This and the previous post were replies to an email on a list, though I’ve removed the parts that are relevant only to the message I was replying to. I liked how I said what I said and figured I’d share it with anyone who wants to read it.
This is in regards the the article Rethinking the Watchtowers by Mike Nichols. It is from a Wicca perspective. The email discussion about it was in a Feri context. The original site is no longer up, but it can be read here:
Some of what he says I agree with and some I don’t. I like Air in the North, but I like Fire and Earth differently than his arrangement. When I’ve called on the Feri Guardians, I’ve used the associations V gives, but they aren’t the arrangement I’m most comfortable with. I prefer the arrangement that is “traditional” in the traditions that draw from Robert Cochrane’s letters and practices, like 1734 and the Clan of Tubal Cain. The explanation below is mostly my own understanding, based on what I’ve read, what I’ve experienced, conversations with others, and my own musings, nothing official. So this isn’t all my original thoughts, nor is it all what I was taught from a specific authoritative source. I’ll explain why I put “traditional” in quotes, at the end.
The associations I’m talking about are drawn from RC’s Basic Structure of the Craft, which is essentially a creation myth, but sets up a mythos used in rituals and rites. It describes Night having seven sons who created seven worlds. Four of these are the Wind Gods, which are the Four Winds from the four directions. Tettens is in the North, the North Wind, and is Woden, amongst other things. He is described as Air. In the East is Lucet, the King of Light, who is Fire. These two are the Divine Twins, “Lucet and Tettens are the Twins, the Children of Night and the Serpent, brothers and some say one and the same person. Fire and Air, growth and decay. One looks forward, the other backward. One creates, the other destroys, Castor and Pollox.” In the South is Carenos, who is fertility, Earth. In the West is Node, Sleep and Wisdom, the God of the Sea, Water.
So Air is in the North, and is the colour black. This is the cold North Wind, which brought all the winter storms to the British Isles. For North is also Winter and Midnight, which matches what was said in the article, for Winter is dark, and the further north you go, the darker and the longer the nights, until there is only night, only Midnight. Hence the colour black.
Fire is in the East, and is the colour red. The sun, which is Fire, and the masculine principle in the world (though the sun is pulled by a female in Norse belief and the moon my a male; there’s a lot of secrets in that), rises in the East (as does the moon, but that isn’t important), and many ancient cultures believed his home was in the East. Cochrane equated the Masculine Mysteries with the sun and Feminine Mysteries with the moon, which are East and West. Lucet, the King of Light, brings the sun, which brings light. Life was said to come from the East and from the sun. Fire is red of course.
Earth is in the South, and is the colour white. Earth is feritility, as Carenos is fertility. The further south you go in Britain, the more fertile, in general. Wessux is definitely more fertile than the Scottish Highlands. The soil in the southern part of Britain are chalk, which is white of course. The use of chalk in the Craft is very important. Also, white is light, and noon is the brightest part of the day. I’ll get to that in a bit.
Water is in the West, and the colour is grey. The moon, as we mentioned, is Water and feminine. The moon sets in the West (as the does the sun, but that isn’t important), and many ancient cultures believed she had her home there. The house of the moon, the Gates of the West, are the Gates of Death, the way to the Underworld. The dead were said to travel across the great western sea, the Atlantic Ocean, when they died, traveling with the moon. Water is in the West not because you couldn’t see land from the West coast of Britain or could from the East coast, but because it was “known” that past Ireland, there was only water and the land of the dead, which was under water. Grey is for twilight, between day and night. I;ll get to that in a second.
North, East, South, and West are not just Air, Fire, Earth, and Water. In fact the four elements are one of the least important associations with the Wind Gods and directions, just as the Feri Guardians are so much more than elemental forces. 1734 doesn’t work in a Circle in the way Wicca and Ceremonial Magic does. 1734 works a compass (notice, “works a” not “works in a”). The compass isn’t related to protection or controlling anything like circles in Ceremonial Magic. What does a compass do? It points the way. But compass comes from a different meaning, to surround. The four directions surround, so became called the compass, and the device that points was named for it. Thorn likes to use the phrase for God Herself, and also for Witch, “the centre which is the circumference of all.” This is the compass. When you stand in the middle, you are Witch, you are the centre, but you are also the world, the circumference. But, anyway, I digress. The compass places in in time and space, orientates you. The directions are also times and dates. North is Midnight, and Winter Solstice. East is Sunrise, Dawn, and Spring Equinox. South is Noon and Summer Solstice. West is Sunset, Dusk, Twilight, and Autumn Equinox. And of course, there isn’t only four directions. Northeast is Candlemas, Imbolc, and the point between Midnight and Dawn. Southeast is Roodmas, Beltane, and mid-morning. Southwest is Lughnassadh and mid-afternoon. And Northwest is Samhane and mid-evening. And you can put other points on the compass. But the compass doesn’t stand still. It can be rotated. It spins. Like a castle spinning without moving. Time and space move. They aren’t static. Where are you and when are you when you’re in the compass? That is a very good question.
Which brings me to my last point. I say it’s the “traditional” arrangement, because it doesn’t stand still. You can place any direction, any element, any hour, any date at North and it changes everything. Regardless which order you use or which placement, experiment. North determines the feel of the compass. Each element has specific associations. Maybe why I like Air in the North is because I have always had an affinity to Air and Wind. I worshiped a wind goddess when I was younger and would call up a strong wind at will. And Air is inspiration and intellect, and I tend to live in my intellect much of the time, as you can probably tell from these two posts. In a dream back in February, I was made a priestess and they painted yellow tribal patterns on my skin and white clothes. Yellow is ofter associated with Air and Intellect. But I digress again. What to place at North depends on the work you are doing. Some workings work well with Air at North and Earth at North is just wrong for that working. But others Earth is best. So the best thing is to think throw the correspondences and associations, experiment, and get a feel for it. Magic and witchcraft are Art. The intellectual thoughts, the techniques, the traditions, the teachings, all the knowledge in the world, can help you plan and give you ideas, but practice and a feel for it are ultimately what matters. Listen to Fetch and Godself, don’t depend only on Talker, like I tend to.