Objects of Power: the Medicine Wheel Shawl
I was given this shawl as a gift, this past summer. It was an incredible surprise, which left me both humbled and in awe. I had never seen anything like this. I am familiar with the Medicine Wheel and the way people of the First Nations create amazing things with their hands and hearts but something like this I had not seen before.
One cannot go anywhere to buy a shawl like this. Not because one cannot be duplicated some place in Asia (where most things are made nowadays) and fabricated in minutes but this was made in altogether a different manner: with Spirit. Mr. Yvone puts his heart and soul into his work. When he gave it to me, I asked him how long it took him to make it and he said: “about a week”. The man gave part of a week of his life to make it and he simply gave it away. Now, that’s an amazing human Being, in my opinion.
The shawl was made as he mentioned, in rows of 3s and 4s. 3 and 4 add-up to 7 and 7 is an important number in many First Nation communities. For the Anishinaabe people whom I have had the great honor to spend time with in the past eleven years, 7 is the number that stands for the Teachings of the 7 Grandfathers: Wisdom, Love, Respect, Bravery, Honesty, Humility and Truth. These teachings are embedded in the creation of this shawl. One can wrap himself/herself up in these teachings and one’s path will be well guarded.
The Medicine Wheel incorporated in the middle of it, is there to remind us of the interconnection between humans and all that is around us. The four colours of the Medicine Wheel represent the four directions, as in north, south, east and west but they also represent us, humans: the whites, the blacks, the yellows and the reds. We’re all One. And in this case the Medicine Wheel is protected by an orange ring, representing Fire and an outer blue ring representing Water. Fire and Water protect us and are within us our entire life. We come from Water (our mother’s womb) and Fire burns constantly in each one of us (in our heart).
Now, this piece of clothing is very nice and warm. So, it can simply be appreciated for that but it has a significant function in Spiritual terms and besides that, it is also very comfortable. I can vouch for this as I have used it this past fall at Sunrise Ceremonies, when it gets a little frosty just before the sunrise and I sit on the ground around the Sacred Fire. It also attracts a lot of people, something I was not ready for when I first put it on but I learned to manage. As with my Medicine Pouches, It carries me – I do not carry It.
I should mention that this is not the only shawl made in this manner. Mr. Yvone made at least a dozen, if not more (probably more and as we speak he’s probably making some, haha!) but they have all been given as gifts and none are identical. I gave one away myself, as Mr. Yvone wished me to do and I still have another for somebody else, which I did not send away yet. I only know of one shawl that Mr. Yvone traded for a hunting knife/dagger but as I mentioned earlier, all these Medicine Wheel shawls are gifts and one cannot go and purchase something like this anywhere. If You wish to get one, You will have to find Mr. Yvone, in Verner, Ontario, or at the Nippissing Pow-wow and maybe he’ll have one for You. (This is how I try to get people to come to traditional Pow-wows, haha!!)
Alrighty, that’s about it. I just wanted to share this amazing piece of perfection and by doing so to promote First Nations work, art and culture. And yes, to get people to come to traditional Pow-wows; to attend the ceremonies and help with reconciliation. Miigwetch to everyone and chi-miigwetch to Mr. Yvone! Until again.