Quarters and Cross-Quarters

Most Pagan systems acknowledge the importance of the cardinal directions, North, East, South and West, and usually pair these up with the Western Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  There is also, in some systems, the ascribing of certain Powers to each Quarter, those of Silence, Knowledge, Will, and Daring.  The Cardinal Directions orient us with the physical realm, the world in which we live.  The Elements bring the understanding of the building blocks of the world, the range and type of energy that is available for our use.  The Powers give us the mental and emotional connection which enables us to understand the bridges between our world and the Realms of the Divine.  Understanding how all these fit together allows us the contact with the Divine which is the purpose of the Sorgae.

 The Sorgae system does all these things, and adds the midpoints between the directions; Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and Northwest.  Here we present the Quarters and Cross-Quarters as we have come to understand them.

 East is beginnings, in the Directional sense, the Elemental sense, and in the Powers that enable Divine Contact. The Sun rises in the East, it is where our day begins.  In order to begin contact with the Divine, one must know of its existence. Therefore, the East is Knowledge, the desire to understand all things, the drive for answers to all life’s questions.   Air is the most ethereal of the Elements, and therefore, it is the first.  Being the first, it is the ‘oldest’ – and the East is the abode of the Faerie, the Elder Children of the Gods, the Hosts of Air.  East is the transition point between Eternity and Time.

 South is energy, the driving force, Fire and Will.  The Direction of South is associated in the Northern hemisphere with heat because the equator and the tropics are to our South. But South can also be ‘inward’ which leads to the hot interior of our planet regardless of where on the surface one lives. The molten iron core and the Earth’s rotation gives it its magnetic sphere.  Therefore, it is the energy of the physical. On the Elemental level, Fire has more substance to it than Air, but it is still ethereal, still impossible to catch because it consumes that which it touches.  Such it is with Will, the driving force behind Divine Contact.  Once one Knows of it, one must Will to achieve it, letting the desire drive one ever towards the goal.  This is the traditional second place, the world of Humans, of the Witches, for it defines the role of Time within the polarity of Time and Eternity.

 Southeast is what stands between Air and Fire, between Knowledge and Will.  Between Air and Fire is the spark, the combustion that has to happen for heat to burst into flame.  Between Knowledge and Will is decision.  One weighs knowledge of a situation, hypothesizes actions, and decides what s/he will do.  Therefore, the Southeast is characterized in an Elemental fashion by the Spark and in the realm of Powers by Decision.  In mythological terms, this would be the placement of the Fire-stealer, the point at which the Knowledge of the Gods is given to Humans for the purpose of action in accordance with Will.

 West is endings as East is beginnings.  The Sun sets in the West, the traditional home of the Gods in many mythologies is in the West.  This is what awaits us after the life in this realm is finished each cycle.  The West is associated with the Element of Water and the Power of Daring.  Water is the third Element, more substantial than Air or Fire.  One can hold water in one’s hand – though not for too long.  Water is depth and hidden currents; it can be utterly calm or a raging torrent.  Underneath, it can hold the very opposite – going underwater in a storm, one often finds a calm, and the most placid of ocean surfaces can conceal a great tempest.  Since Human emotions work the same way, the West is also connected with emotions, which ties directly into Daring.  In the progression toward the understanding of the Divine, there must be an emotional connection.  There also is an Element of fate, for the Gods have Their own wishes and desires as well.  This combination of emotion and fate is Daring; after one Knows of and Wills to contact the Divine, one must take the leap of emotion and fate and Dare.  This is another transition point, this time from the world of Time to the realm of Eternity.

 Southwest is between Will and Daring, and between Fire and Water.  The next step in any situation, once one has Willed an action, is to deal with the emotional aspects.  It is not enough to Will to do something – one actually has to do it!  This requires risk, and the understanding that there may be a price to pay for working one’s Will.  Therefore, one aspect of the Southwest is risk, or sacrifice.  In the Elemental sense, the combination of Fire and Water is steam.  This is the motivational force, the impetus to applying one’s Will, as it is the steam in a steam engine that provides the power for movement.  Steam can be seen as the power that resides in water.  Even the literal idea of firewater has to do with power in water, for ‘firewater’ is a slang term for alcohol.  Another term for alcohol is ‘spirits’ – again implying a power beyond the liquid of the alcohol.  Alcohol gets its ‘kick’ from that which resides in it – the power of the chemical reaction in the body.  It is often said that power resides in blood, therefore the power of ‘spirits,’ of ‘firewater,’ is blood.  The Southwest is thus Blood and Sacrifice.  Mythologically, this is the position of the act of Sacrificing – the Maenads Daring to tear Dionysus apart in a powerful, ecstatic, enactment of Will.

 North is the final Cardinal direction.  It is the eternal outward – toward the North Pole and toward the sky and the North Star. Yet it is also the Element of Earth – dirt and ground as the ‘outward’ part of the planet on which we live.  Earth is substance, form and solidity, that which we can readily hold and from which we can create.  It is the very ‘being-ness’ of the Elements, as Air is spirit, Fire is energy, and Water is emotion.  Earth can be likened to the primal body of all things.  In our understanding of Divine Contact, this is and must be Silence   One Knows, one Wills, one Dares, and then one is in communion (literally co-union, to join together) in being-ness with the Divine, and there is no need for words.  In fact, words get in the way.  Thus North is the place of Eternity, the point at which all things are One Thing, the point beyond separation.

 Northwest is between Water and Earth.  It is the clay of formation, the building-blocks of creation.  It is taking the Water of the West and giving it form.  This is the essence of magick, of shape-shifting.  Being opposite the Southeast, the Northwest is the return of fire and life back to the Gods, by using it wisely and well.  And between Daring and Silence is the understanding of Mystery,  that not all that is known can or should be told.  Therefore, the Northwest is the place of magick endeavor and of the teachings of the ways of Mystery, characterized by Form and Mystery.  Mythologically this is the place of the crossroads, of Hecate and the shamanic power.

 Northeast explores that which is between Earth and Air, between Silence and Knowledge.  Earth and Air is incense, or smoke, the ethereal essence, the setting of the stage for magickal rites and meditations.  It carries us to other states of consciousness, and therefore can be equated with journeys and traveling.  The phrase ‘smoke and mirrors’ refers to an illusion, but its origins are, as might be expected, in the realm of magick.  ‘Smoke and mirrors’ is the act of creating an entrance or gateway between the worlds, and relates directly to the Kabalistic pillars.  Between Silence and Knowledge is the point before beginnings.  This is pre-conscious, pre-thought, pre-anything.  It is all ideas, all potentials.  In Tarot, it would be the 0 Trump, the Fool, the Seeker.  The Northeast is the conception of the path, of journeys, of flight.  The Northeast is Smoke and Journeys.  In mythological terms, this would be the place where the World-Tree enters the world, and the place from which mortals can journey into its other realms.

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