Honoring the directions of the Sacred Circle is a widespread spiritual practice in ancient and contemporary Nature wisdom traditions. For many practitioners, honoring the directions is an essential component of all rituals. It is a way to create and to connect with sacred space. It also is a way of communing with Nature. Furthermore, it can be a way of mapping consciousness and viewing life.The Sacred Circle with its directions is called by some, the "Magic Circle," and by others, the "Medicine Wheel." Some traditions emphasize the four compass directions of the Circle. Others work with the four compass points plus a central point representing unity.Some also include two additionaldirections in the center, up and down, to create a Sacred Sphere as well as the Sacred Circle.
Qualities, images, colors, and other symbolic associations with the directions vary from path to path, but the idea of Sacred Circle as a place of balancing, healing, and wholeness extends across traditions.
I work with
seven directions in my personal spiritual practice, in doing healing
and counseling, and in guiding group rituals at Circle Sanctuary and
elsewhere. The seven directions are an integral part of my Pagan
worldview and provide a framework for understanding and for action. My
correspondences of the compass directions and central point with the
five Elements of Nature have developed from my work with Wiccan
spirituality and contemporary psychology over the past twenty years. My
use of the up and down directions emerged from my studiesof
multicultural Shamanism and my practice of spiritual environmentalism.
While the map of
consiousness with its seven directions and Sacred Sphere form works
well for me and for others, it is important to note that it is but one
of many maps within Paganism today. Traditions vary not only in the
number of directions honored, but the correspondences associated with
each direction and the order in which the directions are worked with in
ritual. It is important that practitioners chart their own maps
according to their own traditions, preferences, and experiences. The
map I use and present here has evolved over time and continues to
evolve. Feel free to adapt it for your own needs.
This map provides a
framework for attunement with Nature in Her many forms. The Elements
are at the compass points and other sacred lifeforms are on thecentral
This festival has two aspects. First, it is one of the Celtic fire festivals, honoring the Celtic culture-bringer Lugh (Lleu to the Welsh, Lugus to the Gauls). In Ireland, races and games were held in his name and that of his mother, Tailtiu (these may have been funeral games).Second, the holiday is the Saxon Feast of Bread, at which the first of the grain harvest is consumed in ritual loaves. These aspects are not too dissimilar, as the shamanic death and transformation of Lleu can be compared to that of the Barley God, known from the folksong "John Barleycorn."Lammas celebrates the first of three harvest celebrations in the Craft. It marks thebeginning of autumn, the start of the harvest cycle, and relies on the early crops of ripening grain and any fruits and vegetables ready to be harvested.
It is associated with bread because grain is one of the first crops harvested.
Those in the
Craft often give thanks and honor now to gods and goddesses of the
harvest, as well as those who represent death and resurrection.
Symbols: All grains,
especially corn and wheat, corn dollies, sun wheels, bread, harvesting
and threshing tools and the harvest full moon. Altar decorations might
include corn dollies or kirn babies (corncob dolls) to symbolize the
Mother Goddess of the Harvest. Other appropriate decorations include
summer flowers and grains. You might also wish to have a loaf of whole
cracked wheat or multigrain breadupon the altar, baked in the shape of
Gemstones: Yellow diamonds, aventurine, sardonyx, peridot and citrine.
Herbs: Acacia flowers,
aloes, chamomile, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, frankincense,
heather, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, passionflower, rose, rose hips,
rosemary, sandalwood, sunflowers and wheat.
Gods and goddesses: Lugh,
Thor, John Barleycorn (the personification of malt liquor), Demeter,
Danu, Ceres, sun gods, corn mothers, all grain and agriculture deities,
mother goddesses and father gods.
history of the Christian fish symbol:
pre-Christian history of the fish symbol: The fish symbol has been used for
millennia worldwide as a religious symbol associated with the Pagan Great Mother
Goddess. It is the outline of her vulva. The fish symbol was often drawn by
overlapping two very thin crescent moons. One represented the crescent shortly
before the new moon; the other shortly after, when the moon is just visible. The
Moon is the heavenly body that has long been associated with the Goddess, just
as the sun is a symbol of the God. The link between the Goddess and fish was
found in various areas of the ancient world: In China, Great Mother Kwan-yin
often portrayed in the shape of a fish, In India, the Goddess Kali was called
the "fish-eyed one", In Egypt, Isis was called the Great Fish of the Abyss, In
Greece the Greek word "delphos" meant both fish and womb.
The word is derived from the location of the
ancient Oracle at Delphi who worshipped the original fish goddess, Themis. The
later fish Goddess, Aphrodite Salacia, was worshipped by her followers on her
sacred day, Friday. They ate fish and engaging in orgies. From her name comes
the English word "salacious" which means lustful or obscene. Also from her name
comes the name of our fourth month, April. In later centuries, the Christian
church adsorbed this tradition by requiring the faithful to eat fish on Friday -
a tradition that was only recently abandoned. In ancient Rome Friday is called
"dies veneris" or Day of Venus, the Pagan Goddess of Love. Throughout the
Mediterranean, mystery religions used fish, wine and bread for their sacramental
meal. In Scandinavia, the Great Goddess was named Freya; fish were eaten in her
honor. The 6th day of the week was named "Friday" after her. In the Middle East,
the Great Goddess of Ephesus was portrayed as a woman with a fish amulet over
her genitals. The fish symbol "was so revered throughout the Roman empire that
Christian authorities insisted on taking it over, with extensive revision of
myths to deny its earlier female-genital meanings...
From around the world and throughout time, Sacred Symbols have been revered by various religions and cultures. Symbolic messages are one way to connect to the sacredness of life and each other.Symbolic images can communicate an essence of their meaning even to people from different cultures and religious faiths. Religious symbols can be appreciated for their adaptive potential, a capacity to discover the core of our inner world, something deeper than anything psychological, something expressible only in symbols.A feeling that there is some hidden power inside of you, stirring in the shadows - capable of bringing Love, Friendship and Protection, ways of tapping into your reservoir of hiddenenergy.
Allowing this energy, which emanates from your being, to infuse you.
challenge of faith is to trust that there is something in us that
transcends our mind and its ways of knowing. Faith relies on the depth
perception in the Self: intuition, vision, imagination, and corresponds
to realities that defy explanation or even logical comprehension.
It is important to create
rituals that empower, so that we might recognize and celebrate our true
strength and talents; and to support us in accepting, honoring and
meeting our own physical, emotional and spiritual needs. We all possess
the inner resources needed to make changes in our lives. Healing
involves turning from isolation to a connection with Spirit.
Any consistent use of
imagery can improve health and well-being. We can guide our thought
processes toinvoke and use various senses: vision, taste, smell,
hearing, touch and movement. Imagery provides essential communication
By surrendering our
thoughts, perceptions and patterns to a power greater than us, we
enlist the assistance to redesign our lives and manifest a new reality.
To stretch our imagination beyond what we’ve known, to reach beyond our
comfort zones. When we open ourselves to higher guidance and express
the love inherent within us, we cannot help but change for the better.
Imagine how you would like your life to be and remind yourself that you
can handle anything when you take it one step at a time.
Good rituals are essential
to our emotional, psychological and spiritual health. They not only
help us on a personal basis but also give us a small sense of
community, a sense of who we are and where we fit in the schemeof