Gifts of the North
The North is the place of winter, of white snows that remind us the white hair of our Elders. It is the dawning place of true wisdom. Here dwell the teachers of intellectual gifts symbolized by the great mountain and the sacred lake. Some gifts that await the traveler in the North of the medicine wheel include to think, to synthesize, to speculate, to predict, to solve problems, to analyze, to understand and to organize to just name a few.
Gifts of the South
The South is the direction of the sun at its highest point. It is the place of summer, of fullness, of youth, of physical strength and vigor. It is also the time that people work to prepare for the fall and winter months. Hence, symbolically, it is a time of preparing for future, of getting ready for days ahead. The South is also the place of the heart, of generosity, of sensitivity to the feelings of others, of loyalty, of noble passion and love.
Gifts of the East
The East is the direction from which the new day comes into the world. It is the direction of renewal. It is the place of innocence, guilelessness, spontaneity, joy and the capacity to believe in the unseen. When we travel to the East we will be tested with lessons that will teach us many things. There we will learn of warmth of spirit, purity, trust, hope, and the uncritical acceptance of others. We will learn to love as a child loves, a love hat does not question other and does not know itself. Here courage is born and truthfulness begins.
Gifts of the West
The West is the direction from which darkness comes. It is the direction of the unknown, of going within, of dreams, of prayer and of meditation. The West is the place of testing, where the will is stretched to its outer limits so that the gift of perseverance may be won. For the nearer ones draws toward a goal the more difficult the journey becomes. The capacity to stick to a challenge even though it is very hard and even painful is an important lesson to be learned in the West. Indeed, it is the third great lesson in the Medicine Wheel teachings.
The number 4 is very sacred in the First Nations Peoples culture. The number could be found 4 time in everything all around us whether its the life cycle, the seasons, or the four directions everything is in 4 so that’s why in a-lot of ceremonies elders will actually pray in four parts or four directions because of the protocols or beliefs that has been passed down onto them, so with that let us explore a little more deeper in this ancient knowledge.
Depending on your tribe the medicine wheel may look very different as you can see from the photos above. The Sioux people have mainly used the medicine wheel with the color black and the Cree or Ojibway use the color blue.
The colors are believed to come from the colors that make up that direction they are in. East would be yellow because that is where the sun rises, south would be red to represent the red lands or earth from that direction, west would be blue or yellow depending upon the tribe which one is from to represent the setting of the sun for that is where is sets and the sky becomes blue or black, finally we have the north which represents the white snow that is covering the land to the north.
These colors can also be literally the people of the earth. The color white representing the white people, the color yellow representing the Asian people, the color red to represent the First Nations People, And the color black to represent the black people.
The 4 seasons (spring, summer, fall, and winter) are also represented in the medicine wheel’s colors. Yellow represents spring. Red represents summer Black represents fall, White symbolizes the winter season.
The 4 main plants or medicines used by First Nation People are Cedar, Tobacco, Sweetgrass, and Sage. All four are very sacred amongst First Nations tribes all over North America and are used for various purposes such as prayer and offerings.
One of the many medicine wheel teachings talks about the cycle of life from when you were a baby to a little child to a young adult to an elder when you pass over.
Like the sun rising from the east to mark the beginning of the day, the infants are placed onto the east or yellow side. Following the direction, the sun travels every day (Clockwise) the next would be the youth, then the young adults and parents, followed by the grandparents and elders then return back to the spirit world at the end of the cycle.
Right now you’re made of four different areas emotional spiritual mental and physical. You cannot exist if you take one of those areas is taken away, also if you’re not happy right now it’s because one of those areas is not getting attention. Physically if you not taking care of your body you will not be able to enjoy life is you are unhealthy. Emotionally if maybe you’re not sharing your emotions in a good and healthy way then you will not be happy even if you are in shape. Mentally they say if you don’t use it you’re gonna lose it that’s why a lot of elders doing crossword puzzles and games, So its good for people to continue to do education and continue to read as it keeps them sharp. Most importantly spiritually no matter what faith you follow, you need faith. So if you take care of and maintain all four are you’ll have balance in your life and balance leads to happiness. That’s what the Medicine Wheel Native American teachings are all about is to help guide and Find Balance in all aspects of life.
Reference: Medicine wheel native american teachings explained? Powwow Times. (2020, April 15). https://powwowtimes.ca/medicine-wheel-native-american-teachings-explained