Symbols

Continuing to study The Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality, I am reading about the importance of symbols.  The Medicine Wheel is the ancient symbol used by most North and South American Native people.  Many relationships can be expressed in sets of four:  directions (north, south, east, west), races (white, black, yellow, red), elements (earth, air, fire, water), aspects of human nature (physical, mental, spiritual, emotional), etc.

This is a very intriguing sentence from the book:

Just like a mirror can be used to see things not normally visible (e.g. behind us or around a corner), the medicine wheel can be used to help us see or understand things we can’t quite see or understand because they are ideas and not physical objects.

Bopp, Judie. Sacred Tree: Reflections on Native American Spirituality (Kindle Locations 124-126). National Book Network – A. Kindle Edition.

Related to the Quaker testimony of simplicity, and the focus on inner light and spirit, Quakers reject the use of common traditional Christian symbols such as the cross and statues and paintings of Jesus and other religious figures, stained glass windows, church buildings, etc.

As with any group though, Quakers struggle to describe their spiritual experiences.  Would there be a symbol that could help people understand the Spirit?  The sentence above makes me wonder if a symbol similar to the Medicine Wheel could be useful.  However, the concept of cultural appropriation immediately comes to mind.  It would probably not be appropriate for the Medicine Wheel to begin to appear in Quaker meetinghouses.

Or would it, since native leaders are inviting us to join with them in a global spiritual awakening these days?  The book referenced here is being shared with us intentionally.

Quakers’ symbol is the example of how we live our lives.  The decisions we make, the work we do, and how we treat other people, animals and Mother Earth, are our living symbol of our spirituality.

medicine-wheel