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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.

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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.

Design Meaning

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. 

Color Explanation

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.

East:

  • 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.

South:

  • 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.

West:

  • 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.

North:

  • 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. 

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