All around us we are surrounded by a sacred circle.  This is our horizon circle and it encompasses all that we encounter.  It is a circle of power...   There are 4 gateways in this circle.  These correspond to the 4 directions, to the 4 quarters of the day, and to the 4 seasons.  These are all attributes of the greater consciousness that we are a part of.  All things move in a circle, as above so below.  Whether it is the spiral of our solar system around the Pleiades star system or the spin of the earth as it journeys around our sun, all are a part of the unfoldment of this greater consciousness.  The evolving consciousness of the circle turning as spiral is represented in the Medicine Wheel.  All things find their place on the wheel of life, and in understanding our place on the wheel we can come into harmony with all that is.   The astrology chart embraces this circle.  It maps specifically our relationship with the earth and sky, and it reveals to us the secret of our soul pattern.  The cross within the Medicine Wheel represents the axis of our self-hood as defined by time and space.

We stand at the center of this wheel.  With the 4 directions we include above and below.  This identifies the power of 7 directions of orientation.  These 7 are the initiations that we must master to complete our journey in this time / space reality...  This is a path of awakening and remembrance.  We are challenged to walk in balance in a world of duality, of light and dark.  We are challenged to find meaning in what might be difficult or painful circumstances and relationships.  It is the teachings of the Medicine Wheel that guides us on our journey.  These teachings are the basis of the astrological chart.  Our soul pattern is contained within the Medicine Wheel, and the unfoldment our of life's evolutionary purpose mapped by this circle.  And so it is that we can ceremonially invoke this sacred circle, calling upon the powers of the 6 directions that surround us, we can draw this energy into ourselves at the center.  Connecting to the Power that guides our souls, we can strengthen our relationship with all that is and walk a path of beauty...
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THE EAST  is the place of the sunrise, the time of awakening, and the birth of consciousness.  Its keyword is Illumination and represents inspirational realization.  Its animal totem is the eagle.  It is the eagles who as the light of the rising sun awakens us on our spiritual journey.  Like the springtime, the East corresponds with a new cycle of unfoldment.  After a period of being in the darkness and uncertainty we come forth into the light of new realization.  Born from the womb of the mother we start a life full of possibility.  It is the start of a new day when our dreams are still fresh in our minds, therefore we seek to bring them forth into the everyday world.  Like the rising sun, the light of who we are comes forth to begin our journey of conscious purpose.  The initiation of the East is as a rite of passage that awakens us to the realization of the gifts and skills that are an inherent part of who we are.  We are challenged to discover our unique sense of personal destiny... 

From an astrological point of view, the East corresponds to the place of the rising sun, also known as the Rising Sign or to the Ascendant. This is the reference point for the awakening of the Self as we project ourselves instinctively into life experience.  The planet that rules the rising sign is called the Chart Ruler.  Its condition shows the circumstances where one is to discover themselves through how they meet lifes opportunities and challenges.  The sign of Aries who's keywords are 'I am that I am' and its planetary ruler Mars are also expressions of the self-discovery and initiative that corresponds with the power of the East.  Somewhere in the 12 houses of the birth chart this sign and planet will be positioned.  And since the Earth turns on her axis, the first planet to rise in the east after one's birth is also a major significator describing how one will meet life experiences and project oneself into the mundane world.   The power of the EAST can also be seen in the birth chart through the indications and influence of the Anti-Vertex and North Node of the Moon and their rulers...

THE SOUTH is the place of the noon day sun, the time when we establish our place in the world whether we are adult or child.   It is during the noon hour that we stop to nurture ourselves with our lunchbreak, just as the Sun stops in its apparent motion at its summer solstice place.  The South is the season of summer and symbolizes the time of growth and nurturing.  In human life it is the time of chilhood.  Its keywords are INOCENCE and TRUST and its animal totem is the coyote who is known as the trickster teacher.  The South shows where the Spirit becomes fully embodied into the material plane, where life in the natural world becomes totally rooted in the Mother Earth.  The South also shows where we build the foundations of our life, and therefore deals with themes linked to family and home, and to the development of our personalities.  The initiation of the South relates to the healing of the inner child, and the freedom to be who we truly are without false pretense.   It is the Coyote who tests us while traveling in this direction that we might learn to grow beyond ego indulgence and addictive tendencies.

From an astrological point of view, there is a major difference between the Medicine Wheel and the Astrological Wheel.  The Medicine Wheel moves only in a clockwise direction as it progresses on its journey through times of day and seasons of the year.  The Astrological Wheel on the other hand, travels both clockwise and counter-clockwise in a mirror reflection  of the day and year cycle.   The day cycle moves in a clockwise motion while the seasons travel in a counter-clockwise motion.  The time of the summer solstice begins the sign of Cancer.  This sign is concerned with themes linked to emotional security, family dynamics and domestic issues.  The nurturing influence of the sign Cancer with its ruler the Moon is the symbolic embodiment of the Mother.  The mother cares for the child and nurtures the family.   

Cancer which is the 4th sign of the zodiac corresponds with the 4th house in the chart wheel.   An interesting paradox is that the 4th house corresponds with the time of Mid-Night.  Its during the mid-night time when the children are asleep in their beds, safe and secure.  In the womb of the Great Mother, we are nurtured and rejuvenated preparing us for the next day.  Our connection to the home and family, as well as to the land we live upon and our family traditions all correspond to the 4th house.  The astrological sign that is located at the mid-night place and its planctary ruler will describe the home and family dynamics and any security related issues.

THE WEST is the place of the setting sun and therefore the end of our day time activities.   As the sun and its light goes down it symobizes a time of looking inward to find meaning in all that we have done and experienced.  It is the season of Fall and the time of harvest.   The seeds of our thoughts and actions that we have sown now comes time to be reaped.  In our human life cycle, it is the time of adulthood.  As adults we have to make appropriate choices for what is important in our lives especially regarding our relationships.  Here we seek to find balance and right relationship with all of life.  The keywords for the West are INTROSPECTION and RIGHT RELATIONS and its animal totem is the Grizzly Bear.  The Bear gives us the gift of spiritual strength as he leads us on our inner journey.  The initiation of the West relates to our ability to listen to the inner wisdom that guides us to make appropriate choices in life and relationship.   Failure to do so will set one back to revisit and heal issues related to the South, to a place of vulnerability and emotional woundedness.

From an astrological point of view, the West and Fall time correspond to the sign of Libra.  Libra is the sign where we open ourselves to relationship of all types.  Here we seek to find balance and harmony with the many perspectives and values that others bring to  us.  Libra is the 7th sign and corresponds with the 7th house of an astrological chart wheel which begins at sunset.  Sunrise is symbolic of one's self coming forth, whereas sunset is concerned with others and our involvement with what they bring to us.  Venus rules Libra and is an indication of our capacity for relationship and intimacy.  Its condition in the birth chart will be a strong indicator of the quality of one's relatlions.  The astrological sign that occupies the 7th house and its planetary ruler, as well as any planet in the 7th house will describe one's relationhip dynamics and potential marriage partner.  The Vertex will also play a major role in defining relationship dynamics and inclinations.

THE NORTH is the place of the mid-night sun and corresponds in the Medicine Wheel to the Winter season.  In human life it is the time of old age and to the wisdom of the Spiritual Elder.  In the night time while sleeping people dream, though mostly unconscious while dreaming.  It is the Spiritual Elder who dreams consciously in the day.  It is the Spiritual Elder that guides the people with sacred wisdom.   During winter the days are short and the nights are long.  The winter's cold temperature strips away the growth of summer time, just as old age strips away the sensuality of youth.  Key words for the North are PURIFCATION and SPIRITUAL RENEWAL and the animal totem is the White Buffalo.  The White Buffalo teaches of our sacred responsibility for our families, communities, and roles as earth caretakers.  In this responsibility comes many sacrifices as we are now required to live more selflessly.  The initiation of the North requires us to develope spiritual maturity and to take our place as wisdom keepers.  Its is in our social roles that we can uphold spiritual values and teachings as well as being a guide to those seeking wisdom.

From an astrological point of view, the time of the winter solstice corresponds to the sign of Capricorn.  Like winter, which can require hard work and endurance, the sign Capricorn shows how we must pay our dues with hard work in order that we may work our way up the ladder of social position and status.  Its planetary ruler Saturn has a reputation of bringing on hardships and challenges, yet if obligations and requirements are met can bring forth social position and authority.  Capricorn is a sign that can be identified with ambition linked to career and social status, whereas the power of the North can strip away the outer form of our social roles and seek to bring forth the spiritual principles for which we stand.   This is something that is happening to many people now as they seek to leave their work to find a new sense of social identity in a spiritual capacity.  

Capricorn as the 10th sign of the zodiac corresponds with the 10th house in the astrological wheel.  The 10th house correlates with the sun's culmination at noon.  Whereas in the Medicine Wheel, noon corresponds to the summer time.  Here winter corresponds to noon.  The sun at its high point in the day cycle shows our pupose in the world and how we are recognized in our social role.  When linked to the summer time it shows the building of our worldly foundations.  When linked to the winter time it shows the establishment of our spiritual foundations.  In both capacities comes social recognition and status.  From an astrolgical point of view, the natal postion and dynamics of Saturn will show our Karmic requirements.  And the sign at the noon place which begins the 10th house, and its planetary ruler will give indications as to our career and social status, as well as what we aspire to be in the world, and the purpose we seek to fulfill.

to be continued...

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Medicine Wheel on Rachels Knoll '99