Anishnaabek (Ojibwe) interpretation of the medicine wheel

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Last Updated: 20 years

All tribes have a form of medicine wheel. There is no single answer as to its meaning. The Anishnaabek often referred to the medicine wheel as the CIRCLE OF LIFE symbolizing the natural cycles of birth, growth, death, and regeneration.

The FOUR CIRCLES are viewed in a clockwise direction. East will be to the viewer’s right, south on the bottom and west on the left. In native culture we start in the east and rotate to the south and west, arriving at the north circle on top.

Here are some of the interpretations of the medicine wheel:

 

4 Medicine Wheel COLORS

East – Zaawaa -Yellow
South – Miskwaa – Red
West – Mkade – Black
North – Waabishkaa – White

4 RACES OF MAN – The 4 Brothers

East – Niibiish aabooke ininwag – Yellow
South – Anishinaabek – Red
West – Mkade ininwag – Black
North – Zhaaganaashag – White

4 NATURES OF MAN

East – Physical
South – Emotional
West – Mental
North – Spiritual

4 HILLS (stages)OF MAN

East – Binoojiinhsag – Childhood
South – Shki niigi – Adolescence
West – Gitziimak – Adult
North – Gchi epiitzjiik – Elder

4 PHASES OF HEALTH

East – Physical
South – Social
West – Intellectual
North – Spiritual

4 GRANDFATHERS / GRANDMOTHERS

East – Waabinong – Beginning
South – Zhaawinong – Going Along
West – Epngishmok – Getting Settled
North – Giiwednong – Going Home

4 SEASONS

East – Mnookmi – Spring
South – Niibin – Summer
West – Dgwaagi – Autumn
North – Biiboon – Winter

Medicine Wheel 4 TIMES OF DAY

East – Sunrise
South – High Noon
West – Sunset
North – Night

4 BASIC ELEMENTS of the Medicine Wheel

East – Nbiish – Water
South – Noodin – Wind
West – Aki – Earth
North – Ishkode – Fire

4 DIRECTIONS of the Medicine Wheel

East – Waboon
South – Shawan
West – Ningabianong
North – Kewadin

4 SACRED PLANTS

East – Semaa – Tobacco – Prayer, renewal of life.
South – Giizhik – Cedar – Courage, cleansing, growth, express feelings.
West – Mmuskode-washk – Sage – Purifies, introspection, direction we go when we change worlds in death.
North – Wiingashk – Sweetgrass – Invites in good.