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The Wheel Of Life

The Spiritual Wheel:
In many religions and spiritual cultures, there exists the concept of the spiritual circle. It has many different names: the Circle of Life, the Medicine Wheel, the Wheel of the Eight directions, the Powers of the Four Winds, the Earth Web or the Wheel of the year. There are as many names for theGraphic owned by SpringWolf wheel as there are cultures that utilize one. But the basic purpose and use of the wheel is similar throughout them all. Each belief system assigns a certain section of the circle to certain elements, characteristics and energies of life. As well as, the cardinal directions.
The Wheel I use has been passed through my family for generations. It is a combination of Celtic (Irish and Scottish) and Cherokee systems. How did these cultures combine belief systems? Possibly because they are very similar in nature and belief. Before and after the tragic 'Trail Of Tears' changed the boundaries and energy of the mid-Atlantic mountain lands, the Celts of Tennessee, North Carolina and southern Virginia lived in peace and balance with their Cherokee neighbors, whose nation ranged from Virginia to Florida at one time.
A culmination of respect between the Celts and the Cherokee created a type of sub-culture that merged spiritual belief and concepts together. Take a quick look at their similarities and you'll see what I mean. Thankfully these new 'traditional' ways were and are still passed down to the generations that followed. I'm grateful to be part of one of those generations, and often feel as if I have been given a gift from the best of both worlds.
The Purpose The Wheel:
The Wheel represents the constant movement and change of life. We are set upon the wheel at birth and continually move forward learning lessons and testing ourselves for spiritual development and enlightenment. The 'Wheel' itself is a sacred tool with an almost inexhaustible set of meanings and applications to aid in that learning and understanding.
In the Celtic traditions, the wheel represents the 8 directions and the 8 seasons of the year. These 8 seasons were celebrated in the 8 festivals of the year often associated with Magik Holidays. They have become more commonly known as the Witches Holidays or the Sabbats.
The wheel also denotes the energies of life, and the bridge between nature and spirit. Through learning how these natures relate to the universe, you can learn about yourself, your place on the wheel, the underlying purpose of a lesson, or even plan out the best location for the furniture in your living room, or plan the best location on the wheel to conduct a ritual or ceremony.
For spiritual uses, it's important to know where each essence of nature resides so that you can match your spiritual intent with the correct orientation of spiritual energy. Now that's a fancy way of saying, you want to use the correct location for the correct purpose, or "the right use of energy in the right location". For instance, casting a wheel to help with a healing ceremony would best be done with the focus on the northern section of the wheel.
But the wheel can also help you design your home,and plan the how you want the flow of energy to reside within it's walls. Think of it this way: If you want to get up in the morning and have a nice warm cup of coffee as you watch the day break, you wouldn't design your 'Morning Room' on the west side of your house. The concept is basically the same when working with a wheel and the forces of nature.
Using The Wheel:
You can use the wheel in your daily life to help you make decisions, organize your furniture, or even set goals and deadlines for personal or professional development. It can be used to determine what aspect of self you are being guided to work on, or you want to work with. The key is determining the right use of energy.
Some people think you can match symbology to purpose and you'll be fine. Others believe it takes a life time of knowledge and practice to learn the wisdom of the wheel. I would probably fall into the latter category. But part of achieving wisdom is practicing the knowledge you've gained. So you don't have to be 102 years old to feel comfortable with using the wheel and it's magik.
You can use the wheel for a variety of things, from organizing your furniture and analyzing a dream to planing a spiritual ritual. Say for example you want to rearrange the furniture in your living room. Divide the room into directional quadrants. Now think of the purpose of your furniture. Start with the couch since it's the biggest item, what do you use it for? In this room, will it be used primarily for you and a guest to talk of the day, share information and relate stories? If so, then you might place the couch in the east where Communication resides. Or will it be a place for relaxation, chilling out after a long days work? If so, then you might place it in the West where grounding and balance reside.
Perhaps in your meditations you feel as if you're being drawn eastward. This could be an indication that you're being guided to work on your communication or divination skills. Or perhaps there is something you need to learn about your self and your meditation is trying to teach about that lesson.
The Animal Wheel:
The wheel represents the beginning and the end of life, along with everything in between. The beginning is symbolized by the placement of the birth totems upon the wheel. It can also give insight to your natural gifts or spiritual path by looking for the placement of your animal guide.
If your born under the sign of the Deer (May 21 - June 20) for instance, you will mirror many of the characteristics of the Deer. Often graceful and at home in nature, surrounded by beautiful things. Not necessarily materialistic "things", but things of nature. Crystals, stones, plants, Deer people are often wonderful gardeners. They also represent the qualities of the Eastern section of the wheel. They hold talents in divination, communication and they are often natural teachers. They're usually at their peek during the Spring to early Summer. They have a fascination with fire, from burning candles to sitting by a warm fire during the cooler months, or even an out door bonfire where they make great story tellers.
You can learn more about the other Birth Totems for the year here on the Magikal Woodlands. But the best way to learn about your personal animal is to study it in nature. One of the best books concerning animal medicine is "Animal Speak" by Ted Andrews. I highly recommend this book for those interested in learning more about how animals relate to us, both as a guide, a totem and just in passing during our daily lives.
Just as you can learn about yourself based on your birth totem, you can also learn about your spiritual self by examining the placement of your animal guide upon the wheel. Like the birth totem you will mirror many of the characteristics of that animal in your life, especially though spiritual aspects.
If your animal guide is the wolf for instance, you're probably a very social being. Your loyal, often times to a fault, never knowing exactly when to give up on a relationship (business, friendship and love). But you'll also inhabit the characteristics of the North as well. Spirituality, Learning and Healing are all a major focus in your life.
Again the best way to learn about your personal talents is by finding your own animal guide. The link in the previous paragraph will take you to a special meditation exercise designed specifically for an individual to find their animal guide. It can be a truly enlightening experience when entered with complete openness. Give it a try and learn more about your own spiritual path.
Additional Reading
The Alchemy Of Life  
The Wheel Of Life  
The Elements & Their Cardinal Directions

Source: 1, s1, s2, s4, s5, s6, s7, s11, s14
Created:  04.04.1999 Updated: 06.14.2008