Calling the Directions

by Ana L. Palles

Calling the Directions Many Native traditions observe a ritual of calling in the Medicine Wheel four directions as a means to set Sacred Space and as a preparation for healing and spiritual practices. Some use four directions, some six or seven. The prayers are often personalized but one thing always remains constant: the reverence and gratitude for the blessings that are gifted to us each day.

Peruvian shamans associate specific animals with each direction, Celtic shamans work with tree spirits, the fairy world and ancestors in their medicine wheel. Some Native American tribes would call upon the Great Spirit, on Mother Earth, and Spirit animals, offering tobacco, corn meal, pollen or other gift in gratitude for Spirit's blessings. Most include also include the elements, generally 4 in the west and 5 in the east. 

There are a number of prayers or methods used to call in the directions and they all vary depending on your particular heritage. Some use a tone or play a musical instrument such as a drum, a rattle, a didgeridoo or a flute to focus their intention on uniting heaven and earth within our hearts. 

Here is an example of a prayer to call in the directions. Feel free to add or subtract to make it your own individual prayer. Remember that whether you are reciting a prayer, singing a tone, or simply bowing your head in thank you, it is what we call forward from our hearts that creates an enfolding space. 

Oh Spirit of the East, Land of the rising Sun, Of Air, the winds that blow across the lands. Of new beginnings each day. and of open horizons. We bless you and ask for your wisdom and blessing here with us today. Please join us, Spirit of the East.

Oh Spirit of the South, Place of Passion, Fire and Creation and inspiration, whose warm breath reminds us of summer days. Ignite our hearts with love. We bless you and ask for your wisdom and blessing here with us today. Please join us, Spirit of the South.

Oh Spirit of the West, the land of the setting Sun, Of water and Autumn's whisper. Bless us with the knowledge of peace which follows the harvest of a fruitful life. We bless you and ask for your wisdom and blessing here today. Please join us, Spirit of the West.

Oh Spirit of the North, place of quiet, stillness, of cave and deep earth. Place of thankfulness for the knowledge and blessings that have come to us with time. We bless you and ask your wisdom and blessing here today. Please join us, Spirit of the North.

Oh Spirit of Mother Earth, you support us each day, welcoming our roots deep into your heart. You nurture and guide us finding sustenance and support. help us to give thanks Always for Your bounty. We bless you and ask for your wisdom and blessing here today. Please join us Spirit of Mother Earth.

Oh Spirit of Father Sky, of the angelic realms, the countless stars of the night remind us that you are vast beautiful and majestic beyond all of our knowing or understanding. Your light shines upon the earth both day and night guiding our steps. We bless you and ask for your wisdom and blessing here today. Please join us, Father Sky.

Oh Spirit of our souls within, Place of union, love and reverence. We are grateful for this gift of life and for the love that guides our way. We open our hearts and join with all in love. It is begun.

Traditionally, our altars are a physical representation of the medicine wheel that we set. In most practices, a representation of the element is placed on the altar holding the direction. For example, Air can be represented by words that are spoken or written, prayers, songs, leaves or flowers, feathers, incense or other scent. The South, or Fire, can be represented by a candle, a sunflower, movement, passion or creativity such as a work of art. Water can be placed in a cup or bowl, or represented by a water hyacinth, lily, a shell, chalcedony, fluorite, the moon, or even a picture of the ocean. Earth can be represented quite literally by soil, by food such as bread, chocolate, nuts, stones, and wood.

Some traditions, such as in Celtic spiritualism, invoke the ancestors who live in each of the directions, and these include the fairy or fae folk. In calling the directions, the ancestors are acknowledged and thanked for their guidance and watchfulness over our life path.

And don't forget that another method for calling the directions is to chant a tone for each of the 4 directions. For example, chant "eeeee" for East, "ayee" for South, "uuu" for West and "oooo" for North.

Some shamans use stones or carvings and fetishes to hold each of the directions in their medicine wheel. Remember that a big portion of what is happening when we call the directions is bringing parts of ourselves together into a spiritual focus. We are all things, earth, water, air and fire. We are a part of nature, a part of the earth to which we eventually return and a part of the heavens through our angelic and spiritual selves. Calling the directions focuses our intent and sacredness and creates a sacred space. Blessings.

You might find the following items helpful resources when setting your space:

Additional information