East Symbolism & Meaning

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Cardinal Directions:
East Symbolism & Meaning

Shamanic teachers tell us that East governs spiritual awakening, new beginnings, moving to a higher level of awareness and spiritual wisdom. The sun is dawning on a sleeping soul, embracing us with warmth and divine light. As our Higher-self awakens we begin to see unlimited potential everywhere, including in ourselves.  

The ancients watched the world with wonder. East welcomes the sun and the start of a new day. As the light shines it chases away the shadows and provides clarity. It was not unusual for Shamans and other wise people to greet the day standing toward the East and saying a prayer for wisdom:

“As the day begins with the rising sun, I ask, Spirit keeper of the East, Brother Eagle, Be with me. Fly high as you carry my prayers to the Creator. May I have eyes as sharp as yours, so I am able to see truth and hope on the path I have chosen. Guide my step and give me courage to walk the circle of my life with honesty and dignity.” – Lakota Four Directions Prayer.

The Eastern Quarter of creation has strong associations with the season of Spring when everything is renewed. It is the youthful spirit exploring a brave new world.

The Cardinal Direction of East is first on the Medicine Wheel. As in Numerology, 1 represents wholeness, the sum of all the parts.

Etymology of ‘East’

In Hebrew tradition the word west (qudem) means two things. First it is the direction of the rising sun. Second, and more interesting is its use as the term for “the past”. This is because Hebrews felt that the past is in front of you, with the future behind. Qudem also speaks of antiquity and the direction of Eden. In Old English roots the word East means “to shine” so… rise and shine!

Eagle: Animal of The East

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The tribal nations revered Eagle spirit as a symbol of bravery, wisdom and a higher vision. Eagle is a messenger from the Great Spirit. He cold carry prayers to the Creator and return with visions. Ritually Eagle feathers were held as part of prayers. In meetings a person would hold an Eagle feather implying they spoke only the truth.

Eagle can abide in the spirit and dream world. One myth says that when Spirit Eagle opens his wings the sun shines until he closes them at night. Click to read all about Eagle Symbolism and Meaning.

East and The Air Element

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In nature Air has many important roles. Animals are made aware of predators, hunters or mates by the cents carried by the wind. A loud wind could provide camouflage from the sounds of their movement. Native American tradition consider the winds as a living force that brings signs and omens.

The Air Element often represents the heavens, mental keenness and the powers of prophesy. Medicine men were given the responsibility of interpreting these messages. The Inuit have an Air Spirit that is beneficial to those who are kind, but wrathful to those who lie and steal.

From a spiritual perspective, there are many ways to honor and activate the Element of Air. You could, for example, put feathers or a fan on the Eastern side of your altar. In ritual you could stand facing east and welcome the energy of new life, creation and a brand-new day. Light a white or yellow candle as the sun peeks over the horizon and whisper your request to the winds.  

The Air Element inspires vision (potentially foresight) and discernment. It represents liberation, breaking old patterns and living mindfully. During your meditations or rituals with the Air Element and the East remain in the NOW. At that moment there is no tomorrow and no yesterday. Only this moment of reverence. Call on the Animals of the Air for aid. Choose the one with which you most resonate and focus on this creature. Visualize it as larger than life. Let the aura of the Animal Spirit and the East surround you for your lessons 

East and Healing Crystals

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Celestite has a beautiful sky-blue hue. It represents helpful Spirits, guidance rest and a reprieve from depression. Light Workers and healers use Celestite as a healing stone that restores joy and harmony to a person’s life and aura. As a charm, Celestite provides good perspectives that we can use daily, particularly for problem solving.

Celestite is among the high vibrational stones that sings the pure, steady song of the Universe. Keeping one with you tones your spirit, opening you to the Higher Self and new experiences. It’s an excellent aid for meditations focused on improved psychic awareness, resonating with the Crown, Throat and Third Eye Chakras.

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Citrine shines as brightly as the dawning sun with yellow and orange hues. It literally exudes positive vibrations that support happiness. Globally people wear Citrine for all manner of adornment. Egyptians made talismans out of Citrine while the Celts used it in amulets for protection against sickness. Mystically it is considered a “light maker” and merchants used it for good luck.

One of the most popular applications for Citrine is for manifesting success, especially that which comes from hard work. Citrine supports the will and diligence, resonating with your Root, Sacral and Solar Plexus Chakras. With this in mind, it may be helpful to those struggling with fertility issues.

Native American Symbolism and Meaning for East

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Native American Symbolism and Meaning for the East varies from tribe to tribe. The most common overview is that East is the element of Air, the Season of spring, the Dawn, and our sense of Smell. Additionally, this is a region of birth, enlightenment, vision, perspectives and new beginnings. 

On the Sacred Wheel of Life this is a fresh day and a new beginning. East, being the direction of Air, facilitates keen mindedness, conception (physical or mental), new ideas, and the first steps on this life path. Focus on action and inception. 

Native Americans have an Animal Zodiac akin to that of the Celts. The first animal on the Wheel of Time is Otter Spirit (January 20-February 18). People born under Otter do no lack for humor and eccentric behavior. Always unconventional Otter loves to play. This Spirit Animal offers smart, unique perspectives and inspires the imagination. Otter people are good friends who understand the art of active listening.

Next we move to Wolf (February 19-March 20). Wolf medicine is deeply passionate, physical and sensual. Living life fully and experiencing deep love is part of Wolf Spirit’s character. Wolf people are oddly independent, which seems a contradiction, thus the phrase “lone wolf”. People who walk Wolf’s path need alone time where they can run through the woods in their own manner. In a pack, wolf is affectionate and kind. Nurturing Wolf Spirit within improves your connection for learning. As a Spirit Animal Wolf is naturally attracted to people who don’t mind heading off alone. That energy is something Wolf can work with. People born with a Wolf totem will often be loners at least part of the time. They are not being rude, they just need to gear down. 

Finally, for the East we have the impressive Falcon. Falcon medicine focuses on leadership and action. Falcon spirit does not abide procrastination. When working with this energy be ready to do whatever has to be done quickly. Falcon people are persistent and motivated. In relationships they are steamy and creative. Falcon is fast to offer opinions, which usually turn out to be true. This may bolster Falcon’s ego a bit too much, and a soaring ego is one thing Falcon people must monitor. 

The Direction of East in Divination

When used as a holding place in certain divination methods, East is your future and new beginnings. These are the goals and dreams that motivate you. East also holds your wishes. Shamans teach that process of manifesting good things for your future begins in the here and now. Generally folk don’t get “miracles” dropping in their lap. Your future starts with planning and hard work. There is a Hopi saying that applies here: Don’t tell me about your prophesy unless it grows the corn. This is your time to grow that corn!

Celtic Symbolism and Meaning for East

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The Celts were very aware of nature and her signals, many of which helped them in farming, travel, and seasonal preparations. For the Celts the meaning of East is very similar to modern metaphysical traditions namely – the element of air, growth, birth, communication and new life. The dawn is the time for beginnings, and the light of the sun shines with hope for a good day. 

The animals chosen for the East in terms of Celtic symbolism are the three signs of their Zodiac that begin the year. Think of a circle cut in four quarters. East starts the year off with the sign of the Green Dragon (January 21-February 17). The Green Dragon represents spiritual growth. Dragon Spirit sees truth; what’s really in our hearts. This is a very powerful Spirit Animal who teaches us of wisdom, secrets and true treasures of the soul. 
Seahorse comes after the Green Dragon (February 19-March 27). Seahorse medicine is all things mystical and whimsical, which is where the Element of Air comes in. Seahorse as a Spirit Animal teaches flexibility and resourcefulness. People born with a Seahorse Totem tend to be upbeat, family-oriented, affectionate and patient as the day is long.  
The last Celtic Astrology animal for this quarter of creation is Hawk (March 18-April 24), perfectly suited to the East’s correspondence with the Air element. Hawk spirit is very alert, especially of their surroundings. When Hawk comes to you, put your eyes and senses to work! If this is your totem animal, you have a broad view of life’s connections. Additionally, you challenge yourself to reach higher for success. 

Astrology & the Direction of East

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In Western Astrology we associate the direction of East, the Element of Air and with the constellations of Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. None of these have animal representations. Nonetheless, there are common characteristics to those born under these signs.

Air people are smart. They can think in both concrete and abstract terms. They love a good puzzle, and make excellent problem solvers.

Communicating effectively is also in Air’s wheelhouse. If you need to network, go to someone born under an Air sign. Their keen perception rarely steers them wrong.

Just be aware that people born under Air signs are as capricious as the wind. Sometimes you get a summer breeze, and other times a full-out gale.

Cardinal Direction East in Chinese and Japanese Traditions

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In the art of placement, Feng Shui, the Eastern quarter of the home governs the health and well- being of the family. It also represents the eldest son of a family. So keep the Chi here clear. Otherwise you may put up obstacles for your heir. Proper decorations include live plants and any dragon statues or images.  

Why a Dragon? Well, in the cosmology of both China and Japan the East is governed by a Bluegreen Dragon, who is a God. The color of the dragon has to do with the blue-gray watery soil found in the Eastern Regions. Bluegreen dragon embodies the spring and the element of Wood. Since Feng Shui associates the East with the Wood Element too, the likeness of the Bluegreen dragon would most certainly be fortuitous. When someone in your home is ill, bring them to this region for reiki or other forms of spirit-guided healing. That goes for pets too.

Click to read all about Dragon Symbolism and Meaning.

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