Earth and the North
Hello! This is the first entry in our series on the natural elements. In this series, we’re going to have short entries on the main cardinal elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. We’ll explore their connections with other aspects of the craft, such as color and direction correspondences.
This series starts with those basic correspondences, then moves on to tools of the craft which are used to represent these elements. We follow that with various activities one can do in relation to the elements and finish off with elemental connections to the Zodiac.
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this series, so be sure to leave comments and say ‘Hi!’ on the Facebook page!
Earth and the North
If you’ve ever attended a Wiccan ceremony, you may have noticed that most rituals begin with participants facing the North. This is more common than the Maiden’s Circle tradition of starting in the West. North is the default direction for most navigating tools, so it makes sense that people consider it the “dominant” direction. (The University of California, Santa Barbara has this interesting and short article on why that is.)
Of course, Pagans have a number of different reasons for why we start our rituals in certain, specific ways. For some, it’s simply because that’s what they were taught. For others, we make a connection with the corresponding element. In this case, that element is Earth.
I can’t speak to why other Pagans may associate Earth with the North, but I can tell you why I do.
Earth is Grounding
In ritual, we call elementals or guardians to join us from their associated directions. Guardians of Earth share traits with their element, as you might imagine. And, as one of its names suggests, Earth has a grounding nature.
Grounding, in witchy terms, is the process of connecting metaphysically with the earth’s core. It allows us to stabilize our energy and connect with our fellow practitioners. This is because we associate the earth with a solid foundation. It symbolizes stability, strength, and wholeness.
When we need to ground, we imagine the energy of the planet filling us with the essence of those traits, and it allows us to feel strong and ready to do the tasks ahead of us. Perhaps that is why so many Pagans start rituals in the North, as that grounding energy is necessary for effective spellcraft.
Earth is Cold and Dark
Imagine what it would feel like to be buried deep underground. The heavy soil piled on top of you and blocking out the light. It’s a scary thought, a reminder of life’s harshness, and of the dichotomy between vitality and death.
What does that have to do with the North? That harsh cold can be found at our northernmost peaks. Admittedly, the southernmost peaks have even colder temperatures. But where I’m from, the North is known for its cooler climate and harsher weather.
If you’re wondering why “cold and dark” would be considered a good aspect of Earth, know that it’s simply a matter of perspective. For some, “cold and dark” describes their ideal aesthetics. Personally, it reminds me to be grateful for the warm and bright aspects of life.
It also shows me what I’m capable of withstanding. So, by enduring the harshest of winters, I am made stronger. And I am that much more thankful when the spring comes around.
I Was Just Taught That Way
When I was just a few years into my Pagan study, I had the honor of working with a variety of groups in both high school and college. By that time, most American Pagans knew pretty much the same associations thanks to the torchbearers of our community such as Scott Cunningham and D.J. Conway.
These witches paved the way for writers and Pagans like me with their books, and they established certain connections that many of us still adhere to today. That is, Earth corresponds with the North, Air with the East, and so on.
Whether it’s arbitrary or not, I couldn’t say. All I know is that these associations make sense to me. They just feel right. Sure, that probably sounds a little woo-ey, but look around—this whole blog is woo-ey!
That’s all I have for you today. I’m hoping this series has a bit of a lighter tone than that last one. I spent half the year writing about a pretty serious topic (which I encourage you to read for a more in-depth look at the core beliefs that make up the Maiden’s Circle tradition). Now, I’d like to be just a little less strict for a while.
I hope you enjoyed this start to our new series, and I’ll see you next week for Air and the East.
What other reasons would we associate Earth with the North? Do you associate any other directions with this element in your own practice? Let me know in the comments!
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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