The Great Wheel of Life – Explained


This video explains both the theory and the practical applications of the color wheel.  The “tour” of all the elements of the color wheel starts at the 12:00 minute point.  The following text presents the same material as the video.  So you can learn about the color wheel in your own way.



Welcome to the Guide to the Great Wheel of Life. In the first few sections, this guide introduces the concepts of the Great Wheel of Life so you gain understanding of its ideas and applications.  In the following sections it steps though the Wheel section by section starting at the center. Each section is described and examples are provided for using it in your crystal journey.  


The Great Wheel of Life, also often simply called “the color wheel” is a design that captures many years of study into the meaning and uses of color.  It is a key tool of crystal practitioners. It allow for easily understanding what crystal color energy will be effective for most applications.  In addition, it is an ingenious wheel of life.  Hence its name.  It is an integration of the wheel of the stars above, the annual rotation of the earth in the solar system, the daily rotation of the Earth and the resulting cycles of human life.  

The Wheel is your guide to the cyclical nature of time and your life.  It depicts the cycles of life on Earth.  It relates the cycle of the day to the cycle of the seasons and the  cycles of our lives.  It shows how the color spectrum cycles through the year and our lives.  It shows us the seasons, our ancient festivals, our totems,  our chakra energy centers, and the four elements that govern the flow of our spirits and energy.  It aligns each of these cycles.  And it explains the energy of the colors associated with each part of each cycle, giving us a powerful tool to understand which crystals will provide us the most appropriate color energy for our needs during that time.  

One important note:  The Great Wheel is drawn and aligned as if it were overhead and you are facing South.  This is an ancient alignment, and might seem odd when you are used to a compass where north is “up” and west is to the left.  

Consider though that the sky is above you, and that (at least in the northern hemisphere), the source of life (the sun) is to the south. 

Also, consider that if you could view the Solar System from a point far above the north pole, you’d see the Earth revolving counter-clockwise about the Sun and rotating  counter-clockwise on its axis. 

So on the Great Wheel the colors and seasons move in a counter-clockwise direction and are viewed looking up to the south.  It is aligned to the Solar System.  If you hold it overhead, and face south you will see it aligned to the real world you are on – dawn will be in the East and evening in the West and the sun will move through the southern sky.  


The Great Wheel of Life combines the concepts of time and color in a circular context. This might seem unusual, because we are often more used to viewing both time and color as linear ideas. 

However, both time and  color can be experienced linearly or cyclically. To many of us in the modern world, time seems to just run on and on, day after day, year after year. 

We measure how much of it we use in certain activities, bemoan being delayed in traffic as a “waste of time,” and count birthdays as monuments to our passage through time. We mark days, months, years, decades, and centuries. We have major celebrations at the millennium. We see things as having a start, a duration, and a finish. We see a life as a sequence of events that stretches from birth to death. We measure our existence by the stages of our lives. 

We have the Judeo-Christian viewpoint that we are the center of events. We see time through the lens of a historian. We see a sequence of events pertaining to our species. We measure the intervals to gain perspective. We are just points on a timeline extending backward.

But there is another way to see time. It is a cosmic view, an Earth-centric view, and a circular view. Time is a great circle. Galaxies rotate around their galactic cores. The earth circles the sun. The moon circles the earth. The earth rotates on its axis. We are living a dance—a gyrating, pulsing, rotating, spinning dance through space and time. We circle and circle. The sky changes and changes back.

The seasons change, and then change back. We circle from colder to warmer and back to colder. The ice thaws to water,  and then refreezes to ice. The sun rises and sets. The moon is new, full, and new again. Time on Earth is a cycle of repeating dawns and sunsets, days and nights, and winters, springs, summers, and autumns.

Like time, color can be viewed in both a linear and cyclical manner. The color spectrum humans can see starts at violet and extends through the colors of the rainbow to red. The wavelengths are well known. The colors  we see extend from about 400 nm to about 700 nm. This spectrum is often depicted as a linear bar graph showing the colors’ change as the  wavelengths change.

 But imagine bending that bar around into a circle, melding the infrared with the ultraviolet, producing a red-violet color. Now you have a circle where the colors continually merge into the next, going round and round without beginning or end.

Why would we want to depict colors  as circular? We do so because that is how we, as humans, relate to color.

center of color wheel We, as children of this Earth, are aligned with the cyclic nature of color because we are aligned with the cyclic nature of life on Earth, and our planet cycles through the colors as it traces out the cycle of the year. 


This cycle is shown in the Great Wheel of Life. It depicts the fundamental alignment of nature’s color with life itself. It depicts the cyclic nature of time and color on Earth, revealing their natural meanings.

On the Great Wheel, the colors flow from the dark violets and blues of the winter sky through the promise of spring in the melting turquoise waters of the brooks and lakes as they are freed of ice. The colors change to the greens of spring grass as the vernal equinox passes, then quickly to the bright yellows of the hot summer sun. As the colors darken, first to the oranges, then to the reds of the autumn leaves, the earth approaches the autumnal equinox. Then the colors darken further, and the earth moves into winter. The amethyst skies darken into the violets and indigos, reflecting the now-barren landscapes and the darkening natural earth tones of the shortened days. Then at the vernal equinox, the cycle begins again with the indigos and blues of the winter sky slowly giving way to the transitional greens of spring.

The influence rays of the natural minerals, crystals, and gemstones affect our deepest mind based on this natural cycle. We, as humans, are aligned with the earth and its cycles. We are aligned with its natural colors. We respond to the vibrations from deep within our natural selves. We feel color. We interpret color. In our brains, color triggers emotions and feelings. Colors have meaning to our natural selves. We feel the growth of the spring green. The reds of autumn excite our passions, and we all respond to the sense of dreamlike wonder that violet transmits.

Natural Order of  Human Growth and Life

Not only is the Great Wheel of Life a depiction of the natural progression of the year, but it is also a depiction of the natural order of human life. We will shortly see specifically how to use the wheel to find one’s place on it as we pass our lives and grow and mature.  Like the Mother Earth, each individual and each generation is born, grows, matures, and dies. You and your generation have a spring of growth, a summer of achievement, an autumn of maturing, and a winter of knowledge, magic and wisdom.  The cycle repeats with every generation.  

While the year technically starts as the days begin to lengthen at the winter solstice, life is still enshrouded in the oncoming winter. The seeds of new life lie dormant, awaiting spring. But like the earth, our older generations are preparing for spring when the life of new generations will burst forth in all its vibrancy once more. Like the earth, the cycle of human life spins around as generations create new ones and really the cycle starts in the Spring. 

The cycle of birth, death, and renewal is natural. Like other parts of nature, in our springtime of life we experience a period of rapid growth as we find our way to adulthood and maturity. For us it is a time of physical, spiritual, and mental growth. 

And, just like other life on Earth, a high summer period of young adulthood occurs when we have the physical vigor of youth. For us it is a time of enthusiasm, success, and joy. We then have usually found our mates and paths and, as we mature into full adulthood, the time of passion arrives. We have found our loves, both physical and  spiritual. As we mature and gather experience, our lives turn inward with reflection, and we see things for their real value. 

 In the autumn of our lives, our insights into and understanding of our place in the cosmos grows. Often at this point we are freed of many worldly demands, and a time to pursue dreams arrives.  

Finally, through our discoveries, growth, passions, and introspection, we become wise in the ways of the world, and we are able to see what truly is important. As the winter of our individual lives approaches we slow down, trust our hard-learned wisdom, and find the faith in and acceptance of our place in the universe. Our lives progress through these stages as naturally as the world progresses through the seasons.

The Great Wheel of Life shows us that we are aligned with the natural world. It shows us that our cycles as people are aligned with the cycles of nature. Like the natural world, we have a time of birth, a time of awakening, a high summer of vigor, an autumn in our lives that gives us the strength and courage to persevere. And we have a winter in which we find our peace and place in the universe as the cycle of life prepares to renew itself again. But, upon reflection, how could this not be so? We are products of this Earth. We are children of the earth. It would be incomprehensible if we were not aligned with the rest of the natural cycle. We change as we age just as the world changes as the year ages. The earth renews itself through periods of birth and death; and, as a part of it, so do we. Our nature is nature. We are the earth. Through the color rays, our crystals can connect us to the earth and its Life Force, combining its natural energy with our minds and spirits. 

This is the Great Wheel of Life.  Let’s now see how it teaches us how to select our crystal energy for almost any purpose or time.  

The  Wheel Examined 

We will start at the center.

In the center of the Wheel is a symbol.  It is called the Taijitu. You know it as the Yin/Yang symbol.  It depicts the concept of the constant dance of the natural balance of the universe.  

Radiating out from the Taijitu are 12 color rays.  If you look closely you will see the Red color in the upper right and violet in the upper left.  Between them is a color, “amethyst.”  The color wheel is the visible spectrum, like a rainbow, folded around such that the two ends, red  and violet are connected.  To connect them an equal part of each is added together producing a blending ray, a connection ray, amethyst.  

Yes, there are tens of thousands of shades of color, but this color wheel uses the basic colors that give us a complete picture without complexity that is not needed. There are many ways to choose the colors of a wheel.  This one is consistent with many modern divisions of the spectrum and works well with the names of colors people know and understand.

Why 12 colors?  Well, for several reasons.  One is that we can easily associate them with the Zodiac signs and the months of the year.  That makes the wheel useful.  We also recognize as Wikipedia tells us, “The number twelve carries religious, mythological and magical symbolism, generally representing perfection, entirety, or cosmic order in traditions since antiquity.”  We seek to represent cosmic order, and we use 12 colors. 

In each of the colors you will find words that describe the meanings, feelings, and impressions these colors bring to most people.  Now color meaning is certainly cultural, but across the ages and centuries and cultures there are some rather universal meanings.  These we have captured.  The colors may well harbor different emotions for some.  That is to be expected.  This is a place to start.  What this helps you do is understand what a particular crystal’s color might evoke in a person’s emotions or desires.  For example, you will see the word “Joy” in the section of Orange It is telling you that the color is associated with feeling of joy for many people.  

This is a major use of the Great Wheel.  It is a quick way to select a crystal for a particular use.  A quick glance at the wheel saves a lot of research time.   

Now look closely at the outer edge of each color wedge and you will see a small white number.  They start at bottom outer edge of Turquoise with an “8” and go all around to “96”  These are the ages of man.  The origination is birth at the Dawn point.  Each wedge is 8 years of the expected life of a human, going to age 96.  Using this scale you can find your age and know what colors of crystals are most suited to your time so far on earth.  For example, if you are 45 years old you are approaching the evening of life and you are in the Orange color time of Friendship, community and family times.  This is a very good application of the wheel. You can advise people that wish to have crystal energy to deal with life by suggesting crystals with the color energy they may need. 


In the first inner circle are the names of the colors for easy reference.  Interspaced with the names are the times of the day: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Midnight.  The alignment shows the bright yellows of the midday sun transitioning to the darkness of midnight.  You can easily assess any particular time of day from this simple measure.  For example, mid afternoon is associated with the golden hue.  It would be useful to use that in a ritual perhaps for an event occurring in the mid afternoon.

The next circle has the dates of the Zodiac signs.  Note that the cycle goes  counterclockwise.  Examine this for a moment and you will see that Dec 21 is at the top most point dividing the colors of amethyst and violet.  The year begins here at the Winter Solstice with the violet color and continues around counterclockwise.  This scale makes it very easy to know what crystals are useful during a particular time of year.  For example during  Pisces, 19 Feb to 19 March you will find the blue crystals will have a particular use and energy.  If someone wants a “birthstone” and does not like the traditional one, you have a way to find them a new one.  Find their birthday on the ring and offer crystals  of the color shown.  It will align them with the cosmos not the American Jewelers Society.  

The next circle shows  both the Solstices and Equinoxes, and some traditional holidays for reference.  If you were planing a Summer Solstice ritual, you might consider using the energy of yellow and olive crystals that are aligned with this time.   

The next circle has  four scales.  It shows the seasons, the signs of the zodiacs, the totems and the names of the Winds. The totems are from the Medicine Wheel of Sun Bear.  There are many such lists of totems but we find this list to be acceptable to many without offense to any Native people. The winds are the traditional Roman names for the winds.  

Should you wish to perform a ritual or create  a talisman for a particular use you can use this guide. For example if you wanted to make a talisman for Friendship you would find the word in the Orange area read out and see the Bear.  (Hmmm teddy bear?) You might make a talisman using that design.  If you were doing a ritual and needed to invoke the spirit of the North wind, Boreas, you could use an amethyst to do so effectively. 

Outside the circles you will find the names of the Zodiac signs, the names of the totems, and you will find the locations and colors of the chakras of the human body.  This information is handy for crystal healing.  It is easy to connect a particular need to a chakra imbalance and find the color energy needed. 

Around the outside are the four elemental energies.  Now these are not directly connected to the individual zodiac signs, but rather to the color wheel and the cycle of life as a whole.  The Earth Energy crystals are those of the Spring, the Fire Energy crystals work well in the Summer, the Water Energy in the Autumn and the Air Energy crystals are quite energetic in the Winter.    

Try something.

Find your birth month in the second outer ring.  The color of that wedge is the true birthstone color of yours. You might find that a crystal or gem of that color is much more “you.”  Most people do.  The reason that you might not connect with your birthstone is that the list was just “made up” by the ‘The Jewelers of America’ in 1912.   The natural flow of the seasons and the colors on this Earth may be more appropriate.

Also check the little numbers and find your age.  Again you will find a color that may suit you for your surroundings and feel “comfortable.” 


You will find many uses for the wheel.  We mostly use it to quickly find the color energy of a crystal for a particular need or desire, but it is very flexible.  

and…. oh yes, these posters are available from Crystal Vaults.  They are 18 inches by 24 inches and printed on heavy, coated paper.  We frame them and put them on the wall for easy reference.  Invaluable to any crystal user or healer.  You will find them at


Hank Mason