It’s been a week since ‘The Beast From the East’ hit Great Britain and Ireland. When I was originally typing this on Tuesday there wasn’t much evidence of the snow as it had either melted or had been washed away by the rain. Only sludge remained. Now, it’s completely gone.
Now, it’s not often we get snow in our country anymore. At least, nothing thick or what you would call ‘Proper Snow’. I remember as a kid back in the 1980’s of trying to build an igloo with my cousins, or even school being cancelled because the teachers couldn’t get there….. last week’s snow was a rarity.
In both Modern Druidry and the Western Magical Tradition the Cardinal Directions of the ceremonial circle are often associated with the following Alchemical Elements and a season:
East: Air (Spring)
South: Fire (Summer)
West: Water (Autumn)
North: Earth (Winter).
For those already familiar with this, so far so ordinary, right? Let me offer an alternative angle…..
Surely it makes more sense to have the element of water to go with Winter and for the element of earth to go with Autumn? At Autumn, that’s when it’s all about harvesting fruit and vegetables from the plants and the ground, right? Then there’s the leaves falling to the earth, that will then become mulch. You can even smell the decomposition.
At Winter, there is rain, fog, frost, snow and ice. There was even icicles last week, I haven’t seen icicles in decades! Also, for the Celts, water and fog were seen as portals to the Otherworld. As well as being a time of hardship and difficulty, Winter would have been a season when not everyone would have survived until snowmelt. Supposedly, the Gallic name for February translated as “The Month when no one travels.” ….. because the snow would have made it hazardous to trade. And if you were caught out in a blizzard and couldn’t find your way……
Ah, but Locksley, what are you saying? Have you not considered the geographical settings: the warm winds of the East, the warmer it gets the farther South you go, the Atlantic ocean to the west and the highlands of Scotland to the North?
Yes, yes of course I have, but let’s not forget that the Cardinal Points in this respect are flexible to the physical geography around them, too. Posing a question about this to my Grove-mates, Strider revealed he had attended a ceremony where the traditional elements of East and West were swapped around. Going one further, he suggested the directions of the Lincolnshire coast could go something like this: West as Earth (The Wolds, North as air (sky in this case) and East as water (the sea).
Either way, this all goes to show if a ritualistic act is going to be nature based, then it should be organically changed to suit the local environment.