The Four Directions / Medicine Wheel is the fundamental center of Indigenous Worldview & Spirituality. Each direction represents values and help us understand ourselves and keep in healthy tune with the world. It reflects many things such as: Aspects of our Human Self, the Seasons, Family Structure, Stages of Life, Elements of Creations, and more.
All life on this planet is created by the Four Element Relatives of Creation: The Fire (Huehueteotl), Water (Tlaloc), Air (Ehecatl), and the Earth (Tlalnantzin). These Relatives are in constant movement, intercourse, and fluctuation. A simple example of this can be seen by observing the behavior and changes with the weather and seasons.
Our tangible essence is created from the elements, these relatives.. When we Breathe, that is Ehecatl living through us. Your body is approximately 60% Water (Tlaloc). Mother Earth – Tlalnantzin nutrients create your physical structure. Your Heart is the Sacred Fire. The faster your Heart (drum) beats the hotter you get.
Being that we are descendants of these Grand relatives, it is understood that our nature is aligned with theirs. We are made and move in their likeness. These are just some simple examples of natural earthling/human values the Medicine Wheel keeps us aligned with.
Please note that different Indigenous Nations may assign different attributes and colors to these directions. There isn’t one that is more correct than the other. They all serve their symbolism for their respective nation. I’m just sharing the way I learned the Four Directions / Medicine Wheel so that you may have a respectable base to start your own journey and relationship with the various Indigenous teachings you will encounter.
Recommended Reading: The Sacred Tree is a great book for those needing a starting point for understanding basic Native Indigenous thought, worldview, and spirituality and of which I will pull an excerpt to start this Native Teaching.
It is said that when “Christian” men came to these lands with their Cross embedded banners the people knew something was wrong. The first unfavorable sign was that the European-Christian envoys were all men. They were not accompanied by Women, Children, nor Elders (Family Structure). The second unfavorable sign was that they carried large Cross symbols but they were not accompanied by the Circle.
This was not a good sign because while the European- Christians might have possibly been aware of values associated with the symbol of the Cross (4 Directions), it was not brought intact and connected by the power of the Circle. As we noted in the Circular Values Teaching, the Circle represents community, equality, and cooperation just to name a few.