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Four elements and cardinal directions

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  • #16
    I'm not big on using the directions but for me it's usually North = Air, East = Fire, South = Earth and West = Water.

    Air in the North feels much better to me, although it did take me a lot of thought to come to the above correspondence.
    Everything is right for me, which is right for you, O Universe.
    Nothing for me is too early or too late, which comes in due time for you.
    Everything is fruit to me which your seasons bring, O Nature.
    From you are all things, in you are all things, to you all things return.

    Marcus Aurelius


    • #17
      My associations:

      North: Air (the cold north wind)
      East: Fire (sunrise)
      South: Water (the direction of the sea)
      West: Earth (the continent)


      • #18
        Digging this old one up because I had not found any similar threads while searching online. My ideas have changed since my last post and in the past while I now use: (Like LadyVi!)
        East Air - The first breath of life , Childhood, Sunrise, Spring
        South Fire- Growing Strength, Adulthood, Noon, Summer
        West Earth- Returning to the earth, Elder, Dusk, Autumn
        North Water-Womb, Awaiting Rebirth, Midnight, Winter
        Based on the Cycle of Life and Death


        • #19
          I was uncomfortable using the more traditional elemental assignments. I changed mine to more suit the area I live in.

          Air -North: The weather moves in our area from the North. North Wind, etc.
          Fire - East: Sun rises in the East, the Appalachians are to our East and are filled with coal. I consider coal to be representative of Fire, not Earth.
          Earth - South: South of me is an Adena burial mound. The mountains also run East and South of here.
          Water- West: The Ohio River is on the West side of my home. It's the main water body in the area.

          To me the above makes for sense for me. I would advise anyone not comfortable with placement to move them around. The elementals are more important in my book than the directions anyway.


          • #20
            I was very interested to see, when I clicked on the second page of this thread, that a few of you began to talk about West as being Earth - as I came to that exact conclusion myself while reading the first page!

            I started a thread a few months back on the whys of even connecting the quarters with the elements. Currently, I call quarters as a ritual opening but without associating them with elements at all. I don't have four elements - I acknowledge the three states of matter common on earth and in life as solid/earth, liquid/water, gas/air, and then associate fire or plasma (i.e. the sun) with energy.

            But having read through this thread, I'm starting to feel an emotional pull towards associating element-type things to the quarters again. For a long time (about ten years!) I used the "traditional" associations, but now I'm thinking something like this:

            East: rain/sea
            South: sun
            West: earth
            North: wind

            Where I live, on the east coast of Ireland, most of the wind comes from the east - but of course, like Moonrise, the stronger and more bitter winds come from the north. I actually am starting to see east more as water - but in the form of rain (most of our rain comes from the east) and sea. Water for east/spring/imbolg makes sense for me because of the association of water with life, particularly with the origin of life, and with the womb, and of course the rain necessary for plants to grow in spring and summer.

            And West as earth for me has just struck me as very right, for the same reasons as people have mentioned here - the association of returning to the earth, returning to the womb. Which is, of course, perfect for Samhain, and I do very much associate the wheel of the year with the four quarters. I used to think of west of water because we have such a huge body of water west of Ireland, and because west for me means our house in Kerry in the mountains by the sea and my experiences on the aran islands. But when I think about it, I can just as easily, and perhaps more easily associate those two formative places with earth.

            Interesting topic, anyway, I'm glad I found this thread!
            My blog: The Spinning of the Wheel


            • #21
              Originally posted by Piffy View Post
              Hi all

              I was unsure where to put this post but finally settled on this forum, sorry if I got it wrong.

              I joined this forum two years ago though am only now coming to my first post. Slow developer me

              My Question;

              I first started working with elemental energies about ten years ago and the person who led me through my teaching had me go within and discover the elements of earth, air, fire and water and their corresponding directions from within me. I had no prior experience (came from a scientific and medical background and hadn't come across this thinking before) but I was a natural journey maker and easily found 'my' directions.

              The trouble is, they're not the same as the Gardnerian, Golden Dawn correspondences and I've tried to live with this for a long time. I discovered a fascinating article by Mike Nichols about the reasons he had found for his tradition's allocation of Air in the North and I relaxed to have found someone else who had the same orientation as myself.

              Until now, when I have resumed my interest in Qabala (primarily looking from Ellen Cannon Reed's startpoint) and again am at odds with the rituals that are based in Golden Dawn history such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. I'd really like to do this, the other ones such as the Qabalistic Cross and Middle Pillar Exercise have had great power for me. But I am unsure how viable it would be for me to re-write the LRBP with the elements and correspondences moved around the circle. If I did this, would it be important to still start in the East or to start with Air?

              I'm just curious whether anyone else has found themselves in this situation and how they resolved it for themselves? I was on the verge of just sticking to the LRBP as written but it just feels all wrong inside me. It's as if I can feel to the core of my body that Air is in the North in my world (perhaps it's with living in Scotland... I understand the Celtic witches often saw Air in the north too.)
              You can modify the LBRP into something that will work for you, however your going to have to understand why the ritual is set up the way it is and what your actual aims are.
              Much thought was put into the LBRP and much consideration is needed in the process of changing it.
              The first thing to come to terms with is that you are changing it, that it won't be the same, that the flow will be different.
              This doesn't mean it can't be arranged to do much of the same, however ultimately it will not be the same, having it's own expression.

              I've got a version of the RP i use with fire in the East, air in the south.
              I've also changed the corresponding pentagrams because the pents given in the standard RP-set are designed to get things to flow a certain way.
              The points on the pentagram are attributed the same, I just draw them differently. The points are the same because tracing it unicursally it is actually fire then air.
              There a reason for this and my ritual follows that flow. I still use the standard rituals as well as they have their own strengths.

              You can do it, as long as you are willing to take the time needed to re-engineer it.

              There are two things you need to consider primarily.

              a) when going to quarter to quarter drawing the pents you are moving in a circular fashion.
              you need to consider the flow from one element to the other and the correspondences that follow.

              b) when you call the angels you are forming a crossroads, here you have the tension and compatibility of elements in opposition.
              What is important here is the element on the opposite side of the given element.

              Before we look at that though, consider the way some Cohrane traditions such as the American Folkloric Tradition does it.
              they have fire in East just as I do, however they have Air in the North, opposite Earth.
              It is still opposite Earth but the two are swapped. This isn't really a problem for them though as they cast a compass not a circle.
              meaning their focus is on the crossroads, the cross and not the circular flow. So it doesn't matter in that paradigm.

              Now, with the ritual of the pentagram, you have:

              Air in East, across from Water. Air is masculine, Water is feminine within the alchemical traditions that lead to this arrangement. Water is represented by a downward triangle, and along with Fire is considered primal, they are the first pair. Air and Earth are triangles with a bar through them, implying measure and coming into form. This is a bit counter-intuitive since air is formless.
              It only makes sense when you consider the union of fire and water.... what is formed? Smoke = visible air and once water is boiled away you have left the impurities that were within the water. Fire especially, leaves ash and creates smoke.

              So with an axis of Air and Water you have a force considered intellectual, orderly, rational and arisen balancing a force considered abstract, impressionable, emotional and inherent.
              that which is mold-able to form, and that which we see influencing pattern formation, like we see with weather.

              With an axis of Fire and Earth you have a dynamic and ever changing force of a forge balanced with the ever still, solid and and material force of an anvil, of sorts.
              Energy and matter, inner and outer.

              The motion round is going to depend on your cycle of transition or process.
              and also what comes together to yield it.
              for example Air is between Earth and Fire,
              burn Earth, it turns to smoke.
              Fire is between water and air
              this one is harder, oxygen is need for combustion, while water puts it out.
              However it could be aqua vitae, water with sulfur or the water or "oil" of a plant.
              To ignite an essence, these are very real scenarios with alchemy.
              Water is between Fire and Earth.
              Condensation, water-tables, properties of terrain mixed with changes in temperature.
              Again, this can be said more of oils... we are talking of distillation.
              Air is involved here as a transfer medium and so is water for air, in the creation of smoke and steam...
              too much water though and the wood wont burn.
              if the air pressure isn't just right, you don't get the rain.
              Earth is between Water and Air,
              it took gasses time to cool down and solidify,
              This is condensation, which usually involves gas to liquid, but further the liquid turns to a solid.

              There are also, other Qabbalistic and alchemical reasons for why it is layd out the way it is,
              however, the primary reason is the base nature and transmutation of base things.

              With the AFW attribution you have Water in the West and Fire in the east coming together and they make smoke/air above and the ash/earth below.

              I have Air in the South and Earth in the North though so it also ties into the circular movement and corresponded to the blow between the four realms.
              I have Fire across from Water, the primal axis and Earth across from Air, my derivative axis.The subtle from the gross.

              This however is a very brief post on the elements in alchemical context. to really dig in deep requires some preliminary knowledge of alchemical tradition.

              To answer your question though you always start in the East unless specified otherwise because that is deosil, sunwise... your starting catalyst
              for example, with the airts the East is Air, while with astrological circles fire is the East, and in both paradigms you begin in the East.
              Notice also how the airts go back to the attribution of the four winds and you are beginning with Air in the East.
              Where, starting with fire as my alchemical and philosophical active agent I put Fire in the East.
              I have a ritual though where i start in the North-Earth and go counter-clockwise, backwards to fire...
              stripping away instead of building up until i reach the source.
              from air to water, stripping away the body of a thing
              from water to air, stripping away the personality of a thing
              from air to fire, stripping away the idea of a thing.
              birthing it back in new form through fire.
              The element you start with in the east is your driving force.
              stating from another direction you are starting from another point in the process, but sometimes
              where you begin, is the end. in the ritual where I'm stripping away, i my beginning is the end, I'm moving toward the end in the beginning.

              When you start at a certain quarter or with a certain element? Where are you, psychologically where are you? in your understanding of the causation of things that you are attuning to in your ritual, where are you? If your circle is your forge what are you forging? how are you cooling and tempering it. You have to know these things if you are going to get the results you want. there is no wrong way to cast a circle however there are endless ways of casting the wrong kind of circle.
              Tsalagi Nvwoti Didahnvwesgi Ale Didahnesesgi
              (Cherokee medicine practitioner of left and right hand paths)
     - The Anikutani Tradition