Last Sunday we gave a presentation at the local fellowship of the Unitarian-Universalist Association. The congregation there, small but select, is accustomed to honoring the directions at the beginning of each Sunday service. They do it in the traditional way, with Air in the east, Earth in the north, and the rest of it; so we decided to try on them a new way of honoring. We had attendees do the calling, taking turns around the circle (deosil, of course). Instead of the whole congregation singly doing it, we had three in turn, around the circle, honor each direction. Just to give them some ideas to push against, we passed out copies of a crib sheet like the one at the bottom of this posting.
We started with Mother Earth, below; after all, we do stand on the earth. Then we put Water in the east because the largest body of water near Beckley (where we met) is the New River, flowing east of the meeting site. We put Fire in the south because we were in the northern hemisphere. Air went in the west because here in the States that’s where our air mostly flows from. (At least that’s what the weather channel leads us to believe.) In the north we put Old Age and Ancestors. Overhead we put Father Sky and the Universe. In the center we put Spirit, for seven directions in all.
Two interesting things came out of this.
1. The various directions elicited a stunning range of responses and personal associations. After a hesitant beginning with earth, attendees came up with fascinating and moving thoughts about each direction.
2. The people really liked the approach. Every adult present, without exception, had something personal to say about various directions. Indeed, they asked afterward that we do it again, and even perhaps write it up for the UU national bulletin. We came to realize how involved they had become in this one little part of the presentation.
The question, then, is this :
In general, in our own pagan/Wiccan circles, are we right to follow the old traditional way that was developed in Europe, much of it in times long gone? Or should we seriously think about letting attendees at circle put their own flavor into the ritual?
Give us feedback, please; many aspects of life could do with some updating and/or improvement.
Earth – our mother — the solid ground from which we all come
east – water, adaptability; takes on the shape of its container
south – fire, passion, not indifference
west – air, mental — here new ideas come in on the wind
north – remembrance — good times and old people who have gone before
Sky – our father — the sky over us all
spirit – spiritual aspect of relationships; without a spiritual match, all is lost.