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Widdershins / Deasil
Moving Clockwise & Counter-Clockwise

The Definitions
adv. In a contrary or counterclockwise direction: taking course opposite the motion of the Sun (in the Northern Hemisphere), going left wise, keeping to the left. Considered as unlucky or evil.
From Middle Low German weddersinnes;
from Middle High German widersinnes: wider, back;
from Old High German widar and sinnes, in the direction of (from sin, direction,)
The Oxford English Dictionary cites the earliest use of the word from 1513, where it was found in the phrase widdersyns start my hair, i.e my hair stood on end.
The word as a counter-clockwise direction came into prominent use in the late 16th century. The term "widdershins" was especially common in Lowland Scots, and was known in Scottish Gaelic as tuathal, or "left-hand-wise".
adverb Chiefly Scottish
clockwise or in a direction following the apparent course of the Sun: considered as lucky or auspicious.
From 1765-75; Scottish Gaelic deasil;
from Irish Gaelic deiseal;
from Middle Irish dessel;
equivalent to dess right, south + sel turn, time;
Wicca uses the specific and unique spelling deosil - however, this is not used in any of the three Gaelic languages nor is it recognized as an 'official' spelling of the word. It should also be noted that not everyone who practices Witchcraft uses this spelling, it is seen specifically within Wicca and a small group of other traditions that are often associated with Wicca.
Deasil / Clockwise Movement
Physics isn't anything new or even a modern approach to life and how it works. Our ancient ancestors may not have known exactly how the world moved, but they did make many obvious observances about their world. Those observances made their way into cultures through language, practices and over time evolved and still exist today. We have come to know many of these as wives tales and superstitions, but in some religious practices they are seen as viable approaches to the practices of ones beliefs.
To start the discussion we should begin with the obvious, Deasil or moving Sunward or Sunwise. In the Northern Hemisphere "Sunwise" and "clockwise" run in the same direction. This is probably because of the use of the Sun as a timekeeper on Sundials and other related instruments. It's not surprising that these ancient Sundial measurements eventually transferred onto early clock faces.
The concept of moving clockwise was considered as going with the flow or direction of life. Moving in a positive and auspicious way that was in harmony with the natural world. It has a lot to do with the connection of humankind to nature and the positive force that moving with this flow provides or creates.
Moving with the flow of nature was seen as honoring or connecting to the Divine (God or Goddess) and working in harmony with Divine positive forces or energy. Going with the flow has always been seen as the easy road, allowing one to find benefits along their path and rewards that can come from this positive action.
This concept made its way into some interesting practices in Indo-European cultures. Celtic Pagans would walk three times around someone they wished to give a blessing to in a clockwise motion. The blessing would honor the person, wish good success to their mental endeavors, and pray for good or a Divine touch to their soul. Each circular trip focused on one part of the Mind/Body/Spirit connection of the person being blessed.
Sunwise circles or moving from East to South to West to North were common practices in a variety of rituals or common place actions. When approaching a fountain that one would drink from, a Celt would approach from the east, walk clockwise around the fountain and then drink from it's waters. Funeral processions would approach a final resting place, walk around it clockwise three times and then the body would be carefully set in place. Traveling out to sea, a ship was very careful to leave dock heading East into the Sun, or at the very least South East toward the movement of the Sun. If this could not be done at all, Sailors would make up for it by rowing the boat out of a harbor, ensuring the oars were moving in a clockwise motion to move the ship forward. Not doing either of these was considered bad luck and a belief that the voyage would prove to be unfortunate laid upon it's endeavors.
Ancient Celts carried this practice from Paganism and into the transition of a Christian society. Circular brands, or brands that incorporated the Sun would be placed upon livestock, over the entry door of a house or dwelling, and even around crop fields to prevent any evil or negative energies being sent to the field by Witches or evil spirits.
A fiery circle was made around a young girl who just entered womanhood and newly born babies. Little by little the practice was expanded to include all children from birth to puberty. These circles were, in later times, described by midwives as effectual against the intrusion of ‘daoine-sìth’ or ‘sìthichean’; who were evil spirits that carried children and babies away that had not been so protected. The child would be returned, but their appearance both physical and mental would be grotesquely altered. The children would be considered damned or touched by evil spirits.
Pagans and early Indo-European Christians were not the only cultures who believed in this type of blessed clockwise connection. The Hindu pradakshina and Tibetean Buddhists also use clockwise movements around their temples for various consecrations or blessings.
Widdershins / Counter-Clockwise Movement
The Sun played a very significant role in ancient and primitive cultures. People relied on it for more than just light, but for survival in growing crops and cultivating bountiful harvests. Anything that moved against the Sun was therefore seen as negative, unlucky or evil. A number of folk myths and Celtic legends speak about Gods, Goddesses, heroes in general forcing people or things to move counter to the Sun in order to bring about chaos and turmoil.
In the mythology of the North Yorkshire Moors it is believed that if you dance nine times widdershins around a fairy ring you will come under the power of the fairy people. The story of Fairy Cross Plain (Fyup Dale) chronicles the fate of a young boy (Thomas Skelderskew) who did just that and suffered the consequences.
The act of moving counter-clockwise was to provoke the natural course of the world, or go against the natural world. This causes havoc, destruction, and in general negative things to happen.
Movement In Modern Witchcraft/Magik
The practice of clockwise and counter-clockwise action still exists today within Witchcraft and it's practices, as well as within Magik in general.
Drawing a circle for ritual is always made in a clockwise motion. Using incense to clear or cleanse an area, consecrate it or an object for use, blessing a piece of land or home are all done in a clockwise motion to bring forth the positive flow of energy. Stirring ingredients in a cauldron or in a pot on your stove for a ritual celebration feast are also done in a clockwise motion to ensure the natural course of Divine light is 'stirred' into the mix.
Clockwise is about having time, creation, the positive flow of energy, the right way to circumvent the Wheel of Life for the highest good of all concerned.
Consequently, moving in the opposite direction is about restricting time in some fashion, destruction, the negative flow of energy and grinding against the Wheel of Life to create chaos.
Chaos Magik focuses a lot on the use and implementation of counter-clockwise movement. But don't make the assumption that this is always a bad thing to do. There are situations where you may want or need to work against the clock or to destroy a certain thing.
An example might be a rape victim who works in Widdershins to create chaos in the world of her rapist. This might be done to cause him to make a mistake that allows police to find and capture him. It might be used to destroy a negative event in ones past that is affecting and causing issues for them today. Destroying the memories or the hold those memories have on an individual could be the first step to healing. Out of destruction comes creation and sometimes a thing has to be destroyed in order to let it go and move on.
Of course some practioners of magik desire to use this type of movement for negative purposes to attack , bind, or hex someone. It's important to remember the Law of Accountability in these cases. You are accountable for what you do and think. There are always consequences to your actions and what you put out you will get back. So if you choose to use some form of Chaos magik and widdershins to enact revenge, make the first strike or some other action of a negative bent, then know what you're getting yourself in for.
When To Use Deasil / Widdershins
There are many ways to enact the practices of Deasil and Widdershins. Consider the modern practice here the US of delivery companies requiring their drivers to only make right turns. The idea was to save gas and create safer trips traveling through city and neighborhood streets. Did they know they were implementing an age old practice of good fortune as well? I doubt it, but it is interesting.
Each situation is different and each person has to make their own choices in life. So when to use Deasil or Widdershins is really up to an individual. There maybe times when you feel forced to work in Widdershins and your reason maybe just. It's important to remember the accountability aspects, but if you feel you can deal with those; make your choice.
If you want a rule of thumb, stick to practices with Deasil. Maintain a positive flow of energy and expression in your life to continue blessings and ensure positive actions.

Source: 1, o54, c3, c4, c8, c9, c13, c14, s1, s2, s4, s5, s6, s7, s11, s14
Created: 01.07.2010         Updated: 01.07.2010


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