There are many ways to call a quarter, but all of them have a common aim: to make a connection with the element.
What is a quarter?
Before you start, what’s your underlying theology of what you believe a quarter to be?
- Are they an alchemical elemental (a gnome, sylph, undine, or salamander)?
- Are they one of the classical four winds (Boreas, Zephyr, Notus, and Eurus)?
- Do they have gender?
- Do they have agency and personality?
- What is the nature of their consciousness?
- Where do they reside (the Otherworld, your subconscious, the surrounding natural world)?
- Are you calling ancestors and/or the Mighty Dead instead of, or as well as, the four classical elements?
- If you’re a Druid, are you giving peace to the quarters? What does that mean to you?
All of these will affect how you call, and what words and gestures you use.
If you’re calling one of the alchemical elementals or the classical four winds, use symbolism appropriate to them in your quarter call. For the four winds, use their names. If your quarters are a different group of named beings, address them by name too.
Do your quarters have gender? If not, then either address them as “powers of the [element]”, or as “Lords and Ladies of the [element]”.
Do your quarters have agency and a personality? If they do, it’s probably a good idea to ask them politely to come to your circle, rather than summoning them peremptorily.
On a related note, there’s no need to shout at the quarter; just project your voice so that the people behind you can hear your quarter call (this is necessary if you’re facing towards the edge of the circle and away from the rest of the participants in the ritual).
What is the nature of an elemental spirit’s consciousness? Can they pay attention to you and your circle alongside all the other tasks they have to do? Are they a multitude? Or do you just see them as archetypes?
Do you believe that there’s a higher and lower aspect of the elemental being? If you do, then you may want to use something based on the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, which banished the lower aspects before calling the higher aspects or angels of the elements.
Where do they reside? This will affect how you imagine the elemental beings “arriving” in your circle. If they live in the nature that’s around you, maybe they’re just focusing part of their attention on your circle for a bit. If they’re coming from the Otherworld, then you might visualize them coming to this plane of manifestation.
If you’re just trying to make a connection with the physical elements, then it’s a good idea to have a bowl of earth, a bowl of water, a candle, and some incense and/or feathers to represent each of the elements.
(I envisage the Otherworld as being entangled with this world, so I tend to visualize the elemental coming through a sort of wormhole/stargate type thing.)
If you’re calling other beings (the ancestors or the Mighty Dead), where do you envisage them coming from? Do you call them by name? Again, it’s best to avoid summoning them peremptorily or shouting at them.
If you’re giving peace to the quarters, how far does it extend? How do you visualize sending out peace?
The actual call
The call itself consists of multiple parts:
- The inner work; sending out the energy; making contact with the entity;
- The gesture of calling;
- The verbal call.
The inner work consists of creating your inner process of yearning and calling to the element.
It’s hard to do all of these things at the same time, so it’s a good idea to separate out the energetic process from the verbal call and the gesture.
Start by taking a moment to feel present and ready.
Then do the gesture that goes with the call (could be drawing a pentagram in the air, opening out your hands as if you’re flinging wide a pair of doors to let them in, or a dance that represents the movement of the element).
Take a moment to feel or send your sense of connection out towards the element, and sense their presence.
After you have done that, speak the words of the evocation (the call to the quarter).
Remember that all this outward show is mostly for the benefit of the rest of the participants, so they know when you’ve finished speaking.
It’s possible (and a good idea) to call the quarters silently and without words sometimes, so that you can practice doing the inner work and making the energetic connections.