Calling the quarters… There is something in the cadence of those syllables that has deep resonance for me, more so than the phrase casting a circle or honoring the four directions.
Maybe it’s because quarters is not simply the 4 pie pieces of a circle, it is synonymously a place to live (as in “living quarters”) and when we are calling the quarters, what we are truly doing is calling ourselves home.
Calling is an important bit here as well. Calling uses your voice, activates your throat, engages the golden cord that stretches from head to heart, uniting thought and feeling.
You can call the quarters in your mind but it does not have the same resonance, the same power, as using your voice.
We often want lessons when we step into something new. We want to know we are doing it right. I never wanted a lesson in calling the quarters. Somehow having someone else provide me with the words felt a bit like praying from someone else’s psalter.
But some basic guidelines do help. This will give you the gist of it:
Why? Calling the quarters helps you to get deeply connected to the world around you, to ground and root in, so that you can create safe and sacred space.
How? The process is simple. You walk a circle (clockwise) and at each of the cardinal directions you pause, face that direction, and in your heart and mind connect to the element that it represents, asking it to be with you. When you are ready to close your sacred space, you reverse the process, thanking the elements for joining you.
As a reminder, here are the directions and their elemental correspondences:
- East – Air
- South – Fire
- West – Water
- North – Earth
I often choose something to represent each element—a feather, a candle, a bowl of water, a stone— and place these in the four directions as I walk my circle.
And I make sure to walk all the way around, ending where I began….
Everything else is up for grabs on any given day. There may be poetry, or drumming, or dancing, or crying. There have been oracle cards and crystals. Long speeches and short whispers.
There is always a sense of frisson, of power. Sometimes a trickle, sometimes a flood.
There is always this sense of my world being set to rights.
This ritual creates space between you and the work-a-day world, it gives you a chance to get quiet and ground yourself, to re-establish relationship with the world around you.
I know it sounds pretty witchy, which can be intimidating. But (if you dare!) give it a try. If you are an old hand at calling the quarters, practice deeply connecting with the elements—feeling them, smelling them, and tasting them—as you walk your circle.
For me, this process creates a feeling of immense peace, which in turn creates the space I need to step into sacred time.