The Medicine Wheel: An Embodied Non-Linear Data Transformation Tool
Medicine Wheels simultaneously represent time and space as well as the transcendence of the limits of time and space. So, like a seed comes from what came before and contains what will be, Medicine Wheels are living non-linear thought tools embodying all wisdom.
Traditional depiction of four-fold Medicine Wheel. (Image: Courtesy © The Orange Snowman).
The limited and limitless are possible through the Medicine Wheel’s still and infinite center. A center present on all levels of existence and embodied within our DNA. A center that enables communication and/or connection to the primordial consciousness present from before creation and that brings light from beyond time and space creating awareness of complimentary geometrical opposites (e.g., before and after). This awareness creates possibilities for the emergence of more holistic and innovative STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) outcomes than those developed through the use of Western quantitative and qualitative thought models, alone.
Big Horn Medicine Wheel (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Linear and Non-Linear Thought Models
Linear thought tools traditionally understand the whole by dissecting it into individual parts without first understanding how the parts work together. This dissection creates linear distances from the center or Unity, reducing the integrity and experience of the concept. Though Western thought models identify individual system components, the integration of system components by non-linear thought models is what facilitates viewing data holistically.
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As a non-linear thought tool, the Medicine Wheel’s purpose is to help humanity transcend linear constraints that separate data like rungs on a ladder and to facilitate weaving together an intricate understanding of data relationships. A weaving that links knowledge gaps and facilitates exploring and measuring the distance required to bridge the gaps.
Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The Medicine Wheel
Spiritual texts from the Upanishads to the Bible speak of God as light, and that human beings are created in his image. Thus, humans created in God’s image are also light. Many traditions also speak of 144,000 rays of divine light released at the separation of the Unity or Big Bang when God created the universe. These rays, fractal symmetries and geometries, such as the Tree of Life, are said to be mirrors of the Unity, resulting from the shattering, cooling, and slowing of the energy released at creation. They are said to be the divine consciousness that travels the cosmos and the source of all visible and invisible manifestations of life throughout the Universe and on Earth.
The Tree Of Life
The triangular structure of the Tree of Life is found within each ray of divine light. The triangular structure is comprised of the top center point or Unity called the (1) Crown, and the respective (2) right (masculine) and (3) left (feminine) components called Wisdom and Understanding. The Tree of Life’s geometric zig-zag lightning bolt pattern of three that repeats in a descending fashion is often used to depict a traditional two-dimensional model of DNA.
Tree of Life. (CC BY-SA 2.5)
Humans As Embodied Medicine Wheels
When the Tree of Life (DNA) is rotated and presented from a top-down perspective – a four-fold structure of a traditional Medicine Wheel emerges. The image to the right below depicts how the Medicine Wheel and the Tree of Life relate to each other.
Relationship between the Tree of Life and the Medicine Wheel. (Image: ©Original work by The Orange Snowman and Dr Linda Tello)
The four-fold structure of the Medicine Wheel is embodied within human DNA. The still and infinite center channel of DNA connects humanity to an awareness of a primordial consciousness, i.e., a before and an after creation. The center stillness facilitates the transcendence of the limits of time and space because it is present on all levels of creation.
Four-fold structure center channel connecting humanity to the primordial consciousness.(Image: Courtesy Orange Snowman; deriv)
Traditional Medicine Wheel Structure
A Medicine Wheel typically has four quadrants like those created when a person stretches his or her arms out parallel with the horizon and stands tall with the feet firmly planted on the ground and head stretched to the sky. The sky encircling the person as the border of the Medicine Wheel—or the boundary between the manifested and the potential. The quadrants created when moving out from the center of the human relate to the four directions of the Earth—South, West, North, and East—serving as a system for humans to balance and orient themselves in the cosmos.
You are the Medicine Wheel. (Image: Courtesy Dr Linda Tello)
Four-Fold Structures: Ancient Thought Tools Representing Cosmos Concepts and Ideas
The objective of four-fold structures is to create a greater holistic understanding and organization of knowledge— so existing knowledge gaps and the distance required to bridge the gaps can emerge providing insight for further exploration. As one of the oldest and most widespread thought-systems, the center of four-fold structures like Medicine Wheels exhibit totality or unity of function — and is the point from where the distance between what is known and unknown is measured.
Integration Of Opposites
The opposites of the Medicine Wheel are its two paths – infinite in their respective directions and balanced at the center of the human (i.e. core or heart). The central-equilibrium is comprised of the four aspects of the two infinite paths: East to West (path of the sun or celestial motion) i.e., Path of Balance; and North to South (opposing celestial patterns) i.e., Path of Imbalance. At the center or integration of opposites, because there is no gap between the manifested and the potential, perfect balance (zero) is achieved.
Perfect balance represents the “Power of the World” – where the ideal of the parts and the whole move together harmoniously. The balanced center is sacred with everything spiraling towards and away from it. From the center, the journey around the Medicine Wheel may spiral clockwise to the South – place of innocence; then continue West – place of transformation or change; then head North – place where the ancestors or inner wisdom lives, and end in the East – place of illumination or birthplace of the idea conceived in the South.
Paths of the Medicine Wheel. North to South: Imbalance. East to West: Balance. (Image: Courtesy © Dr Linda Tello)
Ancient Tool Modern Holistic Outcomes
Ancient people incorporated humanity into the larger cosmological system via the orientation of religious structures to the four directions, equinoxes, or solstices. Today, the fact that modern architects and engineers do not know how many ancient structures were built infers there is new wisdom to be gained by examining the old.
Four-fold symmetrical structures like Medicine Wheels are artistic representations of ideas used for contemplation. As contemplative tools, four-fold structures focus the mind so that non-logical, right-brain, creative, qualitative aspects can be accessed. Therefore, Medicine Wheels can be used for transcending conscious knowing to dive deep into unknown unknowns, or places of limitless potential. Places that via a conceptual illustration become unique imaginary palaces representing infinite possibilities from where according to the 2009 book, Sacred Mandala, “each object [e.g., datum] in the palace has significance…” and whose “purpose is to help transform ordinary minds into enlightened ones and to assist with healing”. For it is by exploring the unknown that new outcomes manifest – like droplets condensing seemingly out of nowhere on a cold glass of water on a hot summer day.
Communicating With The Divine
Medicine Wheels are communication tools that provide a holistic system for organizing quantitative (e.g., mathematical data) and qualitative data (e.g., interviews). These Western methodologies can be used to identify individual components of a system. But, to integrate the data holistically into a conceptual understanding with perfect balance among the data, the data must be viewed from a higher perspective.
Holistic View of Data Integrates Multi-Dimensional Perspectives: Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical. (Image: © Courtesy Dr Linda Tello)
The central channel of the Medicine Wheel gives humans on the physical plane direct communication to the divine. A direct communication that results from the stacking of the top node—or Crown of the Tree of Life – where Unity resides – over the bottom node – Malkuth – the physical plane – where humanity lives.
Reflection of the Medicine Wheel Embodied within Human DNA. (Image: Courtesy © The Orange Snowman and Dr Linda Tello)
Nicola Tesla (b. 1856), a Serbian-American electrical engineer and physicist responsible for pioneering advances in radio, television, motors, robotics, and technologies widely used for electric power transmission called scalar waves, or light traveling at less than maximum speed – condensed light or “retarded Hertzian waves”. This slowed or condensed light can be likened to the divine consciousness of God, who like water molecules can move through different phases of energy manifesting as respective visible and invisible expressions of itself. Human beings, thus, as expressions of God’s divine consciousness or condensed light, have the ability to communicate to the divine through the core of humanity’s foundation – DNA – which shares the same four-fold structure of the Medicine Wheel. A structure whose core illuminates the awareness of opposites, allowing the perception of transformation, and is a portal through which humans can transcend time and space to access primordial consciousness. This multi-dimensional communication channel is key for creating more holistic STEAM outcomes because it connects humanity to infinite potentialities within primordial consciousness.
Direct Communication to the Divine via Humanity’s Core (Coeur or Heart). (Image: Courtesy ©The Orange Snowman.)
Hidden Power Of The Word
From ancient legends of the Egyptian god Thoth, to the Bible, sound is the foundation of creation. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”, (John 1:1). “For when he spoke, the world began! It appeared at his command”, (Psalm 33:9). In ancient Egypt, spiritual forces representing specific cosmic attributes that were aspects of the One Supreme Being—were called Neters or, today, nature. The frequencies of these cosmic attributes were the divine forces with which humanity first interacted. Humanity can still connect with these forces through its heart (coeur) or core, i.e. DNA. An ability almost forgotten to most humanity when it shifted to a more left-brain perspective.
Letters and numbers were geared toward the inner life because they represent specific frequencies understood by the artist right brain. Words are multi-dimensional and can be experienced in many ways because of their energy (i.e. vibration and power). The energy is why, when someone speaks, a receiver understands the given meaning of the words.
Medicine Wheel, a Native American sacred site and National Historic Landmark in Wyoming (Public Domain)
Consciousness Key For Energy Transformation
Indigenous perspectives say that “only consciousness in vibration can decipher frequencies”. Consciousness is the key for deciphering frequencies—because of the resonance required between the external vibrations and the internal perceptions of the data required for translating the sounds into a coherent meaning for an individual. The resonance of frequency present within specific words is what is reflected back like an echo and acts as a catalyst for the emotional value or complementary harmonics held within the person using or hearing certain words. The complementary harmonics causes the transformation of the images or sounds into distinct inner personal experiences such as taste, smell, touch, sight, or sound, as determined by the sensory pathway most resonant to the vibrations.
Shamanic journey is a transcendental tool that can be used to communicate between energetic planes. For example, a traditional Andean Shamanic journey entails focusing on an intent and using an instrument such as a drum and/or rattle to create a consciousness altering rhythmic sound. According to Pierre Flor-Henry, Yakov Shapiro & Corine Sombrun (2017) Shamanic journey may result in the following:
- Generalized shift toward right-brain hemisphere dominance and inhibition of left-brain hemispheric functions responsible for ordinary, ego-bound states of consciousness.
- Greater proportion and amplitude of alpha band (8–13 Hz) brain activity correlated to include relaxed wakefulness, creativity, and free association.
- Increased theta power and short, synchronous bursts of high-voltage theta waves (4–7 Hz), correlating with subjective reports of blissful awareness accompanied by rich visual imagery and dissolution of ego boundaries and emotional, cognitive, and memory information processing.
- Increased cortical activation and integration of conscious information processing.
- Synchronization of EEG activity between left and right frontal lobes and potential deeper forms of trance.
- Release of endogenous opioids, potentially responsible for the subjective reports of ecstasy and decreased pain perception.
In the late 18th century, German physicist and musician Ernst Chladni, demonstrated that by spreading fine sand across the top of a metal plate and running a violin bow alongside, distinct patterns would emerge in the sand depending on the frequencies produced by the bow. In the 1960s, built on Chladni’s work, a Swiss physician named Hans Jenny termed his study of vibrational phenomena, Cymatics. Critical in Cymatics, the study of the creation of visible images from frequencies found in human bodies, nature, and beyond, that merges the fields of sound, geometry, light, and mathematics, and the emergence of the physical expression of sound, is a medium (e.g., sand). A CymaScope was the first scientific tool used for transmitting generated frequencies to a medium for the visualization of sound and vibration.
Analogous to a CymaScope, human beings are frequency generators, data containers, and mediums, who via transcendental tools like a Shamanic journey, convert energy contained within linear data, expressed as symbols, letters, words, and/or numbers, into internal and external images. It is through communication to and from the divine via the core of humanity’s embodied Medicine Wheel, i.e., DNA – the channel for divine consciousness – that the various expressions of the Medicine Wheel, such as the Four Winds, the Four Directions, the Four Grandfathers, the Spiral, and Inca Chakana have been created.
Inca Chakana. Inspired by the article Las Cruces Cuadradas Chavín y la Chakana: Arqueología e Historia. (Image: Courtesy ©The Orange Snowman.)
Shamanic Journey: Energy Transformation Tool
Transcendental tools like Shamanic journey are a powerful way to achieve a visible expression of sound, even those “frozen” like the words on this page. For it is from the energy released from the (1) frozen data, i.e., words, via a Shamanic journey, and the resonance the released energy creates with the (2) unbounded potential of the quantum field or divine plane – where the limiting constraints of linear thought models are absent – that outcomes often described as sensory mandala/fractal-like geometrical experiences result.
Spiral Petroglyph. McConkie Ranch near Vernal Utah. (Image: Courtesy © The Orange Snowman).
Western thought tools look outward to find insights for topics examined. The integration of non-linear thought tools that look inward add an additional level of data exploration to Western thought models. The additional level explored is that of the energy held within the sound and physical expression of the data. So, like in Cymatics when frequencies are transformed into geometric images, transforming data from elementary pieces into a holistic conceptual image removes gaps in understanding. Gaps are removed via the translation of data from a linear left-brain form i.e., words and sentences into the artistic fluid language of the right brain, i.e., a picture is worth a thousand words.
The researcher used qualitative tools to analyze interview data about long-standing health concerns of construction trade workers. To understand the data relationships, a conceptual illustration of the data relationship was to be created. However, because of the substantial amount of data, organizing the data into an illustration was not forthcoming. This block inspired turning to a transcendental tool like Shamanic journey for a higher perspective, i.e., divine inspiration.
Categorized qualitative research data or “frozen” vibrational energy before transformation into a conceptual (holistic) illustration. (Image: Courtesy © Dr Linda Tello)
During the journey, it was requested of the divine that a conceptual illustration be shown via a dream to mitigate left-brain interference. Due to the shift toward right-brain hemispheric dominance and inhibition of left-brain hemispheric functions during the Shamanic journey, a four-fold Medicine Wheel image of the relationships among the qualitative data emerged.
The top-down conceptual illustration emerged via Shamanic journey removing gaps among data relationships by organizing the data into four quadrants: Attention, Intention, Integrity, and Intuition. (Image: Courtesy © Dr Linda Tello)
The Attention quadrant held information such as death, sickness, and injury of workers. The Intention quadrant held data relating to intentional actions, such as the creation of training programs. The Integrity quadrant held data relating to the correctness of the programs or actions undertaken in the Intention quadrant. For example, if Spanish-only speaking workers are provided training in their first language, training in the worker’s first language is of positive integrity. Training provided without regard to worker language comprehension is of negative integrity. The fourth and final quadrant, Intuition, held data relating to innate worker knowledge acquired through experience, and the influence of family on worker health and safety practices.
Side view of the multi-dimensional conceptual illustration of data for long-standing health concerns of construction trade workers. (Image: © Courtesy Dr Linda Tello)
Unlike linear tools that dissect concepts into individual parts, non-linear tools weave components into conceptual tapestries. Tapestries, that by gazing upon their holistic representation of a concept, remove gaps between and among data. Data gaps are removed because the conceptual illustration contains the energy of the concept as a whole (i.e., a sphere with perfect geometrical form). Hence, as data moves through left and right brain synchronization, in other words from viewed as separate to viewed as a whole, the emerged conceptual illustration provides a mental playground for the artistic imagination of right-brain processes that more clearly facilitates understanding the data relationships and impact of actions on the overall system. This greater understanding weaves together gaps in knowledge potentially resulting in more holistic STEAM innovations.
Overall, the integration of the Medicine Wheel, a non-liner thought tool with linear thought tools is facilitated by its embodiment within humanity. The embodiment of a multi-dimensional (almost forgotten) communication channel to the wisdom and limitless innovation of the unity accessible via transcendental tools like Shamanic journey is one that given the challenges facing humanity beckons consideration. For given the complexity of humanity’s challenges, it behooves us to open our minds to different possibilities for STEAM innovation.
Dr Linda Tello is a licensed professional engineer and first-generation American with indigenous ancestry of the Pijaos from the Central Andes of Colombia. She holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering from Arizona State University, Ira Fulton Schools of Engineering, School of Sustainability and the Built Environment. Whole Earth Engineering
Top Image: Spiral Medicine Wheel Ojo Caliente, NM. (Image: Courtesy © Dr Linda Tello)
By Linda Tello
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