An Ontario firekeeper explains the Four Directions of the Medicine Wheel
The Four Sacred Directions represented by yellow, red, black and white
The Four Sacred Directions of the Medicine Wheel guide every aspect of the life of A.L. McDonald, a firekeeper in southwestern Ontario.
"It's the acknowledgement from within: where I am, where I'm going and honouring the space I'm in," he said, explaining the Medicine Wheel is an interconnected system of teachings relating to the directions, seasons, and elements of life.
"It's a way of life, it's how we live our lives. That circle is within us, it's the awareness of what's in those directions," McDonald said, adding that he believes everything is connected.
It is that feeling of unity which leads him to perform a smudge for himself, and for those embarking on painful discussions following recent violent acts against marginalized communities.
"This is for healing from events that have happened, with the loss of our brothers and sisters at the hands of policing and racism that is upon us all throughout the world. The smudge will go through the room that I'm in and carry right across Turtle Island. I hope this smudge reaches you all," McDonald intoned as the scent wafted through his home in Kitchener, Ont.
Sage is one of the four plant medicines found on the Medicine Wheel. The way McDonald was taught, this plant is found under the direction of The West but he notes that teachings vary, depending on where you're from.
Born on Manitoulin Island, his interpretation of The Medicine Wheel is based on Anishinaabe teachings.
It's a way of life, it's how we live our lives. That circle is within us, it's the awareness of what's in those directions.- AL McDonald, local firekeeper
The Four Sacred Directions of the Medicine Wheel are represented by the colours yellow, red, black and white, he said.
The plant medicine is tobacco
The plant medicine is cedar
The plant medicine is sage
The plant medicine is sweetgrass
The centre is where all lines intersect, tying together our spiritual, emotional, physical and mental balance, said McDonald.
He noted the Seven Grandfather Teachings are also located on the Medicine Wheel, and include wisdom, honesty, courage, respect, love, humility, and truth.
These teachings have been gifted to him by various elders, knowledge carriers and medicine people, McDonald said
"Once you start looking at the wheel overall, you can start connecting with the various things within your life."
You can hear the full interview with A.L. McDonald here.