The Medicine Wheel
An Astrological Mandala
The Medicine Wheel is a model of reality that maps the Circle of Life. In this circle we see and experience everything that we are capable of experiencing. This includes not only our outer physical reality, but also our inner spiritual reality. It maps our energetic bodies and is reflected in our physical makeup. It also maps the energetic body of our earth and at a larger level, our solar system and galaxy.
In the Medicine Wheel we see a circle that is divided by a four-fold cross emanating out from a central point of reference. This center point is a portal through which the radiant light of the Great Spirit’s consciousness flows through. It is the sacred fire at the heart of all things and can be seen as our Sun whose light when shone through a prism separates into the three primary colors, and then into the seven rainbow colors and then into a twelve color spectrum. Each spectrum of color in the Medicine Wheel has multiple references and meanings which structure our time / space reality and the mystery of consciousness.
The three primary colors are an expression of the 'Three Wisdom Fires that are One' at the center of the Wheel. These Three are attributes of consciousness that flow forth from the Great Spirit. Various religions make reference to them. For the Christian it is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For the Hindu it is Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva. These three primary rays of light or wisdom fires are:
1.) the Power of Intent or Creative Will, ------ Ruby Red
2.) the Power of Love – Wisdom ------ Golden Yellow
3.) the Power of Awakened Mind - Intelligence. ------ Violet Blue
In our bodies, these influences are what the Taoist refer to as the three dahn tiens.
Next comes forth the seven-fold light which is the rainbow spectrum, and these are represented by the 7 stones that form the inner circle of the Medicine Wheel. They are referred to by certain Native Traditions as the Seven Sacred Dancers, and are recognized as great spiritual intelligences. They in their dance make manifest all that is in our solar system, and have influence over our manifested reality. We see them take their turns as the Seven Days of Creation, which is mirrored on a smaller scale by the Seven Days of the Week and the seven notes of the musical scale. From the perspective of the Sun, they are his seven sacred planets; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. In our bodies they are our Seven Chakras.
Now comes forth the twelve-fold color spectrum. These are the twelve spiritual powers that influence collective mind as the twelve astrological signs. And these twelve signs or Moons, as taught by Sun Bear, give their imprint to all who belong, by birth, to their time of the year. Or whose planetary positions occupy these sign placements. It is our earth whose yearly journey around the sun creates our four seasons and twelve signs. In these twelve signs we see the twelve Labors of Hercules, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve hours of the day and night, and the twelve months of the year. And of course, the twelve keys, seven white and five black, of the piano scale. In our bodies these twelve signs also find their expression.
In the Medicine Wheel, these 12 find their place around the outer wheel, which is defined by the 4 larger stones that represent the 4 directions. These 4 directional stones define 4 quadrants, each of which contains 3 stones that represent the process of expression that evolves through its quadrant. Similiarly the 4 - fold cross has 3 stones in each of its arms. This 3 - fold expression can be identified as: Thesis, Anti-thesis and Synthesis. From an astrological perspective these 3 are referred to as the Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable qualities. These describe the dynamic expression of the astrological signs and their influences that unfold through each season or quadrant. So in this way all 12 find their place in the wheel.
The energetic mandala that is our astrological medicine wheel is a blue print of creation, as Above so Below. All that it represents on a spiritual level finds manifestation in our three dimensional physical plane reality. And so it is that from the four cardinal directions EAST, SOUTH, WEST and NORTH as defined by the four-fold cross of the Medicine Wheel, emanates a spiritual power or guardian who is the keeper of that direction. And from this four-fold division we recognize the four elemental powers that are Fire, Earth, Air and Water. So in this four-fold cross we see the four quarters of the day and the four quarters or seasons of the year and the four phases of our life time. We see the cycle of time and light as identified with the Sun, beginning with the place of sunrise and spring time which is BIRTH, and then moving on to the noon or summer time which corresponds to our YOUTH and then into the sunset or the fall time which is our ADULTHOOD. From sunset and fall time, the coming of darkness takes us into the mid-night hour and the cold of winter and OLD AGE and death until again the suns apparent motion brings it back to the place of sunrise, spring time and rebirth. It is this journey we all must take as we are embodied on our Mother Earth in her movements around the Father Sun. Just as our ego must journey around our Soul in order that we might realize our purpose for being. It is a journey of consciousness and the physical embodiment of our dreams and life experiences. Like a cosmic clock its workings are mapped within our bodies and psyches, because we are the Medicine Wheel. We are a mirror of that greater reality, as above so below.
So each of the twelve signs with its planetary ruler; its elemental expressions and modes of operation give direction to our destiny and life expression. Following is a brief listing of the twelve signs with planetary rulers and correlations with the physical body and health considerations. This sequence starts from the head with Aries and ends at the feet with Pisces.
Aries – the Ram, is in the native american zodiac the Red Hawk people.
Aries rules the head and the adrenal glands. As a fire sign is prone to fever or headache, including migraine. Impulsive and rash behavior leads to accidents involving the head. Over extending of self can lead to exhaustion of the adrenals. Aries is ruled by the planet Mars which is also a ruler of the muscular system. Iron is the metal. Keywords: I am that I am.
Taurus – the Bull, is in the native american zodiac the Beaver people.
Taurus rules the neck and thyroid gland. Sluggish thyroid creates slow metabolism, problems linked to neck such as laryngitis and sore throats. Stiff necks can be related to stubbornness and inflexibility. Taurus is an earth sign and Venus is the ruling planet, copper is its mineral. Its keywords are I have therefore I am.
Gemini – the Twins is in the native american zodiac the Deer people.
Gemini is a dual air sign ruling hands, arms, lungs and respiratory system. Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury who in myth is the messenger of the Gods, therefore, ruling the nervous system and thymus gland. Health problems are linked to diseases of the respiratory system, nervous complaints, and or mental stress. Mercury rules the metal quicksilver. Keywords are I think therefore I am.
Cancer – the Crab is in the native american zodiac the Flicker people.
Cancer rules the stomach, female breasts and alimentary system; all to do with feeding and nourishment. It also rules the mammary glands. Problems can be related to digestive troubles, gastric ulcers and stomach upset. There is a tendency to swallow one’s problems and not being able to ‘stomach’ them. Cancer is a water sign and its ruling planet is the Moon, its metal is silver. Keywords are I feel therefore I am.
Leo – the Lion is in the native american zodiac the Sturgeon people.
Leo as ruled by the Sun corresponds to the heart, which is the dominate organ of the body. It is also said to be ruler of the spine which is expressed as strength of character. Health problems are related to conditions of the heart such as heart attack and chest pain, or pains related to ‘broken heartedness’. Backache and spinal problems are also an indication of Leo’s difficulties. Leo is a fire sign and the Sun’s metal is gold. Keywords are I will therefore I am.
Virgo – the Virgin is in the native american zodiac the Black Bear people.
Virgo rules the abdomen and the intestines. Its function is the discernment and assimilation of proper nutrition and the beginning of the elimination process. Health problems are related to faulty intestinal action quite often due to worry and over concern with matters of detail. Mercury is the ruler of Virgo which is an earth sign and its metal is quicksilver. Keywords are I analyze therefore I am.
Libra – the balancing Scales is in the native american zodiac the Raven people.
Libra rules the kidneys and the lumbar region of the back. The kidneys filter water and impurities from the blood and excrete them as urine. Heath problems quite often manifests as kidney stones, strain in the lumbar region and bladder infections. Because of the Venus rulership there can be a tendency to over-indulge in sweets causing weight gain problems later in life. Libra is an air sign and Venus has rulership over the metal copper. Keywords are I balance therefore I am.
Scorpio – the Scorpion is in the native american zodiac the Snake people.
Scorpio rules the reproductive organs and sex glands, as well as the excretory function of the sigmoid colon and the rectum. Health problems can include constipation, hemorrhoids, and polyps, as well as, problems with the reproductive system and venereal disease. Scorpio is a water sign and Mars is the planetary ruler. Its metal is iron. Pluto is the co-ruler. Keywords are I transform therefore I am.
Sagittarius – the Centaur is in the native american zodiac the Elk people.
Sagittarius rules the hips and thighs. Its planetary ruler is Jupiter which rules the liver and pancreas. Jupiter is the principle of expansion and therefore gives a tendency to over-indulgence which can cause problems with the liver and pancreas. Other physical ailments can be injuries to the legs or problems with the hips. Sagittarius is a fire sign and Jupiter rules the metal tin. Its Keywords are I see therefore I am.
Capricorn – the sea Goat is in the native american zodiac the Snow Goose people.
Capricorn rules the knees and the skeleton system. It also has rulership over the skin in general, as it gives outer definition to our bodies. Because of its rulership over the knees, Capricorn quite often manifests difficulty with the knees and troubles with bones and skin in general. Saturn is the planetary ruler and can be restrictive influence, any adverse aspects it makes in ones natal chart can show difficulty to the part of the body indicated. Capricorn is an earth sign and Saturn rules the metal lead. Its Keywords are I utilize therefore I am.
Aquarius – the Water Bearer is in the native american zodiac the Otter people.
Aquarius has rulership over that part of the body below the knees and especially the ankles. Because of this, these parts of the body are subject to difficulty due to accident and or circulatory problems. Leg cramps, varicose veins and hardening of the arteries are expressions of afflicted Aquarian energy. Saturn and Uranus are its planetary rulers. When awakened Uranus is the kundalini energy. Its metal is Uranium. Aquarius is an air sign. Keywords I know therefore I am.
Pisces – the Fishes is in the native american zodiac the Cougar people.
Pisces rules the feet which is the last and most lowly part of the body. Pisces as representing the feet bears the weight of the whole. Since Pisces rules the feet, troubles and discomfort can be related to that part of the body. Because of its dual rulership with Jupiter and Neptune, especially Neptune, Pisces can have great sensitivity to its surrounding conditions therefore causing a variety of health difficulties. Drugs of any kind and alcohol can be detrimental if not properly administered or used with moderation. Pisces is a water sign. Keywords are I believe therefore I am.
Not only does the influence of the Zodiac which is the Medicine Wheel, circle the body from head to feet, as pictured by the yogi doing a hand stand bending backward with his big toes touching his forehead, it also circles the body from right to left with the right side of the body corresponding to the day and the the left side of the body corresponding to the night, or to what is referred to as the 1st and 2nd Attentions. The right side of the body is the masculine side and the left side of the body the feminine side and is divided down the middle of our bodies from top to bottom. We also see this duality mapped at the very important mid-point of our bodies which is located a few inches below the naval which divides the body by above and below. This intersection or 'Center Point' is a very important location in our bodies and is well known by all mystical shamanic traditions. It is the cross correlation of these four quadrants of our bodies that brings our bodies and psyches into balance. This is why shamanic or yogic practices are such an important part of our journey to self mastery as they establish the center point of reference for the duality inherent in the physical and spiritual sides of our conscious beingness. Because it is important that we bring ourselves into harmony with the rhythms of life within and all around us. And that we recognize the greater as reflected in the lesser, and therefore the Medicine Wheel mandala is a remarkable guide for those seeking to find greater insight into the meaning of life. And the building and use of a Medicine Wheel, as well as, the recogition that we are the Medicine Wheel, is a great focal point for our consciousness for creating harmony and beauty in our lives.