Know this. Wherever you place your personal intention, into fear and contraction, or into expansion and light, you will give it power.
The use of the Medicine Wheel and its four compass points in the spiritual and healing practice of the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere of Earth stretches back a least 5000 years, likely much longer. 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, such as 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 life. For many thousands of years, the shamans of the Americas have used each direction of the Medicine Wheel as an interdependent doorway to unique perceptual levels, or “ways of being,” 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 Wheel. Thus, their version is used in our personal energy medicine and integrative medicine practice.
The realm of emotions and thoughts (the mind) is associated with the WEST direction. Within the Americas, West is predominantly represented by the JAGUAR archetype. In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the west direction is Wiyopeyata, and is associated with evening, autumn, and adulthood. Red is the Lakota color for the South, and black is the color of the West.
The word “jaguar” comes from the Native American word “yaguar” which means “he who kills with one leap.” For the indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, Mexico, and South America, Jaguar represents the healing power of fearlessness. The perceptual state here is that nothing is exactly as it appears to be. This archetype journeys and can track through the darkest domains beyond death and back, revealing that death is part of life, not to be feared, and not the end of our being. Jaguar medicine can also provide sudden leaps of clarity, especially when dealing with complex situations and confusing landscapes in our lives. Jaguar’s presence gives us the confidence to step out and boldly explore, with the certainty that life provides us with everything we need.
The Four Teachings of the West provide a portal to the way of the luminous warrior “who has no enemies in this world or the next.”
They are: Fearlessness, Non-Doing, Certainty, and Non-Engagement. Because anger and violence are rooted in fear, letting go of fear allows us to approach people and situations as a luminous warrior, projecting our light instead of our shadow. Discover the power of just observing the way the universe and events are flowing. Don’t jump to fix everything, but in communion with Spirit, allow time and the world to create some of its own resolution. Be efficient with your energy. If you do decide to act, use your luminous sword with ethical and impeccable action. Allow yourself no other option but success. Don’t allow yourself to get dragged down into the drama of rescuer, perpetrator, or victim roles.
Each direction also offers a unique perspective on any aspect of your life that you feel you are ready to change in order to affect personal healing—the South, things with which you strongly identify, the West—things from which you are mentally differentiating yourself, the North—things you are newly integrating into your life, and East—transcendence and full integration into your luminous energy body. Movement around the directions and perspectives of your Medicine Wheels over time possesses great power for spiritual growth. To have the most power, they should be done by you privately, electronic gadget-free, in a special natural setting, and accepting the Earth’s wildcard role in the process. The days of a new or a full moon, or solstices and equinoxes are preferred. It is most important that your ceremony be held within a sacred space.
You can create sacred space as a healing bubble around your chosen Medicine Wheel site by “calling” to the four direction master archetypes (S-Serpent, W–Jaguar, N–Hummingbird, E–Eagle, as well as down—Mother Earth, and up—Father Sky). With humility and gratitude, ask for their power and assistance in your personal healing work. We have found soft rattling or drumming and offering tobacco gifts to the “spirits of the site” greatly facilitate this “calling.” Use a compass if you’re not certain of the directions. The creative and intimate process of constructing your Medicine Wheel in a natural setting, using natural items that come to you at your chosen site, quiets the mind and creates a highly meditative state. In sacred space there is no time, and you can trust your instincts and synchronicity.
Healing work with the Medicine Wheel honoring the West and the Jaguar archetype begins with the creation of a mandala
in the sand, snow, or grass, preferably with a westward vista. Reflect on your last Medicine Wheel honoring the South. How successful have you been with letting go of the conscious attachment to your roles you threw into the fire last time? Are you ready to let go of these further and relinquish not just the mental and emotional attachment, but also the feelings they may exert at a deeper level, masking the true essence of your soul? If so, find a stick for each of these roles, and place these into the North quadrant of the Medicine Wheel. If not, leave them in the West quadrant for a further time and a future fire ceremony.
What about the teachings of the South you may have placed in the West? Are you ready to move any of these from the level of mere mental acknowledgment to actually incorporating them into the way you act within life’s laboratory, and place them into the North quadrant of your Medicine Wheel? If not, leave the two objects from your last Medicine Wheel in the West quadrant for further work.
Lastly, are you ready to mentally and emotionally acknowledge any of the teachings of the West?
If so, find one or more objects to place in the West of your mandala. If not, leave that for a future Medicine Wheel. Leave and return the following day. Powerfully blow the distortion your roles may be causing to your soul’s true essence into the chosen role sticks in the West, but retain the lessons the role has taught you. Put them into the North space of the mandala. Place any of the new “West teachings” objects into the West space as you also move these “teachings” firmly into your awareness. Move any of the South teachings from last time into the North if you are ready to fully incorporate them into your new life. Savor, in timelessness, how this all feels.
If you can’t honestly do this, and no further movement seems possible at this time, just leave things as they were with the last Medicine Wheel ceremony, and continue to work on those roles and teachings. Keep it comfortable and simple. Leave and return the next day. Feel if any further movement is possible (roles, teachings). Collect your role sticks and “teachings” objects. Destroy your Medicine Wheel. Leave no trace! Close sacred space by thanking and releasing the four archetypes as well as Mother Earth and Father Sky. Within the next two weeks, build a fire safely somewhere, open sacred space, and in a fire ceremony, throw your role sticks and their perspectives into the fire as you stomp your foot, intending for a mental or a soul’s attachment to them to be destroyed. Retain the objects representing “teachings” as daily reminders, and to be used in the next Medicine Wheel. Now take the time to see how these mental, emotional, and soul-liberating changes begin to work in your life until your next Medicine Wheel ceremony, honoring the North direction.
*Sources for information referenced here are available from the authors upon request.
Jude Catallo and Scott Emerson, MD of timelesshealing.org are both graduates of The Four Winds Society: Shamanic Energy Medicine Intensive Apprenticeship 2017 – ongoing; members of the Oklaweva Native American Church 2016 – ongoing; & Andean Cosmic Vision Apprenticeship, Don Theo Paredes 2003 – ongoing.
Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.