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The Workings of Sun Bear's Vision of the Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel is an organized model of life. It was labeled as Earth Astrology by Sun Bear in 1980. When introduced to the Medicine Wheel in 1992 it instantly made sense to me since it had all the symbols and signs of Astrology but from the earth perspective it had a spiritual association (hard for some to see in Astrology) with a circle, signs and symbols.
Even more fascinating unlike the Astrology as seen in the sky, with so many variable systems of interpretation, the Medicine Wheel limited the interpretations to one basic equation. How do we live in harmony with earth and nature? Unlike a Horoscope where we assume the point in the middle is God or Creator (or whatever label you like) the Medicine Wheel actually puts a symbol in the center which really makes an impression as you realize all these interpretations are about harmonizing with our maker.
The four major elements of life, the building blocks, fire, earth, air and water surround the center or creator stone if you will. The four directions of North, East, South and West take a place in the circle outside of the center along with the 12 months of the year as represented by the moons or astrological signs. As the circle is now divided into quarters each quadrant represents a teaching that leads to a living understanding. There are pathways in each quadrant that lead to the center or to creator. Or better put alignment with your maker. So now when you place earths living creatures in the circle/wheel instead of Stars and Planets, you use the earths symbols, and each of earths symbols has a name, a character and ultimately a life of its own which can be used to describe its position and the human relationship to that position. You now have Earth Astrology.
In Astrology we understand the four directions as action points. Instead of calling the east point in Astrology the ascendant the Medicine Wheel is simply called the East where you now have the definition of what east means symbolically. Not only does the Sun rise and life wakes up in the east, it is the sign of Aries, the sign of spring, the time of coming to life.
The Medicine Wheel looks symbolically at the four directions as sacred times when the earths seasons change.
It also factors in the earth as being below us and sustaining all life while being labeled as Mother Earth for all the obvious reasons. Above us is the Father Sky where our deity or symbolically where life after death resides. And of course where the Sun resides as the giver of all life just as Man, Father carries the seed for human life.
In the Medicine Wheel each one of the four directions also has an element, animal, mineral, color, and plant which represents that space, by the significance of its characteristics or life which defines that place and quadrant of the circle. Example, the East is represented by Fire which carries many connotations about seeking and defining individuality.
Knowing Astrology helped me organize the energy and spiritual inclination of each one of the planets. Understanding Mars as an energy that's about action, survival, and individuation takes on a different perspective when it represents Clarity in the Medicine Wheel. That would help define the actions of Mars being one of seeking a clear understanding about who we are in consciousness as a simple example. And it is placed on the inner pathway leading toward uniting with the creator, at the East point the beginning point of the rising sun and life coming alive. Clarity on the animal wheel is represented by Hummingbird and all its wonderful attributes. On the mineral wheel it is represent by Mica. On the plant wheel by Rosemary and the color wheel is represented by translucent clear. In the animal wheel the Golden Eagle resides over the east quadrant. The Red Hawk is the symbol for Aries and very aptly so considering the Hawk makes a great connection to Aries people through its characteristics.
Whatever symbols you use, the Medicine Wheel becomes a very magical circle that allows us to define life on natures terms and that is the gift. Nature lives by the will and spirit of the creator. There is no free will, only natural life and natural instinct. When humans begin to spiritualize they move inward to discover who they are by becoming aware of their natural responses to life. This is where only humans can then use their free will to define the response and attitude of life on Mother Earth.
Marvin L. Wilkerson, CH., Master Astrologer
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