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The Elements and the Quarters

elements quarters circle of the world

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#1 SammCrow

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 02:59 AM

One of the things that discouraged me from pursuing traditional wicca was a basic dissatisfaction with teachings I received regarding the classic elements and their associations with the four quarters of the world.  I spent many years in private research on this matter and recently completed an article entitled "The Elements and the Quarters" which I have had published this week at Witchvox.com.  It will be on the front page there through Saturday, April 12th, after which you will have to find it in the archives.  It is published under my primary chosen name of Bran th' Blessed.  For any of you who are interested in the subject, I would be grateful for your comments on the article, which should prove somewhat controversial to the old guard.

 

You can find the archived article at this link:  http://www.witchvox....=words&id=15663

 

Thanks.

 

Samm Crow // Bran th' Blessed


Edited by SammCrow, 13 April 2014 - 08:45 AM.

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Prayer SevenNow in union with the Sun, your face O Moon is dark, a mask of shadows hidden in a sea of light, until the Sun, like some lover consumed by passion's flame, withdraws his light from the faltering day and drowns himself, in sacrificial zeal, as deep within your darkness as ever flame may steal.  And you, O Moon, by yielding freely to his might, have gained his freely-given throne, the Regal Queen of Night in your Diadem of Gold, to rule the sky alone.  It is only envy of such love that leads all men to lust.  Ave, Luna!  - 09 March 2001, by Bran th' Blessed (Samm Crow)


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Posted 11 April 2014 - 05:19 AM

Truthfully i'd disagree with your conclusions and placement.

 

Air and cold in the Hellenic layout was because the north was the cold winds and the wide cold north..  In relationship to the Hellenic world it was also the cold and forbidding north, the north (Northwest in some stories) is also the location of the fabled land of Hyperboria which was cold and snow covered.  A place where Apollo was supposed to go to at times with his association to the sun.  Earth initially lay to the east because to the east was the lands of Asia Minor (Anatolia, Caria, Ionia, etc) and the uncharted unknown and its massive presence.  Water lay to the west due to the location of the med itself and the presence of water itself.  Fire lay to the south due to Africa and the sense of the burning waste lands and the Sahara Desert.  It does cross somewhat into the Southeast sue to how Babylon and later Chaldea was understood and acknowledged.  The Hellenic outposts and exploration of the archaic world greatly influencing how they viewed the physical world.

 

Then one has to factor in the notion of the chthonic influences of both the Hellenic and Roman world view regarding death, burial and restless dead.  There your getting into the western facing graveyards and tombs and proper burial ritual and offerings, etc.  Also into the rotation of the sun itself and its influence upon things.  All of which factors in that the Mediterranean Sea area is built upon a three season growing cycle which further equates to how the earth element along with fertility and fecundity is observed.  A magical layout that is similar but not the same to Egypt (Kemetic).

 

Figure for Egypt for instance Water is to the North and east due to the Med and Nile.  More so to the Nile as the whole of the social structure was built upon the Nile flooding and the harvest and dead season.  Death is also in the west hence the valley of the kings and the city of the dead.  Fire is still to the south due to the African expanse.  Air is frequently seen from the east due to the hot currents and mirages coming in from the eastern desert.  It influenced the Hellenic and later Latin civilizations but most is equated to the physical layout of the area.

 

In Eastern America you see water frequently to the East, Air to the North, Fire to the south and earth to the west.  Yet on the west coast water and earth are frequently reversed.  If one looks to many of the various medicine wheels you see similar transpositions of where things fall.

 

Of course going east it changes even more as the four traditional elements change to as many as 15 I think it.  Not even looking at the liminal points where two elements join such as earth and water to make mud, fire and water to make steam, air and water to make ice or mist, etc. 

 

It also tends to ignore the so called sacred directions and equations.  That which lies upon me (Soul) that which lies above me (Celestial) that which lays beneath me (Chthonic), that which lies before me, that which lies behind me, that which lies to either die of me.  From a shamanic perspective and world tree perspective the directions and elemental equations of what one shall encounter in journey work and movement vertically and horizontally upon and about the various tree's.  To include the Cabala / Kabala tree of life, the Nordic tree Ydasdril and many native american notions of the worlds and what is in each one.

 

Granted there is a whole lot more to it but this I think gives enough evidence for why I dispute your conclusions and findings based upon my knowledge and experience.  Not to say your won't work for you just it doesn't match any archaic or traditional practice I am aware of.


Edited by monsnoleedra, 11 April 2014 - 05:43 AM.

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#3 Tana

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 01:30 PM

An interesting academic debate, I read the Witchvox article and Monsnoleedras post as well.

 

I am not bothered with the assigning of quarters of the compass to the four elements.

 

I stand upon the Earth and draw power from it.

I keep warm by Fire and watch the Salamanders dance in it.

I feel the rain on my face as Water passes my body to nourish the land.

I talk to the wind and the Air, it tells me all the things I need to know.

 

I am not dismissing the scholarly value of the two academic giants above.

Just adding to the debate with an alternate view.


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If I break faith with thee, may the skies fall upon me, the seas drown me, and the earth rise up and swallow me.

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 02:25 PM

Tana,

 

I think for me part of the issue lies in the usage of quarters or watch towers, its not traditional witchcraft or usage.  It originates within ceremonial and high magics and today is mainly present due to Wiccan influences.  Then the ceremonial / high magical notion of elements such as the salamander equating to fire and how those elements are either seen as a) something that is contained within all living things.  The old notion of fire residing within the tree and laying dormant until flame breaks forth and the salamander would be seen running.   B) The other elemental aspect of actual elemental beings or entities and how one relates to them and their position in reference to one another.  Within many shamanic usages you see it contained within the notion of Stone people, finned ones, winged ones, standing ones, two legs and four legs.  Yet you also see it in the equation of things like Selkies, Kelpies, Undines, water hags, etc to water elements for instance.  So the beings equated to a given element and how it works.  Consider the Green hag is associated to swampy water, the blue hag was open oceans and deep waters, occasionally a brown hag type figure associated to lakes, rivers and ponds.  The same is also found with regard to water horses and how they relate to boundary spots where other elemental forces meet.  Their sphere of power and influence being water in my examples.

 

A lot of times when I see people doing the boundary equations is seems very AD&D like in how they place things upon a flat plain.  Yet if you consider the elemental plain as encasing the physical earth plain then its like layers around a ball. So only at its center most point of the elemental group is the element pure, as they move upon the three opposing points they become corrupted or liminal in that it is one thing but also not that thing.  Yet it also falls almost into a sense of outside plains of reality that encroach upon us or simply have boundaries where time & dimension allow echoes or entire entities to hold a form upon each plain of existence.

 

In the late 70's early 80's what we referred to as Astral space, Etheral space and boundary space if I recall correctly.  


Edited by monsnoleedra, 11 April 2014 - 02:26 PM.

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#5 SammCrow

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 08:54 PM

monsnoleedra

I gather in essence you disagree with the principle that the meaning of the elements must be global and universal rather than merely local and climatic as you describe them.  I will agree to disagree on that point and say no more about it.  I do thank you so much for reading the article and making a comment.  I am most appreciative of that.  That method just never worked for me.  Wiccans use this stuff in setting their circles yes, but I am more concerned with the circle of the world that follows each of us wherever we go, so I do not surrender this concern to their "authority" or lack of same.  Now the concept of elemental beings or spirits, that may indeed be wiccan in origin.  It seems to me a rather clumsy and unnecessary fabrication to speak of such beings about whom no-one seems to agree.  And if there are such beings, we must then ask if there truly are other extra-dimensional realms (plains you call them) where these creatures reside, and are those realms complete universes like our own or only dreamlike dimensions of no real size or shape.  You speak of the plains as encircling and encasing the physical earth, but is the earth the center of the universe?  Are we going back to ancient geocentric concepts with no thought to our place in the universe?  I am puzzled by this.  It all seems so primitive a view with no consideration  for scientific knowledge to the contrary.  Perhaps you are only meaning that we assume this all to describe a dreamworld beyond the physical realm.  I could go with that maybe.  Perhaps we can discuss this further???  It seemed best to me just to ignore this thorny issue which really contributes little if anything to understanding the elements or the quarters, but perhaps I am wrong in that notion.

 

Bran / Samm Crow


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Prayer SevenNow in union with the Sun, your face O Moon is dark, a mask of shadows hidden in a sea of light, until the Sun, like some lover consumed by passion's flame, withdraws his light from the faltering day and drowns himself, in sacrificial zeal, as deep within your darkness as ever flame may steal.  And you, O Moon, by yielding freely to his might, have gained his freely-given throne, the Regal Queen of Night in your Diadem of Gold, to rule the sky alone.  It is only envy of such love that leads all men to lust.  Ave, Luna!  - 09 March 2001, by Bran th' Blessed (Samm Crow)


#6 Tana

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 09:38 PM

I think I threw in the red herring mentioning Salamanders!

I challenge anyone to look into a fire and not see them.

Doesn't mean they actually exist though! 

Or do they?


)0( Tana )o(

If I break faith with thee, may the skies fall upon me, the seas drown me, and the earth rise up and swallow me.

#7 Michele

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Posted 11 April 2014 - 10:57 PM

Perhaps the salamanders are symbolic of what fire represents to the specific person visualizing them or using them?

 

M


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Posted 11 April 2014 - 11:46 PM

I think I threw in the red herring mentioning Salamanders!

I challenge anyone to look into a fire and not see them.

Doesn't mean they actually exist though! 

Or do they?

 

From an Alchemy perspectives Salamanders have always represented "Fire" since at least the Hellenic period.  Though I think the major association comes in the 1400's later picked up by the Golden Dawn and Crawley.  Probably the most common of the fire element representations.  I know for me the main fire one as fire is not my prime element when equating entities to the archaic base elements.  


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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:37 AM

Samm Crow will respond to this later, I just had a detailed response typedout and lost it


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Posted 12 April 2014 - 01:23 AM

Samm Crow going to try this again but break it down into smaller responses

 

I do not believe in a geocentric system but a heliocentric system.  Yet within that I believe in a multi dimensional system where many plains or dimensions may hold the same physical space (three dimensional) yet be within the constraints of a fourth dimensional (time).  When I speak of elemental plains I see them in such a complete universe.  Like plates stacked one upon another the normally do not touch but may come so close that echoes may appear on bordering realities.  Being they hold the same physical space and size they would or could touch any point upon the given surface area, or possibly deeper area of the earth.

 

For instance consider the elemental plain of water I see it as a physical and logical reality.  Yet that reality seldom touches ours but at times the vibrational rate of that reality and this reality are so close that either a window is opened where one can view into the other or experience the other.  It maybe in the physical sense with human eyes based upon older stories and such.  It maybe one where matter can cross partially from one place to another, think of sightings of UFO's, unknown creatures ect.  Possibility existing for matter to cross back and forth giving rise to the stories one hears of people crossing into the Fae worlds, dimensional ripples where people step back in time or forward in time or encounters with other worldly creatures.

 

Then potentially any of the various "Plains" that exist as parts of the macro and micro universe could be encountered though the methods are unknown for the most part.  The human mind operates on a number of rthymes or frequencies so it, to my perspective, is a possible vehicle that could access those boundary points.  Would explain journey work and the various realities and plains that the person experiences and journeys to.

 

Yet our world is also influenced by its own limitations.  Consider magnetism for instance.  There is a magnetic north pole that affects life upon this planet.  There is a magnetic pulse that affects the planet due to the rotational pull of our earths metallic core which produces another magnetic field.  Then there is a solar magnetic field that affects / effects our planet.  Yet the influence, area of affect and degree of affect varies depending upon where one is upon the planet.  Varies depending upon what features are to be found whether it be water, earth, etc.

 

So consider movement and relation to the planets rotation and directions.  One might align to the magnetic north which is different than the physical north.  A difference that changes constantly as one moves about the planet.  Then one has to consider the internal magnetic lines, consider the rift line of the Mid Atlantic rift zone for instance, scientifically we know the earth's magnetic lines have changed many times as forces act upon the core magnatism, causing ribbons and bands of alternating magnetic influence.  Go to an area where the geologic process is happening or visible upon the earth such as in mountainous areas.  You can feel and see the bends, folds, upthrust, down thrust, etc that have occurred upon the planets crust and mantle.  Stand in those areas and you can feel subtle changes from one to the other and how it affects not only the individual but other living things within that area.

 

The ancients many times appear to have known that and modified their own beliefs and magical practices to account for those changes based upon where they were located.  While small changes are noted in specific areas larger changes are noted and recorded as distance and influence move apart.  The magnetic north pull and influence is different in Egypt for instance than it is in say Spain and still different than say South America though the line is semi direct through Europe and Africa.  Consider the very visible displays of that magnetic influence through the Aurora Borealis ie northern lights or Aurora Australis ie Southern lights, it does not occur at the equator as the magnetic influence is different.

 

Thus why to my perspective one has to place correspondences according to where one is at not some universal correspondence that ignores energy changes and modifications we tap into via magical means.  Alternatively look into how the notion of Ley Lines, dragon lines, fire lines, water lines etc are recorded about the planet.  Though the most detailed examples pertain to England or the act of Feng Shui in the orient and natural energy flow.. 


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#11 Michele

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 01:23 AM

Samm Crow will respond to this later, I just had a detailed response typedout and lost it

Lol - don't you just HATE that.... happens to me sometimes depending on how long it takes me to type. I highlight and copy prior to hitting "post" and then if it gets lost I can just paste and post again....

 

M


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Posted 12 April 2014 - 01:40 AM

Lol - don't you just HATE that.... happens to me sometimes depending on how long it takes me to type. I highlight and copy prior to hitting "post" and then if it gets lost I can just paste and post again....

 

M

 

Its a pain for sure.  Not sure how I did it but not only did I loose what I had typed but it managed to jump the page back a couple of times and deleted my saved copy in the desk top area  ( I frequently save as I type but not in a open folder).  I think I hit between two keys, one of which happened to be the shift key and wham it was all gone.


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#13 RoseRed

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Posted 12 April 2014 - 12:14 PM

I guess you weren't supposed to share that.


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#14 SammCrow

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 03:12 AM

My placement of the elements is based upon the rotational axis which is much more stable than the magnetic poles which move about at a much more liberal pace.  Archeology even records epochs in which the magnetic poles have reversed.  Obviously such flux cannot and should not be used as a marker for the elements; it is unstable and ever-changing, plus our very understanding of magnetism beyond its use for compasses is quite recent.  I don't think it wisest to associate the energies of the elements with magnetism, which is only one of many forms of energy and, as you have said, quite lacks any stability.  If one is associating elements with the quarters, it would seem to be an entirely different purpose than associating them with the vagueries and instability of magnetism or local climate.  I really do believe that we must seek global values in looking to make these assignments.

 

The rotational directions are fixed in a very stable manner--not absolute, I think, but stable.  By the very nature of motion itself, anything that spins (rotates on an axis) must spin in a given direction and the axis of rotation must necessarily be perpendicular to that spin.  Furthermore, one pole of that axis will rotate in a deosil direction while the opposite pole of the axis will rotate in a widdershins direction.  This is not just a global truth; it is a universal truth.  Every planet, moon, star, and galaxy in the universe has the same qualities of spin as our planet Earth.  The tilt of Neptune's axis is so extreme that it is virtually rolling on its side along its orbit, and one of its poles rather points toward the sun.  But you see there is more to this.  There is, in my opinion, much importance in what I have called the poet's view as opposed to the scientific view.  Both are true in their own ways.  But we experience the poet's view.  We see the sun rise in the east and set in the west.  We don't see the Earth rotating on its axis and orbiting around the sun while the moon orbits the Earth.  How magickal it must be to stand at the north rotational pole of the Earth and watch the sun (in the summer) or the stars (in the winter) spinning almost sideways around the sky (widdershins of course).  But outside the arctic circles, the vast majority of us share a roughly constant view of the sun and moon, the stars and planets rising in the east and setting in the west.

 

But as a poet/bard and a mystic, I see much more to this than the coincidence of nature.  And I know of few witches who really believe in coincidence.  I believe that nature is communicating an important message to us, if we have the eyes to see it.  And is it also coincidence that fire goes upward and outward while water goes downward and inward?  Are they not distinctively opposite forces of nature?  And what of earth and air?  The planet itself is made generally of earth and the sky is generally made of air, not a single amorphous substance but a combination, each of them, of substances which commonly have certain characteristics we identify as the elemental qualities of earth and air.  These qualities are global and not informed by the effects of climate or locale.  My article describes these qualities.  It also describes the universal experience of all humans everywhere that we walk upon the earth and live beneath the sky, the experience of being sandwiched between these two ultimate realities which I suggest are associated with the two fundamental realms of our experience, the realm within which is the realm of time and mind, and the realm without which is the realm of space and the world.

 

It seems to me that the Earth itself is virtually shouting these truths to us.  Castaneda wrote of don Juan's explaining to him the sorcerer's explanation which included the idea of the tonal and the nagual.  The path to the nagual, as he called it, is through the mysteries of the Earth and elemental earth.  So I am seeing truths at many levels in the assignment of the elements as I am discussing them in the article at Witchvox.  I have tried to touch upon this somewhat in the article.  And no it isn't based upon wicca whose traditions follow the ceremonial concepts of the OTO and the Golden Dawn.  It is based on the observation of nature with eyes open to its messages to us.  I do not consider myself an intellectual or a scholar at all.  I am someone who believes that nature speaks to us, someone who looks and listens and believes.  Us poets can do that, but scholars and scientists and smart guys have a tougher row to hoe.

 

Bran th' Blessed / Samm Crow


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Prayer SevenNow in union with the Sun, your face O Moon is dark, a mask of shadows hidden in a sea of light, until the Sun, like some lover consumed by passion's flame, withdraws his light from the faltering day and drowns himself, in sacrificial zeal, as deep within your darkness as ever flame may steal.  And you, O Moon, by yielding freely to his might, have gained his freely-given throne, the Regal Queen of Night in your Diadem of Gold, to rule the sky alone.  It is only envy of such love that leads all men to lust.  Ave, Luna!  - 09 March 2001, by Bran th' Blessed (Samm Crow)


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Posted 13 April 2014 - 04:01 AM

I think you ignore the factual point though that at its center or core there is no wobble only movement in a given direction, common through out the known universe though I've seen suggestion that an antimatter universe would move in opposite rotation.  It is only the extremities that experience such a wobble or reversal of movement.  Yet such movement is dependent upon the stability and force of movement at its core and dispersal of energy along an X and Y axis.  Not only an X and Y axis but also the four quadrants of ++ / +- / -+ / -- to give it a three dimensional rotation in order to provide for the movement along each axis as energy is dissipated outward from the core. Yet energy movement outward from that core is dependent upon the material that it must pass trough and the conductivity of said material to hold or convey a charge ie energy.  Then add fluid dynamic into the equation of energy being influenced by equal or greater occurrences by either creating a new energy front or manipulating the energy created at the core to increase presence, amplitude and period of the wave affecting further the period of rotation and wobble at the extremes.  

 

Therein we come to magnetic presence and its mark upon the energy as it moves outward from the center.  A magnetic field that is found around many bodies in the solar system, referred to as the Van Allen belt is I recall correctly for its ability to deflect and protect the planet within its magnetic field of influence.  So even while the magnetic field changes to protect and reflect the movement of internal forces it is still a stable and identifiable field within any energy pattern created on a planetary scale and must be taken into account.

 

Your model seems to ignore the chemical composition of the various elements and how local impacts upon their presence.  Consider air at sea level is much denser and heavier than an equal amount of air at the higher elevations.  So using said element one has to re-figure how it is to be used.  Earth the same with regard to its composition, is it Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary with some consideration as to its chemical makeup which against affects . effects its ability to convey or retain energy and the ease or pliability of the material under stress of energy.  All of which can influence the wobble that produces the outer extremity movement and period.

 

I to believe nature speaks to us but at times I think many people are like Don Quixote running after the illusion of the dragon only to discover its simply a windmill.  You appear to be focused upon the outer extremity and its rotation, I focus upon the forces and energies that make that rotation and know change that and the wobble changes, manipulate it and I can manipulate the force of movement and to a degree creation.  Manipulate nay one of the quadrants and I can change the outcome, even if only mathematically and test my results prior to figuring out a way to use natural forces.   I also know the perigee and Apogee of the rotation and movement of a body along its axis and and magnetic pull within the galaxy is a force that has to be factored in.  Yep even retrograde movements like that of Mercury that people so love to comment on and how it counters things.

 

That things appear similar about the globe doesn't mean they are the same nor act the exact same.  That urge to find a global identifier for all things has resulted in a lot of "Changing to fit the model" not adjusting the model to fit the facts.  The earth proves over and over that it has many faces and many ways of revealing those faces.  When it does so seldom does even the similar face reflect the same lesson even though they both appear to be smiling.

 

I do want to thank you for the debate though I am enjoying it as it makes me think and consider both sides of the equation, hopefully with an open mind and not prejudice towards one over the other.


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#16 SammCrow

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 08:21 AM

If anyone cares to read the article we are discussing, they can still read it at Witchvox.com in the archives.  I think we have both expressed as well as we can our opposing views on this matter, my friend, so we can leave people to believe what their hearts and reason tell them to believe.  Thank you again for taking the time to read my article, MonsNoleEdra.

 

Every choice reveals the chooser;

Be whomever you Will to be.

 

Bran th' Blessed (Samm Crow)


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Prayer SevenNow in union with the Sun, your face O Moon is dark, a mask of shadows hidden in a sea of light, until the Sun, like some lover consumed by passion's flame, withdraws his light from the faltering day and drowns himself, in sacrificial zeal, as deep within your darkness as ever flame may steal.  And you, O Moon, by yielding freely to his might, have gained his freely-given throne, the Regal Queen of Night in your Diadem of Gold, to rule the sky alone.  It is only envy of such love that leads all men to lust.  Ave, Luna!  - 09 March 2001, by Bran th' Blessed (Samm Crow)


#17 Michele

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 02:26 PM

Maybe it would also be interesting to discuss what different folks actually use the elements for? And if some people also might use them not in equal forces/amounts but in differing amounts depending on what they are doing. For me, as I live on the east coast by the ocean, the elements can't be resigned to specific quarters of a circle. I'm surrounded on 3 sides by water, lol, and on all sides by earth, etc., ... so it works best for me to not resign them to specific areas of anything... simply to invoke one specific aspect (or more) depending on the need. If/when I would work with a circle, it usually isn't made by specific invocation of elements at specific spots. I usually just open a ring of fire (or whatever I happen to be working with). If I want to invite an aspect that is associated with a specific direction I will usually invite that aspect rather than the element itself (unless I am doing a specific spell with, say water, but I usually don't do that in a circle).

 

M


Edited by Michele, 13 April 2014 - 02:28 PM.

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Posted 13 April 2014 - 02:39 PM

That might be a good idea but think it would need a new thread.  Thread drift seems to be discouraged as near as I can tell even if it covers similar material.  But I admit I'm still getting a feel for the place.


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#19 SammCrow

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 02:34 AM

I appreciate all the responses to this article.  I have found them most enlightening.  Bran th' Blessed


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Prayer SevenNow in union with the Sun, your face O Moon is dark, a mask of shadows hidden in a sea of light, until the Sun, like some lover consumed by passion's flame, withdraws his light from the faltering day and drowns himself, in sacrificial zeal, as deep within your darkness as ever flame may steal.  And you, O Moon, by yielding freely to his might, have gained his freely-given throne, the Regal Queen of Night in your Diadem of Gold, to rule the sky alone.  It is only envy of such love that leads all men to lust.  Ave, Luna!  - 09 March 2001, by Bran th' Blessed (Samm Crow)






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