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Piffy
August 25th, 2008, 08:07 AM
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 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/7280/rethink.html 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.)

Ivy Artemisia
August 25th, 2008, 12:58 PM
The way I see it, when you utilize the traditional correspondences between the elements and the directions, you also tap into the energy of those who've used those correspondences in the past. For example, if you call air in the east when calling a quarter, you are also tapping into the energy that those before you have called. I've heard it referred to as tapping into the egregore. The similar repeated action itself draws energy.

Same thing with the LBRP. I re-wrote it myself, because I the archangels precense didn't mesh well with my personal practice. However, I ended up using the traditional one, because it felt more powerful, and "worked better" than my version. Sure, my version was okay, but when I used the traditional one, I feel that it tapped into a different kind of energy.

Of course, this is just my opinion... YMMV.

Piffy
August 25th, 2008, 03:18 PM
Thanks Ivy, I believe you are right in this. I have discovered great power in words repeated many times, even if I am not actively part of the religion they belong to such as the time I stood in the Notre Dame Cathedral and was entranced by the words of the Lord's prayer being recited and could feel the impact of those words being said down through history.

I've been doing a huge amount of reading trying to get to grips with this whole topic and have discovered just how recent the correspondences were, and how the original allocation being the Enochian Great Table was altered several times in which direction the Watchtowers and elements were placed. It both helped an hindered in that I could see that there IS no right answer but that the effect you mention is very present, this system is the one that millions of people have followed in their lives and it will have left it's traces.

I'll just have to experiment like the scientist I was trained to be :smile:

Thanks for responding.

RainInanna
August 25th, 2008, 06:46 PM
Hey, Piffy? I hope you don't mind, but I dropped this into Paths: Ceremonialists because I think they are the best ones to answer your question within a Ceremonial perspective. I'm not sure the general Pagan answer I might give would apply at all, since you're doing rituals within a very specific (Ceremonialist) context. The folks over here in Ceremonialists are better equipped to give you a good answer that suits what you are doing.

Not that I think you posted in the wrong forum, but I do think the people over here can give you a better answer than any other members.

Lunacie
August 25th, 2008, 07:21 PM
I don't really know anything about the Quaballah or even the Lesser Banishing Ritual - but perhaps it would help you to take a good look at why you associate certain elements with certain directions rather than being concerned with doing it the same way as Gardner was taught and passed down in his own tradition.

For me fire is associated with the south because that is when the sun is at it's strongest point and therefore associated with the summer solstice.

West is the direction of water, of twilight and dying and emotions, and the autumnal equinox.

North is the earth, midnight, mysteries, going underground to renew and refresh, the winter solstice.

East is air, sunrise, which means new beginning, new life, the spring equinox.

I do not call the Watchtowers, never could understand what Guardian Angels have to do with witchcraft. Since it doesn't work for me, I don't use that. I simply call to the elements, often visualizing a breeze blowing softly against my face, warming my hands in front of a blazing fire (with a nice pot of soup cooking), cupping cool water in my hands and rinsing my face, and scooping up some fresh turned dirt from the garden or holding a nice smooth stone with energy of it's own.

Piffy
August 26th, 2008, 03:44 AM
No, I don't mind it being moved at all. I was puzzling for ages where best to put it but as I can only really describe myself as 'new' to all this settled on the 'new' section :)

Thanks Lunacie, I love your evocative descriptions of your experience with the elements.

Well I think for me the reason why I felt so resistant to simply changing my associations to fit with the majority was because the initial meditation I had done in which I had walked northwards to discover the element there had been so powerful a meeting with Air that it seems to have rooted very deep. There I found cold, dark, wise, thoughtful, airy senses, of wide open arctic spaces blown by the northern wind (I did say I lived in Scotland? ;) and in one of it's windier east coast areas...). I met and talked with an air creature... oh so much that defies words really.

Earth is also a place of spring and sunrise and new life for me but that led me to greenness, earthiness, the smell of the ground as the cold drops away and plants start to burst to the sky.

I'm with you on Fire in the South and Water in the west. Probably the hardest of them to sense was Water for me and that tallies with problems I have actually feeling my feelings etc (though I've worked hard on that since that first meditation ten years ago).

The Guardian Angels feel ok for me once I realised they were nothing to do with Christianity. Not that I have anything against Christianity either, I am still a member of a church even if I don't attend services any more and just have changed direction towards a more nature orientated way of worshipping.

In fact, my wiser times seem to happen in the mornings and as I woke this morning I heard the wisdom that I need to spend less time dwelling on fitting into rituals and more time out in the woods and on the hills with my dogs :) ie, get a bit more natural perspective again rather than worrying about 'getting things right'.

Lunacie
August 26th, 2008, 09:28 AM
Ah, that makes sense as well, new growth and beginnings coming from the earth - as well as burying the past in the earth. Could be either. But because I follow the wheel of the year in my practice, it makes sense to me to have the quarters/elements following the wheel of the year, spring to summer to fall to winter.

People who claim to belong to only one element I think are missing out on a bigger picture, and I suppose the same could be said of equating each element with only one direction. It could be an interesting exercise for my group to try finding associations between each season and each element and each direction instead of limiting them to only one connection. Cool.

Fr.Vega Morn
August 27th, 2008, 04:14 PM
93,

The Golden Dawn attributions are fairly common being:

East: Air
West: Water
South: Fire
North: Earth

However, in Liber V Vel Reguli*, Aleister Crowley employs:

East: Earth
West: Water
South: Fire
North: Air


*AC's re-vamped pentagram ritual to 'invoke the Energies of The Aeon Of Horus'.

I think the most important point is that whatever attributions one uses, they use them consistently and understand why they are using the symbols that they are.


93 93/93

Moonrise
August 27th, 2008, 05:06 PM
Thats so funny.
We are going through the same thing.
Gardnerian, but rethinking the Watchtowers.
I made a wheel, with these correspondences....

Its very rough, as I dont have any fancy photoshop program.
But to me...
East: Yes, the sun rises in the east.. it rises over the Earth in the East and sets in the Water in the West.
East: EArth, life is stirring, and when you apply the wheel of the year to it, you see how Earth in East is at Imbolc (if Celtic year)or Ostara... and also, if you look at the lil wheel I made, you'll see that where the male/female seasons meet up is at the solstices/equinoxes.
Samhain, in the North, Air... when nothing else is growing. The time of the Lord of Misrule, and into Yule, another very male time of year. Not really (to me anyhow) appropriate for the feminine energy of Earth to be in the North, marking the time when the earth is at her least active point.
When all is dark, when the sun gives no warmth, at the time of Samhain and Yule, you have.. Air.....

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y50/MereMoonGirl/blinkies/Circle2crpd2.jpg

Solya
August 28th, 2008, 04:40 AM
During the time I practiced the more ceremonial side of rituals, I always employed the attributions from the Golden Dawn for the elements. This worked fine for me, but when I look back on it I can't help but think that it only worked well because of the tradition that went with it. There's power in following a tradition many others have followed before you... and in that respect, working with these correspondences was awesome.

However, I'm inclined to switch elements around a lot now that I've stepped off the ceremonial way of doing things. The only element that never changes here is water, which is always located in the west for me. The rest changes at will... depending on the season we're in, depending on the way I feel, depending on what I sense from the world around me... and so, it would be entirely possible for me to have fire in the north or earth in the east. My preferred attributions, however, are air in the north and earth in the east.

The thing is... there's a fifth element. Spirit moves in every single one of them, as well as in the centre... and so this makes them interrelated and interchangeable depending on the way you want to use them.

Lunacie
August 28th, 2008, 09:06 AM
I feel like a dunderhead for not mentioning the fifth element - spirit - myself. But in my defense I've been very sick with a cold virus, very fuzzy headed. I agree that spirit connects everything, making the other four elements interrelated. But I'm not at a place where I can make them all interchangeable. I need to know that earth lies in the north, that air blows from the east, that fire comes from the south, and that water moves in the west.

Which brings to mind a chant I love...

Earth turns, air blows, fire burns, water flows.

Moonrise
August 28th, 2008, 12:07 PM
I consider myself to be representative of the 5th element.
For me also, fire is in the south, water, west, air is now north and earth east.
As i mentioned, when I place it in conjunction with the wheel of the year, it makes no sense to me to have Earth in the North where it is the time of the Lord of Misrule, when the earth has stopped growing and is turning to sleep now. To me, North is where the North Wind comes from... and when in conjunction with the wheel (such as I posted on page one), seems that earth does best in the East... after all, the sun rises over Land in the east and sets into the ocean in the west. Back and forth.
North-Male, East-Female, South-Male, West-Female... and as we go round the circle, hitting each of these directions, male,female,male,female.... we build up energy as a generator.
Earth in East is new beginnings, Goddess is awakening at Imbolc and the earth warms until Beltaine/Litha in the south, which is a God time of year...
It all boils down to what makes sense for each of us.
My 'truth' doesnt need to be anyone elses, only my own. :)

Piffy
August 29th, 2008, 11:58 AM
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and contributions, it all gives me much to muse upon.

I really like Moonrise's map of the correspondences. I must admit, the part that particularly clicks for me both with Mike Nichols and with Moonrise's statements are that it matters to me to have male to male and female to female across the poles. I guess there is always going to be some discrepancy whatever system we work with and it just matters to find out which are the most important and unadaptable for each of us and which we can afford to be flexible about.

That was fascinating about the re allocation of elements in the pentagram ritual to 'invoke the Energies of The Aeon Of Horus'. I hadn't come across that but my understanding of Thelemic writing's is too poor to really grasp what is being done in that ritual. I've mainly been coming across the LRBP because of the interest in Qabala that was particularly nourished by Ellen Cannon Reed's Witches Tarot. ...Which brings up a whole different dilemma because she has Swords correlating with Fire while I have them in line with the Waite tarot system with swords being Air. I'm afraid I've worked with Tarot to the Waite system far too long for me to be able to adjust that one so I'll just have to admire the Witches Tarot from afar I think. ;)

Ladyvi
September 7th, 2008, 09:12 AM
interesting..

i found more comfort in placing the elements in this formation

east Air
west Earth
south Fire
north water

this was ininspirtation to the flow of life. Air youth, Fire adult, Earth elder and Water the womb or the embryo.

Aleister Crowley's formation is interesting. the elements are in proper oppositions to gain maximum power before releasing it to its directed cause.

Vi

sidhe
September 8th, 2008, 06:22 PM
For the long, convoluted response:

It depends.

If I'm working something dependent on GD symbolism, I use the traditional E-Air, S-Fire, W-Water, N- Earth. Also, my wife prefers those, so she uses them.

I find that for Thelemic work, Crowley's E-Earth, S-Fire, W-Water, N-Air works better. I like that better, so I use that most of the time.

I don't like using elemental quarters in religious contexts, as I've got my doubts as to whether they have a place in non-magickal practices. Also, as they're ceremonial/QBL ideas, and I'm working with non-QBL deities when I'm doing my religious practice, I don't insult them by trying to enforce a foreign concept.

However, the ultimate point is that you're supposed to - at some point - control the elements. If you want Water in the south, Air in the west, Fire in the East, and Earth in the North, and you make it work, go for it. Or, for that matter, if want to call upon the firey part of water by evoking fire in the quarter you associate with water, and then call upon the watery part of fire by evoking water in the fire quarter, go for it. You're the Magus, and in control of your World. Do what thou wilt. ;)

electricpeppers
October 4th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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.

Air
November 27th, 2008, 01:11 AM
My associations:

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

Moonrise
February 25th, 2012, 03:32 PM
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

Ula
February 27th, 2012, 10:28 AM
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.

Aine de Morrigan
December 19th, 2012, 07:11 AM
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!

Humming Bird
October 5th, 2015, 01:02 PM
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 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/7280/rethink.html 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.