The Four Quarters

Each cardinal point of the magic circle is associated with a guardian spirit, an element, ritual tool, colors and attributes; correspondences vary among traditions.

North. To ancient pagans, the north was the source of great power. The heavens spun around the North Star, and the ancients aligned their temples and pyramids to the star. North, the cardinal point never touched by the Sun, was associated with darkness, mystery and the unknown.

Perhaps because of the pagan reverence for the north, it became associated with the DEVIL in Christianity. Cemeteries were seldom placed on the north side of a church, which, if used for burial at all, was reserved for unbap-tized children, criminals, reprobates and suicides. Many old churches throughout Europe and the British Isles have north doors called "the Devil's door," which were opened after baptisms in order to allow the exorcised demon to escape. Most of these doors have long since been bricked over. The reasons are obscure. Perhaps witches and pagans who were forced to or dared not attend church deliberately entered through the Devil's door. The clergy then blocked the doors in an effort to stamp out lingering paganism.

The north is associated with the element of Earth, the new phase of the Moon, the pentacle, secrecy and darkness, the colors gold or black and death and rebirth. Some traditions of the Craft align their altars to the north. In Masonry, the north represents the condition of the spiritually unenlightened.

East. The quarter of enlightenment, illumination, mysticism and the eternal. It corresponds to the element of Air, the athame or sword, the colors red or white. Traditionally the altar is aligned to the east. When a circle is cast, the high priestess or high priest leaves an opening, sometimes in the northeast portion, depending on the tradition, as the gate for other coveners to enter. The northeast is the symbolic dividing line between the path of darkness (north) and the path of light (east). In Masonry, the east represents mankind's highest and most spiritual consciousness.

South. Solar energy, the Sun, the element Fire, the colors blue or white, and the magic wand are associated with the south. This is the quarter of the will, the direction and channeling of the energy forces of nature and the psychic. South-running water has long been attributed with magical properties, and was used in medieval times by wise women and folk witches in preparing medicine and in anti-witchcraft spells. In Masonry, the south is the halfway meeting point between the spiritual intuition of the east and the rationality of the west. It represents the zenith of intellectuality, as the sun attains its zenith in the southern sky.

West. The quarter of Water, creativity, emotions, fertility and courage to face one's deepest feelings. It is associated with the chalice, the symbol of female creative power and fecundity, the after life, and the colors red or gray. In Masonry, it represents reason, common sense, and material-mindedness.

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