Circling in the Southern Hemisphere

The Temple of the Dark Moon is an active "progressive" Alexandrian Wytchcraft coven that is based in the Southern Hemisphere. With all titles aside, the focus we stress is that being a Southern Hemispheric based coven, naturally we align ourselves with the local Wheel of the Year as well as the other elements that come into force in our circle work.  After all, it is the energy from this land that we draw upon when we craft our ritual and spell work.

Despite the increasing number of books available today on modern Paganism, there is still a distinct lack of information available on the Southern Hemisphere - which is extremely disappointing for the increasing number of followers of the various Pagan and/or other non-Christian based spiritual belief systems.

As the Temple of the Dark Moon resides in Adelaide, South Australia, we cannot but help to work with the Southern Hemispheric energies .. and whilst these may differ from other groups located around Australia (which has the same sized land mass as the United States of America), the important underlying aspect is that when you (as a Pagan practitioner) attunes yourself to the land on which you live, you become attuned to its energies .. and the simple fact is due to the different pull of the Moon and the Sun on the Earth here in the Southern Hemisphere, things need to be done differently.

I have gone into more detail about this on the Temple of the Dark Moon's web site in an article that can be found here -

When people talk about the differences between the hemispheres, they more often than not simply only acknowledge the seasonable differences - when it is Summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is Winter south of the equator.  This means, for Pagan folk more importantly, there is at least a six month difference in the Sabbats - when the Mid Summer Solstice is being celebrated in the North, we in the South are celebrating the Mid Winter Solstice.  I say "at least" because Australia in particular has a similar land mass as the United States of America and closer to the equator one goes, the less of a difference between the seasons can be determined.  In fact the Northern Territory is often said to have only two seasons - the dry and the wet.

There are in fact five major differences between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres:

1. The Seasons and Sabbats (as already mentioned)

2. The direction of the Sun - While in both Hemispheres the Suns still rises in the East and sets in West, on its journey across the sky in the Southern Hemisphere, it travels via the North because of the tilt of the Earth's axis. For this reason, most Pagans in the Southern Hemisphere cast their circles in this direction, via the North or in an anti-clockwise direction.

Interestingly contrary to popular interpretation, deosil does not mean "clockwise" and widdershins "anti-clockwise".  According to the Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word deosil comes from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning "sunwise" or "in the direction of the (apparent) motion of the sun". The term widdershins comes from the Middle High Germanic word "widersinnes" meaning "against the sun".

3. Earth’s Energy Flow - When travelling to the Northern Hemisphere observe what direction the water drains down the plughole. In the Northern Hemisphere, energy moves in a clockwise direction, whereas in the Southern Hemisphere, it is anti-clockwise.

4. Placement of the Elements - If we take the above information into consideration when placing the elements around our magickal circle, is then seems logical for the placement of Fire to be in the North, while Earth is placed in the South. Environmentally, to the North is the Equator and from the North come the scorching Summer winds. North is also the placement in the sky of the Noon day Sun. In the South however, where the Sun never appears in the Southern Hemisphere, come the bitter cold Winter winds, as well as where the frozen mass we refer to as Antarctica can be found.

It is noted that around Australia, various placements have come into play over the years.  Some place Air in the West as this is the direction the wind currents move across Australia.  Others however place Earth there, representing the bulk of the Australian land mass (particularly so for those residing on the East coast).  Water is also sometimes placed in the East as it is represented by the Tasman Sea.

The Temple of the Dark Moon chooses to alter the placement of only North and South, for reasons given above - for we perceive the East to represent that place of the rising sun and the West the setting sun (as well as St Vincent Gulf).

We would recommend people turning to their own environment and listen to what it says to you as opposed to going merely by the direction in a book or web site (even ours).  This seemingly somewhat contraversal view point has been reached after many years, observing, listening and casting circles in both Hemispheres.

and lastly

5. Phases of the Moon - The final difference is the directions of which the crescent of the Waxing and Waning Moons point.  In the Northern Hemisphere the two crescents point outwards from the Full Moon.  In the Southern Hemisphere however, the Waxing Moon in the sky actually points to the right, while the Waning Moon points to the left. Therefore, the symbol of the Triple Moon Goddess (the Maiden, Mother and Crone) reflects an introverted appearance opposed to the extroverted appearance in the Northern Hemisphere.

However, there are times where the Moon decides to really throw the spanner into the works and the Waxing Moon can be observed at times lying on her back pointing upwards, and the corresponding Waning Moon pointing downwards.

Blessings - Frances