The Medicine Wheel:
My grandmother has a few of these herself. Its a beautiful tradition that I hope you guys can learn some things from! Below is a brief description of the Medicine Wheel that is sacred to my tribe and many other brother and sisters of the plains.
The medicine wheel is a sacred symbol used by Plains tribes and others to represent all knowledge of the universe.
The medicine wheel consists of a circle with horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the circle’s center. Sometimes, an eagle feather is attached in the wheel’s center.
Circle - The circle represents the sacred outer boundary of the Earth often referred to as the Sun Dance Circle or the Sacred Hoop. It represents the continuous pattern of on-going life and death.
Lines - The horizontal and vertical lines represent the sun and man’s sacred paths, respectively; the crossing of the two lines indicates the center of the Earth where one stands when praying.
Feather - The eagle feather is a sign of Wakan Tanka’s - the Great Spirit’s - power over everything.
The directions, as they are called upon in the medicine wheel, are often associated with a sacred color. Each direction has a messenger.
Color placement on the wheel varies based on individual band customs.
- Color - Yellow
- Messenger - Brown Eagle
- Associated with the sun, brings light to all creation.
- Because the sun travels east to west - in a clockwise manner - all good things conform to the same pattern.
- The Morning Star - the star of wisdom and new beginnings - comes from the east.
- Elk people call the east home.
- Color - Red
- Messenger - Crane
- Associated with warmth, happiness and generosity.
- Connected with life after death, directs men as they walk toward the next phase
- Life begins in the south.
- Nourishment of every kind comes from this direction.
- Home to the animal people.
- Color - Black
- Messenger - Black Eagle
- Connected with the power of rain and the purity of water; joy and growth follow the rain, releasing ignorance.
- West is home to the Thunder-being. His wings produce thunder and lightening flashes from his eyes. The bird-like being stands again evil and ensures the respect of others.
- Color - White
- Messenger - Bald Eagle
- North is home to winter and is believed to promote good health and growth.
- Those who misbehave look to the north for the wisdom needed to walk a straight path again.
- Home to the Calf Pipe Woman and the buffalo people.