Monday, December 10, 2007

Should Air be in the North?

So this page says that Air should be in the north. In this article I will take his article apart, bit by bit and explain why it shouldn't be in the north. The italics are the original writing, the rest is written by me.

1. AIRTS: This is perhaps the strongest argument. In Celtic countries, the four elemental/directional associations are referred to as the “four airts”. And it is a known fact that this tradition associates air with north. While it is true that some writers, familiar with ceremonial magic (like William Sharp and Doreen Valiente), have given tampered versions of the airts, it is a telling point that folklorists working directly with native oral traditions (like Alexander Carmichael and F. Marion McNeill) invariably report the air/north connection.
OK since this guy insists on focusing on Wicca, this one is wrong because Wicca is not Celtic, they just borrowed some things from the Celts.

2. PARALLEL CULTURES: Although arguing from parallel cultures may not be as convincing, it is still instructive to examine other magical aboriginal cultures in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, the vast majority of Native American tribes (themselves no slouches in the area of magic!) place air in the north, which they symbolize by the eagle. (Aboriginal cultures lying south of the equator typically have different associations, for reasons I will discuss next.)
Too bad neither I, nor Wicca are Native American. Many people may argue with me because they are a Native American Wiccan, WELL I would like to mention you are a Wiccan with a flavor of Native American beliefs.

3. GEOPHYSICAL: If one accepts the insular British origins of elemental directions, then one must imagine living in the British Isles. To the west is the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean (i.e. water). To the east, the bulk of the European landmass (earth). South has always been the direction of fire because, as one travels south (toward the equator), it gets warmer. Which leaves north as the region of air, home of the icy winds of winter. (These last two associations would be reversed for cultures in the Southern Hemisphere, for whom north is the direction of the warm equatorial region, and south is the land of ice.)
WICCA IS NOT CELTIC! Though I am, so this makes a bit of sense... The only thing is that I moved away from Ireland in August. So, I think fire should be in the south (equator), water should be in the west (Pacific ocean). Earth should be in the north (CANADA!!), and air in the west (sea breeze) (if you haven't noticed I live in the US(.
But to take it further, I have a pond (water) in the south of my backyard (and also my ritual space). I have a tree (earth) to the north. I have wind chimes (wind/Air) on my house, and to the east I could just put a candle or something. You see how everything is messed up?

4. HYPERBOREAN: In fact, an ancient name for the British Isles was Hyperborea, which literally means “behind the north wind”, thus associating north and wind (air) once more. The inhabitants were themselves called “Hyperboreans”, and the phrase “at the back of the north wind” (the title of one of George MacDonald’s faery romances) is still current. Of all the winds of the compass, it is unquestionably the north wind (Boreas), bringer of winter, which is perceived as the strongest and most influential (cf. Robert Grave’s Goddess fantasy Watch the North Wind Rise). You don’t hear too much about the other three cardinal winds.
Too bad Wicca isn't British...well it was made by a Englishman...but its kinda a melting pot of magical traditions.

5. 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 that 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 that 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.
I supose this one may actually work...except for the fact that, by Occultists does he mean Wiccans? There are many other paths in the Occult besides Wicca.

6. DIURNAL: Occultists also often associate the cardinal points of a single day to the four compass points. Thus, midnight = north, sunrise = east, noon = south, and sunset = west. (Please note that we are talking about true midnight and true noon here, the points halfway between sunset and sunrise, and between sunrise and sunset, respectively.) These associate nicely with the seasonal attributes just discussed. It is easy to see why sunrise should equate to east, and sunset to west. And, once again, from the perspective of the British Isles, the sun rises over land (Earth) and sets over the ocean (water). South is related to noon because it is the moment of greatest heat (fire). Leaving the “invisible” element of air to be associated with the sun’s invisibility, at midnight.
I will (wicca) keep (is not) my (British) composure.

7. MYTHOLOGICAL: In Celtic mythology, north is invariably associated with air. The pre-Christian Irish Gods and Goddesses, the Tuatha De Danann, were “airy” faeries (later versions came equipped with wings, relating them to sylphs). The Book of Conquests states their original home was in the North, “at the back of the north wind”. And when they came to Ireland, they came in ships, through the upper air(!), settling on the mountaintops. (It has always struck me as odd that some modern writers see mountains as a symbol of earth. The crucial symbolism of the mountain is its height, rising into the air, touching the sky. Virtually all Eastern traditions associate mountains, favorite abodes of gurus, with air. A cave would be a better symbol of earth than a mountain.) In Welsh mythology, too, Math the Ancient, chief God of Gwynedd (or North Wales), is specifically associated with wind, which can carry people’s thoughts to him.
Wicca is not Celtic! This applies to me a bit...but I disagree. Mountains are giant pieces of can that NOT be rock?
P.S. Wicca is not any type of Eastern Religion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8. YIN/YANG: Many occultists believe that the four elements have yin/yang connections. Both air and fire are seen as masculine, while earth and water are seen as feminine. If air is associated with the north point of the magic Circle, and earth is east, then one achieves a yin/yang alternation as one circumambulates the Circle. As one passes the cardinal points of east, south, west, and north, one passes feminine, masculine, feminine, masculine energies. This alternating flux of plus/ minus, push/pull, masculine/feminine, is the very pulse of the universe, considered of great importance by most occultists. That it was equally important to our ancestors is evidenced by standing stones in the British Isles. At sites like the Kennet Avenue of Braga, the tall, slender, masculine, phallic stones alternate precisely with the shorter, diamond-shaped yoni stones.
Hmm...then you get clashing energies from all the energies crossing. Isn't that what Chaos is? With the traditional Wiccan (earth in the north) it is BALANCED! I believed that is what you are trying to acheive with Yin/Yang?

9. GENERATOR: This argument flows out of the previous one. Practicing magicians often think of the magic Circle as a kind of psychic generator. Witches in particular like to perform circle dances to “raise the cone of power”. Hand in hand, and alternating man and woman, they dance clockwise (deosil) around the circle, moving faster and faster until the power is released. This model has an uncanny resemblance to an electrical generator, as man and woman alternately pass each of the four “poles” of the magic Circle. These poles themselves must alternate between plus and minus if power is to be raised. This means that if the masculine fire is in the south, then the masculine air must be in the north. If the feminine water is in the west, then the feminine earth must be in the east. If any adjacent pair were switched, the generator would stop dead.
Mmm this goes with my previous point. And where did the alternating men and women come from? In my gathering (Coven if you will) we have 4 girls and 2 exactly can we alternate?

10. MASCULINE/FEMININE 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”.
Previous point.

11. ALTAR TOOLS: In modern Witchcraft, there are four principal altar tools, the same four tools shown on the tarot card, the Magician. They also correspond to the four tarot suits, the four ancient treasures of Ireland, and the Four Hallows of Arthurian legend. And, like 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. (The gender associations of cup and blade are especially emphasized in the ritual blessing of wine.)
Previous point.

12. AXIS SYMBOLISM: In nearly every culture, the vertical line is a symbol of yang, or masculine energy. The horizontal line is yin, feminine energy. When the vertical masculine line penetrates the horizontal feminine line, forming the ancient Pagan symbol of the equal-armed cross, it becomes a symbol of life, and life force. Place a circle around it or on it, and you have a circle-cross or “Celtic” cross, symbol of everlasting life. (Please note the importance of the equal-armed cross. If one arm is longer or shorter, then the four elements are out of balance. The Christian or Roman cross, for example, has an extended southern arm. And many historians have commented on Christianity’s excess of “fire” or zeal. Some versions actually show a shortened northern arm, indicating a dearth of “air” or intellectual qualities.)
Previous point!

13. ASTROLOGICAL: The astrological year is divided into four equal quadrants, each beginning at a solstice or equinox. And each quadrant is governed by one of the four elements. Which element can be discovered by examining the exact midpoint of the quadrant. For example, the first quadrant, beginning at the winter solstice (north) is governed by air, which rules fifteen degrees Aquarius, symbolized by the Man or Spirit. The second quadrant, beginning at the spring equinox (east) is governed by earth, which rules fifteen degrees Taurus, the Bull. The third quadrant, beginning at the summer solstice (south) is governed by fire, which rules fifteen degrees Leo, the Lion. And the fourth quadrant, beginning at the fall equinox (west) is governed by water, which rules fifteen degrees Scorpio, here symbolized by the Eagle. Thus, north, east, south and west correspond to air, earth, fire, and water, and to Spirit, Bull, Lion, and Eagle, respectively. If the last four symbols seem familiar, it is because they represent the four elemental power points of the astrological year, and their symbols appear in the four corners of the tarot cards, the World and the Wheel of Fortune. (The same figures were later adopted by Christians as symbols of the four Gospel writers: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)
I'll just have to skip these... I'm not so good at astrology...