Note: This article is about the Native American Medicine Wheel symbol, color, and design as opposed to the physical structure known as the Medicine Wheel that is visible as architecture across North America.
Universal truths can be found in this piece of information that is shared and accepted in not being overly protected or sacred. The paper does not attempt to discuss or explain the many concepts of spirituality behind the Medicine Wheel as that is very specific, sacred, and rather personal to Native American nations, tribes, clans, bands, families, and individuals. The symbolism varies greatly from nation to nation.
In this post, we'll cover the Medicine Wheel meaning, related symbols, colors, images, seasons, directions, and more!
Native American Medicine Wheel Design
The term “Medicine Wheel” is not a Native American expression. It is of course of European and American origin. What the symbol has been called in Native America depends on the language of each particular Nation. This is protected among some Native American Nations and therefore will not be discussed here. For some this has often been lost and “Medicine Wheel” is the commonly used phrase.
The main characteristic design of the Native American Medicine Wheel is the most basic yet perfect form – the circle. This is one absolute not only in Native America for sacred hoops but also for most cultures that have some kind of Circle of Life symbol. The second aspect of the Native American Medicine Wheel is the two intersecting lines that create a cross in the middle of the circle. The lines separate the circle into four equal sector parts.
Now that involves what can be seen. The Medicine Wheel must be thought of as floating in space and its cardinal points as well as other points that cannot be seen create a perfect sphere. Thus creating other issues for directions up and down and of course perfect center.
Native American Medicine Wheel Color Explanation
Color Explanation and Color Placement on the Medicine Wheel can vary based on various customs by Nations, Tribe, Clan, Band, Family and individuals.
While it is true that the most common colors of the Medicine Wheel in Native America are Red, Yellow Black and White, these are not the absolute colors for all Native American Nations. Some Nations use, Blue in wake of Black, others have Purple instead of Black. Yet some other Nations have used Green in lieu of Black.
So the four colors of Red, White, Black, and Yellow are not set in stone as being for just one person.
Native American Medicine Wheel Meaning
It is widely accepted that the Medicine Wheel is a symbol of life and specifically the Circle of Life. As is well known, the circle represents perfection, as well as infinity, since the circle has no beginning or end. There can many reasons behind the meaning of the circle itself among Nations. This can range from representing the Sun, Moon, Earth, and the Stars to representing concepts of life, continuity, consciousness, energy, and so much more.
It should be stressed that this is not the same from Nation to Nation and there can be some representation that is very secret. The point at which the lines cross in the middle is extensively accepted as Center. Like color, which point and which sector represents what can be debated and broadly contested instead of discussed and understood from one person to another.
No one Medicine Wheelworks for all Native Americans. The differences as mentioned are extremely wide. It's important also to remember that the Medicine Wheel is exceptionally individual. A person can develop their own Medicine Wheel that has their own Animal/Spirit Helpers. This knowledge may happen in ceremonies, visions, dreams, and others. This type of Medicine Wheel can be so private that only the person and The Creator are aware of its existence.