Understanding the Medicine Wheel

Medicine Wheel

To understand the wheel, it is important to understand the meaning of both the colours and directions.

Story and photo by Sarah Ryeland

East, or yellow, represents the emotional realm of life. It’s the direction of spring, inspiration, childhood and vision. The eastern part of the wheel represents emotional renewal, fresh beginnings and growing with the help of the sun. Yellow teaches us to respect our emotions and recognize them as an important part of human life that needs to be in balance with the other realms.

South, or red, represents the physical realm. As the summer, or youth stage of life, south represents growth and strength. Just like adolescence, the red area of our lives is when we assert independence and discover who we are. In this realm we are experimental, fearless and learn powerful lessons.

West, or black, is the spiritual realm. Representing autumn and adulthood, west symbolizes courage, knowledge and maturity. Autumn is traditionally a time of darkening days, which is illustrated by the colour black. As adults, we often lose sight of the light inside us and begin a journey through the dark to find it again. This takes courage, and leads us into the spiritual world where we discover a new life.

North, or white, represents the mental realm. In the north we are in our elder stage of life, having wisdom in our winter years. North is a quiet and calm realm, giving us the opportunity to think about life and contemplate the lessons we’ve learned during our earthwalk. The white section of the wheel is where we see the value of every stage of life and the wisdom of living in harmony with each direction/colour.

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