Native American Meaning of Cardinal Directions

native american meaning of cardinal directions

Understand Native American Meaning of Cardinal Directions

Native American wisdom is rooted in tradition and ritual. All of these traditions are connected somehow with nature. 

On my journey through living a symbolic life, the Native ways have shown me incredible insights. One of the most fundamentally helpful pieces of wisdom I’ve learned is the Native American meaning of cardinal directions.

By cardinal directions, I mean: North, South, East, West.  Every Native tribe has specific symbolic meanings tied to cardinal directions. These meanings and directions are incorporated into ritual, healing, life, and spiritual growth.

Each culture has their own stance on the inherent meanings of the cardinal directions.  However, almost every form of ancient wisdom (and worship) acknowledges directions are sacred.  Further, every spiritually inclined culture agrees there are specific energies residing and resonating in each directional quadrant. 

We could say there are different energetic personalities expressed in each of the four directions.

Knowing these directional personalities, and the symbolism pertaining to each of the four quadrants of the compass can hone our spiritual focus in magnificent ways. 

Moreover, we can retrieve oracular meaning from the directional personalities.  For example, if we see a deer cross our path from east to west, we can look back to directional symbolism for enhanced meaning about this animal encounter.  By doing so, we can derive poignant messages from the natural world.

“Great Spirit,
help me always
to speak the truth quietly,
to listen with an open mind
when others speak,
and to remember the peace
that may be found in silence. ”

~Cherokee Devotional

Basics of Native American Meaning of Cardinal Directions

The following symbolic attributes for the meaning of cardinal directions come from direct conveyance from Native wisdom:

  • Honoring the East: Beginnings, Awakening, Ascension, Vision, Spiritual wisdom
    This is where the new beginnings of creation stir at the cusp of dawn. With the rising sun, a dawning of a greater spiritual awareness envelopes us.  As the new warmth presses upon us, our own divine spark ignites and we are aware of far more potential in life than ever before. In this spiritually-focused quadrant, the intangible self lives vibrantly and scintillates creative wisdom.
  • Honoring the West: Conclusions, Stability, Goals, Foundations, Physical wisdom
     When we trace the path of the setting sun, our eyes are left looking upon the earth’s body.  With this earthy, grounded vision we contemplate the material, and the bounty borne from the mouth of matter.  In this physically-focused quadrant, the roots of our own bodies mingle with mass – with earth.  We understand totality and completion.  We also understand the cycles of corporeal return.
  • Honoring the North: Illumination, Discovery, Logic, Understanding, Mental wisdom
    Science and knowledge accumulated through our life cycles is purified and trickles from the tips of ice-capped mountains of wisdom.  As these streams of knowing move to our awareness, we prepare for  Intellectual illumination.  In this mentally-focused quadrant, the greatest reaches of our comprehension roll back into us, causing avalanches of deductive reason.  Intellectual knowing is processed and crystallized.
  • Honoring the South: Empathy, Trust, Faith, Inclusion, Love, Emotional wisdom
    A dive into ethereal bloodlines reveals the music of undulating emotions. We submerge into renewing waters where we lean into the cosmic aortic pulse.  Each beat of our collective heart mixes our life waters, and we experience whole  In this emotionally-focused quadrant, we softly feel our way into a greater current.   We understand unity.  We swim easily within the community, following downstream paths of love and least resistance.

I trust this installation of Native wisdom about the symbolic meaning of cardinal directions will offer you guidance on your path to seeking deeper, symbolic meanings from your environment.  

As always, thank you for reading.

Brightly,

Avia

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