The Meaning Behind Correspondence Lists
People have been making associations between all sorts of things in life, in spirit, and in nature, for thousands of years. Partly because of the belief that all things are connected and interconnected. Partly because humans want to believe that there’s meaning behind everything that happens. Therefore it makes sense that some things work together, in a similar manner, in a supportive direction, or for a common purpose. But why are there so many contradictory lists?
Why do some people say a black cat is bad luck and others say it’s a good omen? Why do some people say red is anger and others see it as passion? Why do some insist that the cardinal direction for North represents Divine Energy and others insist that the Divine is located in the East?
The answer is pretty easy actually and we can thank Einstein for putting it in scientific terms. Everything is relative to location.
Your location in the world, the evolution of the culture you live in, the history of your society, even the spiritual beliefs practiced in your region can all play a part in defining a list of correspondences that may come across your path. Simply put, how you relate to the world around you and how you feel connected to the “this or that” in your life, all depends on where you are and the beliefs you choose to follow.
There isn’t one single definitive source to go to for what means this or that. There are millions. Every person on this planet has their own view and inner connection to the other things on this planet. Some maybe similar, or nearly identical even. But because we all have our own experiences, we all have slight variations in how we view things that come across our path. It can be as simple as being a cat person vs. a dog person.
So if someone tells you that a blood moon means someone is going to die, simply tell them that’s an interesting perspective, but the term “Blood Moon” represents a specific time of the year for Pagans and it’s related to a tale of sacrifice and compassion. But if they’re talking about “Blood on the Moon”, that can provide different meanings depending on where you are in the world. From an ominous omen, a foreboding of danger, to a sign that GrandMother Moon is blessing her child Mother Earth.
Alchemical traditions associate certain elements of nature to the life of the world or the Divine Universe. In order for life to exist in any form, these four elements must exist. And there are only four elements in life: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. But to other cultures or traditions of spiritual belief, there are more than four elements. For Pagans there’s: Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit. And we’re not the only group who sees those 5 elements either.
Alchemy helps to explain the relationships between total creation and the position of the parts which compose it. All parts are created from each other part, without all parts, there is nothingness. Without you, the Universe cannot exist. You, and I and all things, seen and unseen are needed to make up what the Divine Universe is. Paganism shares that view too.
Another way to put it: Air feeds fire, fire dies by water, water is contained by earth, and earth creates the air. The cycle is meant to show the interconnection of all things, and the cycle of birth, life, change and transition. But Alchemy leaves out the element of transition to spirit. So we would add, earth creates air and all things exist within the Divine Universe, or within the Spirit.
Some Alchemical traditions believe each chemist needs to define their own relation to the natural elements. In other words, what does water mean to you and how does that relate to your connection to that element? For instance, Air is essential to life. Without it we can not breath and take in life. To some, water is the essential element of life, we are made up mostly of water. The “air” group people would argue that water can sustain us, but so can wine or fruit juice, so it’s not as essential as air. In turn the “water” group people would debate that assertion, pointing to the Earth as being covered in water and refer to water as the place where life began on the planet.
This circular argument might be interesting, but it doesn’t get anyone closer to feeling connected to the element and knowing when and how it can be used in their life. And that’s the problem with the singular definitive correspondence lists. If you don’t feel connected to the correspondence, how are you going to use that energy for your purpose and intent?
While plants, animals, elements, stones, crystals and other physical items have scientific chemical properties that can strongly influence their vibration, they are considered to be somewhat fixed. And that makes some sense, from a scientific point of view. This perspective is similar to Astrological correspondences. There are things in life that are fixed and others that are mutable (can change).
Because of this, it’s important to learn a little more about these types of physical items and what their chemical make up is. Physics and Metaphysics are not at odds with each other; they work together in concert and depend on each other. So once you have gathered your information about the chemical and scientific properties, you can develop your correspondence list based on your personal view of that physical element.
As an example, the lists I use are based on my perspectives of the Chakra centers which is the physical manifestation of the soul in the physical body. And for that system, I follow the Tibetan chart of the Chakras System.
The Alchemical Elements:
The first element of the alchemical tradition.
Air is the essence of intuition and learning, the element of the nature of the mind.
Astrological Signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
Represented by: Feathers, Birds, incense, fans, flags, flowing garments and sheer material.
The second element of the alchemical tradition.
Fire is the essence of purification and change, the element of the nature of the will.
Astrological Signs: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius.
Represented by: Fire, candles, lights, dragons and the sun.
Color: Yellow and Green
Chakra: Adrenals & Solar Plexus
The third element of the alchemical tradition.
Water is the essence of love and fertility, the element of the nature of emotions.
Astrological Signs: Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.
Represented by: Water, lavender fragrance, Fish, coral and sponges.
The fourth element of the alchemical tradition.
Earth is the essence of grounding and stability, the element of the nature of balance.
Astrological Signs: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn.
Represented by: Dirt, sand, sage, Gnomes and goblins, a staff or stake, trees and plants.
Under this version of the Elements, their correspondence/meanings are some what fixed, but the cardinal Directions change based on your location in the world.
Nothing impacts your connection to the cardinal directions than your place here on earth. If you live on the east coast of the United States, it doesn’t make sense for you to put the energy of Earth in the East. Look east and the main element you see is water from the Atlantic Ocean. For those that are on the west side of the Appalachians, you have more of a choice. The same is true for the West Coast. If you put Earth in the West, it doesn’t make a lot of sense unless you live on the east side of the Rockies. But if you’re in Los Angeles for instance, look west and you’re looking at the Pacific Ocean. Why would that direction be linked to the Earth?
Forget about what others tell you, or what lists you’ve found online or in a book. For that matter, forget about the lists I share. What matters is what you feel within your being. At some point in your spiritual and magikal life, you’re going to have to sit down by yourself and decide what you think. And here’s your chance to do just that.
There are a few things to keep in mind to help you design your own correspondence list. Each direction is related a set of characteristics that empower your energy connection. In a view of right energy, right intent, right usage; you can determine your own connection to that set of energies and how they are applied in your life at any given time or place.
Energy: Spirituality, Learning, Healing
Opposition Energy: Intolerant
Energy: Love, Compassion, Sexuality
Opposition Energy: Controlling
Energy: Divination, Communication, Teaching
Opposition Energy: Egotistical
Energy: Judgement, Grounding, Balance
Opposition Energy: Greed
Now apply these characteristics to the Directions as you see them, in your life and your location. Write out what you think the elements are in a poetic verse. For instance:
|Air||Where the cold wind blows|
|Water||Where the warm nurturing waters flow|
|Fire||Where the warm light of fire rises|
|Earth||Where the Great Mother Earth rises|
Spirit, for most people is Above, where the GreatSpirits surround us with love.
Now assign each item in the verse to your Cardinal Direction Chart. For you, where does the cold wind blow? If you’re in the United States, that might be North. But if you’re in Australia, it might be South.
Here is a great example of how you relate to the correspondence matters the most. If you’re in Hawaii, the warm waters may flow in any of the directions, so consider where you are on your island and assign the elements to that which is closest to you or has the greater meaning. As an example of this, consider those who live on the Big Island.
If you’re on Hawaii, perhaps the active volcano is your view of the Divine Pele, if you live on the west side of the island, you may have three choices to assign to the east where the volcano resides. Does Pele represent fire, the Divine or the rising earth to you? If the volcano represents the Divine Pele, then you may want to place the Focus of the Divine in the East.
Where you are in the world not only affects how you view Cardinal Directions, will also affect your view of the flow and direction of general energy.
How energy flows within nature is directly impacted by where you are on the planet. Does it move from west to east or east to west? That depends on which hemisphere you’re standing in at the time.
Before the Europeans began to travel out and about in the world, humans world wide generally counted the time in a day under the sun on a dial. Sun dials in the North move from west to east, or Clockwise. Which is why we call the direction “clockwise”. It’s the natural flow of light on a dial.
But, down there in the Southern Hemisphere, light appears to travel east to west and the sun moves around the dial in what we know today as “counter-Clockwise”.
Back to those pesky Europeans; when they began to settle in the South, they brought with them their Northern concepts and they turned the natural flow of energy on it’s head. So where we up here in the North think the positive flow of energy moves in the forward direction of the clock. Where as the negative flow, or the flow to undo or reverse energy, travels counter to that; in counter-clockwise.
That concept doesn’t fit within Nature in the Southern Hemisphere. The idea of how the flow of energy in nature moves, needs to be turned around. The positive, or moving forward direction would actually be “counter-clockwise” on a modern clock. And the reverse direction would be what we know as “clockwise”.
How energy flows is only one thing to consider where region is concerned. Where you are in the world will also impact your view of animal correspondences as well.
Every culture has some form of symbology of animals and their meaning. To many Native American nations, the wolf is one of the most spiritual animals and often represents the Divine Great Spirit. But even in the Native American cultures, this varies.
Some people write a book about Shamanism and assume their shamanistic view is implemented the same way in all shamanistic cultures. Sorry, it’s not. Shamanism is a profession, not a belief system. It’s a way of applying one’s skill and wisdom onto their chosen spiritual path. There are Native American Shamans, but there are also Celtic Shamans, Germanic Shamans, Aboriginal and African Shamans. Anywhere there is a practice of nature, there is a Shaman who uses their abilities, knowledge and wisdom for the benefit of their fellow tribe, nation, clan and what have you.
As such, there are again, millions of correspondence charts to be learned, studied and adhered to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own. After all, you may feel a pull toward Celtic Shamanism, but you may also feel drawn toward your Cherokee heritage as well. Who says you can’t mix and match? It’s your spiritual practice and you should feel more connected to it than some guru who lives halfway around the other side of the world.
Learning about animals and their characteristics is the first step to creating your focus and energy connections to them. For instance, if you are looking for the focus of life long partnership assigning that energy flow to a Black Widow spider isn’t really a wise choice. The female black widow kills and eats her mate which is counter productive to life long partnerships. But there are many animals who mate for life, the wolf being one of those.
How your culture views an animal is also important. Especially since we have different kinds of animals around the world and in varying regions. If you’re looking for the focus of loyalty and community, you should look for animals who live in groups, be it a pack, pride or flock, etc.
One of the best books on this subject in my view are provided by Ted Andrews. His work in Animal Speak and Animal-Wise are the best references I’ve come across. He has already done most of the work for you.
If you are looking for a Shamanistic Astrological Correspondence Chart, you first will have to think about which Shamanistic culture you’re drawn to. And then consider the type of animals that are associated with that culture.
My Shamanistic path is both Celtic and Cherokee. I lean toward the Native American perspective on this topic the most. In that view Solar Birth Totems are utilized instead of Astrological systems. Your connection with nature has a higher importance than your connection to the stars and planets because you’re part of the Earth and you’ve evolved from “Earth Stuff”. Yes Earth evolved from “Star Stuff”, but you’re closer to the evolution of Earth than you are of the cosmos. So relating to other earth type correspondences may give you more meaning and perhaps a greater connection.
In this Cherokee Birth chart, August 22 – September 21 is related to the time of the Brown Bear. But if I lived in Canada, you might see the Polar Bear in the chart instead. Or if I lived in Australia, there may be a Koala Bear or Kangaroo there instead. It really doesn’t make sense to assign an animal to a focus when that animal doesn’t even live in your area or region of the world. And it makes even less sense if the animal used here in the summer, isn’t the animal that would be roaming around in the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
The most important thing to defining the correspondence charts you follow is to remember YOU are the one who is following them. Your view of the Divine energy, your perspective of nature and how you are personally connected with it and the natural world around you is the most important part of that equation.
Don’t read some chart online and suddenly say that’s the way it is and the information is set in stone when it doesn’t even apply to your beliefs and sense of energy around you. Doing that is counter productive to your practices. Walking a spiritual path means taking the time to learn about you, your inner spirit and what you are here to learn in this lifetime. You can’t expect others to do that work for you, you’re going to have to think for yourself at some point.
Reading, learning and expanding your awareness is the first step to understanding your world and spirit. Take time to think about what you believe and where you are. Do the work to establish your own spiritual view and empower your spiritual path. Doing so is the way to attaining enlightenment and wisdom.
- The Chakra Color System – The Connection of Color
© 2012 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.