Learning about the Medicine Wheel


The Indigenous medicine wheel is a spiritual guide for many, with each direction representing different lessons and gifts contributing to a complete and full life. Lisa, owner of the Fort McMurray Trading Post, is one of those people. The medicine wheel serves as her guide for healing, spiritual guidance, and health. As an individual who spent much of her life searching for something larger than herself to believe in, Lisa finds great solace and purpose in her knowledge the ancient medicine wheel. 

It is important to recognize that the medicine wheel may take many different forms depending on one’s heritage and teachings, but each of these wheels will remain consistent in the origin of the wheel stemming from the creator and being placed on Turtle Island. Medicine wheels will also remain consistent in that they represent the four directions and the influences that each have on our lives. 

Mihkinahk is turtle in the Cree language. The oral history of Turtle Island is that the Creator placed all Indigenous people of the ancient medicine wheel on this island. All the way from North America (head of turtle), and to the tip of the tail (touching Central America, which connects to South America), is the legend of Turtle Island. The theme of this story is that all peoples are similar and should respect and love one another, as we all belong.

The circular shape of the medicine wheel is no mistake – this represents the relationship between all one’s relationships and the interconnectedness of everything on Earth. The circle represents one’s complete identity and our eternal mission to find acceptance and belief from within oneself. While the exact lessons of the medicine wheel will differ from practice to practice, it is generally accepted that the four directions represent one’s emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical connections.  Some examples of these connections are: 

The East represents: 

  • First light, as the sun rises in the East 
  • The season of Spring
  • Trust
  • Hope
  • Purity 
  • Courage and truth 
  • The act of being present 
  • Birch 
  • Tobacco 

The South represents: 

  • Youth 
  • Summer
  • Sensitivity 
  • Loyalty 
  • Romance and love
  • Physical tests 
  • Music and Art 
  • Vulnerability 
  • Sage

The West Represents: 

  • Fall or Autumn 
  • Adulthood 
  • Sacred Objects 
  • The meaning of life 
  • Self-growth 
  • Perseverance and Emotion 
  • Sweetgrass 

The North Represents: 

  • Elders
  • Winter
  • Wisdom
  • Visionary 
  • Understanding of the past, present, and future as connected
  • Disconnected from hate and fear
  • Cedar

The practices of self reflection and growth that come from working through and believing in the medicine wheel are representative of everything that Lisa is working to accomplish at the Trading Post. If you are interested in learning more about the medicine wheel or looking to share your journey with someone, Lisa welcomes you to come the Trading Post and share your story with her.  

To learn more about medicine wheel or to book your appointment at the Trading Post, please call Lisa at 780.788.0441.