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 and Holistic Medicine practice.
The archetype of the NORTH direction is HUMMINGBIRD2. In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the North is Waziyata, and is associated with night, winter and old age.3. Though appearing tiny and fragile, hummingbirds migrate long distances over the ocean between North and South America each year. They don’t lose their sense of direction or their drive to press forward on these epic journeys. They possess a beautiful resilience and great endurance for these migrations, yet, can also hover and change directions quickly as they feed on the nectar of sweet flowers.
When we connect with the energy of Hummingbird we experience the pure sweet essence of our soul – the place where the sacred and divine resides within us. Hummingbird represents the courage, determination and guidance required to embark, endure, and succeed in the grand voyage of our divine essence through sacred space and time. Hummingbird feeds on the flowers and sweetness of life and ignores that which is not supportive of life. This archetype teaches us how to be in right relationship with the sweetness of ourselves, the natural world, evolution and community as we co-create with the Great Spirit on our soul’s journey. The language of the North is represented as dreams, myth, art and poetry. At the level of the soul, things are what they truly are. Your house is not just bricks and mortar arranged in a certain way (Serpent), or, a mortgage/ investment (jaguar). It is a sweet home, a sacred place of power and regeneration for your essence.
The Four Teachings of the North are: Beginners Mind, Living Consequently, Transparency, and Integrity2. Give up your expectations and let go of all preconceived notions. Be in right relationship with creation and recognize the impact of each thought, intention and action. Be who you are and say who you are. Be true to your word and recognize its power to create reality. – Alberto Villoldo, PhD
Understand that all of the four directions have some crossover and interdependence. Please continue to check for articles from the North with the Hummingbird icon at the bottom of the page. These will look at healing from the HUMMINGBIRD’S perspective of the sweet stillness of your soul.
- Scherrer, D, “Native American Medicine Wheels” Stanford University 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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