Medicine wheels, like mandalas, are sacred circles, used to create a sacred space. They can be any size. Outdoor Medicine Wheels can be made to accommodate large groups of people, or smaller to accommodate a more intimate group. One can be set up on a table top, where you honor the building process as you place each stone and follow the circular pathways with your finger. You can use rocks, gemstones, symbolic or personal meaningful objects to build your wheel. It is your intention that makes it sacred.
Native American Medicine Wheels
The teachings of the Native American Medicine Wheels, as do other sacred circle traditions, make a link between the human and natural worlds. A reminder that each individual is a part of the Great Cosmic Wheel. The direction, colors and animal symbolism used in indigenous medicine wheels varies according to the location and totems of each tribe.
The 36 point medicine wheel was revealed in a vision to Sun Bear (1929-1992), a Native American medicine man of Ojibwa descent.
36 Stone Wheel
Each stone has layers of symbolism including correspondences to the animal, plant and stone nations. . . as well as astrology, the elements of fire, earth, air, water and the natural forces of the 7 directions: east, south, west, north, above, below and within.
When we take the time to remember one component, in some sense we remember them all, for they are all connected, all part of the same larger Creation. It is said that setting the last stone connects the wheel to all other medicine wheels that have ever been built.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong Master, Nancy Gardner discusses Sun Bear’s vision of the wheel and how she has adapted it for personal use. Ignore the spelling errors and the date. This is well worth the 80 minutes of your time or if you’re in a hurry, check out her 2-minute video on how she works with the wheel.
Mosley’s Astro Medicine Wheel
A melding of Sun Bear’s wheel with an astrology wheel and a Myers Phase wheel using 40 points and entering from the east aligned with Spring and Aries. More on this coming soon.
8-Phase Medicine Wheels
Buz Myers applied the principles of Sun Bear’s wheel to the 8-phase cycle and promoted using the 9 point wheel in conjunction with the lunar cycles.
These instructions are adapted from his Book, “Getting On Time With Your Life
Find a quiet place in your home or yard where you will not be disturbed or have to take it down before the cycle is over.
The stones represent your Higher Self and the Eight Phases.
Enter and exit from the East. Always walk in a clockwise direction as you build the wheel. This winds up the energy (like winding a clock).
As you place each stone contemplate its meaning, touch it to the ground, point it to the sky, and hold it to your heart before placing it.
Begin by placing a stone in the center of the circle. As you place this stone, open yourself up to your Higher Side and ask for guidance.
Next, one at a time place a stone at each of the four directions, remembering to touch it to the ground, point it to the sky, and hold it to your heart before placing it and then continue on out of the circle in a clockwise manner. As you place each stone, open yourself up to your Higher Side and ask for guidance.
These are the Sacred Gates to the Higher Self.
South 1st Qtr.
North Last Qtr.
Finally, place each of the four interior directions as in the instructions above.
These are the Gates of Change that lead to a new direction.
South East Crescent
South West Gibbous
North West Disseminating
North East Balsamic
Once your wheel is set up, enter it at the Eastern Gate and walk it’s circumference clockwise, three times. Stand or sit in front of the stone marking the direction of the current Moon Phase when writing in your Moon Phase Journal. The Phase Wheel will provide you with an excellent visual tool, which will enhance your studies.
The Medicine Wheel should be dismantled during the Balsamic Phase of the cycle or immediately after use, if it can’t remain in place. When taking the wheel down, pick up the stones one at a time in a counter clockwise fashion reverse order from which you set the wheel.
*There are two ways to set the Phase Wheel.1. Earth based: The wheel above is set with true directions of East, South, West and North. When setting a phase wheel on the earth, this is the way that you should work it. 2. Sky based or an astrology natal chart wheel: These wheels are reversed, as seen from the sky. They represent the astrological perspective with South at the top of the chart. It’s an option. Editors note: they are shown both ways on this website.
Books on Medicine Wheels
Native American Medicine Wheel Resources on the web
Crystal Vaults, though a commercial site has extensive free information on Sun Bear’s Medicine Wheel.
This article by Jamie K. Oxendine is about the Native American Medicine Wheel symbol and color and design.
This page is about Shamanism and the Medicine Wheel, using the teachings of Hyemeyohsts Storm, whose books first introduced us to the concept of Zero Chief.