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The Shamanic Medicine Wheel and a Prayer to the Four Directions

In the realm of shamanism, the Medicine Wheel holds profound significance. It’s a sacred tool that offers a rich tapestry of understanding, allowing us to navigate our spiritual journeys, heal ourselves, nurture our spiritual gifts, and find balance in our businesses and leadership roles. This blog post is your comprehensive guide to the world of the Medicine Wheel, shamanism, and how to use these ancient practices in your modern life.


The Shamanic Medicine Wheel: A Universal Framework

The concept of the Medicine Wheel is not confined to a specific culture but is shared among many shamanic traditions across the globe. While variations exist, the core components often remain the same. The Medicine Wheel typically consists of four directions: North, South, East, and West, representing different aspects of life, elements, and seasons. Each direction offers unique qualities, energies, and teachings.

In the shamanic Medicine Wheel, the structure resembles a compass with these four directions. Some versions include additional points, but for the purpose of simplicity, we will focus on the four main quadrants.


The Elements and Seasons of the Shamanic Medicine Wheel

  1. The East: Associated with the element of air and the season of spring, the East symbolizes beginnings and the element of wind. It signifies the start of your transformation journey.
  2. The South: Here, you find the elements of earth or fire and the season of summer. The South is a time of growth, learning, and understanding your emotions.
  3. The West: The element of water characterizes the West, which corresponds to the fall season. In the West, you undergo significant transformations, experiencing rebirth and transition.
  4. The North: Earth represents the element of the North, and it signifies the season of winter. In the North, you delve into the wisdom and nurturing aspects of life.


Shamanic Archetypes: A Deeper Dive into the Wheel

While not always part of traditional Medicine Wheel teachings, the concept of shamanic archetypes can profoundly enhance your understanding and application of the Wheel. These archetypes offer insights into your personality, gifts, decision-making processes, and support for your business and personal growth.

In the East, you find the “Mystical Personality” archetype, akin to the wind, representing someone who thrives in systems despite an aversion to rules.

The South embodies the “Path Maker” archetype, associated with fire and summer, symbolizing pioneers who create new paths and are driven by passion.

The West represents the “Empath” archetype, connected to water and characterized by empathic qualities, sensitivity, and an ability to differentiate oneself from the collective.

In the North, the “Nurturer” archetype aligns with the element of Earth, signifying leadership, wisdom, and the capacity to care for others without sacrificing personal needs.

Each archetype has its own set of gifts and shadows, and your journey involves healing and harnessing these archetypes to reach self-actualization.


Ways of Knowing in the Shamanic Medicine Wheel

Each direction also offers a unique way of knowing, enriching your understanding of yourself and the world:

  • The East: The East is associated with knowing from spirit or source, akin to a gentle whisper guiding you.
  • The South: South’s way of knowing is body-based, connecting with the wisdom and emotions held within your physical form.
  • The West: Knowing in the West is centered on the mind, using your intellect to structure and create a path forward.
  • The North: The North’s way of knowing comes from the heart, discerning your passions and desires from deep within.


Stages of Transformation in the Medicine Wheel

The Medicine Wheel encompasses a cycle of transformation that mirrors the journey from birth to death, with each quadrant representing distinct phases:

  • The East: Spring, the season of beginnings, innocence, and early childhood.
  • The South: Summer, a time of self-discovery, defining boundaries, and emotional exploration.
  • The West: Fall, the season of transformation, compassion, and empathy as you transition to a broader perspective.
  • The North: Winter, signifying wisdom, leadership, and nurturing, as you become an elder.


Animals of the Four Directions in Shamanism

Animals have a special place in shamanic practice, representing unique energies and wisdom associated with each direction.

For instance, the Hawk often symbolizes the East, the Stag the South, the Salmon the West, and the Bear the North.

However, these associations can vary depending on the region and cultural context.


Calling in the Four Directions: A Sacred Practice

Opening sacred space through a prayer of the four directions is a common practice in shamanic rituals. This sacred ritual invites the energies of the four directions to create a safe and powerful container for your spiritual work. It allows you to connect with the elements, seasons, and archetypes while honoring the spirits and animals of each direction.

You can find various scripts for calling in the four directions online, and while following a script can be helpful, the true essence of this practice lies in your direct experience and connection with the energies.


Prayer of the Four Directions

There’s a subtle distinction between a prayer of the four directions and a prayer to the four directions. In a prayer of the four directions, you tune into the energies and source your prayer directly from each direction, allowing the energy to flow through you.

A particular variation of the four directions prayer is the Lakota Four Directions Prayer. Rooted in Native American traditions, this prayer is a profound way to honor and invoke the energies of the East, South, West, and North. It serves as a reminder of the richness and diversity present in the practice of calling in the directions.

In contrast, a prayer to the four directions focuses on honoring and acknowledging the spirits, elements, and energies of each direction, expressing gratitude and reverence for their presence.

Both practices are valuable, and the choice between them depends on your intention and purpose.



The Medicine Wheel in shamanism is a timeless and universal framework that offers profound wisdom for spiritual growth and self-awareness. Whether you’re a practitioner, coach, healer, or spiritual leader, understanding and applying the principles of the Medicine Wheel can enhance your personal and professional life.

We hope this blog post has shed light on the significance of the Medicine Wheel, the power of shamanic archetypes, and the sacred practice of calling in the four directions. May your journey through the Medicine Wheel lead you to deeper connection, balance, and spiritual fulfillment.

For those eager to delve deeper into shamanism, explore shamanic archetypes, or develop a more profound relationship with the Wheel, consider our “Healing with Shamanic Archetypes” course. This program will guide you through the shamanic journey, connecting with spirit realms, and understanding the Wheel in a more personal and embodied way.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the Shamanic Medicine Wheel and the magic it holds. Feel free to reach out to us at Holton Healing Arts if you have any questions or need guidance on your spiritual path.

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