Tag Archive for: summer

The medicine wheel and the qualities of each cardinal direction.

Calling the Directions & The Medicine Wheel

Working with the Medicine Wheel

Honoring the directions within the framework of a medicine wheel is a common practice of shamanism found throughout the world and at the root of each of our ancestral lines. This prayer to honor the directions can be called a number of things depending on the culture and preferences of the person praying. Some say we are “calling in the directions” while others state we are “calling ourselves to the directions”. Others just see that we are setting up sacred space to do sacred work.

Regardless of the nomenclature, it is important to take a moment and reflect on why you have chosen to enter in to this practice.

Intention for Calling in the Directions

Are you worried about negative energy entering in as you open up to meditate or journey, so you feel compelled to set up protection around yourself? Do you wish to offer your gratitude to the seasons and rhythms of nature? Is it just because you learned it in a class and you’re trying to explore the power of the medicine wheel practice? Are you asking for help from all of creation for a healing? Are you offering yourself as a channel for the Divine? Would you like to call yourself back to center so that you can be your authentic self and be grounded in your being? Do you intend to set up a quiet space for meditation free from the chaos of the everyday?

The good news is that calling in the directions using the medicine wheel does all of the above and more. Your intent will shape the content and power of the chants or prayers you say. So take the time to reflect on your intent and then be willing to allow that intent to shift over time. The beauty of a shamanic practice is that it is personal and place based. Depending on who you are, where you live and what stage of your life you are in, calling the directions will look different because your relationship to nature will be different.

Directions of the Medicine Wheel

The medicine wheel can be broken into five or seven parts depending on your inclination, but always contains the four primary directions: East, South, West and North and a central point or axis.

“Above” and “Below” can also be recognized individually or not because the central axis is seen as inherently connected to these two spaces. As you determine what qualities, gifts, elements and power animals to acquaint with each direction of the medicine wheel I have a simple framework for you to start with.

  1. Path of the Sun: The medicine wheel is laid out in relation to the path of the sun. The East is the place of dawn (beginnings) and the West is the place of dusk (endings)
  2. Seasonality: The medicine wheel can be laid over a seasonal calendar which for us places spring in the East, summer in the South, fall in the West and winter in the North (see photo above). If you lived at the equator you would only recognize two seasons, rainy and dry, or if you lived at the poles you would recognize light and dark, so your associations would be different.
  3. Diurnal Cycle: You can also overlay the wheel with the a 24 hour clock with the East being sunrise, South being midday, West being sunset, and North being midnight.

Qualities of the Directions

To help you determine your own, unique blend of qualities to associate with the directions of the medicine wheel, I offer the following ideas that I’ve accumulated from studying a number of cultures and nature herself. You may see some qualities listed in more than one direction. Feel into the quality and see where it fits for you.

  • Qualities of the East: dawn/sunrise, spring, new beginnings, birth, infancy, mental body, element of air, seedling plants, new shoots, fresh start, innocence, play, childhood, the Sun or Mother Earth, blue, yellow, green, swords tarot suit, astrological houses 1-3.
  • Qualities of the South: midday, summer, adolescence, physical body, mature crops, abundance, element of fire, the Sun or Mother Earth, passion, drive, vitality, fullness, ripeness, maturity, red, orange, wands tarot suit, astrological houses 4-6.
  • Qualities of the West: dusk/sunset, fall, adulthood, emotional body, leaves dropping from trees, letting go, harvest, gathering resources inward, the void, discernment, element of water, the womb, the Moon, surrender, trust and faith, the unknown, black, blue, cups tarot suit, astrological houses 7-9.
  • Qualities of the North: midnight, winter, elder, spiritual body, frozen landscape, silence, communion with Spirit, element of earth, the Moon, death, union, intuition, complete understanding, being filled with the Divine, white, pentacles tarot suit, astrological houses 10-12.
  • Qualities of the Center: Heart of the matter, in the moment, timeless, ageless, integration of all bodies, openness, channel/hollow reed, grace, connection to above and below, trees, mountains, inspiration, rainbow, all colors.
  • Qualities of Above: Cosmic currents, collective unconscious, movement of the heavens, wisdom of planetary bodies, future, possibility, stars, galaxies, expanded consciousness, God, angels.
  • Qualities of Below: Planetary currents, collective history, ancestors, roots, creation, fertility, the womb, the cave, Goddess.

 

Want to learn more?
Read this article about How to: Prayers to the Directions

 

immature red tailed hawk spirit animal

Animal Messengers: IMMATURE RED-TAILED HAWK

Before I completely lose the sensation of summer, I wanted to honor a message I received recently from a young hawk. One afternoon I was out orienting a new volunteer at the horse rescue when I was approached by another volunteer. “Hey bird lady, there’s a hawk with a broken wing out in the east pasture. Can you go check it out?”

So, new volunteer in tow, I rounded up a pair of gloves, a towel and a rubbermaid tub. We traipsed all the way out there, through the weeds, and along the fence lines. No hawk. I must admit, I was relieved. It is a paradox to receive a message from the spirit world carried on the back of a suffering animal. I feel humbled in the gift and smacked with my ignorance, not to mention the heartache of my empathy for the animal. Somehow I always wonder, “did I not hear the message the first time?”

I figured, wrongly, that the hawk had wandered onto the neighbor’s property to die in peace in the brush. The next morning I was approached again, “Hey bird lady…”

I drove out into the pasture in the golf cart with a pair of adult red-tails swirling and screaming overhead. There was the small beast standing stoic in the shade of the horse shelter. He had no fight left and the terrible stench of rotting flesh about him. His right wing was fractured. The dead, black bone stuck out an inch. A marble-sized colony of maggots had laid waste to the wound.

Immature red-tail feathers. I know them so well. An old friend of mine was in that plummage for most of the year we spent together. My dear Graccia often had that same determined look in her eye. There was no taking her off course.

“Just give up the ghost,” I said to the injured hawk as it stood in the box staring at me. There was no flesh left on his body. All the energy he had remaining was put to standing there, staring at me.

He died later that afternoon and my husband buried him under the old cottonwood.

So… the message? The active principle (right side wing) was broken, long dead, in my life. The effort that I had put forth into the world (the pair of hawks fledging a young hawk) had failed at its moment of glory. I had been stubbornly sitting on this failure too long (rotting wound). Put in plain terms, my inability to live in the season of summer, live in the fruition of my dreams, had become a systemic problem that had grounded me for way too long and that threatened to destroy my entire way of life.

Sounds dramatic, I know, but, wow, this hawk gave his life. We often hope for angels, miracles, and beams of light from heaven. We think divine messages come on wings, and, guess what? They actually do.

 

Want to learn more about spirit animals?
Visit the Spirit Animal Guide

 

into summer

Into Summer… Imagine Winter?

Given the lovely promptings of a dear friend I made it a goal of mine this season to partake in summer. For perhaps the first time in my life I decided to fuel summer experiences with my own imagination.

As a single child, a part of a two-home family I spent a lot of hours indoors waiting for my mom or dad to make it home from work. My eleventh summer I was trapped indoors in a full body cast. We titled the cast and the experience the “summer bummer”. So, needless to say I have a tad of seasonal agoraphobia. While everyone else is out loving the sun and abundance, I’m often inside searching for the motivation to leave the dark cave of a cool house.

Part of it was cellular memory. I just didn’t have it. I had learned how to enjoy the summer on camping trips and vacations, but I didn’t have the countless days of hours on end playing at who knows what outside. There were few other kids to play with and even fewer to romp careless with me around the relatively sterile suburban neighborhood I grew up in.

Given that most outdoor excursions I had in my youth required some sort of reason, as an adult I was left without one. Who was I going out to play with? Where were we going? What time would we be back? What was I going to do?

During my years as a field biologist all of these questions were taken care of for me. I got to play on the beach and in the woods as part of some extrinsic scientific plan. I was in heaven and didn’t realize that this lack of responsibility was a large part of it.

As my profession changed in favor of a steady income, my reason to go outside was no longer outside myself. I had to generate it from within and found it a troublesome chore. It was a heavy weight I couldn’t shake.

So, this summer I just kept going out against the doubt, the resentment, the apathy, and a lovely transformation came about. I stopped worrying who would entertain me. I quit fussing over the finish line because the weeding is never done. I found the sun flooded all hours of the day and took up with whatever small task caught my fancy.

I picked bouquets of flowers to decorate our table, lulled around with my mare in the noonday heat, found solace in the morning shade on our garden, picked bowl after bowl of lobelia and chamomile, and watched colorful new bugs come to visit our plants.

For the first time in my life I’ve gotten so caught up in summer that I’ve absolutely forgotten what winter is like. What a strong lesson about being in the moment. May the children of today trapped in video games, cable TV, and air conditioning find it sooner than myself. May those of us that have lost the memory find it again.

In Gratitude, Stacey

In response to “Into Summer… Imagine Winter?” you may choose to journey and/or journal on the following questions:

1. What season am I least familiar with?
2. What has kept me from partaking fully in this season?
3. When have I most appreciated this time of year?
4. Am I prepared to seize the next opportunity I have to partake?
5. How will I know I’ve fully immersed myself in the time?