I’ve worked at Blue Eagle on-and-off for 15 years or so, and believe you me, I’ve seen and heard it all. I’ve come to find that within our search for meaning in life, we can fall into the trap of following rules, even within the supposedly rule-free pagan communities. My belief has grown into something along the lines that way back in the way back; wise women (and men) did what needed to be done with what they had, when they had it. They didn’t go around saying, “Well, Joe down the street has a scroll that says I have do this and that with only these colors and candles and herbs and only on this particular day because otherwise it won’t work, so sorry, Sally, but the time’s not right to help you.” I’m sorry, say what? I’ll bet wise women wouldn’t have been considered ‘wise’ for very long with that attitude!
And don’t get me started on the 3 phases of the moon. Three? Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t there 5? Dark (usually called new, though it’s not), new, waxing, full, and waning. Heck, throw in the crescents and you’ve even more, right? But I digress…
The other day I was having a conversation with a wonderful customer who was setting up an altar after many years without one, and we got into a discussion about the elemental/directional associations. Most Wiccans/pagans believe the -quote, unquote, air quotations- “traditional” ones: earth is north, air is east along with the rising sun, fire is south, and water is west. I’d come across a post at some point by the every-wonderful Thalia Took, which links to an amazing post by Mike Nichols and it had been in my head and my patchwork practice, minimal as it is, ever since.
I live in New Mexico, and directly to my east is a mountain range, and to the north is a vast expanse of not-a-mountain-range, from which the northerly wind whips along said range. Now in what way on does air from the east make sense? Earth, in all it’s towering glory, is east. There’s no way around it. Yes, the sun comes from the east, but how and why does that connect to air? New beginnings, that I can see, but doesn’t earth as a beginning make more sense as most everything we know grows from the earth and the sun nurtures that growth?
As I’m researching for links this morning, I’m coming across more posts by other rebel pagans about altering the associations, such as this one by Spring Wolf (the more I read this post, the more I love it). I’m in the midst of a fantastic book I highly recommend – even before I’ve read it through – by Dianne Sylvan called The Circle Within (did you know you can purchase items from Half.com with PayPal?!), and in one of the rituals it has the traditional ‘east air’ and I plan to go through with a pencil and change that one and north.
After our discussion and my final comments along the lines that ‘you should do what feels best for you; sit in the room in which you plan to set your altar and sit facing different directions. Which feels best? Don’t want it on the floor, use a shelf (that one surprised him, and I could see the wheels begin to turn, thank you Ellen Dugan for the idea)…’, etc, the customer stated that he was going to give what I said a try and I told him to “go for it! Be a rebel pagan!”. Cuz I’m bad-ass that way. 😉
What are your thoughts about paganism, it’s ‘rules without rules’, and the elemental associations? How do you work with them? Bring on the discussion!!
Next week I’ll have a post about being a Rebel Healer. Hey, almost a series!
©Pip Miller – July 2014
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