Defining Sacred Space – Gavin and Yvonne’s Archive – Wicca.org

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Before we begin any ritual, it has become our practice to define the space in which it is held: That space is between the worlds and is not subject to “normal” time constraints. In defining thus, we have used the ancient directions which correspond to the elements: fire, earth, air, water. The correlation of the elements with directions comes to us from the ancient Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley: from the area known as the Punjab (Land of the Five Rivers). The area spans the border between today’s Pakistan and today’s India.
Generally North has been designated Earth. With the Himalayas in the North, putting Earth there seems reasonable. But what if there is no earth massif to your north, as for instance in northwestern Ireland, or in the praire flatland of Kansas? Since anywhere we stand Earth is under our feet, it seems reasonable to us to correlate Earth with Down.
What if we are in the United States on the west coast? Where should we put Water? Since the Pacific Ocean is in the West and it is a pretty large body of water, let’s say for the sake of argument that we should put Water in the West. Then when we move to the east coast we should put Water in the East; and by similar reasoning on the Gulf Coast we should put Water in the South.
Since the sun is at its most powerful in the South (we’re speaking here throughout of the northern hemisphere), Fire should be in the South, and Air in the West. This is especially appropriate since most prevailing winds come from the West. (You need only look at the weather channel.) This now leaves us with a blank for North–and after working many, many dedications of space, we have come to the conclusion that the best representation for North is Time. Without Time, nothing would exist. Further, Time can obviously be associated with the elderly, with white hair, and with many other concepts befitting what is essentially a sympathy magic. Now we can put Spirit Above and have a very consistent, tidy, satisfactory six-direction dedication for our working.
We prefer what is called cross-circle calling: the person standing in the South calls North, and similarly around the group–starting, of course, with Earth because workers need something to stand on. It is best, then, that everyone in unison call Earth. Here then is a typical set of direction calls for the eastern US:
Below – earth, our mother: the solid ground from which we all come                a  square
East – water, adaptability: takes on the shape of its container                           wavy lines
South – fire, passion, not indifference                                                              triangle
West – air, mental: here new ideas come in on the wind                                   fountain
North – time, remembrance, good times, those who have gone before             clock hands
Above – spirit, which activates every living thing                                              spiral
Thus we offer some basic ideas to direct your thinking as you dedicate your space. Some groups also like to make hand gestures as they call each direction, so we have included them too. Remember always that the key to such working is the ability to remain silent, an ability often equated to Earth, with the silence of rocks and mountains. As with all magical procedures, though, it is up to the local group to make their own decisions on how they will sanctify their sacred space. Therefore we urge you to do just that: Define it, try it; if you like it, stay with it. Whatever you do in your working, don’t just simply follow like a well-trained dog the ancient instructions without thinking about them.
Remember always that the key to all this working is the ability to remain silent. It is often equated to Earth. The silence of the rocks and the mountains. As with all magical procedures, it is up to the local group to make their own decisions on how they will sanctify their sacred space. We urge you, therefore, to do just this: define it, try it; if you like it, stay with it. Whatever you do in your working, don’t just simply follow like a well-trained dog the ancient instructions without thinking about them.

Be where you are.

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