The Medicine Wheel – Part I

The Medicine Wheel 

The Medicine Wheel is a tool that was created by the Indigenous peoples of North America thousands of years ago. The Wheel is an important part of the Indigenous culture and is still used in the modern world teachings. One of the oldest wheels is thought to be millions of years old and can be found in Wyoming, U.S. Other wheels have been discovered throughout the Canadian prairies and northern states like Montana.

Last year, I attended a week long course on Indigenous history and protocol. I attended a pipe ceremony, a sweat lodge and learned some basic history from local Elders. We only touched on The Medicine Wheel briefly. I feel like one blog post is not nearly enough to go into detail on what the purpose of the Wheel is. This post will serve as a brief introduction on what the wheel is and its origin.

Black and white diagram depicting different sized rocks in a circular design.

The Ojibway Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel is thought to be the “circle of awareness” of the individual self. It is a tool meant to be used for inner reflection. It was used by the Ojibwe.

The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa, Ojibway and Chippewa) are an Indigenous people in Canada and the United States who are part of a larger cultural group known as the Anishinaabeg. – The Canadian Encyclopedia 

medicine_wheel_RGB

Origins of The Medicine Wheel

Where did The Medicine Wheel come from? 

According to historians, stone medicine wheels have been dated as far back as 4000 B.C. which takes us to ancient Egyptian times. It has been suggested that the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, the largest medicine wheel in North America has been around for millions of years. The Big Horn Medicine Wheel is located in Wyoming, USA.

File:Bighorn medicine wheel.jpg

According to the New World Encyclopedia, the Medicine Wheels or sacred hoops, may have been used for astronomical, ritual, healing and teaching purposes. Much like the infamous tourist site, Stonehenge, it is thought that these grounds were sacred and used for spiritual practice or worship.

Medicine Wheels have been discovered across the Canadian prairies, Wyoming and Montana. One of the older wheels was dated 4500 years old. Like many famous structures around the globe, the wheel has been updated, and new features were added by newer generations.

Archaeologists suggested that the function of the wheel has changed over the years. No one seems to know what it’s real purpose is. And much like Stonehenge, no one really seems to understand how these medicine wheels came to be.

Unlike the great pyramids of Egypt, the Indigenous peoples laid stones flat on the ground instead of building structures like the Sphinx. Take a look at the photos below – both are from the New World Encyclopedia website. Note the difference in structures.

Image result for sphinx

Now let’s compare the Big Horn Medicine Wheel to Stonehenge.

Stonehenge2007 07 30.jpg

There are many similarities between the structure of the medicine wheel and Stonehenge. But archaeologists are stumped as to why the stones in the medicine wheels were placed flat on the ground instead of vertical like in the Stonehenge structure.

Resources

I think I will stop there because my mind is officially blown with all this information. There’s no way I can cover what the medicine wheels represent in one post. Instead, I’ll link some resources below for you.

This post will be part one of a series of posts. Join me on my spiritual journey as I dive deeper into learning about the medicine wheel and Native American healing practices. Included in the links – are some of the sources I used for this article.

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