CALLING QUARTERS By– Steve Reszler

Calling the Quarters” is a common step in many modern and ancient pagan rituals and an integral part of creating sacred space.  The Quarters refer to the four cardinal points on the compass, North, South, East and West. To “Call the Quarters” is to invite each of the four directions into your circle.  These directions are often associated with different elements, elementals, watchtowers, spirits, gods, goddesses, guardians or whatever you like to call them.  They are called with an intention in mind.  The intention can be to guard, guide, witness, assist or strengthen a circle, ritual, service, gathering, magical workings, meditation, or healing. But they can be called for any reason you deem necessary.

Why do we call them?  Some say it goes back to ancient times when tribes would post sentries, or guardians at the four corners of their villages.  These guardians would watch over, and keep the clan safe.  As religions developed, like many other things, they borrowed what worked from what they saw in the physical world and applied it to the spiritual.

Whatever the reason, it is interesting to note that many unconnected cultures employed a form of honoring the Quarters in their rituals. In Egypt there were the four sons of Horus.  Each son was associated with a different direction, element, human organ and a protective goddess.  Their presence was invited as part of their death rites and mummification rituals.  In the near East, the Hindu honored the Lokapālas as their directional guardians. Images of the Lokapālas are usually placed in pairs at the entrance to tombs. As Guardians they can call upon the spirits of the next world to help them protect the tomb if necessary.  While in Central Asia each cardinal point had a creature guardian to watch over it. The Dragon or Long in the East, Phoenix or Feng-huang in the South, Unicorn or Ch’i-lin in the West, and Turtle or Gui Xian in the North.  Even the Masons have always called quarters in their secret ceremonies.

 In modern-day Wiccan/Pagan ritual, the four directions are most commonly associated with the four basic elements of Air for East, Fire for South, Water for West and Earth for the North.  But can also be linked to different creatures, colors, elementals, spirits, etc. They are usually called before the circle is cast, but in some traditions it is done right afterward.  Often, calling the Four Quarters begins in the East, the direction of the sunrise, but some traditions prefer to start in the North. No matter where the Quarter Call is initiated, it always progresses clockwise (also called sun wise or deosil ) for the invocation

 The actual act of calling the Quarters can be as simple as facing the appropriate direction and asking for the guardian of that watchtower to come to your circle to guard and guide your ritual. It can also be an elaborate poem for each direction, written specifically for the ritual that you will be performing.  I’ve seen the Quarters danced in, chanted in and I’ve recently Called Quarters with the help from my trusty drum. The ways to do it are truly only limited by your imagination. 

There are also many examples of Quarter Calls in books on paganism and Wicca, as well as countless sites online that you can find a good call that should suit your purposes. When writing my first calls I would usually find one that I liked somewhere else, then make a few changes to make it fit the ritual that was to be performed.  Eventually, I found creating my own to be a lot easier than I first thought. They also had a lot more meaning and significance to me when I used them, thereby letting me easily focus more energy into it.  When writing my own, I will typically do a little research on whatever ritual or Goddess we are honoring and begin to write down some notes.  I will then carry that sheet of paper around with me for a week or so, adding notes and creating multiple drafts whenever ideas pop into my head.  When the time finally comes for me to perform the Quarter Call I have spent so much time writing and re-writing  that I usually have what I’m doing memorized and no longer need my cheat sheet.

It is also important to note that whenever you call or invite anything to your circle whether it be Quarters, Gods or Goddess, that you should always thank them and bid them farewell at the end of your ritual.  Do not banish or order them away, however.  Be respectful and thankful for their assistance.  Banishing or releasing a quarter or deity, implies control and that’s just bad form and in my opinion, just asking for problems.   Many times you will hear a request of “Stay if you will or go if you must.”, to close Quarters.   This can be done one at a time to each direction, starting with the Quarter that you ended with and moving counter-clockwise (or widdershins ), or simple closed as a group.Whether you decide to write something from scratch or read from a book, as long as you put your energies and intention behind what you are doing you should have great success in Calling the Quarters whenever you have need of them.

 

Here is a recent Quarter Call that I wrote:

Watchtowers of the East, spirits of Air,

Come to our circle; let us know that you’re here.

Guard and guide us, throughout this rite.

Spirits of the Wind, blow in tonight.

Watchtowers of the South, spirits of Fire,

Come to our circle; with the warmth from your pyre

Guard and guide us, throughout this rite.

Spirits of the Flame, rise up tonight.

Watchtowers of the West, spirits of Waters,

Come to our circle; join Her sons and Her daughters.

Guard and guide us, throughout this rite.

Spirits of the Waters, rush in tonight.

Watchtowers of the North, spirits of Earth,

Come to our circle; with your bounty of re-birth

Guard and guide us, throughout this rite.

Spirits of the Earth, support us tonight

 

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