Medicine Wheels

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Medicine wheel in Sedona, Arizona. A Native American symbol, the wheel is a circle of stones with four spokes and a center. The outer circle is made up of sixteen stones, one for each of the twelve moons and one for each of the four spirit keepers, while the center represents the Great Spirit. Fortean Picture Library.

Medicine Wheels

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Scattered throughout the plains of western Canada and the United States are hundreds of prehistoric medicine wheels, circles of stones that seem to be aligned in patterns designed to represent astronomical sighting plains. When Europeans first discovered them, they naturally asked the Indians who built them. The answer was always the same: "The people who were here before." In other words, these were old— very old. They were considered sacred, protected by the spirits, and the destination of many a vision quest.

They remain so today. Many still travel to sit quietly, meditating on the circles which, by their very antiquity, provoke feelings of awe and wonder. Who built them? How were they used? And why are they here?

The pattern is not unique to America. Stone circles are found throughout the world, from Stonehenge, the "granddaddy" of them all, to the small, mountaintop circles of the American high desert that are known only to a few initiates.

The circle or sacred spiral pattern is also found consistently throughout the world's record of rock paintings. What does it mean? The standard theory is that astronomy figured heavily in its use. It is the common denominator in astrological alignments. Some speculate that the pattern is representative of the womb. But beyond that there seems to exist a spiritual component lost to modern humans. The best we can do is guess.

The question remains concerning the universality of the designs. Some consider it coincidence, believing the pattern represents a religious feeling we all must have in common. Whether we live in Siberia or Arizona, we all share the same human psychology. Others believe the design originated in one location and then spread throughout the world. This is the "diffusion" theory.

References in periodicals archive ?
The participants were encouraged to plan locations for taking photos relevant to each section of the Medicine Wheel.
Using a symbol such as the medicine wheel is an example of making STEM studies culturally relevant to American Indian students, says Mitchell.
The concept of the medicine wheel garden originated with the sacred medicine wheels found in Native American culture, so-called because they are patterned like a wheel, with a small inner circle, a larger outer circle, and spokes that connect them together.
The Medicine Wheel was made a national historic landmark in 1969 to preserve the prehistoric stone circle, which is about 80 feet in diameter, and the Forest Service oversees the landmark to "ensure that the Medicine Wheel and Medicine Mountain are managed in a manner that protects the integrity of the site as a sacred site and a nationally important traditional cultural property.
Wellness is a holistic concept, as illustrated by the different elements of the medicine wheel.
The Medicine Wheel is a Native American symbol of dynamic wholeness.
Weaving, medicine wheel, dream catchers, pottery, mobiles, storytelling through collages, water colors and mandala expressions.
From X-Files babe Gillian Anderson to the latest Wonderbra girl Brenda Schad, they're using the power of the Medicine Wheel.
The medicine wheel is an ecological concept and organized knowledge used by many Plains tribes - with tribe-specific details - that demonstrates the wholeness of life and the significance of health and balance; it has been tested through observation and experience over time.
Learn the secrets of the Medicine Wheel and unlock the power which can help you control your destiny
1490, replacing his drawing of an ideal man ensconced in a perfect circle with her own outline covered by an Indian medicine wheel, a device traditionally used to mark the changing seasons.
Says one, "Nature is a temple to us, and the medicine wheel, a sacred hoop, is the reawakening of this Native American wisdom.