Autumn and The Medicine Wheel

Last week we went down to southeastern Massachusetts to visit family, a trip we make fairly often. I also made my annual pilgrimage to the Polio clinic at Spaulding in Framingham.

On the way down Saturday, there were a few trees showing color, most of them in the swampy areas. Driving home Monday, trees in the higher elevations were suddenly turning. It was a remarkable change occurring in just two days!

So we move towards the Autumn Equinox which arrives early Friday, and full Fall beyond. Surely, the human inclination to see our lives reflected in seasonal change is ancient. Those of us whose families have lived for many generations in the temperate northern latitudes see the rebirth of life in the spring, the riotous growth of the living world in summer, and the maturation and death of the green world in Autumn. Winter brings further decline in light, temperatures, and growth, and a time of waiting.

This cycle of seasons parallels the seasons of our lives, and for many Native people, offers hope for rebirth and renewal. Age yields wisdom and patience, and often, declining health. Yet the natural world suggests this is but a passing moment, a prelude to a new beginning.

Next week my friend, Alicia Daniel will lead my college class in an exploration of the Medicine Wheel. Alicia has taken the good teachings of elders, and through her own practice and learning, honed her knowledge and understanding. Now the teachings of the Medicine Wheel have become, for her, a way of life. I am grateful to her for sharing her knowledge and spirit with us.

The last time Alicia came to one of my classes was way back in early spring. Our time outdoors was cold, and the snow deep. Beneath the snow lay thick layers of mud and ice. The dogwoods were turning a rich red, and new catkins had formed on the alders. Now the leaves are turning red and gold, although green will dominate the landscape for at least another couple of weeks.

These six months have taken us halfway around the Great Wheel. We have moved from the Spring’s rapidly quickening heartbeat to Autumn’s slowing to slumber and death. This is the cycle of each day as well. Remembering this is a journey we all take around the Medicine Wheel. We live through cycles of seasonal change and life, cycles that reconnect us to all living creatures on this Blue planet. We are reminded that all creatures share the same fate, as do all natural systems. We are indeed relations.

Some of us will gather Friday evening to mark the Equinox, and remember our connections to the Great Year, and to ALL That Is. If you live nearby, please join us. If not, I encourage you to set aside a few minutes to mark the changing year, and the seasons of your life. Blessings.

6 thoughts on “Autumn and The Medicine Wheel

  1. Autumn: the place of Mother Bear and the time of adult responsibility, physical healing and work.It is interesting that in this time of gathering in, I feel my own life drawing ever closer about me. Extended friendships fall away like dead leaves; while those that are close become even more so.

    1. Yes, the gathering in time. We know in our deep selves that winter is near, and there is much to accomplish before the snow and ice. It is a time to focus on that which must be done. Nonessentials fall away. The first fires are lit, and we gather around, sharing talk, food and warmth – driving away the early chill.

    1. Nadeanna,

      I’ve been following the controversy for several years, and still find the rationale to be blatantly racist. Of course, I have no say in the matter as our family is also not on the rolls as far as I know. Ultimately, this seems to be a racist decision based on greed, and shrinking resources. One would wish otherwise. (Then there is the highly problematic legacy of slave ownership by members of the Cherokee nation that is the source of the controversy….)) Anyway, thank you for the link. I hope others will also read it.

      What are your thoughts about all this?

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