Monday, January 24, 2011

The Directions and correspondences, part 1

North is Air, East is Earth. There, I said it.

There has been a long debate about where to place air and earth on the compass. I've long believed that Air is in the north because in the zodiac, air signs are always opposite fire signs (Aries - Libra for example). I've read the argument that the zodiac is at a different angle to the earth than a cast circle, but I don't buy it. The theory does not resonate with me. Astrology is about perception of the heavens, not about how something looks from an angle other than the perspective of the subject.

Many years ago, I read something by Mike Nichols and I shouted in triumph! Yes! Here is someone who understands my exact arguments! He has also noted others that hadn't occurred to me. His article, Rethinking the Watchtowers (and I hate calling them watch towers, they're Watchers!), makes the case for Air as North. He has 13 specific examples.

Here are a few of my favorites, tho you should surf over and read the whole article. It's one of the things I wish I'd written. But really, I was only 13 when he did it! lol

Altar Tools: " the four elements, two of them are feminine and two of them are masculine. The pentacle is a shallow dish inscribed with a pentagram, representing earth, and is here placed in the east. The womb-shaped chalice, symbolizing water, is placed in the west. They form the horizontal feminine axis. The phallic-shaped wand, representing fire, is placed in the south. And the equally phallic-shaped athame is placed in the north. They form the vertical masculine axis."

Seasonal: "Many occultists associate the four seasons with the four cardinal points, as well. Hence, winter = north, spring = east, summer = south, and autumn = west. (To be precise, it is the solstice and equinox points which align with the cardinal points.) Again, in most folklore, winter is associated with air and wind, as the icy blasts that usher in the season. In spring, it is the earth which arrests our attention, with its sudden riot of blooms and greenery. Again, south relates to summer, the hottest season (fire), and west relates to autumn."

Male/Female Axis "When you look at a typical map, north (the cardinal direction) is at the top. Any north-south road is a vertical line, and any east-west road is a horizontal line. Likewise, a "map" of a magic circle makes the vertical north-south axis masculine (with air and fire), while the horizontal east-west axis is feminine (earth and water). This makes logical sense. When we look at the horizon of the earth, we see a horizontal line. Water also seeks a horizontal plane. Feminine elements, considered "passive", have a natural tendency to "lay down." Fire, on the other hand, always assumes an erect or vertical position. Air, too, can rise upward, as earth and water cannot. Masculine elements, being "active," have a natural tendency to "stand up."

I will post more about this later, perhaps including a discussion on Traditional Chinese Medicine and their 5 element theory, where the relationship of the elements is symbolized by a pentacle!

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