The New Modern Medicine Wheel

Medicine wheel tradtional colors

Medicine wheel tradtional colors

This is a guest blog written by Barbara Kaufman Native peoples realized that nature has no straight lines. Nature expresses herself in circular patterns from the robin’s egg to the moon; nature is cycles and seasons where all things come round. Even life is cyclic with birth, death and rebirth. The circle or wheel represents the great everything or the Universe.

“Medicine” to native peoples, does not mean pills or pharmaceuticals, but refers to a vital power or force inherent in Nature. It is the delicate dance and balancing of this power that enables one to become wise and complete. A medicine wheel creates sacred space. They can be huge structures layout out with stones on the land, or simple circles demarcated with flags and symbols. They can even be painted or drawn and used in an interior space. Medicine wheels are sacred space, a blueprint for ceremony, aid to meditation, a healing force, an altar, a centering presence for one’s consciousness, a great and powerful protector and a framework for honor given to nature and all levels of being. Each direction of the wheel represents certain attributes and constitutes a path of self-realization and a point of initiation into the mysteries of life. The path to the true self, the wheel, leads to the core of the being.

New medicine wheel diagram

New medicine wheel diagram

Ancient Cultures to Modern Times:

For earth-based cultures, the cardinal directions are linked to great powers or intelligent forces whose energy can be called upon for assistance and harnessed. The purpose of the medicine wheel is to bring into alignment these spiritual powers and heal or absorb some of the “medicine” or energy from them—to create wholeness.

There are many subtle meanings to the medicine wheel: beginnings and endings, cycles, the powers in complete balance, the demonstration that all things are interconnected, the balance of personal and natural powers, and the circling back into attunement to one’s inner self.

Each direction holds many natural forces or powers that arise in fours—the four seasons, four phases of the moon, the four kingdoms and the four phases of existence. The four elements are air, earth, fire and water. The number 4 is sacred and represents the Creator.

The medicine wheel may be used also as a portal for cleansing, healing, to anchor cosmic power or energy in the earth. It can clear the land of lingering essences, violence, misuse, sorrow, tragedy and other harmful “imprints” left—in and for the land, the peoples, the animals, nature… Think of the medicine wheel as a kind of acupuncture point with prayer that brings vital energies and powers to earth for healing, restoration, protection, prevention, or used to become a point of connection. Multiple medicine wheels may be linked to enlarge and amplify the power grid.

The wheel can encompass small or large or even very large expanses of territory and be hidden if required. They can be as large or small as desired to accommodate most any setting whether indoors or outdoors. A periodic ritual will power-up the medicine wheel, elements, prayers and the entire energy grid. It’s important to approach the building of a medicine wheel with reverence and respect, for it is holy and sacred work.

THE NEW MEDICINE Wheel within A Wheel:

I was given the gift and task of designing a NEW medicine wheel for the 21st Century, a wheel within a wheel.  This wheel combines the power of two wheels, the Traditional Wheel, and a modern Higher Medicine Wheel.  Here are the descriptions of the two wheel that combine to make this 21rst Century Wheel.

4 colored wheel

4 colored wheel

A Traditional Medicine Wheel and its Ritual:

This illustration is based on the Lakota ways but circular rituals and spirals have been used since the beginning of time. Think Stonehenge, Avebury, Machu Piccu, Cairo’s Valley of the Kings, Teotihuacán, labyrinths…

The colors of the traditional medicine wheel are red, black, yellow and white—the four races on earth with each color representing a direction and attributes associated with that direction:

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East: Yellow

Messenger - Brown Eagle

Associated with the sun, brings light to all creation. Because the sun travels east to west - in a clockwise manner - all good things conform to the same pattern. The Morning Star - the star of wisdom and new beginnings - comes from the east. Elk people call the east home.

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North: Red

Messenger - Crane

North is home to winter and is believed to promote good health and growth. Those who misbehave look to the north for the wisdom needed to walk a straight path again. Home to the Calf Pipe Woman and the buffalo people.

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West: Black

Messenger - Black Eagle Connected with the power of rain and the purity of water; joy and growth follow the rain, releasing ignorance. West is home to the Thunder-being. His wings produce thunder and lightning flashes from his eyes. The bird-like being stands again evil and ensures the respect of others.

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South: White

Messenger - Bald Eagle Associated with warmth, happiness and generosity. Connected with life after death, directs men as they walk toward the next phase Life begins in the south. Nourishment of every kind comes from this direction. Home to the animal people.


The Higher Medicine Wheel: 

2nd flag

2nd flag

The higher medicine wheel came to make itself known around 2008 and represents the colors of the Mother, the transition time, the higher chakras and portals to the higher self: this is the new direction of the new human, the transformation and emergence into the new human experience on the Planet.

The colors “of the Mother” depict Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene or the Matriarch and Goddess in the traditional sense, and the return of the feminine to the planet to balance the unbalanced rise of the masculine. It brings in the purity of the heart and the spiritual nature to balance the head (intellect) and warrior nature. For a long time, the masculine has dominated or usurped the feminine and that has resulted in aggressive colonization and exploitation of the planet, in violence, conquest and war as a means of determination and human evolution. It is time for the feminine to return and take her rightful place alongside the masculine and to restore balance to a world that teeters on the brink of self destruction from too much masculine energy distorted to machismo, macho and dominance over “other,” females and nature, and has led to unrestrained violence and war. The appearance of this new wheel inside the tradition of the old is a step toward balance, toward enlightenment, toward reverence for Spirit, Nature and the gifts of Earth.

It is an ascension wheel or higher wheel that incorporates the more refined spiritual faculties and advanced human faculties and a leap in both consciousness and evolution. It is effective when used in conjunction with the traditional medicine wheel or it can be used by itself if the shifting of energy is emergent and balance is needed to ward off tragedy, intractable violence or collapse. If used with the traditional medicine wheel, it is placed inside the outer (traditional) wheel.

The colors are colors that represent a higher vibration and reflect the attributes of the new and advanced human destined to inhabit this world and to become its stewards instead of thoughtless marauders, exploiters and extortionists of gifts and resources that belong not to the one or to the most aggressive and powerful, but to all. We are all descendents of the same beginning, a Universe exploded from a tiny speck smaller than a zygote. The birth of humanity incorporates us all. In truth, there is only one being here.

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The Mother (Earth- as she is from space) Associated with the throat and speech Connected with water, sky, ocean

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White Associated with purity, innocence. Connected with clarity, new beginnings

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Color of the heart chakra Love, nourishment, compassion, kindness The natural world

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Color of the crown chakra Associated with enlightenment, royalty, the higher faculties


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Associated with the third eye in the center of the forehead Inner seeing, inner being Sixth sense Giving voice to the knowing

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Associated with abundance Stars and Father Sky Connected with embracing Manifestation and the future




Building the New 21st Century Wheel inside a wheel:

The outside ring carries the colors of the traditional Lakota Medicine Wheel: red, black, white, yellow. The Higher Medicine Wheel with is 6 colors is placed inside — a wheel within a wheel. When tight spaces preclude an outer and inner wheel, both outer (traditional Lakota and traditional colors- red, black, white, yellow) can be placed as small flags along with the new medicine wheel of the Mother vibration. (See illustration.) Since flags are used instead of rocks, these wheels may be easily placed in trees or bushes, on buildings or posts, and work almost anywhere. Prayer ties are affixed to the flags. For example, prayer ties with tobacco, an amulet, something that represents the four elements—earth air, fire, water such as seashells, stones, feathers, twigs, and other small ritualized objects pull the energy of that symbol to the portal.

Two more directions are recognized in the ritual: Up (Father Sky) and Down (Mother Earth) Sometimes the in between directions are added- Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest. The flags are placed at approximate directions N-S-E-W and can also span the circle.

The medicine wheel energies, which are like acupuncture points on the planet that are similar to needles placed in the human body, are anchored into the earth with prayers, incantations, chanting, drum circles, singing, rituals or other spiritual gatherings. This grounding of the new energies for healing, renewal, and human evolutionary enlightenment can also be accomplished virtually through Skype and online conference gatherings. Ceremonies may be held at intervals to amplify the energies and renew the portals.

The ancients and the Indigenous who knew how to use power and medicine, know and have promised through prophesy: "We are the ones we have been waiting for."

© ~B. Kaufmann 2014

* Barbara has been directed by Spirit to build a global medicine wheel.  Anyone who would like to be part of building this new medicine wheel on the planet may contact her. *

She believes it can be done because a few years ago she was part of a global initiative to build energy portals at mountain sites around the world including in Siberia where she has visited, and at Zaca Peak which is located at the north end of Neverland Ranch. 

In addition to her shamanic work at Barbara is a writer who writes for Voices Education Project as founder of the "Words and Violence" program there; is a contributor and blogger for the Charter for Compassion and the Huffington Post. Her writer and contact information may be found at