Spring Equinox and the Native American Medicine Wheel

MThe Native American Medicine Wheel can be a template for life, all life. The Medicine Wheel depicts cycles within cycles. For example, birth to death to rebirth, movement from thought to action, spring to winter, and sunrise to sunrise. Within these cycles also lies the spirit, or medicine, of all life. As we prepare to experience another spring equinox on March 20, and with this equinox being the first in the new cycle, we will experience life as it begins again within the new energy of the first Procession.

I thought sharing about the spirit or medicine of plants could be helpful as we enter the balance of energies, the spring equinox, and as we move toward the eastern part of the Medicine Wheel.

The spirit or medicine of the eastern part of the Medicine Wheel is the season of spring. Spring denotes new beginnings, birth, sunrise, morning, being an infant. Specifically, the crosswinds of the spring equinox are about rebirth and the energies of giving birth or the end of gestation. The spring equinox also carries the balance of light.

We experience the balance of sunlight and night at this crosswind. For me, the element of air as well as thoughts or ideas are in the east. We dreamed the dream during the full night of the north. As we move from the north toward the east on the Medicine Wheel, we begin to set our intentions for those dreams. Sometimes we refer to these intended dreams as seeds or thoughts we plant.

As full spring is experienced at due east on the Medicine Wheel, we begin to feel, see, or sense the intended dream that begins to build energy or life as it moves around the Medicine Wheel to take form in the physical world.

In my study of the Medicine Wheel, I noticed that some of its variations in meaning from one Native American nation to another is based on their different geographic locations.

For instance, here in the upper Midwest, maple tree medicine is used in the eastern part of the Medicine Wheel because of its sap running in the spring, which is made into maple syrup. The southwestern nations, such as the Kiowa, may use mesquite tree medicine for the east, as it has been harvested for food and its sap is also made into syrup. Mesquite can also be used to heal headaches.

Almost any plant that blooms in the spring, such as daffodils or crocus, could be considered to have the spirit or medicine of the east. I also place tobacco in the east, as this is the sacred plant given to Native Americans and used in the Medicine Pipe.

When a plant is harvested for its medicine or spirit to be used for healing or a ceremonial purpose, we consider how it is being used and for what reason. For instance, willow can be placed in the east because we use it as medicine in aspirin for headaches, or some Native people use the willow bark as part of the mixture of sacred plants in a Medicine Pipe.

We appreciate and love plants, and our connections to all things green can go far beyond their beauty. We can nurture our connections to plants by considering their medicine or spirit and how they enhance our journey or walk in the Medicine Wheel we call life.

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