Written by Algoth’s Grove
“Close your eyes and breathe in your surroundings, your intuition and the whisper of Gaia’s body is your compass.”
We are floating on a gigantic ball in the middle of a vastly uncharted territory surrounded by what NASA reports to be in existence… So, what is the fuss about casting, quarter calling directions and laws on the Witch’s Compass?
Every coven, public ritual or book on the matter has a little twist here and there when discussing the generally accepted laws behind where we should be placing our earth, water, fire and air quarters within our circle. The debate on whether Deosil or Widdershins casting will rage on… and circles will continue to be cast in the same manner as they have always been… It really depends on the individual and the surroundings that the individual finds themselves in.
If you call Water into the North in the Southern Hemisphere are you incorrect? Do you have reason for your choice? If the answer is yes to you having a solid reason, then no, you are not wrong. In fact you have used your Witch’s Compass perfectly. In the times of old, the circle was cast by using the sun as the inspiration. Therefore circles were cast Sunwise. This meant that the practitioner would be working with the flow of the universe and the magick performed would be blessed abundantly. It was only in banishing or likewise magick where the practitioner would opt to cast circle against the laws of nature.
At the very basis of Witchcraft and the older pagan traditions, Mother Earth was the inspiration. We worked and still work with her rhythms. It is an age old pathway to cast Sunwise but also to cast in this order Air, Fire, Water, Earth. In the North the sun is seen passing East to West through the Southern part of the sky. In the Southern Hemisphere below the equator the sun is seen passing East to West in the Northern part of the sky. If circle casting follows the path of the sun, and the sun represents the energetic burst and vibrancy of the fire of life then it would only be appropriate to place fire in the South in the Northern Hemisphere and Fire in the North in the Southern Hemisphere.
This would place Earth in the South in the Southern Hemisphere and Earth in the North in the Northern Hemisphere. Air is in the East not only because of certain winds and climatic conditions present when the directions were born but because it is the rise of the new day and the awakening of the mind. This would remain the same in the North and in the South. Water is in the West to represent the same mood as the sunset, the emotional descent into the unknown void of the eternal feminine spirit – the mystery and the intrigue. Darkness is almost always associated with the feminine and the light with the masculine and so Air remains in the East, Water remains in the West.
Now, not everyone follows the same guidelines. Every Witch’s Compass is their own. Joining a new coven means abiding by and learning from their method of circle casting and of elemental placement even if that means that your Witch’s Compass works differently, it is only proper.
The confusion came when the word Sunwise came to mean Clockwise. Witch’s in the South could not comprehend why we would want to be opposite to the North and cast in an anti-clockwise direction. It felt to some that they were going against the grain in the South. However, this could not be further from the truth. To assist in understanding the concept further, please see the diagram below: