The directions have different correspondences depending upon your tradition, and location upon the earth. There are usually two primary systems in which people draw their understandings and these two systems are Agrippa’s system, and the Golden Dawn’s system. Both of these are good to know especially if you are going through the process of using any of the rituals in their understandings. At the end I will also provide my own system of understanding, which I do use a lot but when I do not use it I usually use the Golden Dawn’s system.
Agrippa’s system of understanding:
- East = Fire
- West = Air
- North = Water
- South = Earth
This system was first created by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa a German occult writer who lived during the Renaissance. Agrippa wrote his understanding of the corresponding elements in the second book of occult philosophy. Agrippa based his understandings on astrology in order to come up with correspondences for each cardinal direction.
The Golden Dawn’s system of understanding:
- East = Air
- West = Water
- North = Earth
- South = Fire
First created, and used in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This understanding was eventually adopted by wicca through the minds of Gerald Gardner, and Aleister Crowley. This allowed the Golden Dawn system of understanding to be absorbed into the understandings of neo-paganism, and the New Age, which cemented its popularity by influencing many different people’s practices. Aleister Crowley also established this understanding in Thelema. the Golden Dawn base the system upon the Four Winds. There are also a couple variations of this system especially with the air, and water switched around that usually appear in neo-pagan, and New Age practices.
Wolf of antimony’s system of understanding:
- East = (relative Element)
- West = (relative Element)
- North = (relative Element)
- South = (relative Element)
- Center = Spirit
- Above = Fire
- Below = Earth
- within = Water
- without = Air
My understanding is that the cardinal directions are relative to the practitioner, and because of that correspondences are also relative to your position. This means the directions may have correspondences related to natural landmarks that are in certain directions. Such as if you had an ocean to the east the east would, become associated with water because of the high amount of water energy in that area. Then depending upon which element you choose to represent which direction based upon your geographic features will represent that energy in your magick, and will take on the correspondences of that element in that direction. This understanding brings a lot of customization and personality to your rituals, and it also allows you to draw on the energy of the land around you. you better believe it, so if you have oceans on both sides of you both directions will not be water, and the direction that has the most water energy would take Elemental Association. the one that loses out would need to take on the energy of their second most strongest Elemental energy in your correspondences.
I also bring in the directions of center, above, below, within, and without because I feel like these understandings are more fixed, and absolute, and because of that they can actually add something to your practice through their understandings.
Center is connected to spirit, and the individual, and the present. This is the middle of everything, and the place where everything comes to. It is like a control room being able to observe, interact, and control all things that come in contact with it. this direction is usually held by yourself in your personal relative perspective which is why it is connected to spirit.
Above is connected to the element of fire, and the higher planes of existences. this is your connection to everything that is above whether that be above physically, or spiritually. It connects you to the higher planes of existence, your higher self, and divinity, while also connecting you with the physical Universe there astrology, and the placement of the heavens above.
Below is connected to earth, and is connected to the physical plane of existence, and is also connected to grounding. This connects you to everything that is below you mostly the earth, and its Energies, and the connection to your physical being, and your body’s ancestors.
Within is connected to the element of water, and the internal feelings, and emotions of the individual.
Without is connected to the element of air and the external logical, and reasonable sides of the individual.