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Compass Questions only a newbie would ask


Teknobard357

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Ok, time to put my full ignorance on display and just ask the obvious questions I have been trying to find answers to elsewhere concerning the Witches Compass.

Before I begin, I firstly thank you all for your patience on this one, and simultaneously ask no one give me an answer like "it's one of the mysteries, there is no way but to do it" or something equally useful and vague.  It seems like I get that answer a lot and I'm not sure if that's my ignorance or the ignorance of the person telling me.  Thanks also for humoring that momentary rant.

 

What is a Compass?

 

How are some ways one lays a compass?

 

What are the physical differences in how one lays a compass from how one might cast a circle?

 

What are the magickal distinctions that separate a compass from a circle?

 

And lastly, any opinions on compass laying you have seen in books?  Gemma Gary's compass lay from The Devil's Dozen, for example, seems so Wiccan to me (as a Wiccan, if I may out myself once more) that it just seems like she changed the directional associations and guardians to fit a more localized or methodologically localized set of spirits (which can and has been done with a circle cast) and directs the energy of the space somewhat outward as a method of traversing between the physical and liminal spaces (which as I learned it is part of what a circle does already) so I am more than a bit confused how this is distinct from what I was taught a circle is.  Any better examples?  Any critiques?

 

I know I am opening the can of worms here, and I do so willingly.  Thanks again, and feel free to put me on blast.

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As of right this second (which may change in the next second lol - it's changed many times during my walking of the path) I think the compass has several purposes. Also some define it differently by what they call it - a compass is a way of finding direction. So that's very related to connecting to the ancestral line (whether DNA or by lineage). A circle is something that contains - a barrier. What happens inside is up to you.

 

Firstly, the laying of it takes belief and concentration and work. That focuses the mind and really helps to pull it into a liminal "between" space. To me that would be the most important aspects, especially for a beginner. Honing the focus and getting to recognize that "drop down" feeling until you can achieve that level of focus and reach a liminal space at will. You can also practice just pulling in energy to you from the presiding area you are in (the garden, the kitchen) until you feel the drop down, then "draw" a circle about you in your mind to contain that energy (you will need to continue to hold it and pull it in - to let it flow through you).

 

A circle (or sphere) contains something, so it can help keep in energy (until you are ready to release it) and it can also keep out unwanted energy from the space. So in a time of trouble or a working that might attract negative attention a circle (compass round thing etc.) is protection. You can also mark it to call up energies you may need in that space for what you are working on.

 

Depending on what wards one draws on it, it can attract or repel or protect (one doesn't necessarily have to mark it with the 4 NESW connections, one can mark it with rune staves, or fire, or even draw a ring with salt or flowers and no markings depending on where you want to take the energy and what you want to pull in and what energy would be attracted by the markers you use).

 

What one calls up to the circle when laying it is important. I know many make fun of Wicca, but they also throw out the baby with the bathwater sometimes - when Wiccans called the "watchtowers" that so many people laugh at - they were calling in "lineage" ancestors (experienced witches). Think of that word: WATCH and TOWER) To watch - they were calling in their witnesses (and it is important that you have someone or something to witness what you do if you are taking responsibility for what you are doing, by calling in a witness you claim your power and take responsibility - your witness should be someone or thing that you know and trust). And tower - tall, stone, strong. Their witnesses were also protectors who would watch for problems and dangers, block and/or warn. Once New Age took over and tossed out everything they didn't understand, they often left themselves unprotected. Then they sunk into sentimentality and often even depression never realizing what they'd left themselves open to and unprotected. Negative energy doesn't always result in obvious things, sometimes it's just a slow sucking out of joy from your life that happens over such a long period that one doesn't recognize it or associate it with what they'd been doing.  

 

North - in many traditions the ancestors. Often a stang was used instead of the Earth element (remember the earth is also the grave of the ancestors and a traditional stang would penetrate the earth and be a conductor and/or a gateway.). That's a bit tougher in hot climates where the ancestral memory never knew snow, but it is such a given these days that most people have some ancestral memory of the ancestors in the north. If you are feeling attacked you could mark the circle with protective staves. You could even use "warming" happy staves to override any negative energy you may have pulled in in the past. If you are creating a protection charm for the window or door, you can mark it with staves you'd use in the charm (or another item - like thorned wood). For a love spell - roses, honey, certain oils. All of those can be incorporated into a circle - just remember though, if you have called in watchers and protectors, then what you do is seen and you will be held responsible for it. Everything done causes ripples. If you do it in a circle, with that kind of energy in a liminal space, and you bother things you have no right to bother, or call up things who don't answer to you and you have no relationship with, you will be seen in a bad light and possibly even piss off some of those things (that's one reason why relationships are so important and one reason it annoys me so much when people arbitrarily call in god energies (or other things) to power a spell when they have no relationship with that god/thing. It's like you pulling off the road at a random house and barging in through the front door without knocking and demanding that the owner of the house come help you with your bad romance, or to get a job, etc. If you're lucky they'd just ignore you and slam the door in your face. If you're unlucky they'd call the police on you or think you're a robber and shoot you).

 

For me, especially with someone new, I'd suggest to start by just opening it up and connecting to your ancestors. When I started I didn't call them in, I just opened the bindrune I used and listened to/felt the energy. Rarely does something happen immediately (even today), but usually within about 3 days sudden inspiration will come, or a book will show up, or a conversation with some mundane person will strike a cord within. 

 

A circle is kind of like going into the bedroom and shutting the door to read a book and have a glass of wine or tea. It quietens the mundane, keeps you separate from the hectic unrelated energies, and helps you to focus and connect. Enclosing you and protecting you from the outside world for a while. You now have created a safe place with protected boundries. You can just sit in the bedroom and meditate and relax, or you can open a window and invite in the cool summer breezes (or anything else). Or you could hide something - work in the dark, and hide the working so no one knows where it came from, or hide a protected item you don't want anyone to see. Cloak it (as in throwing a cloak over something so you can't see it). 

 

If you're beginning, I'd start by just creating different circles and sitting in them and getting to recognize the energy of each one. That way, if you can recognize the feel of the energy, then you'll know in future circles (or outside of circles even) if something is "off".

 

The best "other world" relationships to start are with your ancestors. They have a personal interest in you and somewhere, going wayback, there is one of them who has answers to things you are trying to achieve. Since everyone has some asshole ancestors, for me, I start everything by inviting ONLY beneficial ancestors. I also light a candle at my ancestor altar (outside of the circle and on a different day than you do the circle, because you don't want to inadvertently pull in cranky or inappropriate ancestors) say a (prayer, affirmation, wish, whatever you want to call it) for the lost or unevolved ancestors that they may find their path and continue to evolve. Often, just knowing someone remembers they're there and gives a shit that they're lost or lonely will help to move along a wayward ancestor. 

 

Oh - if you don't know who your ancestors are (say you're adopted or something) that doesn't matter. They know you, and your blood and bone know them even if your rational mind doesn't. Tap the bone - tap into the ancestral line and memories.

Edited by Michele
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P.S. - If you really want to work that ancestral relationship, it has to be consistant. Any ancestor (or living relative for that matter) who you only call up when you need money will eventually stop taking your calls. They are interested in you. They give a shit about you. They want to know how you are doing, how your day went, what annoying thing happened at the office, how your date went last night, if the movie was any good.

 

Warning - possible emotional trigger for some people: The one thing you don't do is have sex in front of the altar. Just like it would not be appropriate to have sex in front of grandma. Ancestors don't think sex is bad, they just really don't want to watch you doing it (and if there is one who wants to watch you do it, that's a major red flag and he/she should be specifically blocked from the altar, just like any living "uncle" who is sexually abusive should be banned from one's house. Remember - as above, so below - same rules apply for the dead family as for the living family.

 

A simple cup of coffee (with A LOT of sugar or honey in it to sweeten the relationship) placed at their altar daily and a quick "good morning" and "good night" goes a long way. If you look at the altar as a person actually sitting there, you'll get the feel for it. You wouldn't walk past your grandmother in the morning and not say "morning Gran". So don't do that to your "invisible" ancestors either. I keep my altar on my kitchen table - it's the hearth of my home, and where I sit every morning to have my coffee. So it's simple and easy and natural to just make an extra cup for them and talk to them as I sip. Even if it's just "I'm so glad it's Friday! Work was really a bitch this week. I'm going to the farmer's market tomorrow morning, anyone want an apple or something for the altar?"

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Thanks Michele, that post was really interesting and informative. I don't usually use a circle or compass round, maybe I should but it never felt natural to do so.

I simply talk to my ancestors, like they were sitting there with me. What you said does make sense though.

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Thanks Michele, that post was really interesting and informative. I don't usually use a circle or compass round, maybe I should but it never felt natural to do so.

I simply talk to my ancestors, like they were sitting there with me. What you said does make sense though.

 

 

____________________

 

I think it's fine if people don't use one, but I do think for the OP and other beginners it can be very helpful. It just ads so much to the understanding, interaction, and drop-down, you know? They're not a necessity for anyone, but for learning how to tap into the stream, to access liminal space, and to develop relationships (and for safety), I found them very helpful and very protective. One gets to the point where one can create the "circle" without doing all the physical steps, but I am very glad that I have used them, and if I ever had a problem (especially one in a different area than what I am used to working with) I would definitely use one. Especially if I didn't want to be seen - like if I needed to know things, but didn't want to announce to everything out there I was looking for that information. 

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PPS - Sorry to ramble on so much, lol. Those are only my opinions and others will have different ways of working and much to offer as well :-) Read everything and take what makes sense to you.

Thank you Michele for generously sharing that wealth of information. Much appreciated, makes me feel the need to learn more quickly so I can have some wisdom to give back lol.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

 

What are the magickal distinctions that separate a compass from a circle?

 

And lastly, any opinions on compass laying you have seen in books?  Gemma Gary's compass lay from The Devil's Dozen, for example, seems so Wiccan to me (as a Wiccan, if I may out myself once more) that it just seems like she changed the directional associations and guardians to fit a more localized or methodologically localized set of spirits (which can and has been done with a circle cast) and directs the energy of the space somewhat outward as a method of traversing between the physical and liminal spaces (which as I learned it is part of what a circle does already) so I am more than a bit confused how this is distinct from what I was taught a circle is.  Any better examples?  Any critiques?

 

I know I am opening the can of worms here, and I do so willingly.  Thanks again, and feel free to put me on blast.

I am a fan of Gary's. She's a lot to say for Cornish folk, and Trad-craft, but she has also had Wiccan influences. I can't remember if she is an initiate, or not, but at least had training, and it's also debatable how much influence it had on Cochrane-craft, or not, which also used the compass. Like Michele said, the original quarter calling of the "Mighty Ones" included the mighty dead, and witch ancestors, as well as the elemental kings to hold the circle.

 

Though magic circles are a part of witch-lore, it likely all came from western esoteric ceremonial magic, which is fine, but there are other folk ways out there for creating sacred space, or ancestral work. I believe The Devil's Dozen book you mentioned may also give alternative rituals.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Agreed Micheal, my belief is that any form of Witchcraft that calls on the elements in any direction, is basically drawing from ceremonial magick via Wicca, or it's a kind of syncretism, bundling Irish or Norse thematically similar concepts into that framework.

 

 

On 1/8/2020 at 9:46 PM, Micheál said:

I am a fan of Gary's. She's a lot to say for Cornish folk, and Trad-craft, but she has also had Wiccan influences. I can't remember if she is an initiate, or not, but at least had training, and it's also debatable how much influence it had on Cochrane-craft, or not, which also used the compass. Like Michele said, the original quarter calling of the "Mighty Ones" included the mighty dead, and witch ancestors, as well as the elemental kings to hold the circle.

 

Though magic circles are a part of witch-lore, it likely all came from western esoteric ceremonial magic, which is fine, but there are other folk ways out there for creating sacred space, or ancestral work. I believe The Devil's Dozen book you mentioned may also give alternative rituals.

Edited by WitchVillage
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  • 1 year later...
On 12/19/2019 at 5:51 AM, Michele said:

A simple cup of coffee (with A LOT of sugar or honey in it to sweeten the relationship) placed at their altar daily and a quick "good morning" and "good night" goes a long way. If you look at the altar as a person actually sitting there, you'll get the feel for it. You wouldn't walk past your grandmother in the morning and not say "morning Gran". So don't do that to your "invisible" ancestors either. I keep my altar on my kitchen table - it's the hearth of my home, and where I sit every morning to have my coffee. So it's simple and easy and natural to just make an extra cup for them and talk to them as I sip. Even if it's just "I'm so glad it's Friday! Work was really a bitch this week. I'm going to the farmer's market tomorrow morning, anyone want an apple or something for the altar?"

Sorry for resurrecting an old thread but this phrase really struck me.  I hadn't considered something as simple as sharing a cup of coffee with my ancestors before.  Thank you Michele for your amazing post and insight, and for sharing - I have just now shared a cuppa with my ancestors on their altar and have to say I felt a rush of positive energy flow over me immediately. 

It's my Friday today so this is a great way to start the weekend 🙂

As for circle casting - I don't really have much to add that hasn't already been said - this is an area that I have not focused on but realize that I need to. 

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