Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Rune of the Four Winds

By the Voice in the corries
When the Polestar danceth:
By the Voice on the summits
The dead feet know:
By the soft wet cry
When the Heat-star troubleth:
By the plaining and moaning
Of the Sigh of the Rainbows:
By the four white winds of the world,
Whose father the golden Sun is,
Whose mother the wheeling Moon is,
The North and the South and the East and the West:
By the four good winds of the world,
That Man knoweth,
That One dreadeth,
That God blesseth--
Be all well
On mountain and moorland and lea,
On loch-face and lochan and river,
On shore and shallow and sea !
By the Voice of the Hollow
Where the worm dwelleth:
By the Voice of the Hollow
Where the sea-wave stirs not:
By the Voice of the Hollow
That sun hath not seen yet:
By the three dark winds of the world;
The chill dull breath of the Grave,
The breath from the depths of the Sea,
The breath of To-morrow:
By the white and dark winds of the world,
The four and the three that are seven,
That Man knoweth,
That One dreadeth,
That God blesseth--
Be all well
On mountain and moorland and lea,
On loch-face and lochan and river,
On shore and shallow and sea !
Fiona MacLeod

Last night I got out some of my old coursework on the  four directions or airts and came across the above poem that had inspired me when I was working with my Druidic trainings on the Celtic Medicine Wheel. This
is the ancient spiritual symbol for the totality of life, and represents the seasons and the path of the sun around the earth. It gives us a holistic method of balancing the four parts of our lives: body, mind, spirit, and heart.  Knowing the four directions and their elements and paying attention to them has a grounding effect in our lives. 

The East, where the sun rises, is a place of new beginnings which guards the time of birth and development.  It is the season of Spring.  The elementthat is associated with the east is the air, and we are inspired by Spring's fresh breezes blowing through our hair and across our skin. The fairy sylphs, or air fairies, are associated with this direction.  They are characterized often as having wings. With Spring, comes freshness, healing, lightness and potential and we are cleansed and purified by the sensations of renewal and rebirth.

The South, the place where the sun is the warmest.  The direction of the South has to do with the element of fire and the symbolism contained within this element. Fire can be seen as the spark of life itself, particularly in its intensity, heat and expanding properties.  It represents the season of Summer, a time when the earth is flourishing in abundance and growth and all beings have an opportunity for a more carefree and playful existence. The salamanders of fire are the fairy beings of this direction. They may appear as fire dragons or serpentine fire forms.

The West, where the sun sets, is a place of maturity and the place of vision.  The west is traditionally seen as the direction  that our old patterns die to make way for new life. This is the direction of peace and reflection. It is the season of Fall. Water is the element that corresponds with this direction because of its associations with purification, healing, depth, mystery and the unconscious dimension of the psyche.  The fairy beings of this element include the undines, the Selkies, and the water nymphs.

The North, where only the midnight sun shines, is a place of endings, commonly thought of as the place  of death and still-abiding. The element
The element of the earth brings us to the North with its grounded, solid, manifesting qualities.  From the North comes the cold and the long dark night. It is the season of Winter which reminds us that we must always be prepared for the harsh realities of life.  The fairy folk of this direction include the gnomes, trolls, and various other Earth Elementals.  The North is associated with the material things in life.

These are the four winds as they relate to the directional seasons on the Celtic Wheel of the Year. Go outside, stand  or sit in the center, and face each of the directions in turn. With your eyes closed, meditate of each direction, feeling its particular gift and opportunity:

Face the East to think of new beginnings, of hope and of creativity.

Face the South when you need purpose and direction in life.

Face the West to reflect on the day, it's strengths, weaknesses and it's joys. Face the West when you feel the need to draw on the strength of your past and when you feel the need to draw on the strength of another. 

Face the North when you need prosperity and aid in financial matters.


  1. I've always loved the picture of the tree showing each season.

  2. OMG!
    I had trouble the one time in my life when I had to fill out an accident report.
    Know not from East,North,South or West.
    Let's see what I've learned since I was told.
    The sun rises in the ...........
    Was going to cheat and asked hubby, but he was no help either.
    Yep...One dummy here!
    Grand daughter Corinne overheard me asking hubby. The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.
    Today I know...no guarantee about tomorrow. sigh!
    Good morning Mary. Have a great day m/f.

  3. I must get down my old book by Collette. Think she speaks of her Mother, as not liking the North Wind. And this fits. Her Mother was very tuned to Nature.

    "Earthly Paradise" Ever read it? I love parts of it. Even though I know that Collette was famous for not writing total factual truth. :-) I still love some of her writing, about her childhood.

    I used to get it out of the library every Spring. Then I thought, why not get my own old copy? :-) *Brilliant* of me! :-)

  4. It's a gentle Earth we walk, the winds bringing healing, introspection and direction.
    I like that poem. I bid the four directions "good morning" every morning. It does help me to ground.
    Happy Spring