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Why is ceremony important? There are ancient ceremonies associated with the Sacred Medicine Wheel that provide a safety net to healers in our legal climate. For example, if a Cante Wowicakhe Medicine Woman/Man Spiritual leader who is a Naturopath, Master Herbalists or other natural practitioner were to start and end their day with the Bundle Ceremony, then all that happens during the day may be said to be part of the Bundle Opening and Closing. If offering their services as a Medicine Man or Medicine Woman, then their services would be part of a sacred ceremony – a ceremony essential to Native American Religion. As long as natural healing comprises the ceremonial use of plants, animals, minerals, water, etc. it cannot come under the direct regulation of such agencies as the FDA, Attorney General, A.M.A., W.H.O, etc. Once part of ceremony, it is a Sacred Way and fully protected under NAFERA (the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act of 1993, and associated Acts of Congress).
The Medicine wheel is used by many Native Americans. There are many variations with a few things in common with all. Each is comprised of several parts. The circle around the wheel connects the directions and symbolizes the connectivity of the four cardinal directions – North, South, East and West representing the spokes of a wheel.
Each direction has a color; there are four typical colors for the Lakota medicine wheel are red, white, yellow and black. In addition occasionally there will be blue or green.
Another layer of symbolism found in the medicine wheel is that is can be used as a map for the human existence. The East direction is the spiritual aspect, North is the mental aspect, West is the physical, and South is the emotional.
Each direction also relates to a physical function of the body. When building a personal medicine bundle, sacramental herbs can be added to these points representing the physical healing of the body.
These various layers of meaning found in the medicine wheel are all united in that they individually depict many important values in Lakota society individually, yet also maintain the importance of interconnectedness between the people and nature.
The sacred way of the Native American Church of Cante Wowicakhe provides a way of life for healers of all kinds. Every member of Cante Wowicakhe is encouraged to include their own medicine and belief systems into this sacred way. The fundamental ceremonies of the Cante Wowicakhe do not come in conflict with any religion.
The term medicine is used often. This word is not used in the modern sense as in “the practice of medicine”. It is used in the native traditional sense of “Medicine Man or Woman” without any reference to a modern allopathic medical practice.
The Medicine Wheel is the central focus of the Medicine Bundle. Each individual's Medicine Bundle is personal and contains items relevant to their personal beliefs. Cante Wowicakhe has a Medicine Bundle which is opened at the beginning of ceremony and closed at the end. The Medicine Wheel is described below:
The Points and Symbols of the Cante Wowicakhe wheel
Yellow – Fire – Deer (Gentleness) – Digestive system – beginnings, rising of the sun – spring – seeking illumination and clarity regarding life’s path, concentration on others
Green – Earth – Lizard (dreaming)– Connective Tissue – skin, muscles, bones, joints, etc. – new life – summer - faith, trust, humility, concentration on perceived self
Red – Water – Buffalo (Prayer and Abundance) – Liver, kidney, gallbladder – maintaining life – fall – introspective, reviewing goals, reliance on man’s knowledge
White – Air – Opossum – (diversion) – Respiratory – All things heavenly – winter - place of wisdom and gratitude, giving thanks for our blessings and sharing what we have learned with others, reliance on God without thought
Above (Father Sky)
Black – Swan (Grace, dreamland) – Immune System – Balance and defense
Below (Earth Mother)
Black – Coyote (Trickster, medicine dog, laughter) – Endocrine System – Protection and Nurturing
Black – Dolphin (Manna, breath of life) – Heart/Circulatory – Pride / Arrogance
Nervous system – Brother to all points of the wheel.
This is what comprises the medicine wheel for the Cante Wowicakhe church. An individual’s medicine wheel should reflect their unique medicine and it is up to them to personalize it to their own needs and beliefs. A copy of the Bundle Ceremony must be on file at the Cante Wowicakhe for a Medicine Man / Woman Spiritual Leader to be defendable.
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