The Four Directions, Elements and Celebrations on the Sacred Wheel of Life.
Welcome sister, This is the first piece of information on your journey and one that will over time begin to form a foundation for the work you do, and your way of being in and relating to the natural world. For some of you this information may only serve as a nice reminder of things you may already be applying to your life, and for others it may be a whole new way of creation and creativity in their lives as they begin to apply it. Regardless of where you are in your journey though, as priestesses being aware of the moon in all of it's wonderful phases, as well as the seasons and the different elements each ones brings is vitally important to us. From a spirit perspective one might use the word "Animism" to describe this way of looking at relating to the natural world, for through the eyes of an animist everything has a spirit, the rain, the sun, the rocks and animals everything. So when we begin to see through the eyes of a priestess everything has importance. It is with this in mind that we begin at the beginning....
The Four Seasons An important aspect of the animist cosmology is the four sacred directions. These directions also correspond to the four natural elements of earth, Air, Fire and Water, which can vary depending on the tradition.
These four directions are a beautiful way for us to connect with the seasons and our lives as having a deeper understanding of them can support us in our desire to come into harmony with our natural rhythms and patterns.
Each of the four directions typically is associated with a time of day and year, an animal, plant or tree and many other energies that carry the essence of that direction. In the Celtic wheel of life each of the directions also corresponds to a festival, these were the sacred gatherings of community to honor the spirits of the land, and to ask the goddess for good crops and either a mild winter or enough sun and rain in the summer to see the crops come to ripen. It was a simpler time and yet still of relevance to us today. If we connect with the seasons, and honor how they make our bodies feel, we in turn honor the flow of the great spiral of life.
For example when the winter-time hits our bodies usually desire to eat warm and nourishing root vegetables, soups and stews rather then cold salads and smoothies. This in turn supports our body to keep us healthy during the long winter months as we slow down and turn inward.
Then as the wheel turns from winter into spring we can begin to seek out spring time food as local farmers markets such as fresh nettles, fiddleheads and asparagus. These foods to help us cleanse our body from the heavy foods we craved during the winter.
As we then go into the summer months we move into large healthy salads, leaner meats and healthy green smoothies that support our bodies craving to keep us cooler and we spend more and more time outside. A wonderful book to use for eating with seasons is The Ancient Cook fire by Carrie L'Esperance
The Celtic peoples had celebrations for each of these seasons and even the cross quarters in between, this served to support their community spirit, gave each person a sense of belonging and honoured the spirits of the land they lived on. If you look at this image you will see the four fixed points and the quarters in between them. The fixed points form a cross and these are the solstices and equinoxes. They are fixed because they happen at the same time each year. The four quarter points are known as cross festivals, as they fall at the seasonal peaks, are a little different each year and celebrate the power of nature. I make mention of these because ideally in addition to your lessons you are also working on following and incorporating the celebrations into your life as a way of deepening your connection to the natural world. You will fin the pages for the Celtic Wheel of the Year here in your portal also, so please feel free to print them off, read them ahead and refer to those pages as much as you wish.
These celebrations were:
Winter Solstice/Yule which marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year and is any-where from the 20th to the 23rd of December.
The quarter celebration of Imbolc comes next and can be celebrated anywhere from the end of January to the end of Feb, depending on the weather.
The Spring Equinox/Ostara then falls between the 20th and 23rd of March.
The next cross quarter which falls next is Beltain and this can be celebrated anywhere form the end of April to the beginning of May
Summer Solstice/Litha falls next and is between the 20th and 23rd of June.
The cross quarter next is Lammas/Lunassad, the harvest. It can be celebrated from the end of July to the beginning of August.
Autumn Equinox/Mabon falls next between the 20th and the 23rd of September.
The cross quarter celebration next is Samhain which can be celebrated from the end of October to the beginning of November.
The reason I feel that it is important that we as priestess follow these old ways is two-fold.
Firstly, we live in North America in a geographic area that many, although not all, experience four seasons in a similar way our Celtic ancestors would have, and tapping into these celebrations and seasons helps us to connect more deeply with nature and brings us more deeply into our daily awareness.
Secondly, most of us have some form of ancestral blood in us that is Celtic. The Celtic peoples travelled and lived all across Europe reaching up as far as Germany and all the down to England, Ireland, Scotland and into France.
As you move through the next 13 months not only will you experience 13 full and new moons, but also the four seasons and the turning of the wheel through all of the celebrations and directions, and you will receive the Celtic Wheel of the Year course and Handbook for this reason.
Goddess/Earth based wheel: This is what a basic wheel might look like and is one that were used by many different North American pagan or earth based traditions. If you find some of the information here useful wonderful, however if there is something that does not feel right for you please take it with a grain of sugar.... When calling in the directions we usually begin in the North, although other traditions may begin elsewhere, and all of the ways are right. North, the Night, Winter, the crone, the element of Earth and our Body. Our ancestors and wise ones live in the north of the wheel, and if we are to truly wanting to honor them we must seek them out and ask for their wisdom to guide us. The owl resides in the North as well as other nocturnal dark time animals. The North corresponds to dusk and the season of Autumn, the moon and the element earth, and tt is in this place that we begin our journey inward to reflect on the inner landscapes of our bodies and hearts. The North is the looking within place, and it is a time for looking into any old patterns that may need releasing to become who we truly are. The Bear resides in the north in the winter which reminds us that it is a time of slowing down, of hibernating, and gives us the opportunity to gather and nourish ourselves, to rest and look inward. The North relates to the archetypes of the the Dark Mother, Shadow sister, and Amazon. The trees in the North of the grove are Blackthorn, Holly and Alder.
East, the morning, spring time, Adolescance, the element of Air and our breath. In the east we are given wisdom teachings about breath and breathing and the importance of stillness and movment both aspects of the wind.... Air is the manifestation of movement, communication and of music and sound. Air is invisible, but its reality can be felt in the air that we breathe and the winds that blow cleansing us an moving us into action and manifestation. In the east we move into our time of adolescance healing and remembering the wisdom that time of our lives may have brought us. The east correlates to the archetypes of the Maiden, the Priestess and Wild Woman. The sacred trees that sit in the direction of the East of the grove are Apple, Willow and Ash.
South, high noon, summer-time, Woman and Queen, the element of Fire and our Spirit. The place of the rising sun, it is high noon, summertime, and the element of Fire. It is here that we learn the art of transformation and of love and passion, and in the South we share that understanding. In the South, we are able to gain a higher perspective on our lives, to see far into the future and understand what the best direction we are to take. For we tend to see things we may have missed in the light of a new day, and by the light of the fire... Illumination and inspiration all fall in the east, as does the element of Fire which is associated with the sun, the colors red and orange, transformation, and new beginnings. The South relates to adulthood and is correlated to the archetype of the Midwife or Healer, the Lover and the Mother. The trees in the north of the sacred grove are Hazel, Hawthorn, and Birch.
West, Evening, autumn, Wise woman, the element of Water and our Blood. The west is the place of turning, as day turns to night and the season changes from summer to fall. The west teaches is as the trees drop their leaves in autums they let go of what no longer serves them in order to survive the coming winter and to nourish the earth by giving back. In the west we find the element of water the mother of us all, for in the womb it nurtures us and as women and womb carriers ourselves we are pulled by the ties of the ocean and moon. We are watery beings as women and as such the waters offer us teachings around emotion and flow. Emotion is the most common thing attributed to Water, but meditation, introspection, and dreams are also in the realm of the west. The West relates to our wise woman time, and corrolates to the archetype of the Sorceress or visionary, Heroine, and Queen . The trees in the west are the Rowen, Oak, and Elder.
Spinning the wheel once again we land in the the last place we land in on the wheel in the Centre, which is represented by the element Ether, the ancestors and the Yew tree. It is the place of nothingness, and it is where we return to the great mystery and it is the meeting place of dreams. Both day dreaming and night dreaming. This is where we see the vision of our life and the true essence of who we truly are.
By understanding the deep aspects of the seasons, the times of day and where they sit on the great wheel of life we can better come into harmony with nature and all the lessons it has to offer us.
How the Seasons and Directions affect working with your Medicine Bundle: As you begin to build your medicine bundle, placing your power objects into each direction you are essentially creating a working altar that shifts, moves, changes and grows as you do, depending on where you are in your life.
Re-visiting our maidenhood, offering healing to ourselves as mothers and to the mothers that raised us, and finding our inner warrior, lover and priestess are all pieces of our deepest inner selves. As we work our way around the wheel of life all of these aspects will have the opportunity to give rise to her voice, to retrieve sacred medicine objects and to not only find, but to follow the dusty overgrown path of their destiny.
By opening our medicine bundles we have direct access not only to a map of our souls, but a direct kinship with our ancestors and the work that we are doing with ourselves at the time. Our bundles become a deep support created by us and only for us, as only we can understand the deep working and inner stirrings of our soul.
Your medicine bundle will become a powerful and sacred object that increases with each object that you put into it and by every turn of the wheel that passes.
As you move through your 13 months, you will enter the sacred grove 13 times and journey with the 13 sacred trees, learning about them as you do.
You will come to have a deep understanding of the wheel of life, and of yourself through the feminine archetypes and the goddess.
The wheel of life is found in all cultures, as is the goddess, from the First Nations peoples, to the Buddhist monks in Tibet, to the ancient Irish spiral of memory and belonging and each one is different depending on the tradition. In year two we will be taking our bundles to a deeper level with the wheel, and so it all goes in the circle of life, death and re-birth.
This spinning of the wheel is what makes us human, it belongs to all of us, and is an ancient teaching that transcends all humanness and takes us into divine contact with our souls.
It is an honor to walk beside you and to hold space for you and you all take this exciting journey.......
Living and working on theunceded Indigenous land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.