The great spiritual wheel of Ireland described in the Manor of Tara story (Wheel of Spirit posts) holds a resonance with cosmologies around the world. Cultures define themselves in terms of the ways people perceive the cosmos, their cosmology providing a foundational model for life itself. Because indigenous elders and ancestors who first created these wheels were intimately connected with the Earth this sacred and iconic art of how the universe is put together will reflect Earth elements and aspects.
I have long admired the work, life and writings of Malidoma Patrice Somé. In his book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community, he shares the cosmological wheel of his Dagara tribe.
The medicine wheel of the Dagara people is a symbolic representation of the relationships between the five elements that form the cosmos. Earth is at the center and touches all of the other elements. Water is in the North, opposite Fire, in the South. Mineral lies in the West, and Nature is in the East.
I am always amused when someone comes to one of my ceremonies, experiences my ritual working with the four sacred directions, and then takes me aside to carefully explain how the energies, colors, and attributes I ascribe to the directions are all wrong according to what they have been taught. They most likely wouldn’t appreciate the Dagara medicine wheel either. Variations are as vast as the number of peoples and cultures on this planet. If a wheel invokes the sacred cosmology for people and helps them know and live from their place in the universal web of life, then the layout is perfect.