24 June 2011

The Clockwise Bias

Western culture seems to be obsessed with moving in a clockwise direction. This is also true in occultism, where many authors say you should only move clockwise inside a magick circle (this is particularly often heard in Wiccan sources), or clockwise motion might be related to invoking and anticlockwise to banishing. Folk beliefs say deasil is lucky and widdershins unlucky.

It is of course perfectly natural that primitive Man would attach a great deal of significance in the apparent direction the sun moved. But we, of course, know that it is not the sun that moves, but the earth that rotates. And, in order to create the illusion that the sun is moving in a clockwise direction, it rotates in the opposite direction.

It would appear more natural, more logical, and simply cooler, to move with the motion of the earth, and not against it. This is particularly the case when the intent is to gather momentum, to gather energy. For a banishing ritual, one could consider the opposite direction, but I'm not sure thinking of the direction of motion in terms of 'banishing' and 'invoking' is really helpful. It might be more appropriate to think of anticlockwise as 'energising' and clockwise as 'hindering', or something on these lines. (I cannot, however, think of many ritual uses for 'hindering' motion.)

Perhaps we need a new term to go by. Something like 'spinwise'. Of course this is only an approximation of the earth's motion, since, unless you're standing at the North Pole, you'll always be at an angle to the actual rotation. But it is still at least the tiniest bit closer to it than the 'antispinwise' direction. (It should also be noted that in the southern hemisphere the directions will of course be reversed. But I trust anyone performing rites there will be clever enough to work this out.)

The motion of the earth could also be used to justify why it is traditional to face east in rituals. This is not only the direction where the sun and other stellar bodies rise from. It is the direction in which the earth is rotating. It is only natural to stand facing forward.

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