Medicine Wheel

medicine wheel

In many Native American cultures, the concept of the medicine wheel has deep and profound meaning. As a physical model of metaphysical truth, it is a manifestation of the cyclical, regenerative nature of life.

The Role of the Medicine Wheel in Recovery

In its physical form, the medicine wheel acts as a focusing point for prayer, meditation, reflection, group celebration and ceremonial expression.

The medicine wheel is not “medicine” in the traditional sense; it won’t directly heal those suffering from mental health or substance use disorders. But contemplation of its meaning helps remind us that our current state of being is not a final destination but only a brief stop on a long journey back to our true selves.

Meditation and conscious reflection in the presence of the medicine wheel is not a replacement for traditional therapy. But within the context of a comprehensive rehab program, the medicine wheel can help personalize and energize the recovery process, as therapists and patients who’ve worked with it will attest.

The Medicine Wheel as Metaphor

At the center of the medicine wheel, the buffalo skull represents the transcendent spiritual reality that surrounds and enfolds all life. The four arms that emerge from its center divide the wheel into quadrants that contain energies associated with four defining aspects of an authentic and sustainable existence:

  • Knowledge and wisdom
  • Love and trust
  • Introspection and transformation
  • Illumination and clarity

When we value what is valuable, we can unleash our true potential as human beings, and that is what the medicine wheel helps teach us.

Following the Turning of the Wheel

At its core, the medicine wheel is a profound work of imagination, and when we release the power of imagination in our own lives, we can tap into healing currents that will transform us and change our perspective.

We tend to think of life in dualities. But at a deeper level, all opposites or sources of change and movement are bound in unity and harmony. Just as the wheel turns, so too do the cycles that define our existence, including those that carry us from sickness back to wellness.

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