The Medicine Wheel is perhaps the single most intriguing symbol of the ancient Americas. It is a physical structure, typically made with stones arranged in a circular pattern, usually on consecrated ground. This configuration is big enough for people to enter, and Wheels built this way tend to be left standing for periodic use. Often seen as curious religious artifacts by academics, some of the surviving ancient Medicine Wheels have been found to be accurate celestial calendars, or seasonal guides. And while it is true large, quasi-permanent structures like these may have been used to let a tribe know when it was time to plant, or when certain animal nations might be on the move, or when it is time to go apart from each other to reduce the demands on the land, there is still another, not often discussed purpose of the Medicine Wheel. And that is what we call a personal Life guide.

A personal-guidance Medicine Wheel is, in my experience, one of the most profound tools available to us to learn what our individual Lifepatterns are, what some have called our deep psychology. The Wheel may actually have an advantage over some disciplines because of its capacity to help individuals work on their "stuff" alone, which is significant. Consider this: Your best friend could be the world's greatest, most talented counselor. And you could trust her with your life and your children's lives. But the moment you step into her professional space, you will put on yet another mask. Just as she will.

The mistake we make, what we so often lose sight of is the simple truth that we all wear some kind of mask whenever we are with other people. Even when we're totally broken down and thinking in our heads we've finally opened up, fully and completely. But it's far more likely our deep "knee jerk" patterns take over. Those same ingrained patterns that run the show on autopilot when we're angry or frightened, for instance.

What I find so incredible is that any person who is willing to learn the principles and concepts of the Medicine Wheel, to learn the simple ideas that drive it, can learn what the truth is about their own Lifepatterns and set in motion ways to change them as they see fit. Where we are reluctant to reveal our darkest secrets to others, we eventually discover them on our own as we learn to trust the Wheel as we move closer to the core emotional beliefs that drive our behavior.

After all, we are emotionally driven, not intellectually driven.

If you doubt that, study addictive behavior. You will learn that addicts, be it drugs, alcohol, physical fitness, sex -- whatever -- all know what they are doing. And many will even claim they can stop their behavior whenever they choose too. But they don't. And that's because they are responding to a deeper psychophysiological programming that is actually running their show. In other words, emotion tied firmly in place through altered body chemistry.

How does the Medicine Wheel work? Each point on the Wheel, from five to 36 (or more), represents distinct qualities and universal spiritual characteristics. On those points, we place medicine helpers that we've chosen, and at times for no obvious reason; just seems like the right animal, herb, or tree, or gemstone for that place. But it's soon apparent that the Spirits really are guiding the process. When the dominant energies of the medicine helpers combine with the aspects of the point on the Wheel they've been placed at, a story emerges that will guide you as it reveals the acquired traits, or core beliefs that create your behavior. These are referred to generally as personal Healing Wheels. But there are also personal Free Form Wheels.

Working a Medicine Wheel to create positive change is a physical process that anchors into your body memory the realizations of your mind. These realizations shift your emotional energy to help you build a foundation of more powerful thinking and feeling that lead you to better choices.

Where Healing Wheels are a direct reflection of your Lifepatterns, Free Form Wheels are more open to the guiding influences of the Spirits (Personal Spirit Guides and Helper Spirits.) Proper preparation before creating either kind of Wheel is very important, also. In real estate we learn what is important is location, location, location. In Wheel work it's preparation, preparation, preparation. Personal Wheels are usually small (on the dining room table, the bed, living room floor), are built for a specific session, then taken down until next needed. Free Form Wheels are often used in determining and executing Life Purpose, and in tandem with Healing Wheels, for manifesting.

The Medicine Wheel works because it reveals unsupportive core beliefs, points you in a better direction, then anchors that new awareness into your physical body-memory, through movement; placing the stones and medicine helpers (a reference to, such as a feather, a figure, even just the word), moving about the Wheel, and finally, often suddenly, locking onto the answers the Wheel reveals to you, what Jung called "gestalt." Now more aware of these energies, you'll have better control over your life, and those old, self-defeating patterns will cease, empowering you to manifest your dreams much more easily.