Working with Medicine Wheels: North (Part 3 of 4), by Jude Catallo & Scott Emerson

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Know this. When the ego weeps for what it has lost, the soul rejoices in freedom for what it has found.

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 5,000 years, likely much longer. 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). 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. Each direction of your Medicine Wheel mandala offers a unique perspective on any aspect of your life that you feel you are ready to change in order to affect personal healing—South, things with which you strongly identify, West, things from which you are mentally differentiating yourself, North, things you newly integrate into your life, and East, transcendence and full incorporation into your luminous energy field.

Movement around the directions and perspectives of your Medicine Wheels over time also possesses great power for spiritual growth. Eventually, as you spiral around and around the four directions in a series of private ceremonies, you will discover your true authentic self within the eye or center of the Medicine Wheel. Here the gifts, teachings, and power of the four archetypes converge in harmony and balance with a fifth unifying, fundamental property of the universe. This is an expansive, infinite, frequency resonance that is alive and felt through the heart, a consciousness, somewhat like unconditional love, that links everything everywhere and simultaneously stokes your own life force.

To have the most power, Medicine Wheels should be done by you privately,

electronic gadget-free,in a special natural setting, and accepting the Earth’s wild card role in the process. It is most important that your ceremony be 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. Use a compass if you’re not certain of 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.

The realm of the soul is associated with the North direction.

Among many indigenous people of the Americas, Hummingbird is recognized as the archetype of the North. In North America, the Lakota Sioux word for the North is Waziyata, and is associated with night, winter, and old age. White is the Lakota color for the North. The language of the North is art and myth.

When we connect with the energy of Hummingbird, we experience the pure sweet essence of our soul, the place where the divine resides within us and where we also gain the awareness that we are eternal beings. The perceptual state here is that things are what they truly are. Hummingbirds possess a beautiful resilience and great endurance for long migrations between North and South America each year, yet can hover and change directions quickly. This archetype feeds on the flowers and the sweetness of life, and ignores that which is not supportive of life. Hummingbird represents the courage, determination and guidance required to embark, endure, and succeed in the voyage of our divine essence through sacred space and time. 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 this grand journey.

The four teachings of the North provide a portal to the way of the seer “who enters the stillness of the soul and dreams the world into being.”

They are: Beginner’s Mind, Living Consequently, Transparency, and Integrity. Become more childlike. Refuse to allow the baggage of your stories and preconceived notions to weigh you down and cloud your assessment of fresh ideas and opportunities that present themselves to you. Recognize the impact of each thought, intention, and action, and be sure they are in a supportive and healing relationship with all of life. Refuse to hide parts of yourself from others. Be who you are and say who you are. Be true to your word, and recognize its power to create reality.

For so many of us, the momentum of our life is on cruise control, leading us to a fate as opposed to our higher purpose, or our destiny. In order to change this momentum, we must get rid of some of the mass of our life (physical stuff, roles) that no longer serve us, as well as decouple ourselves from the time sickness of our culture. The tools we have to make big positive changes in our lives, to slow or halt our momentum toward fate, are de-cluttering our physical space and letting go of roles that drain our energy, and a regular meditation practice that facilitates an escape from the time sickness.

Healing work with the Medicine Wheel honoring the North and the Hummingbird archetype begins with the creation of a mandala in the sand, snow, grass, or forest floor. Find a stone to become your essence stone. Hold this stone with eyes closed and begin the 4/7/8 breath—4-count inhale, 7-count hold, 8-count exhale. Do this for at least 7 cycles as you let go of your mind and thoughts. Now continue the breathing pattern with the silent mantra on the inhale “I Am.” Hold at the top of the inhale and let yourself slip between the moments into timelessness. What do you see or feel here? Then exhale with the silent mantra “Only the Breath.” Repeat this until you begin to see and feel your authentic self and perhaps even a different higher destiny for this self, or your soul. Now blow any of these images or feelings into your essence stone and place it into the North quadrant of your Medicine Wheel. If you saw or felt nothing, blow that into your stone and place it.

Reflect on your last Medicine Wheel honoring the West.

How successful have you been at letting go of either the mental or emotional attachment of roles that remained in the West quadrant of your mandala? Are you ready to work on the distortion they may be causing to your authentic self? If so, find a stick representing the role, powerfully blow your new intention into it, and place it into the North quadrant. How ’bout those roles you placed into the North quadrant that you determined were distorting and masking your soul’s true essence that you threw into the fire last time? Are you ready to permanently free your soul from this distortion, remove this energetic imprint from your luminous energy field, and change your fate? If so, find a stick representing this role and powerfully blow your new intention into it. Place it into the East quadrant of your mandala. If no movement is possible, leave the role sticks where they were last time.

What about the teachings from the South or the West that you may be working on at the level of mental acceptance? Are you ready to begin experimenting with these in your daily life? If so, move these objects you have retained from last time into the North quadrant. Are you ready for any teachings you moved into the North last time to transcend from the level of just feeling and experiencing the way they are working into a new you that actually becomes these teachings? If so, move these teaching objects into the East part of your Medicine Wheel. Lastly, are there any of the teachings of the North that you are ready to work on and accept at the mental level? If so, find a new object representing each new teaching and place it into the West quadrant. If not, leave these for future work. Go, and return the next day.

Pick up and hold your essence stone and repeat the breath work exercise. Again, blow any images or feelings into the stone. Place it into the center of your Medicine Wheel. Gaze at your Medicine Wheel and appreciate its timeless pattern of sticks and objects without thinking about them. Appreciate how it is a reflection of your current self and how it may feel different from your authentic self. With gratitude, turn your gaze out and appreciate the natural setting you are “finding yourself” within. Savor in timelessness the experience of moving from thinking into feeling into being. Leave, and return the next day.

Destroy your Medicine Wheel and close sacred space. Take your essence stone as a sacred object to retain as a gateway to your authentic self. Collect your role sticks for the fire ceremony, and teaching objects as previously described, for your next Medicine Wheel ceremony honoring the East direction.

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 Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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