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The Medicine Wheel, by Barry Goddard

The Medicine Wheel: Maps of Transformation, Wholeness and Balance, by Barry Goddard
Moon Books, 1785359673, 320 pages, October 2022

“This book is not just another ‘self-help’ guide, but rather an exploration of an ancient map that shows how human beings and the world work..”1

The quote above expresses the intention of The Medicine Wheel: Maps of Transformation, Wholeness and Balance by Barry Goddard and is a reminder for humanity of the intimate connection we have with nature and the cosmos. I had the privilege of reviewing Goddard’s other title, Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology, and as a result, I had a deep interest in seeing the approach he would take to this topic. I was not disappointed.

The Medicine Wheel is divided into eight chapters and provides the reader with information that is readily accessible and usable. The acknowledgments in the beginning of the book hold a special meaning in the sincerity and care given to how this topic is presented:

“I would like to express my gratitude to the indigenous peoples everywhere for hanging on to their ancient ways and teachings, despite our modern attempts to eradicate them.2

“Chapter 1: Introducing the Wheel” provides a bit of background around how Goddard encountered the Medicine Wheel and shares his transition from the perspective of Buddhist practice and the new pathways opened in his studies of Shamanism. He writes:

“Shamanism with its foundation in the sense of being part of a world that is alive and to be cherished, provided the remedy for myself, and I believe can do so for the same imbalance in the culture at large.3

Additionally, Goddard also addresses the concerns around “cultural appropriation” that have evolved around many wisdom practices. He offers the reminder that everything of value has a point of origin that may not be of the individual’s heritage but how that content is represented and shared is the more important way of approach and enables the wisdom contained within to be brought into the world more broadly.

As you move through each of the chapters, there is a sense of being part of a grand exploration of revealing the nature of the worlds surrounding as well as the inner landscape that holds the Medicine Wheel organically within. And, although there are many ways in which the Medicine Wheel may be used and inclusive of additional components, Goddard offers use of the Wheel in its four simplified aspects aligning with the elements and cardinal directions of East, South, West and North.

“It is somewhat artificial to talk about each direction on its own, because they are inter-related, and no direction can be grasped without the light shed on it by the other directions. At the same time, the Wheel does have a movement  that gathers momentum and wisdom as it rotates on its path from East through South and West to North, and back to East again. This turning describes the whole arc of our life, as well as the many turnings on different levels within the course of our lives.4

Each of the subsequent chapters devotes its entirety to one of these elements. One can find the subtle references to his knowledge of astrological concepts in these chapters which are robust with varying correlates and fresh perspectives on what the composition of each of the elements may be beyond any tradition’s approach. “Chapter 2: The East-Initiation” provides discussion of this place of the rising sun and new beginnings as also a place of the magical child, courage and a space of major transformative change; “Chapter 3: The South-Emotional Awakening” deepens down into innocence, trust and the shadow nature; “Chapter 4: The West-Incarnation” opens the reader to relationships, gender and transgender and relationships; and “Chapter 5: The North-Perspective” carries the reader to the place of their own legacy and how that is affected by concepts of ageism, becoming the teacher and community.

For those readers who wish to add more of the complexity of the Medicine Wheel, “Chapter 6: The Non-Cardinal Directions” fills that desire. We now find a Wheel of eight directions corresponding to those directional spaces between the established E – S – W – N.  These tell more of the chronology associated with the Wheel moving from the East of the Child and coming finally to the North of the Elder and soon to be Ancestor. Although one of the shorter chapters, it is rich with enhancements.

“Chapter 7: Using the Wheel” brings the reader now to the point of actualizing all that gained of knowledge from the previous chapters. If not skipped ahead to, this very brief few pages provides the final integration to begin effective and meaningful personal work with the Wheel.

The concluding “Chapter 8: Correlations-Jung’s Typology, Archetypes, Astrology and the Mandorla” is the finishing touch meant to further whet the appetite of those wishing to extract more from working with the Medicine Wheel. 

The Bibliography includes some great recommendations, as well as relevant films and documentaries. Overall, The Medicine Wheel hits multiple checkboxes well beyond the traditional writings about the Medicine Wheel and its applications in spiritual practice.

Would I Recommend?

One of the many things I love about Goddard’s writing style is the vastness of interwoven disciplines that are evident in his works. The Medicine Wheel is another title that offers the reader multiple paths of established resonance, as well as new avenues to claim and explore.

There is a wonderfully integrated underpinning of psychological basis for this work with the Medicine Wheel and in this way, this book becomes a deep dive into revealing the nuances and complexities of the individual’s psyche and aligning it with spiritual growth and personal practice. And, most importantly, the clear message is that of our interconnectedness to each other and the world we have chosen for this incarnation’s lessons.

About the Author: Barry Goddard

In his twenties and thirties Barry was engaged in Buddhist practice, but for the last 25 years the main currents have been astrology and shamanism. He regularly writes blogs and Facebook posts about both shamanism and astrology, to which he brings a fresh and sometimes controversial perspective. He also does astrology readings and runs courses on Shamanism. He has recently written a book about astrology, Surfing The Galactic Highways Adventures in Divinatory Astrology. Barry lives on Dartmoor in Devon, UK.

Surfing the Galactic Highways, by Barry Goddard

Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology, by Barry Goddard
Moon Books, 978-1803410104, 216 pages, January 2023

“This book is aimed at anyone who has a little bit of knowledge of astrology upwards. Astrology is one of those subjects that enters your bones, and if it is there, then it is there, however much or however little you know. It is a primordial connection to the sky that many of us feel.”1

The quote above succinctly expresses the intention of Surfing the Galactic Highways: Adventures in Divinatory Astrology by Barry Goddard. The twenty-one (21) chapters cover an expansive and fresh perspective that differs from the usual books on astrology and often a more mechanical approach that forms a less intuitive structure for the reader. The visual appeal draws the reader in simply in the cover art work and the colors used and imagery, which exude a playful approach. It is reminiscent of the required dioramas that we crafted as children in elementary school. 

Lest, this playful first encounter set the tone for frivolity in the content, there is an abundance of practical and very relatable information within the pages of this title. To that point, “Chapter 1: The Power of Astrology” begins with the First Vaccination Chart reflecting the date when Margaret Keenan (UK), received the first dose of the COVID vaccine on December 8th, 2020. Using this as a starting point for the innate power of astrology as a predictive tool grounded in the present celestial events, Goddard creates the fertile space of return to inclusion of a sentient and accessible Universe as a tool of free will and intention…. 

“Astrology enchants the universe in an age when that enchantment has been replaced by the notion of a dead universe, that the universe is just a thing and we are just one more thing in it. We are the first people in history to entirely forget our roots in spirit, in the sense that consciousness is fundamental.”2

As you move through the chapters of this book, there is a sense of being part of an adventure in exploration of the astrological basics versus the academia of the subject matter. “Chapter 2: Keeping it Simple” exemplifies this approach beautifully. Goddard provides the reader and novice with just enough astrological information to make sense of the deeper explorations of the components of astrological practice. 

“I like to keep astrology simple, because it is then easier to remain close to the symbolism. When you are close to the symbolism, when you feel it strongly, it can speak through you. Anyone can learn the set of meanings of the planets and signs and put them together to read a chart. A computer can do that. But that is not astrology, because it is not the gods speaking through you, but the intellect, which needs to be the servant, not the master.”3

This simple approach is sampled in the reading of Barack Obama’s chart – only containing the Sun, Moon and Rising signs. The lesson here is one of using the highlights (Sun, Moon, and Rising) information as the starting points for analysis of an individual chart. The reader is reminded of the deep, albeit for many unconscious, knowing we have of the two largest celestial bodies of reference we have access to directly: the Sun and the Moon. This concept follows the idea of connection and symbolism and allows those very common things to speak through the astrological reading by way of what is already established as a connection to the reader’s ideology of what the Sun and Moon mean to them beyond astrological purposes. 

Goddard provides all of the usual information sought after by those looking to astrology with specific intentions. “Prediction, Political Astrology and Bad Astrology” (Chapter 3), “Relationships” (Chapter 4), “Astrology, Divination and Science” (Chapter 10) and “The Elemental Balance” (Chapter 11) are just a few of the highlights that would satisfy the more traditional approach.  But, the more interesting perspectives can be found in chapters such as these: “Trusting in Death” (Chapter 8), “Tweaking Our Creation Mythologies” (Chapter 12), “The Geography of the Underworld” (Chapter 21) and others that pique the reader’s curiosity about entwining astrological concepts into more expansive areas of consideration. 

Throughout Surfing the Galactic Highways, the underpinnings of a scientific approach to astrology are woven with the mythos of sign and planet and the symbolism becomes one infused with reality and intuitive creativity. Each chapter is primed with visual examples of charts that have been simplified in how much is contained within, allowing the reader to properly digest the concepts presented and create new pathways of understanding that can at a later date be expanded upon. 

Would I Recommend?

In Surfing the Galactic Highways, Goddard has successfully taken some very dry and often challenging principles of astrology and crafted them in such a way that makes them relatable to everyone at all layers of knowledge base. Goddard’s writing style is one that elicits an ease of reading that is similar to that of sitting and discussing a complicated subject with a patient and enthusiastic friend whose only goal is one of wanting to share their passion for that topic. All in all, this book is an excellent resource for those who wish to explore the many uses of astrological application and enjoy the journey of new awakenings. 

About the Author: Barry Goddard

In his twenties and thirties, Goddard was engaged in Buddhist practice, but for the last 25 years the main currents have been astrology and shamanism. He regularly writes blogs and Facebook posts about both shamanism and astrology, to which he brings a fresh and sometimes controversial perspective.