Q is for Quarters.
The Quarters and directions of the Wiccan circle, seem to be quite straightforward at first.
Tradition, and just about every book on the subject, lays down the accepted directions and their associated elements.
North is Earth. Here lies Winter, Midnight, Grounding and Pentacles.
East is Air. Spring, Dawn and Swords reside here.
South is Fire. Realm of Summer, Noon and Wands.
West is Water. Place of Autumn, Sundown and Chalices.
(I reverse the Sword and Wands, placing my Athame in the realm of Fire and Wand in Air. But that’s another subject altogether.)
Now this is all well and good, unless you reside in the Southern Hemisphere!
Or even somewhere where these Elements do not fit in with the land where you live.
If you live on the East coast, putting Water in the opposite direction doesn’t make a lot of sense.
So here is where it starts to get tricky, and cause many an Aussie Witch a headache.
If North is geared towards the colder climbs of the North Pole, how does that fit us in Australia?
This works better in reverse, putting the Element of Earth in the South, towards the South Pole.
This then puts Fire in the North, which works well too, as North, from where I live, is Queensland, warm and sunny.
North is also the direction in which the equator lies.
This part is simple, as it makes sense and is easily switched.
My real problem with this, lies with East and West.
I live in Central NSW, which is far removed from Water.
The best we have in this regard, is a barely trickling Weir, which runs through town.
The nearest ocean, is several hours drive away, yet it lies to the East.
Drive not to far West from here, and there is dry, flat plains, reaching on and out to the deserts of Central Australia.
After some careful thought and observance, I have decided my Element of the West is Air.
West is where the hot, dry winds of Summer blow in from.
Looking West from my backyard, I see a flat expanse, a straight horizon.
So far, so good.
I have a place for all the Elements.
But the problem I have here, is that the mythology of these Elemental directions is then out of whack.
This causes me problems, because I like the idea of endings in the West, where the sun sets, and begins in the East, with the rising sun, and the many stories that go with these associations.
Placing my Elements as I have, doesn’t fit this.
So what is one to do?
To be honest, I don’t think I have settled on a definitive place for my Elements, I switch them around to fit my purpose.
The funny thing is, if I am casting a circle indoors, I tend to use the traditional placements.
But outdoors, in direct contact with the Elements, I mostly place them as I have written above.
This might seem a bit strange and indecisive, but it is what feels right to me at the time.
I have spoken with other Australian Witches about this dilemma, and it is one that is common to us all.
Many do as I have, and set their own directions to what feels right to them, adjusting their incantations to fit.
But this topic is an always ongoing subject, among those South of the equator.
There are just so many variables, which are near impossible to fit neatly together.
Then, throw into the mix the idea of Widdershins and Deosil.
Technically this should also be reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.
I haven’t put much thought into this to date, and continue to work clock-wise for Deosil.
Though, the definition of Widdershins is against the course of the sun, so at least reversing this makes sense, and is much easier to implement.
So, for now, until I come across a way that feels definitively right to me, I will continue to set the Elements in the directions that feel right at the time and work to my intended purpose, either geared to the movement of the Sun and Sabbats, or according to Elemental directions.
If it feels right, so mote it be.