Calling the directions: Steve B’s viewpoint The directions that I use are slightly different from those we use in MKP. This is not uncommon: almost every group which calls in the directions does it in a different way and makes it work to fit their circumstances. What is important is that you remember that this is a symbol system and understand how it works and how it can be used.
For my own ceremonies I use the way I was taught and meld different things together. Thus starting in the South I call to water to help us be in the flow of life, in the stream of livingness, to use water energy to help us be open-hearted and have access to open emotions rather that be emotionally “stuck.”
I call the plant world to help us remember the cycle of life, death and rebirth, and to remember that this is a place of giving, allowing the world to see our beauty and not looking for reward; and to approach life in trust and with the innocence of a child. In the South we have Earth Mother, an essential female energy, and nature to connect us to the natural world. For me this would be the place of the Lover.
In the West I call to Earth and to Grandmother Earth and to the mineral world so that I can connect with that “going within” place, where we can use our introspection to access our intuition, the deep inner knowing that we all possess.
The mineral world helps us with stability and strength and the physical part of out being. Here we know how to hold the physical container that houses our spirit being. I would call to the Grandmothers to connect with us and bring their wisdom. This is the place of magic and the Magician.
In the North we call the sacred winds to blow gently through our minds to bring us clarity of thought and flexible minds. This is the place of logic, knowledge and wisdom, and so has something of the King energy.
Here I call the animals to help us to receive in many more ways than we are used to, and of course, especially to any animals that are totems for those present. Earth father is here too, helping us to gain access to our own highest intent for this lifetime.
In the East is fire and Grandfather Sun, which we can call upon to shine a light for us, to help us use that illumination to make steps to our own enlightenment. It’s the place where we can access our own artistic originality and connect with the human world so that we gain clear heart-to-heart communication. In the East also I call the Grandfathers who bring their strength and protection. This direction carries more warrior energy for me.
So this is just a fraction of what is available in each direction. The more you familiarise yourself with each direction the more you can add. The important thing for me is not the directions but the space in between. We stand in the centre of this circle of beauty and power and it can help to put your life in perspective.
If you are out of balance in any direction you can see where it is and some of the other aspects of that direction might give you a clue as to what ceremony might help you with it. In the western world we tend to be strong in the north, using our minds, but not so connected with our bodies, emotions and spirit. The idea is to be in balance; to give with our emotions, hold with our bodies, receive with our minds and determine intent with the use of spirit.
This is my story and what works for me. When I pour water for MKP I have to adjust a little to the story that is told in this community. The important thing is that we work with a common thread so that we can help each other to use the powers of the directions to gain understanding.
I have heard it said that we should not “call” the directions as if we are summoning those energies here but rather call to them to be in our awareness so that we can use them. I like that nuance.
In any ceremony the calling in of the powers sets the scene for the participants. From that perspective it can be useful to always do it the same way. By doing this everyone gets used to it and it becomes a mantra which sends you into a ceremonial space quickly and easily. If you allow for considerable flexibility, it will never do that. There is a lot of power in creating a story and sticking to it.
The last directions are the above and below which again are called in various ways. Here we look up to the higher powers, the space which represents our highest potential, our higher selves and often Grandfather Sun, to all of whom we pray that we can reflect those qualities as we live in our earthly realm on Grandmother Earth.
One thing I am sure of. I have studied quite a lot the ways of the Sweat Lodge in Native American tribes and the amount of variety is staggering. Much of this has been brought about through the rather fraught relationship with the missionaries and Christianity. Having spent years banning and discouraging Sweat lodges, the irony is there are now Christian Lodges and many of them are very flexible about what beliefs you bring in. It does appear, however, that amongst the very few threads that are present in every Lodge is the calling of the directions in one way or another.
It is a most important part of ceremony to set the scene with this ritual. This is alchemy. In the Lodge the heat, dark and other conditions couple with the words that are used to create a new space through alchemy. I feel quite strongly that a loosely standardised form of calling in the directions increases the power and connection within any circle that you might perhaps call spiritual.