wabun which Golden Eagle can help you realize is Clarity. Ask Wabun to help you soar high, close to Creator, and gain Wisdom. Higher yet, till you gain the Light of Illumination.
The plant Totem for East is Tobacco,
considered to be one of the most sacred by Native Americans. Tobacco is one of the main plants used in ceremony. The chosen task of Tobacco is to carry communications to Creator. Working with Spirit of Tobacco brings clarity and transforms negativity. It is also good used as an offering in return for gifts from the Earth Mother, like sources of food, shelter materials, or a Stone or a Feather or other item that is gifted you. Tobacco is usually the Gift given to a Spiritual Leader or Healer when asking for prayers, a healing, teaching, or counseling. It is also used in smudge mixtures, to honor Spirit Keeper of the East, to transform negativity, and to carry prayers to the Spirit world. When not used in a sacred manner Tobacco is a poison, as most of us know.
The mineral for the East is Catlinite (Red Pipestone), a companion to Tobacco.
True Catlinite is smooth to touch and carves easily, "even with a regular pen-knife". This Catlinite has been quarried at the Sacred Quarries in Pipestone, MN, by the original Peoples of Turtle Island and their descendants for many thousands of years. It was and is taken carefully and prayerfully from Mother Earth.
The Colors for the East are usually Red, Gold, or Yellow, depending on the tradition you learned. I have noticed that Red is common in the West, and Yellow or Gold are more common in the East part of the country.
The South - Youth and innocence. Emotion. Waawaabiganoojiinh-Mouse is the sign of the south and it´s color is Red.
2nd color of man South – Anishinaabek – Red , Emotional, Adolescence, Social, Going Along,
Summer, High Noon, Wind, Giizhik – Cedar – Courage, cleansing, growth, express feelings.
Empathy, Trust, Faith, Inclusion, Love, Emotional wisdom. A dive into ethereal bloodlines reveals the music of undulating emotions. We submerge into renewing waters where we lean into the cosmic aortic pulse. Each beat of our collective heart mixes our life waters, and we experience whole love. In this emotionally-focused quadrant, we softly feel our way into a greater current. We understand unity. We swim easily within the community, following downstream paths of love and least resistance.
The waawaabiganoojiinh Mouse is the spirit keeper of the southern direction or fire quadrant of the medicine wheel.
The mouse as a totem animal represents the importance of small, persistent action. It represents the ability to pay attention to small details and how to discern the important from the irrelevant. Like the actual creature, the totem mouse represents heightened awareness to small details, and the virtue of sometimes being timid and sacrificing one's ego. A mouse is able to successfully live on the most meager of materials—a lesson we're well advised to learn.
Waawaabiganoojiinh Mouses Stone is placed due South in the outer Circle
The first Moon of Mouse, Strong Sun Moon, begins with the Summer Solstice, when Father Sun is at his northernmost point. The second Moon is Ripe Berries, and the third is Harvest Moon. If you were born during any of these moons, your special Spirit Keeper is Mouse. It is important though to learn to communicate with all the Spirit Keepers and learn their gifts.
Cedar is in the Southern Doorway
Its medicine value is the tree of life, used in teas and baths, to purify the home and cleanses your spirit when used in a smudging ceremony. Cedar has a female and male side for balance. It is used for purification in sweat lodges and fastings.
The mineral totem for Waawaabiganoojiinh Mouse is Serpentine, a common, widely distributed mineral, composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. It crystallizes and occurs in two forms: antigorite, a massive variety; and chrysotile, a fibrous variety. The massive variety has a greasy, waxy luster, and the fibrous variety is silky. Both varieties are colored light and dark green. In some traditions Serpentine is used for stings and bites from insects and snakes. Working with Serpentine helps us learn about ceremony, beauty, energy and action, trust, well-being, growth, and intimacy.
Here in the Southeast we use the color Red for the South - like the heat of summer. since the time of Waawaabiganoojiinh Mouse is the time of growth for Green Growing Things.
The West - Introspection, Looks within. The Mishimakwa Grizzly Bear is the sign of the West, The color is Black.
3rd color of man West – Mkade ininwag – Black, Mental, Gitziimak – Adulthood, Intellectual, Getting Settled, Autumn, Sunset, Earth, Mmuskode-washk – Sage – Purifies, introspection, direction we go when we change worlds in death.
Conclusions, Stability, Goals, Foundations, Physical wisdom When we trace the path of the setting sun, our eyes are left looking upon the earths body. With this earthy, grounded vision we contemplate the material, and the bounty borne from the mouth of matter. In this physically-focused quadrant, the roots of our own bodies mingle with mass - with earth. We understand totality and completion. We also understand the cycles of corporeal return.
The time of Mishimakwa Grizzly bear is the Evening til Midnight, Autumn, our adult years to elder time. This is the time of slowing down, of taking stock of experiences, of going within, like the Grizzly in autumn, but going within spiritually, to gain strength from the knowledge thus gained; the time to prepare for the times of "winter" or later times.
The Stone for Mishimakwa Grizzly bear is placed due West in the outer Circle, exactly opposite the Stone for Wabun of the East. The three Moons of Okistatôwân are those of Autumn to early "winter": the Ducks Fly Moon, the Freeze Up Moon and the Long Snows Moon. If one of these is "your" moon, then Okistatôwân and his path or gifts of experience, introspection and strength are the most relevant for you. But remember, all of the Spirit Keepers are there for you, and different assistance is needed at different times. We need to learn as many of the gifts as we can.
The mineral totem for Mishimakwa Grizzly bear is Soapstone.
Soapstone has been used for many thousands of years for both Sacred and decorative carvings. Carry on your person and/or meditate with Soapstone to learn about purification, preparation, maturity, responsibility, old knowledge, and strength with malleability.
Sage is in the Western Doorway of the four directions.
It is used to cleanse people, places, items, and ceremonies because of its deep cleansing value. There is a female and male Sage, parley sage is the female Sage. Sage is picked before it flowers for it has more medicine at this time.
Blue is often the color of evening clouds and sky. The night is usually thought of as Black. Black and Blue are the colors for the Stone honoring the Western Spirit Keeper. Use these colors when you are working on evaluating experience, learning introspection, and developing strength for the times ahead.
The North - Knowledge, wisdom. Waabishki -bizhiki White Buffalo is the sign of the north .the color of wisdom is White
4th color of man North – Zhaaganaashag – White, Spiritual, Elder, Going Home, Winter, Night Fire, Wiingashk – Sweetgrass – Invites in good.
Illumination, Discovery, Logic, Understanding, Mental wisdom Science and knowledge accumulated through our life cycles is purified, and trickles from the tips of ice-capped mountains of wisdom. As these streams of knowing move to our awareness, we prepare for Intellectual illumination. In this mentally-focused quadrant, the greatest reaches of our comprehension roll back into us, causing avalanches of deductive reason. Intellectual knowing is processed and crystallized.
Waabishki -bizhiki White Buffalo time starts with the Winter solstice, when Father Sun is at the southernmost point of his journey, the shortest day of the year. Her times are Midnight to Dawn, Winter, the elder time of life and around to birth or rebirth.
The most honored White Buffalo is the animal manifestation of Mashkode-bizhiki- Buffalo, often equated with White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman.
The Stone for Waabishki -bizhiki White Buffalo is placed due North in the outer Circle, exactly opposite the Stone for Waawaabiganoojiinh Mouse of the South. The three Moons of Mashkode-bizhiki- Buffalo are those of Winter: the Earth Renewal Moon, the Rest and Cleansing Moon and the Big Winds Moon. If one of these is "your" moon, then Mashkode-bizhiki- Buffalo and her path or gifts of Cleansing, Renewal, and Purity are the most relevant for you. But remember, all of the Spirit Keepers are there for you, and different assistance is needed at different times. We need to learn as many of the gifts as we can.
The mineral totem for Waabishki -bizhiki White Buffalo is Alabaster. Alabaster is a gypsum based stone. Because it is easy to carve and takes a beautiful matte or polished finish, it has been used for many thousands of years for both Sacred and decorative carvings. Carry a small piece of Alabaster on your person and/or meditate with Alabaster to learn about gentleness with strength, purity, high ideals, peace, and the give away.
Sweetgrass is the Northern Doorway
It is the hair of Mother Earth and is female medicine. It is used after other medicines. It is calming and soothing. There are 28 strands in a Sweetgrass braid to represent the female cycle. You must always pray when picking and braiding Sweetgrass, for the mind, body and soul.
The color for the Stone of the North and the Sacred White Buffalo is the color of Winter in the north, the color of the hair on the heads of our wise elder Grandmothers and Grandfathers, White. This color helps to cleanse, renew and purify your body, mind and Spirit.