Healing instruments: the Medicine Wheel or the Sacred Hoop

  • 2016
Medicine Wheel, 1926, Wyoming

The Medicine Wheel or Sacred Ring was constructed through the establishment of several stones, forming a particular pattern on the ground. Most of these wheels follow the basic pattern of having one or several stones in the center, surrounded by an outer ring of other stones with lines of rocks radiating from the center. Some ancient types of sacred architecture were built by stones on the surface of the earth, in particular patterns, which were common to aboriginal peoples.

Initially, and still today, the wheels of medicine are stone structures built by certain peoples of North America for various purposes: astronomical, ritual, healing and teaching. The wheels of the mendíge le rnas dicina are still "open" within the Native American spirituality, which, incidentally, is often referred to as "aroscri for sacred", the most favored English term for some. There are several native words for ancient faults as well as the types of rocky alignments. One of the teachings is the description of the four directions.

Currently, the wheels of medicine have other more syncretic and hybrid uses such as the magic circles and the sacred technology of the mandala used in the New Age, in the Wicca, Pagana religion or philosophy and in other spiritual discourses throughout the world. The rite of the wheel of medicine or the sacred ring differed and differed between indigenous traditions, as now between non-indigenous peoples and between traditional and modernist variations. However, the essential nature of the rite common to these traditions deserves a deep anthropological exploration. Although it is not known exactly what it symbolizes, it is believed to have a ceremonial or astronomical significance.

Medicine wheels have been built and used for a long time. Each one is considered to have unique characteristics, so it is almost impossible for archaeologists to predict exactly what each one is. It is known that one of the oldest wheels is dated more than 4, 500 years. This wheel was probably built for generations following the one that started it, because they added new features. It would be difficult to say exactly what the function and meaning of the medicine wheel is, because due to its long existence, its purpose has surely changed over time.

Probably this stone structure would have served a ceremonial or ritual purpose. There is evidence of a type of "dance" within some of the wheels. Others, perhaps, were used as part of a search for ritual vision. Astronomer John Allen Eddy (who died in 2009), raised the theory that some of the wheels had astronomical significance, where the longest radius in a wheel could be pointing to a certain star at a certain time of the year, which suggests that the wheels were a way of marking certain days of the year. Other scientists have shown that some of the wheels mark the longest day of the year.


Medicine Wheel, Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming

In the Hopi medicine wheel of the Hopi prophecy of the four peoples of the Earth, the North cardinal point represents the body, plants and animals, the color white and "white-skinned peoples, " as well as childhood. Although it can also represent birth, and / or meet a stranger and learn to trust as in childhood (explained in the stages of Erik Erikson's psychosocial development).

The cardinal point This represents the mind, the air, the yellow color and the “yellow skin villages”, the learning of the groups to which it belongs and adolescence.

The southern cardinal point contains the heart, the fire, the red color and "red skin towns" and adulthood.

Finally, the West cardinal point represents the spirit, the water, the blue or black color, the "dark-skinned villages" and old age. The West also represents the final stage in the life of the wheel, being an elder and transmitting knowledge to the next generation, so that the wheel can begin again.

Different tribes interpret the medicine wheel differently. Each of the four directions (East, South, West and North) is typically represented by a distinctive color, such as black, red, yellow and white, which for some symbolizes human races. The four directions can also represent:

• Stages of life: birth, youth, adulthood or old age and death
• Seasons of the year: spring, summer, autumn and winter
• Aspects of life: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical
• Elements of nature: fire (or sun), air, water and earth
• Animals: eagle, bear, wolf, buffalo and many others
• Ceremonial plants: tobacco, sweet grass, sage or cedar

A. Eddy, Allen. Astronomical Alignment of the Big Horn Medicine Wheel. Science, New Series, Vol. 184, No. 4141 (Jun. 7, 1974), pp. 1035-1043.

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