Friday, 24 April 2015

medicine wheels: ancient & modern

Originally medicine wheels were stone structures made by the tribes or nations of the indigenous people of America.  The medicine wheels often consisted of a central cairn and a number of spokes leading to an outer ring.

The first medicine wheel, which was discovered at the end of C19th is located near Bighorn River, Wyoming.  The white men who found it named it.  

Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, Bighorn Wyoming US

Majorville Medicine Wheel, Alberta Canada was excavated in 1971.  Its central cairn is 9m in diameter and approx 28 spokes lead to an outer circle of 27m in diameter. Archaeologists date the construction to about 4,500 years ago although they found it had been added to and probably used for a variety of purposes since then.

[Medicine Wheels shouldn't be confused with the legacy of stone circles created whilst holding down the sides of teepees in place which also form a circle.]

I found lots of speculation about the use of medicine wheels from structures to mark solstices, dance rings and spiritual meeting places to commemorative sites of famous warriors.  I'm unsure of how they developed into those that are now embraced by "new age" spiritual practitioners [answers welcome].  The latter often depict the cardinal points of the compass north, south, east and west and each direction has different attributes, animals, colours etc assigned to it.

This was our starting point.
Four people, four directions, lots of soft pastel and earth coloured paper... 





finished piece, north & east at the top

finished piece south & west at the top
Well done everyone.  The finished piece will be on display in Lytham Library soon. 

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