I am Australian and like every Aussie Pagan (not a generalisation), I notice that the large majority of 101 resources – books, magazines and bigger websites – for Pagans are quite northern hemisphere-centric, which can be a bit of a problem for us in certain cases. There are of course many Aussie bloggers who are trying to share how these things are different and what it means and how to adapt – but in my opinion, the more of us doing this, the easier the knowledge is for others to find. So, the more the merrier!
180 Degrees of Separation is a small, currently 3-part series I will be doing discussing the differences between the northern and southern hemispheres. I will be sharing the differences, what these mean and how we might try to work with these differences effectively when necessary.
These posts are not only for us in the south though – I am sharing information for both hemispheres, about both hemispheres. So people in the northern hemisphere will hopefully find value in these posts as well – keeping in mind these will be a bit 101 so if you’re an experienced Pagan, you probably already know most of what’s here anyway. But you might not know about all the hemisphere differences, so you may still find this series a worthwhile read. Believe me, those of us in the south really do appreciate it when northerners take our opposite situation into account – like if you write a post about Beltane in April, maybe add a nice link to an older Samhain post for us. The little things do make a big difference.
This first post is a basic introduction with just some basic information about some of the main differences. This post will give you an idea of what the differences are, enough for you to work with when it comes to research, but not so much that I write a novel in a single post. I will be elaborating on each of these things, and perhaps more, in separate posts.
The sun seems to move along the equator, so depending on which hemisphere you are in, the sun will appear to move in a different direction. Though always east to west of course. But just imagine it as being the same as when you stand face to face with another person. Both of you point right, and you are both pointing in opposite directions. The same goes for the sun in north vs south, it is a matter of perspective and location.
North – The sun appears to cross the sky in a clockwise direction. Sunwise or Deosil is Clockwise. Widdershins is Anti-Clockwise.
South – The sun appears to cross the sky in an anti-clockwise direction. Sunwise or Deosil is Anti-Clockwise. Widdershins is Clockwise.
As with the sun this is a matter of perspective. Again in the South we see the moon from a different angle to those in the North. So while the moon phases are the same across the world, waxing moon here is a waxing moon everywhere, we will see it differently. The pictures below will show the difference in our views, each picture shows new to waxing to full to waning to dark, from left to right. So the first moon shown in each picture is actually the exact same moon phase, at the same time, just seen from the two different angles.
The Seasons and their Festivals
The differences here are not a matter of perspective. The axis of the Earth is on a slight tilt or angle / so as we move around the sun during the year, for a certain period of time each year the northern half of the planet will be tilted closer to the sun than the south, 6 months later the southern half of the planet is tilted closer to the sun than the north.
Example using the June Solstice. Summer solstice in the north and winter solstice in the south, on the exact same day, at almost the same time. On that day the southern hemisphere is at its furthest most angle away from the sun, we get the least amount of light possible for a single day in the entire year, whereas the northern hemisphere is at its closest angle towards the sun, getting the most amount of light for a single day in the whole year. Six months later, it will be the opposite, the south will be tilted towards the sun, the north tilted away from the sun. Our seasons are always opposite.
When it comes to the seasonal festivals or Sabbats, we are always opposite.
The Cardinal Points
Whilst the directions in each hemisphere stay the same, north-east-south-west, the other more Pagan meanings that go along with those directions can be different between the hemispheres, and also between individual locations, regions.
In the North, the directions usually correspond to the following elements, and correspondences are made via those elements.
But in the South this makes little sense. The south to us is cold, so it can’t represent fire! But the North can since it has the equator. The rest of the elements are subject to personal determination. For myself, because of where I live on the bottom and east of Australia, this is how I would correspond the elements to the directions.
North: Fire (equator)
East: Water (lots of ocean in that direction)
South: Air (it’s basically just ice down there)
West: Land (a large portion of Aus is to my west, that is a lot of land)
If you have any ideas of some other differences between the hemispheres, please let me know in the comments and I will look into them and make a post about them if I can.
The moon images are heavily edited by me, from public domain pictures from Pixabay.
All 180 Degrees of Separation PostsWheel of the Year part 2
Wheel of the Year part 3