The Medicine Wheel: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe


  • Author Heidi Thompson
  • Published June 30, 2019
  • Word count 1,457

The Medicine Wheel is a name given to a body of teachings that have been held sacred by numerous traditions for centuries. The Medicine Wheel not only contains factual information, science, and philosophy, but It carries mystical qualities as well. There are those that claim that these qualities can shed on light the mysteries of the universe. The Medicine Wheel is a fascinating topic with a rich, spiritual history and significance.

Many traditions and people are drawn to the spiritual elements of the Medicine Wheel. Understanding the circular nature of the Medicine Wheel gives us the potential to expand our spiritual consciousness and change our experience of reality. It serves as both a cognitive and spiritual tool, offering us a bridge into new realms of possibilities, healing, and spiritual transformation. This article is meant to be one window into the world of the Medicine Wheel. We’ll look at three specific qualities of this spiritual tool and how they can enhance our own journey for healing and enlightenment.

Medicine Wheel: Healing the Planet

The Medicine Wheel is a name that has become more popular in recent years. The resurgence of interest in spirituality in the west has resulted in greater attention given to this topic. There are books, online articles, and organizations discussing and teaching the ways of the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel presents a way to shift the imbalance on the planet. The healing power of the Medicine Wheel is sometimes portrayed as mystical. This could be because the Medicine Wheel draws upon more than just our minds for understanding reality. It engages all of our senses and aspects of self. We learn to use our spirit, body, emotions as well as our mental consciousness to explore life and grow as spiritual beings.

Often, these teachings are connected to traditional Native American and indigenous cultures. What is interesting is that even if the name Medicine Wheel is specific to a certain land and group of people, the concept is used in multiple systems. You can see its essence in some models of personal development and even eastern healing modalities like traditional Chinese medicine; it works because the Medicine Wheel is a map, a framework, a way and a ‘how’ of perceiving, learning, and integrating information.

One place to really see the healing power of the Medicine Wheel is through the Sweet Medicine SunDance Path (SMSD) of the Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society (DTMMS). This path offers unique insights into the beauty of the Medicine Wheel through an accumulation of "Shamanic Wheels & Keys." In this paradigm, "wheels" hold the sacred teachings gathered by wise men and women from around the world from various traditions. Each wheel shares a specific teaching that has the potential to brings forth harmony, balance, and spiritual awareness. Understanding the wheels and sharing that knowledge can also be a spiritual practice developed over time.

In a spiritual context, a ‘key’ is a metaphor for pivotal insights that can lead to a breakthrough, which could be a new understanding, discovery or transformation. These breakthrough moments are the natural result of using circular thinking and a willingness to embrace change. It refers to the process of how knowledge has the potential to embed into us on a cellular level and moved beyond an accumulation of facts. It has the potential to transform our perspectives and perceptions to the point where we can see, feel, and experience reality from a completely different place. These "keys" are how we can unlock the mysteries of the universe.

The Medicine Wheel: Power of Thought

One of the Medicine Wheel’s essential qualities is how it shifts the way we think. It activates within us a process called ‘circular thinking,’ which is a way of understanding life by acknowledging the interconnections that exist on the planet. Circular thinking encourages exploration into different viewpoints. Having the flexibility to be open to different perspectives helps us live with more empowerment and discernment.

To understand circular thinking, it’s helpful to understand its alternate - linear thinking. In linear thinking, our perceptions are hyper-focused and entirely centered on one stream of thought. There is one starting place, one pathway and we presume it will lead to a certain result. This becomes a problem when it is the only framework we use. Humans are creatures of habits. When taught to think in linear terms alone, we can develop into adults with weakened connections to our own creativity.

Circular thinking approaches ideas from multiple starting places. There are always multiple ways of looking at a topic, whether we are solving a problem or developing a creative idea. To be clear, the word ‘circular’ does not refer to going around in circles fruitlessly and never finding a result. Rather, it acknowledges that most things in life cannot fit into a neat, tidy box.

In the 20th century, figures like Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale began talking about the power of thought. We become what we think about, they expressed over and over again and anyone who desires success and wealth might seriously consider examining their thoughts in order to eliminate negativity. Then, in 2014, Sir Ken Robinson’s hit TED talk, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" demonstrated the dangers of constraining, stifling and repressing imagination, curiosity and wonder. His talk illustrated the importance of nourishing these qualities in children and appealed for an overthrow of the educational structures that erode creativity and naturalness. The perspectives of people like Hill, Nightingale, and Robinson echo the timeless wisdom of the Medicine Wheel.

In this world where logic and reasoning almost always take precedence at the expense of wonder and imagination, circular thinking can offer a refreshing and empowering outlook. The key is to find a healthy balance between the two. This is one of the gifts of the Medicine Wheel. The Medicine Wheel heals and restores our natural ability for circular thinking. It sparks new ways of looking at the world. We learn how to creatively question in order to discover new insights and revelations. It can inspire curiosity, imagination, creativity and magic.

Medicine Wheel: Life is a Paradox

In the book "Life of Pi" written by Yann Martel, the protagonist, a young boy called "Pi," finds himself drawn to three different religions: Muslim, Christianity and Hindu. He devotedly begins practicing all three. Eventually, the secret comes out and his father and the priests are bewildered. This is very odd behavior, in their perspectives. You must choose one faith, they advise Pi. However, Pi challenges this advise, as he cannot fathom why he should give up any path that feeds his connection with God.

This story illustrates the humorous and at times confusing nature of paradox. When belief systems are the sole source fueling religions and philosophies, what happens when the beliefs conflict? It leads to some interesting questions. Can we receive enlightenment from numerous paths? Can we follow different spiritualities simultaneously, even when they contradict each other? According to the Medicine Wheel, the answer is a resounding yes with all of its multiple viewing points. Spiritually, the Medicine Wheel offers a special way of interacting with life and all of her paradoxes. Deeply connected with the worlds, elements, and energies of earth, the Medicine Wheels shows us how human life reflects the natural rhythms of the world. It honors the sacredness of all spiritual paths that lead to the light.

We can look to nature for a live example of how paradox plays out in the world. In nature, order and chaos co-exist as a sort of cosmic dance. Everything is connected. Structure, logic and form are interwoven with suddenness and chance. Order appears through numerous inherent, dependable functions that happen over and over across space and time: the seasons, the phases of the moon, migration, photosynthesis, mating. Then, nature will surprise us with phenomena like earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding and storms.

Developing harmonic relationships with nature is a quality shared by many spiritual paths today. Many of these paths honor the teachings of the Medicine Wheel as a framework that supports human growth and planetary enlightenment. These spiritualities do not try to convert people to a specific belief system. Instead, they offer practices and perspectives that are meant to create more joy and relieve suffering. Their practices are available to everyone, regardless of one’s religion, philosophy or mythology.

Regardless of one’s spiritual tradition or faith, the Medicine Wheel is a beautiful teaching that honors the sacredness of life and brings healing to the planet. As a spiritual tool, it brings health, happiness and activates our natural inclinations for growth, adventure and evolution. It offers an opportunity to heal our planet. Through healing ourselves, we become greater stewards of our communities and help to heal the planet.

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