The Medicine Wheel

In this soulful guide to the Medicine Wheel’s intricacies we have a clear introduction to the four directions and their place in the traditional, first people’s approach to Spirit. Circulating around the wheel from East to North with ever growing chapters to match the cumulative wisdom we share, there’s also a fine section on some analogies from Jung as well as approaches to the ‘in-between’ non-cardinal points and their meanings.

The structure is well crafted and helpful and as a newcomer myself to the Shamanic path, Barry’s gentleness makes everything feel accessible and clear. Yet he doesn’t hide from the richness and even strangeness of the Shaman’s worldview. In his humorous, plain-speaking way we find ourselves utterly at home, becoming enriched with understanding about both the ordinary and the extraordinary and the place where they meet.

The psyche’s glaciers and plains are laid bare with finesse and honesty. These are weighty, profound matters – Spirit, death, growth – yet Barry’s almost sparse prose and soft touch welcomes you in. He rightly points out the advantage of not having an unbroken indigenous tradition as the freedom to innovate. But innovations here are well tempered with clear respect and love for understanding from traditional teachers: Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Eduardo Duran to name a couple.

He’s not afraid to use modern insights either and delightfully it’s also a book about big, salient contemporary themes and debates, bringing in thinkers such as the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. Iconoclastic in its most positive sense, it’s a punchy piece too, allowing us to ask sincere questions about a wide range of assumptions from our culture and even provisionally taking aim at a few of the more thorny issues within the Culture Wars.

I’d highly recommend this book for newcomers to the Wheel and indeed for longer term practitioners, for a refreshing look within.

Book Details: Barry Goddard. The Medicine Wheel. Moon Books (30 September 2022). ISBN 9781785359675.

Review Details: The Medicine Wheel was reviewed by Thomas Hamilton Shaw for Indie Shaman magazine and this review was published in Issue 54.

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