Traveling the Wheel of Life
By Minister Ron McLain
I have been a professional singer, guitarist and composer for over 40 years and I am very grateful to have this music come through me.
My arranger, Eric Williams has a double major in piano and
vocal for his master's degree. He and I have developed a
wonderful symbiosis in the studio and look forward to many more projects. He has taught me so much about singing and harmony and helped make this album what it is.
I began composing my ministerial project about the Medicine Wheel in the early 80s when I was studying with Page Bryant and her teacher Albion. We worked with the teachings of Sun Bear and other Medicine Men, from various tribes and practiced the ceremonies of the Medicine Wheel, the Sweat lodge and the Sacred Pipe. I became a Pipe carrier during this time.
In 1983 I wrote the songs of the directions and the song of the Eagle and began an album called the Eagle Lives Again. I was only able to finish half of the work and it was left on the shelf. During this time I did workshops, seminars and conducted tours into the magical Sedona Vortexes and onto the Hopi reservation. The remainder of the music for the CD was written in 2004 as my spiritual life began to expand again.
This work integrates several belief systems, including different tribes of the Southwest and Midwestern Indians of the upland woods. It also comes from my own intuition and past life experiences.
It deals with some of the attributes and powers of each of the directions and with their animal totems. They are arranged around the seasons so as to make best use of the energies of each of the cycles and their weather changes. Each thing that happens in the Universe must have its four seasons of activity in order to grow into proper maturity. This is an expression of Nature's plan of evolution that constantly strives toward perfection. Not a perfection that reaches a point and stops, but one that constantly moves and dances with every other moving thing. Only in this great Cosmic balance can true perfection be found.
I refer mainly to the work of Sun Bear and the Book of the Medicine Wheel, as this is what I have worked with for the past 20 years, as we go through these descriptions.
Many ceremonies having to do with the Medicine Wheel begin in the East with the Father Sun rising. This offers the opportunity of new beginnings and enlightenment. Its qualities are illumination, wisdom and clarity.
The animal that generally represents the east is Wabun, the eagle, although this is not true in all cases and all tribes. The Golden Eagle and the Bald eagle are the birds seen to fly the highest and to bring messages from the
Great Spirit to the people. The eagle also is the guardian of the world of liberty or freedom in Shamanic journeying. The element associated with the East is air. The season is Spring. The time of life is infancy and early childhood.
This is the time to begin new things, to plant your seeds for the year and for your life to come. It can also be a time of rebirth when all things are possible. A time of coming out of the dark into the light making space for being spontaneous and creative. Allow your spirit to soar above your life and see things in their wholeness. Spring gives an opportunity to be a messenger of truth when you are under its influence. It is a good time to explore your life on all levels and try things you may have only dreamed of before. Allow yourself to born again.
The direction of south is represented by Shawnodese, the coyote. He is also known as a teacher or Heyoka, the trickster. He is found in many tribes, in story and song, each having their individual slant on him. He is seen as both sacred and profane. He usually allows you to trick yourself with your ego or your arrogance. The coyote also is the guardian of the world of illusion in the Shamanic dimensions.
The element is water. The season is summer. The time of life is, older childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. The qualities of the south are love, trust and rapid growth. The water can symbolize emotions as well. It is a time when your emotions can grow out of control and cause you to make rash decisions unless your manage them properly. This is a good time to explore love and relationships. Many times the coyote will give you what you think you want and then watch to see what happens, or you will come together with someone with whom you seem to share very little and he will observe your responses. We must learn to remain open and vulnerable during these challenging times so that we miss none of what life has in store for us. This is part of the element of trust.
Shawnedese is the place of the emotions where we come to be healed, to mend relationships and to learn about love in its myriad forms. The power of the open heart and the discriminating mind.
Many chose this time to ask the creator for their vision and the path they should walk. Then you must pursue it with trust, love and power. This is a time to expand your knowledge and skills in the path you have chosen. Often you will feel like you are in two worlds at the same time. Your feet on the ground and your head and heart in the spirit.
The direction of the west is ruled by Mudjekeewis, the grizzly bear. The bear was seen as the strongest predator in the forest and was able to eat many kinds of foods. He could find his own medicines and was a solver of problems. He is intelligent, cunning and resourceful.
The element associated with the west is fire. Mudjekeewis is considered to be the Father of All the Winds and provides a home for the Thunder Beings. The season is the autumn. The time of day is sunset. The time of life is adulthood and maturity. The qualities are strength, experience and introspection.
The major lessons are responsibility for ourselves, the Earth and for all our relations upon the planet. It is a time to reap the harvest of all that we have done before this time and to share those lessons with others. It is a time of knowing what we can and cannot do and being able to say so. We know ourselves well enough now to be comfortable with who we are. It is also a time when we carry the young ones upon our backs and the elders too. We begin to notice the things that die around us and become aware of our own mortality.
This time brings the opportunity to allow your relationships to mature, bringing fulfillment to all. This is the time for looking within yourself to know your own power, grace and adaptability. A time to be selfless in service to the universe. A time to be ceremonial and to be a leader. Your power is only to be used for the good of all and will bring healing of the spirit and all that is sacred.
Waboose, the white buffalo, is the spirit keeper of the north. The buffalo was the staple food for the plains and woodland Indians. He gave them almost everything they needed for life. The white buffalo comes from the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman who brought the Seven Sacred Ceremonies to the Sioux. She is known by many names in other tribes. Spider Woman with the Hopi and Navajo, Daybreak Star Woman to the Ojibwa, to the Nootka, she is Copper woman.
The element is earth. The season is the winter. The time is midnight. The time of life is being an elder and being reborn as new again. It is the time between lives, taking us from this world to the next. It's qualities are cleansing, renewal and purity. It is a time to look back at what we have learned, to rest from our actions and then to look forward to the life or season to come. It is a time of darkness, quiet and dreams. A time to assimilate all that we have experienced through our lives and the seasons.
This is the time of the giveaway. To give away all that we have acquired. We give our knowledge and teachings and our possessions, knowing that the more we give away the more we shall receive in the coming world. This is the time for peace, power and forgiveness. The way of spirituality, intuition and physical healing and to be grounded upon the earth.
There is much more to be learned about the wisdom of the cycles and how the native people learned from them. I expect to go on teaching and experiencing this knowledge and expressing it in my music and my ministerial work. I also plan to pass along what I have learned in concerts, workshops and seminars.
1. Opening Prayer
2. Wabun, Song of the East
3. The Eagle Lives Again
4. Fly, Fly Fly
5. Shawnodese, Song of the South
6. Coyote Song
7. A Man in Two Worlds
8. Mudjekeewis, Song of the West
9. Your Heart is Home