December 1, 2006 at 11:53 am #19657
A wiccan from the US, Domniguez has written a very cool book about circles and directions in the Western tradition, called “Castings”. I’ve been researching this subject from the western angle, and this is the best book I’ve found.
There are many interesting passages that are relevant to students on this site. For example:
“In the West, like the East, we strive for unity of purpose within the self, but unlike the East we strive for that unity through ever greater levels of patterning leading towards a modelling of the infinite, rather than through simplification of the personal self and direct identification with the infinite.”
– which is kind of interesting, maybe a false dichotomy but I wonder which of the two models the practices on this site would follow more? Historically it is Sumeria that is the real origin of all such practices I believe, in Europe anyhow.
This is interesting because of the use Michael Winn is making of the universal work with the directions that appears all over in very different kinds of traditions – the “Tai Qi for Enlightenment” practice being the most obvious use of the idea which indeed Michael calls a ‘magical ritual’ in part.
Here is a passage from ‘Castings’ which talks about this multi-cultural aspect of the 4 quarters by quoting from their mythologies – I’ve already mentioned other examples in previous postings. Notice how the attributions change kaleidoscopically from time to time and culture to culture, like a series of refractions of a single central idea.
When Buddha was born a tremendous eight-petalled lotus blossom rose from the earth. Remarkably, the newborn Buddha stepped into the lotus and turned to look to each of the eight directions, and then he looked up and down. To begin his life in balance he oriented himself to the ten sacred directions.
In the Gaelic Airts the directions were associated with the path of the sun. The East was Airt and its color was the crimson of dawn. The South was Deas and its color was the white light of noon. The West was Iar and its color was the gray brown of dusk. The North was Tuath and its color was the black of midnight. The children of the Goddess Danu, the Tuatha de Danaan had four sacred cities with four sacred treasures. In the East was Gorias and the spear of Lugh. In the South was Finias and Nuada’s Sword of Light. In the West was Muria and Dagda’s Cauldron. In the North was Falias and Fal the Stone of Destiny.
In Eden there were four rivers and four gates at the four directions and at each gate stood an Archangel. These archangels are also present at the four directions of the cross, and they are Raphael in the East, Michael in the South, Gabriel in the West, and Uriel in the North.
[NB he does not mention the four gospel authors, often used with similar symbolism – NN]
The God Horus had four sons who were born in the lotus blossom of synthesis and the centre. Hawk-headed Qebhsnuf was the son of Air. Jackal-headed Duamutef was the son of Fire. Human-headed Imsety was the son of Water. Ape-headed Hapi was the son of Earth.
It is well known that the concept of the four elements undergirds much of Greek philosophy. The mythology also repeats this pattern. The Goddess Nemesis bore four sacred tools: a cup, an apple bough wand, a wheel, and a sword. The four winds were known as Eurus of the East, Notus of the South, Zephyrus of the West, and Boreas of the North.
[Interestingly the latter was made into a citizen of Sicily I think – ask me why if you want to know and don’t! They built him a house and everything – NN]
Before beginning, at the time of creation, the God Brahma cast his gaze to each of the four directions in preparation for his work. The Tattvas, the primal qualities of nature in Hinduism, are symbolized by: a yellow square for Earth; a silver crescent for Water; a red triangle for Fire; a blue circle (or hexagram) for Air; a black egg for Spirit.
In Shinto, the “Way of the Gods”, there are four powerful guardians at each of the four directions. In the East stands Jikoku as a blue dragon. In the South stands Komoku as a red bird. In the West stands Zocho as a white tiger. In the North stands Bishamon as a black warrior. Collectively they are known as the Shi Tenno.
The Tetragrammaton, the sacred name of God, is four letters, YHVH. The letter Yod corresponds to the element of Fire. The letter He corresponds to the element of warer. The letter Vav corresponds to the element of Air. The second heh corresponds to the element of earth. The missing vowels that would give the accurate pronunciation of this name correspond to Spirit. In its elaborated form, wherein the elements and spirit give rise to all things, the Tetragrammaton becomes the Shem ha-meforash: the 72-syllable, 216-letter name of God.
The Dineh, what the Navajo call themselves, honor the Quarters in many ways. One ritual of purification and integration involves “raising the sky” on four wands of shell, turqoise, black and gold. The colors correspond to the aspects of Changing Woman who is: White Shell Woman in the East; Turqoise Woman in the South; Salt Woman in the West; Spider Woman in the North.
<<< - No Taoism, but note the similarity of Chia's animals in his original fusion book to the Shinto ones. Also the (very beautiful!) notion of the Changing Woman of the Navaho, who appears as one and the same but in different guises depending on where you see her, has something a little Taoist in it to me. Anyhoo, plenty more in that book for those who are interested - including (for example) circles based on making energy vortices, circles purely for divination, and a circle which unlike most can be Cardinal or Mutable rather than fixed. later, NNDecember 1, 2006 at 12:23 pm #19658
“Historically it is Sumeria that is the real origin of all such practices I believe, in Europe anyhow.”
There where more then just sumeria in that area. Meany of the greeks wrote about them. The caucasians, hyperboreans, and atlantiens plus others. What makes you think it is sumeria in particular?December 1, 2006 at 4:30 pm #19660
>>What makes you think it is sumeria in particular?<<
I meant in this cycle of history. Mesopotamia is basically where modern history began, recordwise. The Egyptians got much from them, and the Greeks got much from the Egyptians. When you are dealing with magic (which as Alexander said is a word that comes from Sumeria), circles of demons and gods in certain orders, etc., you are basically dealing with Sumeria. Where they got it from I don't know. NN
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