AND THE MEDICINE WHEEL
Numbers have always played a significant part in traditional
Aboriginal life. Four is one of the most sacred numbers used in
Aboriginal culture. Many aspects are seen in terms of four. The Sacred
Mystery, the source of all creation, reveals itself as the Powers of
the Four Directions and these four powers provide the organizing
principle for everything that exists in the world: the seasons, the
races, the elements of the universe, the stages of life, the emotions
and aspects of human behavior.
The medicine wheel, which is symbolized by a cross within a circle,
is a ceremonial tool and the basis for all teaching wheels. The Power
of the Four Directions is implied whenever a wheel or circle is drawn.
Since traditional Native American cultures view life as a continuous
cycle, life mirrors the cycling of the seasons, the daily rising of
the sun, and the phases of the moon. They also hold the view that all
things are interrelated. The medicine wheel incorporates the Powers of
the Four Directions and the interrelatedness of all things.
The teachings of the medicine wheel were originally explained orally
with the circle being drawn in the earth and a gradual overlaying of
symbols, as meanings were explained by an elder. The elder would
usually begin with an explanation of the Four Directions and the
center of the wheel which represents the Scared Mystery. He may have
gone on to explain some of the following concepts: the four aspects of
human personality--the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The
seasons--the changing from fall, winter, spring and summer occurs in a
cycle. The four stages of life--childhood, adolescence, adulthood and
elders. The races--red, white, black and yellow races, and the four
elements of water, air, fire, and earth.
The basic medicine wheel of the Powers of the Four Directions can be
expanded to include other wheels, such as the emotions wheel, or the
mind wheel. These wheels within wheels are used to explain and examine
such concepts as those emotions that impede personal growth and the
developmental process that involves leading a person to wholeness.
All medicine wheels are tools for teaching people about their place
in the universe and their relationship to all things created by the
The Powers of the Four
Source: Loomis, Mary, Dancing The Wheel of Psychological
Types,Chiron Pub., 1991, Wilmette, III.