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Wholeness & Wellness Journal
of Saskatchewan Since 1995
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Volume 30 Issue 1
May/June 2024

Blessing the Trees with Love: Introducing the Saskatoon Forest Chaplaincy

Welcome Spring … Rise and Shine!

Join the Campaign to Protect Canada’s Natural Health Products

The Endocannabinoid System and Women’s Health

Pseudo Grains: Exotic and Ancient

Honouring Our Circle

Have Fun BEing YOU :-)


Honouring Our Circle
by Jori Cachene and Verna Cachene
Verna Cachene Jori Cachene

The circle, an omnipresent symbol in the natural world, manifests a shape that is both encompassing and eternal. Within its rounded form lie the mysterious forces of the sun and moon, symbolizing the perpetual cycle of day and night. It embodies a contradictory essence, containing everything and yet nothing simultaneously, serving as a profound metaphor for the cyclical nature of existence. Across diverse North American Indigenous cultures, the circle holds significant symbolic weight, guiding contemplation on the majestic intricacies of the four cardinal directions, the eternal ebb and flow of life and death, and the interconnectedness of all living beings. At the heart of this symbolism lies the medicine wheel, a term that encapsulates the fundamental beliefs of Indigenous worldviews. Despite its apparent simplicity, the circle’s sophistication unfolds upon deeper introspection, revealing layers of meaning and healing potential.

The four directions—East, South, West, and North—also symbolize the four facets of a human being: the physical aspect, the emotional aspect, the mental aspect, and the spiritual aspect. Additionally, they represent the four stages of life: childhood, youth, adulthood, and elderhood. In a balanced wheel, one nurtures and supports all aspects of themselves by adopting healthy habits, spending time in nature, fostering positive relationships, and connecting with something greater than themselves. However, in a colonial world, the mental and physical aspects are often prioritized, while the spiritual and emotional aspects are neglected. Conversely, in some communities, the emotional and spiritual aspects may be fulfilled, but the mental and physical aspects may be lacking. Reflecting on your life, which aspects could benefit from improvement?

Utilizing the circle as a metaphor for life itself, the placement of important elements within the circle’s centre reflects individual priorities and values. For many, this central space is occupied by beloved family members, or cherished possessions, signifying the essence of personal connection and attachment. Conversely, societal values find representation within the sacred space of the centre: within Canadian culture, the pursuit of monetary wealth often assumes centrality, reflecting the prevalent influence of materialism and economic success. The pursuit of which leaves us working more than we do anything else. In contrast, within the Anishinaabe cultural framework, the Great Spirit, known as Kitchi Manitou, is held in the centre, symbolizing reverence for the divine and the interconnectedness of all beings. The placement of these focal elements within the circle serves as a guiding force, shaping the trajectory of one’s life, and influencing values, priorities, and aspirations.

Surrounding the central core of the circle lies a space reserved for elements of utmost significance, representing that which individuals hold closest to their hearts. In contemporary Western societies, this space is often occupied by corporate entities, employment, and economic pursuits, symbolizing the relentless pursuit of material gain and financial security. However, when aligned with personal values and higher purposes, these endeavours can transcend mere materialism, fostering a sense of purpose and service to a greater good. Conversely, within Anishinaabe culture, emphasis is placed on community and kinship, acknowledging the intrinsic connection between individual well-being and collective prosperity. For those of us who walk in two worlds, here our Indigenous ways can align with our financial pursuits when we seek to work for organizations that benefit all people, and not just some. The cultural traits of our work serve as a guiding principle, driving efforts towards decolonization and the revitalization of traditional languages and values.

In the outermost rings of the circle lies that which nourishes and sustains existence, representing the essential elements that support life itself. In Western societies, legal frameworks and societal norms govern human behaviour, shaping interactions and establishing order and, at times, conformity within communities. Conversely, within Indigenous cultures, emphasis is placed on natural laws that govern harmony and balance within the cosmos. Through reverence for nature’s elements—plants, animals, water, earth, air, and fire—Indigenous communities uphold traditions of gratitude and reciprocity, acknowledging humanity’s interdependence with the natural world. Ceremonial practices and rituals serve as expressions of this interconnectedness, fostering deeper connections and understanding among individuals and their environment. What greater laws and understandings represent the outer rings of your circle and why?

The relationship between ourselves and each element of our circle is of utmost importance for our personal health and well-being. Without a clear understanding and vision of all elements, one aspect can become disproportionately important, leading to a loss of perspective and weakening our relationships with other elements, which may ultimately perish. In Western culture, our hyper-focus on materialism can result in a loss of connection to nature, family, and even ourselves. By examining our relationship with each element in our circles, we have the opportunity to enhance our personal health and well-being. We can ask ourselves if there are elements to which we feel closer, and if there are others that we have neglected. In what ways can we honour and bring more awareness to those neglected parts?

Reviewing and recalibrating one’s circle enables individuals to honour the precious gift of life and realign with their authentic selves. By reassessing the placement of elements within their personal sphere, individuals can cultivate a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment. Though the pursuit of material wealth may at times overshadow deeper truths, introspection allows for course correction, facilitating a return to one’s true values and aspirations.

This article, co-authored by Jori and Verna Cachene of the Anishinaabe community of the Yellow Quill First Nation, underscores the profound impact of cultural perspectives on individual and collective worldviews.

Jori Cachene, a Canadian Certified Counsellor with the CCPA, operates a private counselling practice, Deep Change Hypnosis and Counseling, in Regina, SK. In addition to her professional pursuits, she is a passionate musician and artist, contributing to cultural expression and creative exploration on Treaty 4.

Verna Cachene, an elder and Knowledge Keeper, resides in Regina, SK, where she shares her wisdom and traditional teachings with those seeking guidance and understanding. Together, they blend Indigenous knowledge and Western psychology, inspiring others to embrace the interconnectedness of all life forms and honour the inherent wisdom of the natural world.

To contact Jori and/or Verna, email: hypnojori@gmail.com and/or phone: (306) 900-2832.


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