The use of the Medicine Wheel, and it’s four compass points, in the spiritual and healing practice of the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere of Earth stretches back at least 5000 years (Vulcan County, Alberta & Big Horn County, Wyoming1,5). The use of the Medicine Wheel probably extends back many thousands of years before that, into antiquity. This is actually the traditional and original “western medicine” – a knowledge and practice almost lost to those of us living today. Although some of the details of different tribes’ medicine wheels like the animal archetypes for each direction differ from North, to Central to South America, the major concepts appear similar.
Each direction is associated with one of the four energetic bodies that make up the human energy field: the particle or physical world (the body), the realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind), the realm of myth (the soul), and the world of spirit (energy). In North America, the Lakota Sioux also associate each direction with the time of day, the time of year, and the time of life3. For many thousands of years the shamans of the Americas have used each direction of the Medicine Wheel as interdependent doorways to unique perceptual levels, or states, in order to recover an individual’s true essence, personal power, energy, and inner wisdom for healing. The Laika people, isolated in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, seem to have a well-preserved and undistorted record of the use and meaning of their Medicine Wheel2. Thus, their version is central in our Earthkeeping, Integrative & Holistic Medicine practice.
The EAST direction is the place of becoming. The archetype is the perspective of EAGLE3. In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the East direction is Iwiyohiyanpata, and is associated with morning, spring, and childhood3. Eagles, with large powerful wings, soar high above mountains and valleys and yet with keen vision can spot fish in the water 2000 feet below. The ability of Eagle to see the big picture and the tiny pieces simultaneously teaches us to rise above the mundane battles that occupy our lives and gain the view from the heavens above the mountains and close to the Great Spirit. When we face a difficulty, the closer we can get to the level of Spirit, the less energy we need to effect change and the universe seems to conspire in our behalf.
In Eagle, reality reveals it’s underlying true energetic essence that is 99% consciousness and only 1% matter. By working from the energetic perspective we can resolve problems at their source with great efficiency. Shamans across the Americas believe and teach that we are all energy beings having a physical experience. They work at the level of Eagle to ”see” abnormal imprints and blocks within their client’s luminous energy field. In ceremony, they can correct the energetic anomalies that are the primary cause of illness by the use of energetic tools like drums or rattles4. Quantum physicists working at the very apex of scientific knowledge, have been led to the astonishing and somewhat mystical conclusion (for scientists), that our perception of the world as well as our attempts to measure it, alter it’s very nature. The Laika Earthkeepers have taught that our perception of the world is determining reality. Thus, the quantum physicists and the ancient Native American shamans both suggest that the world is actually dreaming itself into being through consciousness.
The Four Teachings of the East are: Mastering Time, Owning Your Projections, No Mind, and Indigenous Alchemy2. In sacred time you can trust synchronicity. Own the parts of yourself that make you feel uncomfortable and no longer hold anyone else responsible for your pain or happiness. Use meditation and breathing to quiet your relentless thinking, leaving a blank canvas onto which you can dream a world of harmony, beauty and peace. Embark on a sacred journey co-creating with Spirit. Step into your destiny. – Alberto Villoldo, PhD
Understand that all of the four directions have some crossover and interdependence. Please refer to related articles below with the Eagle icon. These look at healing from the EAGLE’S perspective of the underlying energetic nature of reality.
- Scherrer, D, “Native American Medicine Wheels”; Stanford Univ. 2015 & “Medicine Wheel / Medicine Mountain National Historic Landmark”; Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO Website) 2017
- Four Winds Society, Light Body School, Shamanic Energy Medicine Training March / April 2017 For example, among indigenous South American Andean people, the Condor is the archetype for the East instead of the Eagle in North America, but both embody keen vision, mastery of the heavens and connection to the Great Spirit
- Oklevueha Native American Church Membership Orientation 2016. For example, in many indigenous North American groups, the Bear is the archetype for the West instead of the Jaguar in South America, but both embody fearlessness as a core attribute.
- Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship 2003 – Current
- Freeman, G, “Hidden Stonehenge” Book, Watkins Publishing (2012)
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