- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 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,
- Created: 01.07.2010 Updated: