Calling on the four directions?
September 3, 2007 11:10 PM   Subscribe

Anybody got a good source for calling on the four and/or seven directions? It's for a wedding ceremony, and every internet source I've found gives different explanations of what the directions represent. Wedding is this Saturday, I'm officiating. Help!

I've bookmarked a ton of different sites. They all seem to have somewhat different info, first the south is fire, then it's water, then it's earth. I'm not trying to follow a particular philosophy, I'd just like a clear answer to help me create a sacred space for the wedding. Is there a good book, site, something that's clear, wouldn't alienate the conservative bunch (as in, not overly wiccan)? Thanks.
posted by healthyliving to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps you should ask the groom and bride which ones they'd prefer to use? Unfortunately, any of the ones you choose will probably raise eyebrows among the more conservative, as being "weird" if nothing else, but that can't be helped.
posted by canine epigram at 6:45 AM on September 4, 2007

The reason you're getting different answers is, there's no fact of the matter — and I say this as a pagan who cares a lot about invoking the directions.

These are symbols created by people. People assigned them their meanings, and different people in different places did it differently. The interesting question isn't "What does South really mean?" — it's "What meaning will work best for these celebrants, in this ritual?"

Here's some questions to consider: Do the directions mean anything special to the couple getting married? To their families and friends? To you? Is there a particular tradition you'd like to be following? Will one set of meanings make the ritual flow more smoothly or help you express what you want to express with it? Think about the space where the wedding will be — will there be, say, a creek or a big rock or a fireplace in one of the directions?

If one of those questions has a definite answer, that's a good enough reason to choose one set of meanings over another. If not... well, the people I know who do ritual a lot have a sort of default that they can revert to. You may just have to pick something. There's nothing wrong with that either.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:58 AM on September 4, 2007

At the risk of oversimplifying a complex topic (nebulawindphone has a fuller answer), the commonly used neo-pagan correspondences are as follows:

East: Air
South: Fire
West: Water
North: Earth
Center: Spirit

Chapter 4 of Starhawk's The Spiral Dance, "Creating Sacred Space," is a good overview based on this system.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:47 AM on September 4, 2007

The Spiral Dance is an excellent book. If you need any info from it, I'd be glad to share. E-mail's in my profile.

nebulawindphone is pretty much right though.
posted by Verdandi at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2007

By the way, I've done a lot of weddings that incorporated woo-woo elements along with non-woo-woo relatives, so if you need some practical pointers, feel free to drop me a line.

Bottom line: be brief, simple, sincere, and LOUD, and it will all be fine.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:13 PM on September 4, 2007

Thanks everyone, that was definitely helpful.
posted by healthyliving at 7:03 AM on September 5, 2007

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