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Which Way Should I Go?
A Guide to Directional Magic

By Prof. Opal Dragonfly

The organization of space in our world is based upon our ancestors’ beliefs that certain spirits, gods, animals, and powers inhabited each of the four “cardinal” or major directions:  east, west, north, and south.  In addition, they believed there was a fifth major direction:  the Center of the entire world, which also encompassed the center or essence of a person.  The minor directions, combinations of the major directions (e.g. south southeast), varied in their spiritual/mystical attributes or traits depending on which direction held sway over the other (e.g. “south south-east” would emphasize more of the south’s traits than the east’s).   Because of the mystical traits of each of these directions, magical powers emanate from them and can be tapped into by magic folk who either have identification with a direction, or have mastered spelles to make use of these powers.Chapter One:  East

The east is the direction of the sunrise and encompasses the powers of Light and
Life; it also has powers of Rejuvenation, Purity, Creativity, and Spirituality.  To turn to the east is to turn towards birth of idea and body, mental awakening (it is the land of the Known), and spiritual illumination.  (For example, most altars are on the east side of churches or temples.)  Jupiter is the east’s planet and its element is earth.  The gem most associated with the east is an Emerald (the color green), so it is no surprise that east possesses the power of spring and growing vegetation.  As the east is the source of Light for our world, we become concerned should shadows cover the east—it bodes ill for us and is an omen that Darkness and Evil may be approaching and encroaching upon our existence.  The Chinese believed that five magical tigers protected the world from chaos/evil and the guardian tiger of the east is the Blue Tiger.

The magical folk who identify with the east are cheerful and creative and “young at heart”!  (The basic “sunny” disposition.)   They “tap” into the power of the rising sun and have a lot of energy to put into their magical works.  However, they must be reminded to be a bit patient while the rest of us catch up to them—they are always in a rush “to get the show on the road”!

Chapter Two:  West

The west is often thought of as the direction of Death (much like the number thirteen).  This is due, of course, to the fact that people see the sun set (die) in the west.  (In fact, in many burials, the dead are placed with head pointing towards the west.)   In the wondrous work of the Greek poet, Homer, the entrance to the Underworld was in the far west.    However, just like the”unlucky” number thirteen also can have the powerful meaning of a “new beginning,” the west is also the land of the Unknown—in this sense it holds promise for all Life if the lands to the east are infected by evil or dying.   Unfortunately, one still has to “die” in some sense to “enter” the Unknown.  This may not be a physical death—it may involve “giving up” what was known and comfortable to face the uncertainty of going into the west (for example, the Elves in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy eventually sailing into the west). 

Venus is the west’s planet and it has the powers of physical life and the energy of adventure and daring.  The White Tiger guards this realm; the west’s season is autumn and it draws power from the metals of the earth.   The Pearl is the gem that may be used to invoke the powers of the west and the west’s element is air.

Our  “Too itchy to stay in one place” friends are the folks who identify with the west.  They are our adventurers and risk-takers.  If those who identify with the east create and invent things—the magi who identify with the west are the ones who bravely (or, foolhardily) test them out!   So, they like to be on the “cutting edge” and the rest of us have to remind them to be a bit cautious so that their adventurous spirits stay connected to their bodies!

Chapter Three:  North

The north has the cruelest reputation, also evil in many instances.  The sun moves from east to south to west and doesn’t do much to “enlighten” or warm the north.  The north wind is the most powerful of the winds (however, the sun has more power.)   The ancient Etruscans believed that the gods lived near the North Pole (although they didn’t have that term) and they believed that if they had questions that needed answers, they should address them to the North Star.  Saturn is the planet dedicated to the north and the Black Tiger guards it.  North’s season is the winter and water is its element.  The Sapphire (cold blue) is the north’s gem, although the diamond also may be used to tap into north’s powers.

Our magical friends who take their time warming up to others (these are not the social butterflies of our world) and who have some trouble expressing their emotions (or, even acknowledging that they have emotions) are probably the ones who identify most closely with the north.  They are “ruled” by their intellects.  However, they are the ones who, once a decision is made or action must be taken, will never waver in doing their duties or reaching their goals.   Without these steadfast and stalwart beings, the rest of us would probably not accomplish much.  They are the organizers and decision-implementers of our world.   Also—once they do “fall in love,” or recognize some other emotion, they are fervent and consistent in their devotion to this emotion.

Chapter Four:  South

The south is filled with warmth and good feelings:  Generosity, Caring, Healing, etc.  It is also somewhat slow to release its powers to those who try to tap into, or identify with, it.  The Red Tiger guards the south and its season is summer and its element is fire.  The gem that is used to tap into the south’s power is the Ruby or perhaps the Fire Opal.   Mars is its planet and the south is associated with warmth, lightness, and freely expressed feelings.  It can also, however, turn its powers towards laziness and illness.

Magical beings who identify with the south aren’t often in a hurry to get anywhere in particular, even if there is some need for haste.  On the other hand, while we may get slightly frustrated with their “the world will still be here tomorrow” attitude, they are the ones who best appreciate the wonders of our universe.  They do “stop and smell the roses,” while the rest of us usually give that enjoyment of our existence just lip service. 

Chapter Five:  The Center

The fifth direction is the Center of ourselves and the world around us.   Just like many magical realms remain “hidden” or “inward” from the nonmagical world, and and are often the places where we go to renew our magical energies, the Center is at the Heart of our Universe.  It is the abode of our spirit—some call it “soul” and some “heart.”   Its planet is Mercury, and while its major element is earth, the Center contains all four elements in various forms.  Air is in natural gas, fire is found in the molten core, and water is in the aquifers.    The Yellow Tiger guards this realm and it reigns supreme over the other four tigers.  Amber is the gem that traps the Center’s power—just as it traps many of the Earth’s minute creatures and plants.  Its deeper yellow color also traps the power of the sun and the heat of the inner earth—these powers are the most dangerous to deal with and only extremely advanced magi should attempt to utilize them—even for positive “good” works.  They are not to be trifled with and having two or three backup magi is mandatory.

Chapter Six:  Left and Right

The right is traditionally the side of “good” and the left is often thought of as the side of “evil.”  However, that resulted from ancient people’s fear of the unusual.  Since statistically there are fewer left-handed folk, the ancient societies tended to “ostracize” those who were left-handed.   Thus, the lore grew that to “move to a left-hand path” was to attract an evil influence.  Indeed, in many cultures the right hand is reserved for greetings and for eating, while the left hand is reserved for “cleaning-up bodily functions.”  Even the Latin, sinistre, for “left-hand” gave us our vocabulary word “sinister.”
            Fortunately, in our modern magical world, we recognize that the powers of creativity and logic are often found more frequently in left-handed people—after all,  they are in “their right minds”!

Chapter Seven:  Dark/Black Magic and White Magic Directional Powers

The following information is provided for information ONLY.  A well-educated magus needs to know things but doesn’t need to use them—so act maturely with this knowledge.  In Black Magic, there is a thirteenth century incantation used by Grimolke of Honbrius who tried to summon the most powerful of all the demons, Amaymon—King of the North; there are also incantations for the other directions dark spirits:  Egym (south), Baymon (west), and Magor (east).    Other common names for dark directional spirits are:  Paymon (north), Egim (south), Amaymen (west), and Oriens (east).   It was felt that to summon these powers would result in the death of the magician—on the spot!

In White Magic, the wizard/magus appeals to each angel who is assigned to the four major directions.  These angels provide protection as the magus travels in the direction under the angels’ guard, and this is especially important for journeys and quests.  The angels are:  Uriel (north), Michael (south), Gabriel (west), and Raphael (east).

Conclusion:  “They went thata way!”

With the knowledge gained from this text, a magus should be able to safely navigate her or his way not only around a magical realm, but out in the world at large!  Responsible use of this knowledge is, of course, expected.  With that in mind:   If you are not sure about where you are or where you’re going, remember to stop and ask for directions!                                                      


Cirlot, J. E.  A Dictionary of Symbols.  2nd ed.  Trans. Jack Sage.  New York:  Barnes and
Noble, 1995.
Crisp, Tony.   Dream Dictionary.  New York:  Wings Books, 1990.
Livo, Norma J., and Sandra A. Rietz.  Storytelling:  Folklore Sourcebook.  Englewood,
CO.:  Libraries Unlimited, Inc., 1991.
Tresidder, Jack.  Symbols and Their Meanings.    New York:  Sterling Pub., Co., 2000.

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