Cardinal directions in Mythic Europe


Short question: would people in Mythic Europe use the names of the cardinal directions (east, west, north, south) at all? Didn't these directions come into use then the compass was first put into use (which was around 1300, I believe).



I don't know, but i think it's the thing a bit to.. "reallistic"... I'm interested in the answer!

Classical scholars like the members of the Order might use Greek or Latin names for the cardinal directions. The Germanic names we use are Migration period, and thus are known in Mythic Europe, I would guess.

And, yes, they used them, because they weren't based on the compass, they were based on where the sun rose and set. "East" means "dawn" literally, and "West" means "evening" literally. (North means "to the left" and south means "sun", so do the best you can with those.)

Ah, that explains alot. Thanks :slight_smile:


Cool. Didn't know that.

As for the current system, it's still not compass-based. If it were, we'd switch words since Santa lives at the south magnetic pole. Rather, we've developed what is called a right-hand system in mathematics and physics. Put into this situation, if you imagine grabbing a little globe with your fingers wrapping around it in the direction the earth spins and your thumb outstretched, then your thumb will point along the axis of rotation in the direction we label north. However, we also use the same right-handed naming convention for magnets. The magnetic moment (think magnetic axis) of the earth isn't lined up with the rotational axis, it's off by nearly 180 degrees.


Actually the Latin words for the cardinal directions were:

Oriens (east), literally "rising" (this refers, obviously, to the sun)
Occidens (west), literally "falling down" (again, this refers to the sun)
Meridies (south), literally "midday" (that's the time the sun is in that direction!)
Septentrio (north) ... which comes from septem triones, "seven plough-oxen" (the seven stars of the Big Dipper).

These terms were certainly in use in the classical period - for example Vitruvius uses them extensively in his famous work on architecture.

"Norman", i.e. "man from the north" was a word used in period. As there is a "Normandy Tribunal", it looks like the word has currency in The Order too.

The OED tells me that "North", "East", "West" and "South" were all in use in Old English from the 9th century onwards.

Probably earlier than that. It is part of location names such as Wessex, Sussex, Essex (west/south/east Saxons) and such. Directional terms are used in other Germanic tribal names too, such as Ostrogoth and Visigoth (estern and western Goths).

Tangentially related...

Nice obfuscation for a mystery cult. Add a fifth cardinal direction to various of your instructions, and certainly don't explain the apparent paradox... :slight_smile:

Absolutely. The OED reference is just about the written record of the actual words "East", etc. Of course, they would almost certainly be present in the spoken language much earlier (as these place names indicate).