Problem Solving Using the Medicine Wheel

by Oct 15, 2015Article, Personal Practice

Clients work with me for a variety of reasons . . . crisis intervention, personal growth and very often for problem solving.  Time and time again, I’ve seen the effectiveness of using shamanic wisdom as a template for problem solving, especially through the use of the medicine wheel. The movement of the wheel starts in the east, goes to the south, moves through the west and finishes in the north.

Just as the sun rises in the east every morning and ushers in a brand new day, we have the opportunity to enjoy renewed energy, inspiration and new possibilities. This is what the EAST represents; all of our potential choices. Sometimes a problem has so many layers to consider we feel overwhelmed and move into fear, so the first thing to do is to find a place of calmness, the eye of the storm. When faced with a problem, it’s a great idea to write down all of your choices, every possible option, and give yourself the gift of not needing to know the answer right away, trusting that clarity will come. But the first step is to cultivate a sense of inner peace and inspiration in the middle of chaos.

The direction of SOUTH on the medicine wheel represents community, the heart and a sense of belonging.  Once you’ve written down all of your choices from a platform of neutrality it’s time to cultivate your support team and bring in your community.  Make a list of everyone who can support your process, this can be family, friends, teachers, mentors . . . don’t forget to include your guides and allies from the spirit world. You may want to talk things over with a few of them but it’s not necessary to actually connect with everybody. The knowledge that you are fully supported by all of your people is incredibly powerful.  Allow yourself to enjoy a felt sense of connectedness and to fill yourself up with it.

Once you have an idea of every possible choice that would address your problem and you’ve also connected whole heartedly with your support, it’s time to move into the west. The WEST brings us the ability to cut through the fog of confusion and move into clarity about what we actually want. The work of the west is to release the obstacles that are in the way of creating the life we want to have.  It’s essential to take the time here to identify and release those fears which are based in outdated beliefs such as “I’ll never be good enough,” “It never works out for me,” “It’s too hard,” etc . . . .”  Once we’ve let go, we’re free to take ‘right action,’ the best solution for our problem from all of the options we identified in the east.

The NORTH is the place of power, leadership, of good timing and right action. Now that you are feeling inspired, supported and clear it is much easier to be active.  You can step out into the world from a very powerful, conscious platform.  This is the time to develop and implement a plan of action.

Spirit is the anchor to each of these steps.  When we’re operating from essence, connected to our internal wisdom teacher and in alignment with Spirit then our walk around the medicine wheel will be fruitful, although not necessarily easy.  When we find ourselves confused, stuck, isolated or struggling, all we need to do is step back into the East and start over. 


About the Author

Genie is a psychotherapist, shamanic practitioner and teacher who works primarily in the Denver area.  She’s been on a dedicated shamanic path for 15 years studying primarily with The Power Path School of Shamanism, also with indigenous healers from the Huichol and Shipibo traditions. She is a board member of SSP. 

Shamanism is an integral part of her life and forms the foundation for her ongoing path of personal growth and expansion.  With clients, she combines contemporary methods with ancient indigenous wisdom for restored connections to their hearts, their inner wisdom, and their personal power.


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