Native American Medicine Wheel

The symbolism within the medicine wheels of various cultures may differ but they all had basically the same shape and purpose. The medicine wheel is usually a large stone circle with spokes radiating out from the center. The wheel is often portrayed as a stone structure but can be made in other ways as well.

In addition to the cardinal directions, animals are often used in the construction of medicine wheels. The purpose of the animals can vary, but a basic understanding of one can be enlightening.

Not all medicine wheels were used strictly for healing. Some were created to serve as notification that the seasons were changing. The Big Horn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming is one astronomical example. The students, staff, and area community of Valley City State University created Medicine Wheel Park with a large medicine wheel which serves as a horizon calendar.

The Medicine Wheel Society is a group that wishes to promote the incorporation of Native American healing practices into the mainstream. The purpose of the medicine wheel is to promote healing of either the body or the spirit. While originally the medicine wheel was used only by Native Americans it is now utilized in the healing ceremonies of non Native Americans as Well.

While most people think a medicine wheel is used only in healing ceremonies it is thought that they had other uses as well. However, as no written records remain explaining any of the medicine wheels still in existence. Fortunately, the oral traditions of various Native American cultures provide many clues to the various uses of these magnificent structures.

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