The Medicine Wheel, also referred to as the Sacred Hoop, is found in many native cultures throughout the world, representing the concept that everything in the universe is interrelated. Human beings and all things which exist in their environment are connected in one continuous process of growth and development. The Medicine Wheel is the foundation of Harmonia – our connection to the Earth and our connection to each other. We create harmony and balance when we attend to the whole.
The wheel has four quadrants, balanced to represent the Four Directions (east, south, west, north); Stages of Life (birth, youth, adult/elder, death); Seasons (spring, summer, winter, fall); Aspects of Life (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical); and Elements (fire/sun, air, water, earth). In some traditions, animal totems serve as guardians of the direction and/or elements.
The medicine wheel approach allows for a holistic understanding of dynamic relationships (permaculture) to create a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with the Earth. Utilized in the curriculum design, wisdom is achieved through holistic learning using all the senses in multiple modalities in a natural environment. The gifts of the directions (vision, time, reason, movement) and the actions of those gifts (see it, relate to it, figure it out, do it) are the basis of the learning process (awareness, understanding, knowledge, wisdom) and personal development (spiritual, physical, mental and emotional).
In a beekeeping course we might incorporate the medicine wheel by teaching:
The role of bees as pollinators, historic uses of honey, effects of environmental contamination on bee colonies and the need to take a more active role in protecting bee colonies (vision, awareness, see it);
The anatomy, stages of development and life cycle of the bee, castes, development of the comb, relationship in the food chain (time, understanding, relate to it);
The relationship and effects of the elements on colonies, reproduction and honey production (water, fire/heat/sun, earth, and wind);
Top-bar hive, vertical stackable frame hive, flow hive, protective clothing, smoker, natural/backyard/indoor beekeeping, diseases and parasites, swarming and supersedure (knowledge, reason, figure it out);
Building and/or relocating hives, honey collection, sharing knowledge (movement, wisdom, do it).
As part of the personal development aspect (spiritual, physical, mental and emotional), students will make an offering and meditate in the presence of bees, walk through fields of flowers to observe and record bee patterns and habitats and work, design bee gardens and sow flower seeds to attract more bees, and engage in dialogue around theses issues, prompting the student to take positive action.