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Symbolism of the Compass – Meaning of the Four Directions

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Symbolism of the Compass. Meaning of Cardinal Directions


One of my readers asked me about the deeper meaning of the four directions (north, south, east, west).  Specifically, she was given a powerful mandala, and wanted to know in which direction would be most auspicious to hang the mandala in his home.  My response follows…

Dear Coordinated Coordinates: 

Excellent observation.

We can honor and enhance the attributes of something (such as your mandala gift) by placing it in an area that is aligned with appropriate energy.

Different cultures have assigned different meanings of cardinal directions.  Here are a few brief samples of directional energies and what they represent to various cultures:

In Chinese Feng Shui, each direction correlates to the Chinese zodiac animals:

  • North =  Rat: Adaptability, charm, creativity, sociability, wit.
  • East = Rabbit: Trust, sincerity, love, compassion.
  • South = Horse: Physical strength, health, adventure, loyalty.
  • West = Rooster: Confidence, business, energy, persistence.

In ancient Celtic symbolism and tradition, the cardinal directions were acknowledged in several ceremonies and festivals.  Handfasting ceremonies and other earth-based belief systems (pagan) still honor the directions today.  Here is a brief outline of these directional representations:

  • East = air, communication, new beginnings, new growth
  • South = fire, energy, passion, creativity
  • West = water, emotion, psyche, movement
  • North = earth, home, security, fertility

In certain divinatory practices the directions represent time phases:

  • North = Infinite Possibility (no-time)
  • South = Present – Now
  • West = Past
  • East = Future

Native Americans have their own meanings of cardinal directions.  The Lakota, for example hold to the following guideline:

  • North = wisdom/thought
  • East = salvation/spirit
  • South = beginnings/purity
  • West = conclusions/fullness

I’ve written a feature post on Navajo and their meaning of the four directions here:
ative-american-symbol/http://avenefica.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/navajo-medicine-wheel-a-powerful-n

The astrological zodiac provides yet another aspect of the four directions and their symbolism:

  • East = Earth corresponding with Taurus
  • South = Fire corresponding with Leo
  • West = Water corresponding with Scorpio
  • North = Air corresponding with Aquarius

In conclusion, I would encourage you to meditate upon your purpose with the placement of your special gift.  Ask yourself “what are my intentions?”  Invest the time to determine what you truly wish to accomplish.

I’ve only given you a brief background on multiple resources here.  Ultimately only you can decide what is meaningful in directional symbolism.  Trust in your ability to soul-navigate effectively and you will know where to put your mandala in order to achieve the results you are wanting.

I trust this information helps you on your path.

Brightly,
Avia

“There is only one guaranteed, no-risk, high-yield investment and that is SELF-investment.” ~Anguis

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