The circle and the diagonals - The medicine wheel - Awakening The Shamanic Force Within

Shamanism Made Easy: Awaken and Develop the Shamanic Force Within - Christa Mackinnon 2018

The circle and the diagonals
The medicine wheel
Awakening The Shamanic Force Within

The circle

The directions on the wheel are connected via a circle, which is a developmental map where we travel from birth (east) via our childhood (south) to middle age (west) and old age (north). From east to west our life’s journey is often fairly unconscious — we are born, go through childhood, education, youth and find a job, partner up, have children — then we hit the west, where we encounter the so-called ’midlife crisis’. The west asks us to turn inwards and become conscious of our life’s path, creating meaning and purpose and including the spiritual. If we don’t do this, we won’t reach the wise north and will lead fairly meaningless lives from that point onwards.2

We also go through this journey daily, with every task we undertake. If we take a snapshot of where we are and what’s going on with every task, we will often find that we are getting stuck in the emotional south, not growing through the introspective west and are therefore unable to complete in the north. We have all experienced this: we have an idea in the east and begin to work at it until our wounded, insecure, emotional south bombards us with self-doubts and anxieties and is immediately supported by our unsorted north with negative thought processes. This is where we usually stop and the idea never manifests in the west or completes in the north. Or we find that we are well developed in one direction, but lacking in another: we may have many ideas in the east, for example, but lack the discipline of the ’wise adult’ in the north. Or we have a great work ethic, but lack the passion of the south and the creative drive of the east. All such issues can be addressed via the wheel.

The diagonals

The diagonals of the wheel are balancing opposites consisting of two axes:


North/south is the personal axis. The intelligent, thoughtful, skilful adult needs the emotional, playful, delighted and wondrous child, and vice versa, to achieve balance. The emotional south, disconnected from the cerebral adult in the north, can be self-indulgent and a prisoner of its own emotions, whilst the north can become hard and judgemental without the emotional self from the south.


East/west is the spiritual axis. The east is illumination, ascent, inspiration, creativity and spirit. The west is the physical, shadow, introspection, descent and the Earth soul. Without the west, the east is directionless spiritual energy or can be ungrounded, self-serving and egocentric spirituality, because the introspection and shadow work in the west has been neglected. Without the east, however, achievement in the west can be meaningless, dissatisfying and based on hollow material aspirations.

We can explore, connect and balance all human aspects with the wheel. I love teaching and working with it.3