Cynthia Wright – The Medicine Wheel: Finding Peace and Balance



I'm delighted to be here I certainly enjoyed my time here last year and have had a wonderful time putting a program together for tonight and over the weekend the Medicine Wheel seems to interest a lot of people how many of you know everything there is to know about the Medicine Wheel no hands okay well the Medicine Wheel is about finding peace and balance now a lot of the work that I do I actually have retired from some of my work I'll need to pick up more work finding peace and balance is very important for all of us but sometimes we don't stop long enough to realize it anybody you experience that yes okay so I don't proclaim to be an expert on this topic far from it I'm here as a student and a learner just like you are the only difference is I've had some experiences and some teachings that perhaps you've not had that opportunity yet so I hope that what I can share with you this evening will give you another tool another gift a little information to cause you to want to look further into this topic when we look at the Medicine Wheel we want to look at the origins of it a lot of people don't realize that in order to do that we've got to go way way back way back the ancient civilizations looked up in order to navigate to measure time for spiritual guidance for even the time of planting right now as a planting time for a lot of us for health and for balance they looked up to the stars to the galaxies now the science came to be archaeo-astronomer did you know that was a thing it's a thing it's a real thing had I been in school and saw that as an option I would have probably gone for it very interesting the whole study is how to uncover how the past civilizations understood what is going on above us in those celestial heavens and now they have turned to the medicine wheels of the indigenous peoples in order to understand how they have a grasp of heavens of the heavens wait a minute the medicine wheels and heavens is that right huh how about that so in order to look at this we have to go back way back now the earliest literature was 39,000 500 BC that was a minute ago been awhile hadn't it but the religion of the Sun originated before that we don't know how long before that at all and this was this is the oldest religion it viewed the Sun as the life source in a spiritual sense any of you familiar with the religion of the Sun a little bit it's fascinating in Hindu it's referred to as a sudden dynasty in Hindu mythology they may be connected to it lettuce this is the one that really got me this religion of the Sun existed far before written word it existed in a lot of different places and there's speculation that the civilizations across the earth shared these similar interests and beliefs and they were shared because sea travelers went well this is why it got interesting the symbol over there on the side of the slide the cross with the circle is assembled for the religion of the Sun that was in Egypt it's been found all over the world now what I talked about before before literature we're talking about the end of the last ice age and and civilizations that existed before this one that we don't know anything about there's a lot we don't know and I find as an educator and a teacher that the more I know the more I know I don't know and frankly that's a really good place to be because when we know we don't know we're open to learning so I really like this this comes off of the spiritual son calm website and I would encourage you to go look at it because it brings together a lot of things that we've been exposed to and we had no idea that this was the origin very interesting but it views the Sun as an outward manifestation of the spiritual Sun an embodiment of the design source of creation and symbol of higher consciousness and understands the signal cycles through the solstices and equinoxes to allegorically show the path to enlightenment this is why ancient practitioners align their sacred sites and ceremonies to the sun's path with such precision so you may be sitting there saying I thought this talk was on the medicine wheel what happened I'm going to tell you when we go back and back and back and start looking at things that took place the first writings were here and the religion and the Sun the next thing that happens here in history written history that we know is that the Hindu faith came to be in that right one of the the first the oldest medicine wheels said to be the Bighorn medicine wheel that's in Wyoming now I thought we were talking Europe and East and all that now we're in Wyoming isn't that bizarre this is a time when there was no TV no internet they couldn't tweet each other across the pond and yet these remarkable things were going on in all these world places was even going on in Africa we see these markers the medicine wheel nap to play a stonehenge all these things happening long a long time ago that followed in this path and just for measurement i noted judaism and several other belief systems that came about before one ad kind of remarkable so Bighorn medicine circle and it was called a circle it was called a Medicine Wheel the first time by non-indian non-native Americans that saw the structure of it you see on the top picture looks kind of like a wagon wheel doesn't it there's in that circle that's about 80 feet across there are 28 spokes if you will those are all rocks laid out and then the other little things that you see there are Karen's CAI RNs which is typically a marker to denote a particular direction to help people well in direction and and they're used in travel all the time there have been a lot of the indigenous tribes call that a sacred hoop now through I just love this word archeoastronomy the Sun and celestial connections were discovered and now we know that the Shoshone the crow herb the Cheyenne probably the Cheyenne were the ones that built this some seven around 7,000 BC that really stretches time for me a lot further back than I had thought this picture was taken a Bighorn in 2011 now what you see the cloths that you see hanging there those were likely prayer ties where people had gone and left a prayer put tobacco in a prayer tie in a cloth and tied it to the fence because it's seen as a sacred site the next to Medicine wheels that are considered the largest and most significant are actually in Canada and major Vil's at the top they're probably by the Blackfeet tribe in around 2500 BC Moose Mountain medicine wheel probably by the Cheyenne around 600 BC so these things have been around for a while okay then I began to wonder when they were saying these things have been around that long I started wondering if they had any connection here what are you recognized in that picture Stonehenge is the top right that's in England napped playas in ancient Africa or Egypt which is the top left Newgrange is an Ireland fascinating place all of these are related to the medicine wheels now we're going to come back stateside I know at least one person here has been there two people you know what this is you know where it is this is an amazing huge sacred space in New Mexico called Chaco Canyon the Anasazi were there an ancient tribe actually the most ancient on Turtle Island that we know of but now beginning to wonder about what we know and what we don't know and just as an FYI all these circles you see most of them are called Kiva's they were places of Prayer and the walls this this has been has deteriorated over the years but some of these buildings were seven stories high some thousand years ago if you go there at night this was a time-lapse of the night sky that you could actually see the star path the two years ago I had the opportunity to go to Chaco Canyon and I was there and in Sedona over summer solstice talk about energy incredible place of energy and to go see this place and to sit down in one of those Kiva's and offer tobacco and do a prayer jettison me back and I could see people there in their daily work and I could watch and see how they were planning and the the the grids they have for summer solstice winter solstice and the connection with at least three planets and their movement told them about different things the Medicine Wheel does the same thing the Medicine Wheel is lined up with the earth with the cardinal directions and with these systems if you ever get a chance to go out there go absolute sacred ground now this also was very interesting the first picture you see there is from Chaco Canyon the cross and circle over there is from Europe from the east the spiral is also something that's found in both places from thousands and thousands of years ago now are you thinking that I'm just crazy that this is just a myth or is this beginning to make you go hmm I want to look into that a little bit more anyone interested looking into it a little bit more okay the Cherokee say that the Medicine Wheel basically represents the natural cycles of life the basic way in which the natural world including humans moves and evolves the power of birth death and rebirth and I think most significantly this right here each individual's path toward personal growth and realization and why I think that is so significant is that we live in a world where things are a tad out of balance would you say anybody agree with that yeah do you think your world could take a little bit more balance your community your life yeah me too so you've seen the history of how the medicine wheels came to us the fact that they are part of that connection with the heavens in order to be able to survive and find the balance so who was it that said Potawatomi to me earlier uh-huh sorry I had Potawatomi so today you may see things like this now this tripe over here let me tell you this is the way it's supposed to be and this tripe over here may say no no it's supposed to be this way and you're gonna see evidence of that truth of the matter is that most of the information that any particular tribal community will use in their medicine wheel is either the same or at least comparable to the next tribe over there are some differences that there's going to be these tribes started at different times they have different philosophies so the small picture looking at things with mouse vision is to see how the tribe does the Potawatomi put their medicine wheel together and to only see that the bigger picture is what does that mean to us life is is in a circle all of life is a circle we can measure the directions east south west north in a circle and there cyclically we go to them in a cycle in a circle spring in the east summer autumn winter it's a circle it's a cycle it comes around again the this particular one shows the sacred herbs that are used by typically most tribes tobacco cedar sage and sweet grass so if we were looking at this we might ask what can that tell us okay so there's spring summer fall winter all right has it ever been spraying and you felt like you were in winter not because of the temperature but because of your mood because things weren't going so good because you felt isolated all kinds of reasons that we may feel that we're still in winter when the rest of the earth is in spring this is a good barometer for us to ask ourselves where are we where are we in this are we in our spring how many of you think you're in your spring right now okay anybody in the summer anybody who didn't fall winter I put I find that people like myself who live with sad or seasonal affective disorder that winter can last a long time so we have to take some extra steps to not let it all right but as you can see there's a lot that we can get just from this one picture the Lakota Sioux this is somewhat what their medicine will looks like I don't like it particularly because it's too linear for me I want to see it turned at an angle so this messes with me the thing to look at again is the different things that represents and our body different parts of our body our mental emotional physical spiritual self all those parts are in there our cycles of life the Cree Medicine Wheel they got very wordy but basically what they're saying in here is pretty much the same thing there's organization in Colorado Springs that put the 12 steps into a circle and it's the Medicine Wheel 12 steps and a long about I think it was about 2003 I had the opportunity to become a fire starter for the program and have actually been running this program ever since it's a good program because it puts everything in a circle the 12 steps fitness circle quite well and when we run in Louisville it's for anyone dealing with any kind of addiction issues or dysfunctional family systems or they just want to get their house in order so to speak so in that in the East the beginning that springtime find the Creator in the south in that infancy is in the East as a youth finding ourselves what what is that time for that youth time that's exactly what's going on in the West fighting relationship with others how do we fit in with the bigger picture as an adult and in the North finding the elders wisdom and all those steps fit in there quite nicely now those of you who are familiar with Eric Eric's and the cycles of life anybody here remember with those I think pretty much a lot of people understand those these fit in there in mental health the Medicine Wheel has been used that medicine wheel has been used all over in corporate use and health issues so you've got I don't know can you read that from there to the east mental physical spiritual emotional community meaning and finding meaning and purpose history and stories sense of a belonging now these aren't in the same places I would put him or in the same places that perhaps my friend ray who works with the Lakota would put him but there you could certainly use that to be able to teach concepts and help someone in their growth or us help ourselves in our growth now they got really crazy on this one someone had just gotten the graphic degree I think and they were showing off I like this one because there's there's something very important about it that's on the outer circle and that's the seven grandfather's teachings this is about the values that the tribes hold and across the board the values are a little different from tribe to tribe but they are all again compatible and comparable so if you do your own medicine we owe you you two can make one like this now that's our logo that the Medicine Wheel incorporated into it and we also look to the wisdom of Christ life teachings which is pre Christianity Buddhism and the Native American spiritual wisdom and we've evolved to a point where it's mostly a Native American but the whole process of us starting out showing these three different belief systems is that they are compatible that the three can sit down in a circle and talk to one another and it be peaceful and if we could do that anybody could do that so let's look at the teachings of the Medicine Wheel and what we can take from it black L was a very interesting fella a godless sue he was a teacher he was a lot of things but a lot of people looked up to him and I love this piece that he said this first piece which is the most important is that which comes within the souls people when they realized their relationship their oneness with the universe in all its powers and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit and that this Center really is everywhere it is within each one of us now the wisdom we've been talking about from Medicine Wheel that circle and cycle we already possess and things get knocked to kilter for us when we're not paying attention to it so in the old days the teachers the elders the uncles the grandmothers grandfathers it all sit in a circle and the one that was teaching would take that stick and start drawing in the dirt in front of them and draw a circle and one of the the young people might have said grandfather why is it that even though I'm 16 I can't do these things you know why can't I do the stuff that the adult does grandfathers say well you're not there yet show them in that circle you're you're still in your summer time and you'll come around to the fall time and these are the gifts of that and that time so he got to pay attention because as you go through that full time young person you can miss it if you're not paying attention and then you'll have to go around again to pick it up and then someone in the tribe and the circle says that uncle I'm 45 years old I should be able to be an elder and be honored as an elder why is this not happening and can you do something about it do you think that would get him anywhere no because all the attributes that we learn and grandfathers sitting there drawing in the dirt say him but my sudden you you missed some things over here when you were an infant and you lost your parents you didn't have that nurturing that perhaps others had and so that has caused you to act in some ways that haven't been so good so now that you know that wasn't your fault that that happened but now that you know that it's important for you to go back and try to capture that so you're gonna walk through that winter time you're going to learn some more things you're going to come back around that we all together and here are some things to look for by the way an elder within the tribes is not called an elder because of age it really has nothing to do with it it is if they are if they walk in a good and sacred way if they live in a good in a sacred way if they serve the community and any elder is going to be in service to their community one of the most important traits for them to have is humility without that they're not an elder and without that humility if they're if they have been an elder and considered an elder without humility it's enough to knock them out of there so aspects of being this is where it gets really interesting now if you had a piece of paper and you were going to draw on it like the wheel that's there or those of you that watch the video later sit down and and draw these things out draw a circle with these things in each of the directions in our emotional self if we get really upset about something and we just have a hissy fit is that am I getting to Kentucky for you then emotionally we may be out of control right is that going to affect us mentally physically spiritually yeah it is it may not affect those aspects of our being as much as whatever threw us out of alignment emotionally but it's gonna affect those other things the next time something happens you get upset about something or you stub your toe or you have a a communication breakdown with your higher power your source your great mystery check and how it's impacting those other things well I'm really upset because creator is just not I pray and pray and pray and nothing's happening anybody ever been in there anybody gonna admit it do you think that would impact me mentally sure emotionally yeah physically I'm gonna start to notice it uh stomach doesn't feel so good got a headache because that's that's messing with me we've got to look for the meaning what the meaning is for ourselves is that a cool picture or what so in the meaning let's check one thing first the movement the medicine wheel it's clockwise or counterclockwise you either you notice I've been starting in the east and going clockwise for most of the medicine wheels that's way it goes for most ceremonies half the ceremonies maybe that's the way it goes anybody been to a powwow native gathering okay when they're dancing in the circle they may be going counterclockwise or clockwise Lakota clockwise anything Cherokee or counterclockwise that's because we prefer to have the earth under our feet not like the Lakota and [Laughter] that's the kind of bantering that'll go on okay but the the honest thing about it is it's When in Rome if I go out to Lakota to one of the rez is out there and dance I'm gonna do it their way I'm gonna respect it and do it in their way and this way it should be done we we tease each other otherwise and I guess the takeaway there is don't assume anything if you go to any kind of gathering watch pay attention that's the best way to be respectful so the astronomical alignment we've all been introduced to something perhaps we didn't know that not only the medicine wheels those big stone medicine wheels are aligned but we're doing that in practice anytime we draw a circle on the paper or in the dirt and try to figure out where we are where's our balance the teaching-learning comes from these things spiritual energy comes from these things I I can't even describe to you the energy that I felt at Chaco Canyon during that time of the year I can't tell you that the crow came up and talked to me we had a nice conversation I offered tobacco and we went into the Kiba ritual direction way that we do our ceremonies they may vary our health if those things are out of balance our health emotional mental physical spiritual can be out of balance to the purse the important thing about is we need to be honest with ourselves as we look at these things and inner healing there's a lot of work and inner healing that people have done for for a long time and they're still doing this can help so peace and balance of course everyone in this room and everybody watching the video you are here in the center it's perfect and all is right with our world yeah no that's not true how many of you think you're dead center there this is such a smart group we strive to hit center but it's always in motion we're always in motion we're gonna move on those access back and forth some days we're gonna feel a little more spiritually balanced and the others or maybe not not paying as much attention to them maybe there's something that we did that had a hateful thought or something well I might be backing down from that spiritual and I'm I'm out of balance with it some so to any point time this is what we want to strive for are we going to get there probably not we're going to pass it along the way but it's always in motion we're always in motion we're cyclic all we're not gonna get there and stay put and be like Waldo you are here okay we can use the medicine wheel to figure out what we missed and again this requires honesty with ourselves if a person has trust issues at 27 if they're willing to go back and really look at things and hopefully they're doing it with someone that's qualified to help them they'll hopefully go back to that time in cycles of life when trust and autonomy are achieved and rework it now my feeling is that the medicine will is more like a spiral than a circle or a stack of circles it might be because we may go around and around this more than a few times and we get over to this part of it you know we may get over here as an elder but you know I forgot how to play I need to play I just want to get that silly putty out some people in the room have no clue what I'm talking about and play you see how what I'm saying about how we can use this it's not rocket science it may be step of space science maybe we have trouble with intimacy something happened and in this period of being an adult is where that is built up and if we had a rocky or bad relationship then maybe we've put food intimacy well we might be able to go back and learn some tools to help us to be able to pick some of that up in order to move forward we can sit down with an elder a trusted elder and talk about these things I put this up here just to show you some of the ways that symbols and things go together the Anishinabe very creative I like in the part they have in here and between the east and the South letting go of security wanting to do that to be able to step out a little bit more have the security of being that infant and in that young stage and then letting go of belongings as we go into that adult phase those things become less important letting go of control oh there's a big one on our way to that place of wisdom letting go of control is that necessary are we in control does anybody here think they're in control just ask him then letting go of recognition that's why humility is so important with an elder it's not about the recognition it's not about us if you serve this community within PS and you are always helping out and everything that's great it's great when anybody helps the community and it's not about us we do it because we care about what's going on if our spirit and intent is helping us to do that we're really accomplishing something and it's not the recognition that's important what's important is that we know that we've reached out and helped someone did you agree you will see the medicine wheel in business use big companies have used this to be able to move their company along in a good way because when they were doing it Lenin and lennier way it wasn't working can they do that can they take the Native American medicine wheel and do that yes they can it's a circle they didn't take anything out of Cherokee medicine we Lakota business and we'll miss you nabhi none of that they took the concept of hey if we put this in a circle maybe we can see the connectedness and well people a lot of people don't understand is there prophecies and I'll talk about those Saturday morning that say that the tribes are going to come back together and the people from all the different directions are going to come back together and as the indigenous people that are called into responsibility to teach what they know and to share and help the others share what they've learned so that we can survive as a people it's some big stuff so are we supposed to share this stuff yes are we supposed to take it and turn it into another religion and steal from the ideas that they have now that's very disrespectful but can we take the concepts and use them in a good and sacred way absolutely but don't throw indigenous wisdom and sacred things into a pot along with me before if I have other things and stir it heartily and come up with another religion or way of doing things that would be that's the acculturation that's the taking from that's what's tribes get upset about ask the difficult questions maybe there's something that's gone on in a person's life and they really don't want to go back and look at it there's some hard things to go back and look at sometimes but get to a point if you have a difficult question to ask make sure that you're in a place where you can do that it's comfortably and try to be objective and put it to that Medicine Wheel put it to that circle of how did this affect me emotionally mentally physically spiritually what can I do to bring that emotional part back to a more balanced place toward that Center what can I do to bring that mental part back to a more balanced place what about the physical what's going on there have I let myself go because I was bummed because I was depressed so maybe I want to try what are the things that I can do to bring myself back more towards Center on that balance and spiritually when's the last time that I prayed our meditated or did a ritual did ceremony when's the last time that I did that seek guidance be very careful about what you find on the Internet I've been researching this for five months when did we do that when it was October of last year when we said we were gonna do this so at least five months and I found all kinds of things out there on the internet that are not true and I know for a fact they're not true because I know all now I'm lying to you seek guidance find someone that's trusted and see what they say see if they'll help strive for that balance and every step toward that center balance that we make it's important to celebrate it djay moving around the Medicine Wheel I'm trying to decide if it's like chutes and ladders or if it's like chests if you go back to infancy if you go back to infancy for trust issues do you need to continue around the wheel or have you covered that base and you can go back to like elder in other words if you go back to trust autonomy do you need to continue around the wheel each time or can you learn what you need to know there and then go back to elder do you know what I'm saying I do okay part of the reason that a circle works is because we have a a path a direction now the reason that the circles are done differently depending on the tribe is like the the ones that go counterclockwise that is in balance with how the earth moves okay the other ones go clockwise our imbalance with how the cardinal directions are okay so whichever way you go commit to that commit to that direction but if you're here and you're thinking you need to go back over here to do some work and your question let's see if I'm getting your question right do you have to go that way or can you just like zip across the circle okay I would say you're going to want to go through there because that time that is a great place of integrity and it's good for us and it's also a place of introspection so here you might be thinking okay I'm figuring out I need to do that sitting in quiet there may be helpful in helping you to get that point you might get some more tools there it's not a bad thing if you feel you're good you can move a little faster you get over there and you get that trust dealt with you come around here and you think okay I got that youth stuff down I can go on okay now I get it now I get it thank you I think if you look deeply at our culture you'd mention Erik Erikson and you mention stealing things he spent six summers of his life on the Blackfoot Reservation and most of his child rearing and his psychology is based on the Blackfeet and the neighbor ham Maslow who took his self-actualization he's still left from the Iraq Indians in Northern California this is evident in all of our a lot of things in the United States and in Europe but yet they don't want to admit it to where they got it from right so just an FYI yeah so study those guys and you'll go back and write directly to the simplest medicine wheel that you can find and that's how they base their teachings thank you I knew about Eric's I didn't know about might as well Maslow the hierarchy of needs I was just wondering of you know a lot of people make a labyrinth in their backyard or something like that have you done that where you've created a walking medicine wheel and is it helpful like what n is it helpful mm-hmm I was thinking it might it you know I really love the labyrinth and I was thinking how if I had had that what you know it would even be helpful to walk the steps you know if you look up Medicine Wheel images you will find where people have done that at like you could put a medicine wheel here on the property to where people would go now if I'm looking for information if I'm looking to the ancestors and the elders and I'm looking for that guidance I'm going to sit in the south and look to the north and offer my prayers so we can sit facing the direction where we're seeking guidance from and yeah you could do that with doing your own medicine wheel have I personally done that no and it's more physical reason than anything I love a labyrinth the labyrinth is a great thing I can't walk them because I can't have my head down to watch where I'm going long enough to do that and then I trip and that benefited but yes you could do that y'all could have medicine where you are and it would be a great you know even if you have a fire pit but you decide on the colors that you want or the directions or at least mark the directions of east south west north then anyone could go out there and look to those directions and sit and pray and meditate yeah you could we've got one fire pit that's for fire ceremonies ya know and then we've got the fire pit for the sweat lodge you know and I never thought about marking out the directions for the fire pit where we do st. where we do songs and you know singing and so forth but that makes a lot of sense I think I was not raised on a reservation I'm Cherokee on my mother's side my grandmother and my grandfather and English on my father's side and Irish on my father's side I do yes ma'am so that's how I was raised not on the reservation but when my mother and I found that grandma kept saying you know we're Indian well not everybody was listening to Grandma up in those days but she was right and we went and we found the proof I was ordained as a Christian minister in 1997 and and about the same time in that three-year period was really getting into my mother and I both were searching and there were things that started to come to me and very long story short I've embraced the Cherokee traditions and my ancestry and I practice the ceremonies and do the rituals and I'm still an ordained minister but I found a way for them to peacefully coexist living in the indigenous teachings living in that way practicing those ceremonies trying my best to walk the philosophies and the principles laws and values makes me a much better minister and a much better Christian so to put those things out there you know have those directions there's nothing wrong with that to give us guidance and trying to be the very best that we can be that's really our job everybody's job be the best that we can be and in that find our niche find our purpose find the guidance that you need I'm always looking for guidance when I say to you the more I know the more I know I don't know I live by that mantra because it does keep me humble it keeps me open to Wow I've learned something new today cool this is a great place to be I'm definitely in my spring time right now I just had a comment that I really like using the labyrinth to and to me the Medicine Wheel and the energies of the different directions our energies so sometimes when I'm in the center of the labyrinth I honor the directions I I'm I tuck to the directions for wisdom when I'm in the center of the the labyrinth and so I kind of combine the two the labyrinth energy and the Medicine Wheel energy together sometimes yeah and the way that you just explained that I think that's perfectly fine because no one has the closed market on east south west north they exist for all of us and as you saw in all these different medicine wheels each direction may mean something different to all of us so if you've identified this is what this means to me in this direction and you make that part of your ritual and your ceremony there's nothing wrong with that it's when things are mixed not in a good way and there's a lot of New Age stuff out there and and the where it could lead to and nothing against New Age but some of them have been terribly irresponsible if you remember the people that were killed in a sweat lodge several people killed in a sweat lodge a few years back and the person first of all was charging them great money to go to a sweat lodge which is absolutely wrong they didn't know what they were doing and they made a fire box is what they did in putting that sweat lodge together their spirit and intent was not in a good direction in a good way their purpose was to make money and people died because of it and they mixed things and they did ceremony that they shouldn't have done that's when the problem comes in but to do what you're talking about that that is your spirit intent in doing that is very good and you have as much right to claim east south west north as the rest of us that good you

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