My tattoo and the meaning behind it
At first glance this is perhaps off topic in regards to my beadwork, but it's not. I created the design on my tattoo and it took me years for the exact design to come to me. I learned a lot in those years that helped me come to this design. It is not just a tattoo to me, it is medicine, it is a reminder, it is protection, and it encompasses my basic beliefs about life. Perhaps you will understand after I paste what I wrote about it years ago (my account says I posted it 203 weeks ago.. wow!) when I first designed it. So, without further ado, here goes my explanation.
The overall tattoo is a bear paw (my clan) with a dreamcatcher (to keep all the negative out and let the good come on in,) and a medicine wheel to signify the circle of life (the coming of age, the things we accomplish in life, the seasons, the directions, and the animals associated with each.) It is on my left shoulder blade and is the bears left hand, and I did that so that he has his arm around me (protection.) And finally, the largest eagle feather is located at the bottom to signify our creator, and two smaller eagle feathers can be found on each side to signify the eagles taking my prayers to the creator.
Here is more information on the medicine wheel and the signifance of the colors:
EAST - Air - Flight
Beginings starts in the east - from where the sun rises we begin a new dawn. Each day is a good new day with a fresh beginning, a new start. East is the direction of the physical body and newness including children and new borns. It is the time of change for all is a new beginning. New ideas and seeing the light. Change. Spring is the season when all things begin to grow and awaken. Yellow is the path of Life, to begin the walk as a warrior, to shine in all that you do. The sun rising in the east empowers each of us. The energy to do and to begin the action of the mind and heart is there.
Animals of wings and flight include hummingbird, the owl, and the hawk. Our words are given to the east that the smoke in the air or the voices in the air may be carried to Spirit.
SOUTH - Fire - Passion
Growth in the South it is the time of Summer. From the bloom we transform into the fruit of the labors. It is the time of mid-day, the hottest part of the day, the part when the sun is overhead and no shadows are cast.. Maturing and growing into an adult to be that who was are. It is the time to accept the change and learn, to understand.
Red is for fire, passion, time of fertility. The South is the place of passion in all things, sex, fertility, mating - the fires that burn within. The direction of fire, like the phoenix we can rise from the flames, we take and rise again from childhood into being an adult in the direction of the South.
The animals in the South represent pride, strength and courage. The eagle with keen sight and strong wings. The lion for the strength and courage to speak out and roar. The wolf so proud to be a team member of a pride.
WEST (Blue) Water - Emotions
Later adulthood the time of Fall, the time of the setting sun - twilight. The daylight fades and brings a new awareness in this time of gradual change. When the darkness comes we must look inward to find the light and have courage. To understand what we see in the darkness may not be real but only shadows.
This is the emotional part of ourselves, like the flowing water we must learn to go with the flow of life. The time of the West is when we learn that we are responsible to all things and to each other. It is the time to prepare, to finish things for the time of Winter is coming. We gather ourselves and family, working together to prepare for what is to come. As the place of emotions it is the place of family and love - of responsibility from our hearts because of the love. It is hard work and team efforts. Black symbolizes change from this life.
The Beaver shows us of the team work and pre-paredness needed for the winter coming. The snake reminds us to shed our skin to grow and change.
NORTH (Green) Earth - Wisdom
As we get older our hair turn white, as we come to our time of winter. White (and purple) also symbolize spirituality. With experience and age we gain wisdom. Now we have time to rest and contemplate the lessons. North is purity and wisdom, a great place of healing. This is the time after midnight, a dream time. The time to be grounded within yourself and deep within, like a bear in a cave.
North is the place of winter. This reminds us to stop and listen. That we must have prepared for the long time of winter. Having been in action the other seasons we now rest and contemplate to understand the wisdom we have been given.
The white buffalo, Moose and Bear. Each prepared and have a layer of fat to sustain them through the winter. They are also the primary source of meat during the winter time for people. They rest and take things slow, not wasting energy, and with the understanding of what winter brings.
I found these definitions HERE.
I use them here because the definitions encompass all that a medicine wheel symbolizes: Seasons, growth, life stages, life lessons, and the animals associated with each. I found that the site explained things perhaps more thoroughly than I could have. The website does a pretty good job explaining things that coincide with the things that I was taught.