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Life Arts

The Matrix of Four of The Medicine Wheel

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"The elders knew peace would not come on the Earth until the circle of humanity is complete; until all four colors sat in the circle and shared their teachings."

The sacred medicine wheel of the four directions is for all extents and purposes a mandala, a visual depiction of the universe, our Earth and our inner universe . It's symbolism is simple and primal, and through these qualities it is powerful and meaningful.

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Representing the intersection of duality and polarity , four is recognized as symbol for completion. In nature this symbolism is illustrated in the cycle of four seasons -- spring, summer, winter and fall -- derived from the flow of cycles between two solstices and two equinoxes of our orbit, as well as the elements of nature: air, fire, water and earth. Four is also reflected in the four aspects of the self: the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional. Mathematically, the symbolism of four it is represented in the four forms of arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) while philosophically, comprehensive human thinking encompasses four dimensions: the thesis (is it so?), antithesis (is it not so?), synthesis (are both so?) and nullesis (are neither so?)

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Correspondingly, this matrix of four is presented in the beginning of practically every creation story, from Genesis to the Popol Vuh (the Mayan creation story). Nearly all creation stories start with the polarities of Heaven and Earth, and male and female. In this respect, this matrix of four is the basis of most creation stories as well as being depicted in every cross-like symbol shared by so many religions (the Christian cross, the Hindu swastika, the Egyptian ankh etc.) The four Vedas (Sanskrit for "knowledge") are the foundational scriptures in Hindu theology, while the cross symbol adopted by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, its presence in the creation story, and its basis in the four worlds of the Kabbalah reflect its major significance to those teachings.

Indeed, all peoples share traditions that include the symbolism of four directly (or subtlety) as part of their core belief systems -- as I explore in detail in the article, The Common Origin of Religions and Theology. And it is this universality of the cross symbol and the unanimous celebration of the matrix of four, symbolically and philosophically, in Hindu, Taoist, Native American, Egyptian, Celtic and Judeo-Christian theology and symbolism that most clearly illustrates its commonality to human spirituality and understanding of our world.

But perhaps no group has lived so completely in unity and reverence to the seasonal cycles of Earth Mother and the universal system, as the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, now known as North America. Most significantly, the Hopi believe we are living in the fourth world. Hopi tradition states the first world was Endless Space, the second was Dark Midnight, the third was the Age of Animals and the fourth is the World Complete. Four migrations were written upon four sacred tablets which man was supposed to undertake once in this fourth world -- to separate into smaller tribes, divided by color, and began to migrate in four different directions, settling in new lands.

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The Medicine Wheel Prophecy: The Polarity of Institutions vs. Individuals

"At the beginning of this cycle of time, long ago, the Great Spirit made an appearance and gathered the peoples of this Earth together, and said to the human beings, "I'm going to send you to four directions, and over time I'm going to change you to four colors, but I'm going to give you some teachings, and you will call these the Original Teachings; when you come back together with each other, you will share these so that you can live and have peace on Earth, and a great civilization will come about"

"And so He gave each of us a responsibility, and we call that the Guardianship. To the Indian people, the Red people, He gave the Guardianship of the Earth" To the South, He gave the yellow race of people Guardianship of the Wind" To the West, He gave the black race of people Guardianship of the Water" To the North, He gave the white race of people Guardianship of the Fire" Each of the four races went to their directions and learned their teachings" [but] some of the brothers and sisters had forgotten the sacredness of all things, and all the human beings were going to suffer for this" The elders knew peace would not come on the Earth until the circle of humanity is complete; until all the four colors sat in the circle and shared their teachings -- then peace would come on Earth."

~ Source : A Cherokee Legend by Lee Brown, Cherokee

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Ethan Indigo Smith is the son of a farmer and nurse who was later adopted by artists. Ethan was raised in Maine, Manhattan, and Mendocino, California. Ethan is a proud dropout. Ethan has traveled the world and has been employed briefly as (more...)
 

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