Medicine wheel, or sacred hoop, are either a symbol of indigenous North American culture and religion, or stone monuments related to this symbol.
The monuments were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground oriented to the four directions. Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone(s), and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with “spokes”, or lines of rocks radiating from the center with the spokes facing East, South, West and North following the cardinal directions.. Some ancient types of sacred architecture were built by laying stones on the surface of the ground in particular patterns common to aboriginal people.
Originally, medicine wheels are stone structures constructed by certain indigenous peoples of America for various astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes. Medicine wheels are still “opened” or inaugurated in Native American spirituality where they are more often referred to as “sacred hoops”, which is the favored English rendering by some. There are various native words to describe the ancient forms and types of rock alignments. One teaching involves the description of the four directions.
The rite of the sacred hoop and medicine wheel differed and differs amongst indigenous traditions, as it now does between non-indigenous peoples, and between traditional and modernist variations.