Friday, February 27, 2009

Medicine Wheels and White Buffalos

The medicine wheel or sacred hoop, is an important symbol among many First Nations and although they may have some different appearances, colors, markings, etc., they represent the seven directions. These include 'up', 'down' and 'center', which is where we as a part of everything belong if we are in balance.The hoop or circle itself is the boundaries of the world, the cycle of life and death, the seasons, and for many people of the Plains, the Sundance circle. The Lakota and other people use colors symbolizing the directions and the powers of the directions: White, north;yellow, east; black, west; red,south.For an excellent article on the wheel go to, and search for medicine wheel.

Don Coyhis uses the medicine wheel as a basis for his teaching in the White Bison work. His wheel doesn't look like this ancient petroglyph from Tres Rios, NM. In fact, his wheel reminds me of a colorfully decorated baseball.

But that doesn't matter. What matters is the teaching about balance; the powers of the sacred hoop bring us into balance if we honor them within ourselves. Without the balance,(mental,north; emotional, south; physical, east; spiritual, west) we have no real health, certainly no sobriety, even if we are abstaining for the moment.

The name of the program, "White Bison", refers to a sacred symbol in the form of the actual animal. In the Lakota traditions, the sacred pipe or 'chanupa' and the teachings about the cermonies for peace and healing associated with the pipe were brought by White Buffalo Calf Woman(Pte Sa Win).

These are vital symbols not only for the Indigenous People of North America, but they are powerful teachings to help restore all of us to health and sanity, if only we would attend to the power found in them. I am not speaking of appropriating the culture or religion of a people from whom virtually everything has been taken. I am not advocating dressg up in beads and feathers to perform 'wannabe'ceremonies. These are insulting and foolish actions taken by many whites who feel a spiritual void within themselves. What I advocate is to learn the teachings, learn from the wisdom and use these teachings to combat the imbalances in our lives. This does not require us to 'play Indian', only to respect and learn from The People as we should learn from the wisdom of all people. Truly we are all one.

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