Teachings of the Medicine Wheel
The Medicine Wheel teaches us that there are Four different Winds or ways of viewing and responding to life. Donato Cianci calls them “four masks we can choose to wear ‘on cue’ …in any given life situation.” (Walking the Medicine Wheel Path in Daylight page 6).
When I first learned about the Winds and took a workshop on the book describing them, I was handed information which not only filled me with an immediate sense of relief, but also made me realize it was okay for everyone to be different.
When we go through school, one of the things we are taught is to behave in an identical fashion. We are taught to react to situations in the same way as well, but all one has to do is look around for five minutes and they can see that people are all different. And they all react to life’s events in different ways.
My husband is a very calm man who was in trauma/emergency medicine for sixteen years. When an emergency event occurs, he is the ultimate example of calm and control. I on the other hand become very excited, warrior-like, and launch into full command mode. I don’t become affected until the event is completely over. I often have no personal emotion at all in relation to an occurrence unless a child or animal is involved and then, I think because I go into Mother mode, I am sometimes completely useless. My husband is always the ultimate archetype of calm, no matter who or what is involved. I really admire that in him.
So what goes on in those moments?
Well, he goes into the Centre of The Wheel where everything is available to him: the North for command, the West for compassion and team work, the East for creativity, and the South for getting the job done. He is quite marvelous when he functions like that.
I go into a North “let’s get this show on the road, you do this, you do that” command mode, but I also work really well in the South with ‘just tell me what to do and I will do it’. And the West with: ‘I will hold your hand and keep you calm and reassured’. I am creative and in the East wind if I have to come up with a fast solution as to what needs to be done next but I think I am also functioning in the North in those situations.
He is definitely in control of the accident scene as the medical person and I go into control of the scene as far as getting the crowd under control, phoning the police and ambulance and calling whomever else needs to be called. It is probably the reason why I studied Law Enforcement while he became a Paramedic. We each found our niche.
When I was young, I used to like to talk and state my opinions loudly at the dinner table. My mother used to say, “Get off your soapbox!” pretty much daily. As crushing as it was, my characteristics and inner needs always overcame the constant rebuke and everyday was the same. I would imitate my father, who was a great orator, and Mom would give me hell for it.
When I found out my beginning gift was the East Wind and East Winds loved attention and praise, suddenly I felt a huge sense of gratification. I was not just the obnoxious Know-it-all my mother accused me of being everyday, but I was someone who liked to get up on the stage and be noticed, and entertain.
My career in music helped satisfy my needs for more praise and my desire to entertain. It also gave me another outlet for creativity which the East Wind person needs. I started writing music, not just playing it. That gave me a great sense of personal satisfaction. It was wonderful to feel happy about being praised and patted on the back. I stopped hearing my mother’s words about ego and started realizing that it takes all kinds to make a world. Some of us entertain and educate, and others do whatever they are inherently gifted to do.
As we study the Four Winds, we will see that each has very specific characteristics. Our first goal is to determine our beginning gift; to find out where we started on the Wheel of Life. That often brings an enormous amount of reassurance. After awhile, we can see what has changed from our first ways of being and start to understand where we now are in the world. It is natural to move around the Wheel in the shape of a four.
If you view the Medicine Wheel as a compass of four directions, and start in the East, as I did, the next direction of learning in life would naturally be to move to the West, directly across the compass, then up to the North and finally end in the South, thus mirroring the shape of number four.
When I study my life, I can definitely see this pattern in action, both in work and in internal attitude.
I went from being a loner, composer, troubled moody kid who craved attention in the East, to a student of Law Enforcement who got to act out that for awhile, then piano teacher/church music director in the West, to running an RV park with my husband in the North, to being a writer/editor/domestic goddess in the South.
Of course, my hats are many everyday now, and I really reside in the Centre—everyone’s eventual goal—and just step out as required into whatever role I need to take on.
It’s fun watching my younger family members as they grow and change. I find it easy to see which Wind they are flying on and who they really are inside. It is such a helpful bit of knowledge for those trying to raise kids and how to help them move forward in life.
We will start exploring the East wind next posting. Until then, if you wish to obtain a copy of the book, you can find it on Donato’s website: http://www.donatopoetry.com/index.php