The Elements and the Cardinal Directions
In our Tradition we are taught that Earth belongs to the East, Fire to the South, Water to the West, and Air to the North. This places Spirit in the Center at the axis of the other four Elements. This is different than the majority of both Wiccan and Ceremonial Magick Traditions. There are several reasons behind this particular symbology.
First, both female Elements (Earth and Water) are placed upon the horizontal axis of the circle. Both masculine Elements (Fire and Air) are placed upon the vertical axis of the circle. The horizontal axis is traditionally ascribed to the feminine, and the vertical to the masculine. At the center, where they are joined together, we find the crossroads of the Spirit.
Secondly, when starting in the East and going deosil (clockwise) around the circle, you alternate polarities (feminine, masculine, feminine, masculine) thereby creating a smoother and better flow of energy.
In addition, our Tradition teaches that all things begin their material existence in the East. To be incarnate on this planet one must be born through the Gate of Earth and the East in order to wear a body and make the journey known as life. As we progress through life, we pass to the South and embody Fire through our activity and exertion of will. Later in life we move to the reflection of Water in the West, until we finally leave incarnation through the Gate of the West. At this point, in the incorporeal, we pass to the arms of the Goddess, to dwell with her in the Northern land of Air, awaiting the time for reincarnation through the Gate of the East.
Further, our directional correspondences correlate with the seasons of the year (and by association the seasons of a human life), with Spring’s green growth and fertility of the Earth in the East, Summer’s fiery heat and sunlight in the South, the cleansing rains of Autumn and change of colors in the West, and the Winter winds in the North.
The directions and their elemental correspondences can also be related to the times of day. The Sun rises in the East, making its first appearance there and connecting it with the beginnings associated with the Earth explained earlier. The Sun reaches it’s highest point in the sky over the Fiery southern quadrant at noon, then bids farewell to us in the West, associated with Water and the time of endings.
In some areas of the world, the geographical correspondence of the elements may be more apparent than others, but if one remembers the British/European origins of these Traditions they become clearer. The major land mass of Earth is in the East, the warmer climates and their association with Fire are to the South, the major mass of Water is to the West, and the cold winds of Air blow from the North.