To the American Indians, the Medicine Wheel is sacred. It is so because the Great Spirit caused everything in nature to be round. The Sun, the Sky, the Earth and the Moon are all round. The Medicine Wheel is the sacred Circle of Life. It is the symbol of the circle that marks the edge of the world and the Four Winds that travel there. It is also the symbol of the year. What is above the earth, i.e., the sky (the day) and the moon (the night) go in a circle above it; therefore, the Circle is a symbol of these divisions of time. It is the symbol of all times throughout creation.
Excerpts from James Mooney's History, "Myths and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees"
The Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel is representative of American Indian Spirituality. The Medicine Wheel symbolizes the individual journey we each must take to find our own path. Within the Medicine Wheel are The Four Cardinal Directions and the Four Sacred Colors. The Circle, as a whole, represents the Circle of Life. The Center of the Circle represents the Eternal Fire.
The Seven Directions
East = Red = success; triumph North = Blue = defeat; trouble West = Black = death South = White = peace; happiness
There are three additional sacred directions: Up Above = Yellow Down Below = Brown "Here in the Center" = Green
Winter=go-la The color for North is Blue which represents sadness, defeat. It is a season of survival and waiting. The Cherokee word for North means "cold" u-yv-tlv.
Spring=gi-la-go-ge The color for East is Red which represents victory, power. Spring is the re-awakening after a long sleep, victory over winter; the power of new life. The Cherokee word for East is ka-lv-gv
Summer=go-ga The color for South is White for peace, happiness & serenity. Summer is a time of plenty. The Cherokee word for South means "warm" u-ga-no-wa.
Autumn=u-la-go-hv-s-di The color for West is Black which represents death. Autumn is the final harvest; the end of Life's Cycle. The Cherokee word for West is wu-de-li-gv.
The Four Sacred Colors - Red, Black, Blue and White
To the ancient ancestors:
RED was symbolic of success. It was the color of the war club used to strike an enemy in battle as well as the other club used by the warrior to shield himself. Red beads were used to conjure the red spirit to insure long life, recovery from sickness, success in love and ball play or any other undertaking where the benefit of the magic spell was wrought.
BLACK was always typical of death. The soul of the enemy was continually beaten about by black war clubs and enveloped in a black fog. In conjuring to destroy an enemy, the priest used black beads and invoked the black spirits-which always lived in the West,-bidding them to tear out the man's soul and carry it to the West, and put it into the black coffin deep in the black mud, with a black serpent coiled above it.
BLUE symbolized failure, disappointment, or unsatisfied desire. To say "they shall never become blue" expressed the belief that they would never fail in anything they undertook. In love charms, the lover figuratively covered himself with red and prayed that his rival would become entirely blue and walk in a blue path. "The blue spirits lived in the North.
WHITE denoted peace and happiness. In ceremonial addresses, as the Green Corn Dance and ball play, the people symbolically partook of white food and, after the dance or game, returned along the white trail to their white houses. In love charms, to induce the woman to cast her lost with his, the man boasted, "I am a white man," implying that all was happiness where he was. White beads had the same meaning in bead conjuring, and white was the color of the stone pipe anciently used in ratifying peace treaties. The White spirits lived in the South.
Two numbers are sacred to the Cherokee. Four is one number, it represented the four primary directions. At the center of their paths lays the sacred fire. Seven is the other and most sacred number. Seven is represented in the seven directions: north, south, east, west, above, bellow, and "here in the center" the place of the sacred fire. Seven also represented the seven ancient ceremonies that formed the yearly Cherokee religious cycle.
Colors and Their Meanings - The New Age Perspective
Red symbolizes: action, confidence, courage, vitality Pink symbolizes: love, beauty Brown symbolizes: earth, order, convention Orange symbolizes: vitality with endurance Gold symbolizes: Wealth, prosperity, wisdom Yellow symbolizes: wisdom, joy, happiness, intellectual energy Green symbolizes: life, nature, fertility, well being Blue symbolizes: youth, spirituality, truth, peace Purple symbolizes: Royalty, magic, mystery Indigo symbolizes: intuition, meditation, deep contemplation White symbolizes: Purity, Cleanliness Black symbolizes: Death, earth, stability Gray symbolizes: Sorrow, security, maturity
Some American Indian Symbols and Their Meanings
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