Native American medicine wheels: a symbol of unity and healing
Native American medicine wheels are stone circles that have been used by indigenous cultures in North America for centuries. They are also called sacred hoops and represent various aspects of life, health and spirituality.
The structure and logic of medicine wheels
Most medicine wheels have spokes or stones scattered from the center to the ring and some medicine wheels can have additional features such as cairns, altars, or fireplaces.
The number, size, shape, and location of the stones can vary depending on the location, purpose, and tradition of the healing cycle. Some medine wheels may align with major directions (east, south, west, and north), while others may align with astronomical events such as eclipses, equinoxes, or stars.
On each side of the medicine wheel, the stone and the spokes can have a specific meaning and symbolism for the tribal nation that built it. For example, some common explanations are:
The four directions
The four directions are the four seasons of the year, the four seasons of life (birth, youth, old age, death), the four elements of nature (fire, air, water, earth), or the four aspects of man ( physical, emotional, mental, spiritual).
The center can represent the Creator, the Great Spirit, Mother Earth, or the Self.
The circle represents the cycle of life, the unity of all things, or the sacred hoop of life.
Spokes in the wheel represent pathways to knowledge, wisdom, or healing.