What are they?
The Four Quarters are invoked at the start of most Major rituals. They are sometimes called in abstract forms and sometimes as personal Guardians. However you call them, they represent the Four Directions and the Four Elements. In ancient times the world was belied to stretch out in the Four Directions and everything in it was belied to be composed of the Four Elements. So when Invoking the Four Quarters we are symbolising our connection to everything.
In times passed the Quarter's properties were taken from the Directions of the Prevailing Winds. In Brittan these are as detailed above. However there are different ways to order them. One system uses primal elements opposing each other: Fire at East, Water at West, Air at South and Earth at North. However some people find this to be too intense. There is also a Welsh tradition that places Air in the North and Earth in the East. If you are acting as a Solitary Witch, I would use whatever order that fells best for you. If you are in a coven, you would be best to stick to their order to avoid any confusion. The importance as with any workings is the Intention.
North - Earth
Integration, Wisdom, Understanding, Abundance, Protection and Room to Grow
Earth is the universal archetype of The Divine Feminine. Our planet is called Mother Earth, the Grate Mother, and many others. She represents in inexhaustible spirit of creation and is associated with Abundance. When we call upon Earth, we are not only calling upon the grate expanse of our planet but also on invoking her support and extreme strength. The Earth gives all living things the space and minerals needed to grow, so we are inviting the living essence of our planet to join us.
East - Air
Thought, Ideas and Conception, Beginnings, New things, aid in communication - sending messages writing stories, etc.
With Air, we are working with the Divine Breath of Spirit, the ability to move through space and time, and the Wisdom that come from experience and study. Then Invoking in we are calling forth the Sacred Breath of Life with Vigor and clarity. The movement of Air can tell us many things. It can bring the scent of spring, let you know if the warming season will be worm or late.
South - Fire
Action, Physical Manifestation, Creating and Doing, Strength, Power, Protection, Transformation
When we work with fire, we are envisaging the Eternal Flame of Spirit which never dies. It is the sizzle of creativity and the eruption of Passion. Fire is difficult to control, so you should be extra careful when working with the Living Flame. From fire comes the Phoenix, where we can rise from ashes of what was and embrace what will be with joy. Look forward to change. It is Enlightenment and is extremely potent, it can also represent Truth and knowledge. Fire is also the Grate Destroyer.
West - Water
Emotion, Reaction, Birth and transformation
Water is symbolic of the Grate Mother. When invoking we are seeking the fountain of life and the source of all things. Water Cleanses and purifies, representing our search for the secrets of life and death. Deep water represents the depths of the human soul, the subconscious and the realm of the dead. Running water represents the unending cascade of the spiritual energy. Crossing a stream means that you wish to pass from the world of illusion into a higher spiritual state, similar to walking over a bridge.
Most witches call upon the following three directions when calling the Goddess, God and Grate Spirit. They do not instinctively think of them as directions. 7 is a common number that will come up many times in Witchcraft. The Seven Chakras, Seven planes of existence.
Enlightenment and Understanding, Higher Self
The realms above are about spiritual awareness, detachment and seeing the bigger picture, as if you were looking down from a birds eye view.
Practical Spirituality, Unseen, Unconscious
Below is about taking care of your needs and desires. It is about looking beneth the surface, at the unseen.
The Centre or Within is the fifth element. It is truth or your interpretation of it. It is your true self, your core and the deepest aspects of your spiritual self.
Whilst Witchcraft has the above seven directions, I felt it necessary to include these as some may feel a more completeness when these are added. Nine is a very special number, it is the Triple Goddess, tripled, this means infinity.
Receive, Feminine, Emotional Health, Family
This is about your ability to receive. It can be lessons in taking care of yourself and learning to nurture your inner being. The left is associated with your private life.
This is connected with your ability to send out energy or project.It is your driving energy, the ability to take action or create. It is associated with your public or work life.