Receiving Gifts from the Inca Medicine Wheel and Animal Totems

LuminanceRiver's picture

Many cultures and spiritual traditions honor the four directions, each with special qualities and animal totems. The animals are often from the area in which the spiritual tradition originates. The Inca Medicine Wheel is from Peru, and it has four animals in the four directions. After being introduced to this system, I am greatly inspired with new information for me. Humbly sharing what has come to my understanding through meditation, I honor the indigenous sacred culture of the Q'ueros. The Q'ueros hold Mother Earth and all life sacred, seeing the Apus which are Mountains in the Andes as sacred sentient beings.

Please take what resonates with you from within this writing. Be inspired. Tune into your own information on this and other medicine wheels. Research the Q'uero Inca Medicine Wheel further to learn about this path. You can work with this as if the animals and what they represent are energies to integrate, as if they are messengers or guides, or as archetypes.

The Value, and Ways to Work with the Medicine Wheel

A way that I learned was that you can assign a direction and animal totem of the four to a given day or couple of days, working your way around the cycle. A community that I got to spend time at, The Mystical Yoga Farm in Guatemala, assigned a new direction and animal totem for every 2-3 days or so. It became a collective experiment and experience. I assure you that we really got the taste of the Medicine Wheel, and we did ceremonies that transformed each of us in a way was super potent within a beautiful community of great people who are really doing their inner work on the shamanic path. An amplification, entrainment, and inner change happens in a group setting when we are all focusing on the same things. Going on the journey of immersing yourself the energies of these totems is a path self-awareness of inner transformation which is what has been juicy for me.

I see the directions and totems as interacting and providing certain energies for inner growth. Our path is a spiral path, a journey that takes us through the four directions again and again. It represents stages of our growth from the now perspective of where we are. It can help give us more awareness of our own journey and help us shift to new perspectives of seeing. In fact, the four directions and totems could be seen as lenses of awareness, or ways of seeing that are unique in whatever kind of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual space we happen to be in.


A way that I have discovered that works for me is to ask Great Spirit or my Higher Self, while in meditation, "What kind of day is this?" Upon knowing the animal totem, I can ask what gifts that totem has to share with me. Tuning into the Medicine Wheel is a way of getting a perspective that you otherwise would not have known. You can intentionally shift to a different perspective such as a different animal totem if you choose.

The Medicine Wheel knowledge and tradition provides a structure to experience the story of your life to yourself as it is infused with wisdom that has been around for a long time and used by others who have observed cycles and transformed themselves. The Medicine Wheel, as a part of many indigenous cultures, has created a large morphic field of understandings. Morphic fields, a term from Rupert Sheldrake, calls a morphic field one that is a self-organizing whole of resonance. A morphic field has memory which an individual in resonance with it can tap into and learn from. Meditation is a way to tap into the knowing that is in a morphic field such as the morphic field of The Inca Medicine Wheel. Through tapping into the morphic (also called morphogenetic) field, you can learn a lot on any subject through telepathy or downloads from the field of resonance which you attune to, like an antenna. Invocation or prayers to the four directions, and ceremony is traditionally used as a way to work with them.

A Medicine Wheel is a structure to see your life and your spiritual journey of evolution which of course includes your physical body, your emotions, and your mental body. The Peruvian Wisdom of the Medicine Wheel connects you to your soul's knowing and allows your soul to speak to you. It is a way of reflection and understanding, and it is something to shift yourself. It is a way to access psychic or multidimensional information which can be solutions to life problems. It is a practice for tuning inward that grows as you grow.

What are the directions and animal totems of the Inca Medicine Wheel?

The Serpent in the South

We start in the direction of the south, which is the Serpent. The Serpent helps us shed what no longer serves. It helps us to remain focused on our body's well being, and our groundedness. Serpents slither right on the surface of the earth. Serpent can be practical, down to earth even in a literal way. It allows us to move through space in a physical body. Serpent helps our body to be well and to be flexible, and to use it as a spiritual vehicle of transformation. Your body desires to transform itself in that it wants to release dead cells and toxins and waste that does not serve in order to shed and regenerate and be vitally alive.

The Serpent's gift is the working with the physical body, on physical healing, while encouraging the embodiment of our spirituality and growth in other ways. The Serpent's theme is "transformation." The way a snake moves is with a supple spine. Those who have supple spines as they age in the physical body are the ones who are the most youthful and regenerate the body, keeping it healthy. Flexibility of body and also of beliefs is what the Serpent offers us, always willing to change and transform, and to get unstuck. The Serpent represents the inititiation of spiritual awakening with the rising of kundalini (snake) energy up the spine to the jade gate at the back of the skull. This is called the mouth of the Serpent allowing special fluid and energy to rise into the skull and awaken our crown and third eye/pineal gland. Kundalini awakenings bring new awareness with connection to our soul self's knowing. Kundalini awakening has physical symptoms with the new energy flow rising from the earth and Root Chakra toward our crown. Thus the Serpent energy activates and opens energetic pathways to the cosmic perspective. Serpent initiates us into transformation and to becoming bridges between heaven and earth. It initiates our trip around the Medicine Wheel from the Serpent traveling to the eagle's more cosmic way of seeing.

A Serpent is one who sheds layers of literal skin to expose new skin underneath. This represents shedding our emotional layers to an emptiness where we are moving on instinct, like an animal does, without the story our human self carries. We shed beliefs and stories and that which no longer serves energetically and physically.

A Serpent and the Jaguar, the next animal totem, can work together on the shedding of emotional layers. The Jaguar, is next in the circle.

Jaguar in the West

The Jaguar is the animal totem for the West. In this direction, we are processing the emotions. The Jaguar helps us to walk into the dark, or the shadows, and walk through fear. We mentally and emotionally work through stuff when we are in Jaguar. We are facing ourselves, and deep supressed unconscious aspects of ourselves. The Jaguar lends support and courage to do this processing. Jaguar helps us to step beyond fear, and helps us to feel our emotional patterns in order to release them. Serpent has initiated us into releasing layers. The Jaguar could appear represent the dark side of a Yin/Yang symbol. It is the dark and the shadows in our subconscious that needs to be looked at for us to really feel the lightness and sweetness of life. Jaguar gives us the courage for our inner process to shed light which is our awareness, within ourselves. We can see and process the emotional baggage that we carry and let go with mental and emotional processing together. Jaguar illuminates the shadows. Once we have done the work in the West with Jaguar, we can truly move to joy and lightness, tasting the sweetness of life with the hummingbird.

Hummingbird in the North

In the North, we have the Hummingbird. It is good to get to know these totems as a feeling in order to work with them. This is the mystery, the ancient knowledge. It is what is intuitively known. Hummingbird helps us follow our inner guidance and to taste the sweetness, the joy, of life. Experience a feeling of innocence, trust and surrender in the now moment. There is lightness in the Hummingbird energy. There is deep surrender to the higher calling of ourselves through trust in where we are guided. We can step into the flow of timelessness when in Hummingbird. We learn how life is supposed to be joy, and embody that joy in our being. Hummingbird could be seen as the light side of the Yin/Yang symbol and is paired with the Jaguar. The Jaguar helps us bring awareness to the shadows we suppress so we can have true joy and lightness as a gift. Hummingbird is very much in the now moment, expansive, and wanting to taste and experience everything our human self has to experience with enthusiasm. Once we initiate transformation with the Serpent, then we integrate our dark and light of the Yin/Yang, we can move onto the higher perspective that sees it all and represents this integration of all directions.

Eagle in the East

Next, we have the wisdom of the East, or the Eagle. The Eagle, or sometimes a Condor, in this direction, is the visionary, the seeing from above. It is where we see what we have learned in our journey. On Eagle days, we are hit with epiphanies and understandings. Higher understanding clicks all of a sudden. A neutral, detached sort of view from the higher perspective is possible. Eagle is not emotional and has clarity. It sees possibilities and the larger and more cosmic picture in a way the at the other totems do not. Visioning brings the world we see into being. Thus, Eagle is very much about mastering our perspective and making our perspective wider and more all encompassing. It is the place of dreaming and visioning in the East, with the Eagle energy to guide us.

The Eagle is an opposite to the Serpent. One is the end point on the medicine circle and high above, whereas the other, the Serpent, is at the beginning of the cycle, the body perspective and ground level, physical perspective. The two are next to each other in the wheel as we go around the the Serpent again in the cycle, the alpha and the omega and then the alpha again, like the ouroboros or snake in a circle. In moving on from the Eagle, we remember that in the Serpent, to be in the bodies we have and to love them. We remember that we are here to embody spiritual knowledge and not just escape to the higher perspective, bringing it down to earth. This brings us full circle on the never ending spiral of evolution and growth. In the greater cycle, we grow and expand and learn and gather the higher perspective, then bring it back down to earth and live the wisdom in our life, which is the return to the body, the physical reality, and the Serpent energy of new beginning.

The different directions and animal totems of the Medicine Wheel, with their wisdom, have gifts. They inter-relate with one another. They support one another on our inner healing journey. We can pay attention to where we are in any moment we tune inward to notice. We can switch it up... ask ourselves how would Eagle see and experience this? Or another animal totem.... We can look at our own balance with the directions. Are we comfortable in one totem, say Hummingbird or Eagle and avoiding others? That is something to look at as each of the 4 totems has gifts for us. They are to be balanced within our being, and it helps to look at how balanced we are with each of these. All are there to support us through their knowing, which is really our knowing, as we are expansive, cosmic beings of energy and one with the universe, and all that is.

May the Medicine Wheel support you on your journey and may you make great discoveries. Thank you to the four directions of the Medicine Wheel, the Serpent, the Jaguar, the Hummingbird, and the Eagle. 

In Gratitude,