Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

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BirchWind
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Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby BirchWind » 21 Sep 2015, 19:48

Greetings!
I am awaiting my beginner materials to arrive, and in the meantime have been reading The Path of Druidry. I do enjoy it, it is simple and thoughtful - however I have arrived at a section regarding the elements and their corresponding directions. It is stated that the method given: East/Air, South/Fire, West/Water North/Earth should be the method a Druid learns to integrate within their practice.
Now, for myself, and my current group, we have Earth in the West and Water in the North. This is because our circle is laid out as the Wheel of the Year, Cycle of the Day and Passages of Life

East - Spring,Dawn,First Breath - Air
South- Summer, Noon, Adulthood - Fire
West - Autumn, Sunset, Last Breaths- Earth
North- Winter, Midnight, Limbo/Prebirth- Water

To our group, Autumn and West takes the place of Earth because it is the Harvest, the Seed being received into the Earth from the food that has fallen from the Tree. It is across the wheel from First Breath.
And likewise Winter and North takes the place of Water because it is when the rains and snow fall, and refill the earth scorched from the Light half of the year. The Water as a 'Limbo' or womb before the first breath of Spring, and a reflection of the cycle that has passed.

Now, this is not to say that many other ways don't work. But I guess it is tiring to see the usual Golden Dawn/Ceremonial attribution of east/air, south/fire, west/water, north/earth as 'THE' way, when there are so many other methods. Even within the GD, which went on in turn to heavily influence Wicca, there are the mentioned methods of having it arranged according to Astrology, as well as having Fire in the East. I have multiple links but don't want to bombard this post with it - Aaron Leitch and Alex Sumner have written about the many origins of the various elemental associations most commonly used today at their sites, and is easily googleable :)

Further, upon reading through the OBOD site, There is an article which actually offers another view:
The North was the direction of battle and fire; its emblem was the sword and its creature the eagle. It was the direction of warriors and of Gods. Winds from the north presaged strife and conflict.
The East was the direction of abundance and prosperity. Its emblems were wealth of all kinds; good earth, fine clothing, bees and honey, its creature the salmon.
The South was the Goddess direction, associated with water and creative arts such as music and poetry. Its creature was the sow, an animal that roots deep into the dark earth for inspiration and sustenance, bringing hidden treasures to light.
The West was the place of history keeping, story telling, of illumination, of inner fire, and of learning and of passing on the mysteries. It was the airy direction of the intellect. Its creature was the stag.
http://www.druidry.org/druid-way/other- ... ns-pillars

So, question being.. as Druids, how important is the placement of the actual elements, and how necessary is it to follow the most commonly known Occult methods. Is it not just as important (or more so?) to understand why the elements are where they are so that the practitioner may best connect with those elements? And the understanding that this method may not be the same for each person/group?

Once my materials come in and I start reading more, perhaps these questions will be answered, but I thought I would ask the group here first -- your feelings on the requirement of the commonly placed usage of the Elements and their Directional positions.
:)

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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby WaffleBox » 21 Sep 2015, 21:26

Do what feels right to you.
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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby treegod » 21 Sep 2015, 21:45

Ditto. And even the landscape might suggest alternatives.
Doesn't the Alexandrian system do it that way?

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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby Whitemane » 22 Sep 2015, 00:12

I'm happy with the OBOD system, and I use it. Druidry is very much come as you are, so ...

You can argue that the Platonic four element system is not native to Druidry, depending how rigorous you want to be, and I will also use earth, sea, and sky.
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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby BirchWind » 22 Sep 2015, 05:19

Thanks everyone for your input.
I spent many years as a Gardnerian - and during that time I always balked at Earth being the position of North and Winter - I would think of the Tarot cards of Pentacles, and the Harvest and such and always felt that Water fit much better in the North - being opposite across from Fire.. the womb, the space of limbo whereas across the wheel is the space of Pure Action and passion..
When the main group broke up and we went off on our own, we did switch the two elements into those places and now it ties in for us with our practice.
I do also think that we need to do what works for us, however there is also a part of me that says 'It isn't just anything you want it to be' - so was just wondering how 'set in stone' any correspondences are for the OBOD --- in the article cited from druidry.org it says that traditionally, Fire was in the North , so I guess it really is somewhat open for interpretation.
I would have an easier time letting the directional correspondences go altogether and focusing on the 3 worlds instead than switching them about now I think - hah.
But yes, based on the searching I did when trying to learn about origins of correspondences, I would also garner that although the elements were important, they were not based on the platonic (or ptolemic ) systems.

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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby malcolmb » 22 Sep 2015, 11:56

I agree with all those who see the relationship between directions and elements as being a matter of personal choice. But like Whitemane, I use the OBOD system. My relationship with the Quarters has always been related to the Seasons first and the Elements second. This relationship very much reflects my Druidry where the ever-turning Wheel of the Seasons and our relationship to that and the Natural World is at the heart of my belief.

It seems entirely sensible to me that we welcome the Spring in the East, the Summer in the South, the Autumn in the West and the Winter in the North. Obviously this is very much a Northern Hemisphere view. As the North Winds of Winter swing to the East Winds from the Russian Steppes, the Snowdrop appears as Herald of the Spring. As Imbolc and the Equinox pass, the exhilarating expectation of Beltane is signaled by the Wind moving to the South East and then the glory of Summer with the South Wind. Then comes the rain! Autumn and the West Winds followed by the bleak and bitter North Winds of Winter. Of course the vagaries of the English weather means this Wind cycle is never to be relied upon!

It seems to me to be a natural and obvious step from the Seasons to the Elements. What could be more logical than the Fire of the Sun in the South for Summer. Equally, Water for Autumn perfectly reflects the rain that returns after the drought of Summer to refill the aquifers and quench the thirst of the forests and meadows. Earth in the North also seems right to me as the seeds dispersed in Autumn are nourished and protected in the rich earth awaiting the awakening of Spring.

Air in the East did once puzzle me, but when you link it to the warming breezes of Spring, it seems obvious.

I suppose it is all a matter of perspective and belief. Druidry covers such a wide range of beliefs, many simple like mine and many complex, it is inevitable there will be differing views on where the Elements reside. I think that is healthy. Questioning methods and exploring one's own preferences leads to your personal Path.

I think my final comment on this is, does it matter where the Elements are perceived to reside? I think not. In ritual, you are bringing the Elements to you and working with them. Obviously the Elements are not in one Quarter, they surround us. Simply using a Quarter for each Element allows us to focus on one Elements at a time. Which Quarter you use is irrelevant. It is the focus and the welcome which is important.
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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby DJ Droood » 22 Sep 2015, 14:06

Agreed that such things are a personal choice, as is pretty much the entirety of your druid journey....but sometimes there is an accumulation of esoteric and traditional lore and learning that are attached to symbolic meanings...worth exploring!
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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby Davin Raincloud » 23 Sep 2015, 04:45

Naturally as a Southern Hemisphere person, I think most of you have it wrong a lot of the time. :thinking: A lot of it should be reversed.

:grin:

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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby BirchWind » 23 Sep 2015, 07:43

@ DJ Droood - I totally agree, I have looked into it quite a bit, I find that the current most common attributions seem to funnel down as such (or similar) Gerald Gardner<---Golden Dawn<-----Eliphas Levi<------ Ezekiel's Vision , or some similar line. Spending time in Gardnerian as well as GD, those were very common attributes.
I think it definitely has its purpose and suits many people very well, I just found it did not suit us as well, being that the elements to us were in a wheel of the year that also reflected time of day/life stages etc.
And of course, in five years from now , or ten, maybe something entirely different will make sense. :D Many place Fire in the East or Air in the North, I am really glad to see that people don't hold it as strict doctrine and that it can be flexible for those who find different connections. Thank you for sharing :)

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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby Whitemane » 23 Sep 2015, 13:49

The only problem will be when bringing a disparate group together for the first time, and the need to build a consensus for rituals. I happen to think that consensus building should be a key skill in any Pagan grouping :idea:

Otherwise, I think it's desperately important not to get tied up in arguments about how you perceive the correspondence between elements, directions, and seasons in your own practice. Organize things the way you find fulfilling and energizing, and get the most out of everything you do.
May the long time sun shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you,
Guide your way on.

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BirchWind
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Re: Druidry and Elemental Correspondences to Directions

Postby BirchWind » 23 Sep 2015, 18:26

The only problem will be when bringing a disparate group together for the first time, and the need to build a consensus for rituals. I happen to think that consensus building should be a key skill in any Pagan grouping :idea:

Otherwise, I think it's desperately important not to get tied up in arguments about how you perceive the correspondence between elements, directions, and seasons in your own practice. Organize things the way you find fulfilling and energizing, and get the most out of everything you do.
Agreed, happily the group I am with came to the current decision/choice together.
And - "Get the most out of everything you do" - is wise advice :)


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