A blog that explores the life and learnings of a forty-something year old witch from down south.
Out of my Element
It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am,in fact, a Fire sign. I relate to fire easier than I do to any other element. My roommate has even told me that the reason I sweat and overheat so much in the summertime is because I carry so much fire power inside of me. I crave time in front of a fire built in a pit or a cauldron. To me, fire represents passion and wildness and strength.
Don't get me wrong...I have always cherished all the other elements in their own way, and I know that as witches we can tend to want to use that old parental saying, “I love all of them equally.” For me, though, I kept them compartmentalized. Fire, being my primary focus, became the main element of my focus. Earth became second because of my love for gardening and the ability for it to essentially create from what seemed to be nothing. Air was third due to my love of birds and craving for spirit knowledge. Last on the list was water. For some reason, I saw water as the weakest of the elements. This wasn't something that I did intentionally....but it just progressively became a way of thinking for me. I saw water as calming, healing and unobtrusive.....kind of like the Clark Kent of elements. It seemed to always be the last element acknowledged in any of my rituals and the one to whom I paid the least attention.....until quite recently.
The summer here in Atlanta has been so much wetter than normal. Each year, it seemed as though we were under burning bans and drought conditions...only watering plants after dark or before sunlight. We weren't quite prepared for all the rain that came along with June and July. It was a new thing altogether for me. I am not used to carrying umbrellas with me to work each day. I am not used to playing 'dodge-the-puddle' with the dogs when I take them out. By the beginning of August, I had gotten used to being soggy most every day. I was wondering when the webs would start forming between my toes. I was beginning to get used to the dismal gray skies that accompanied it and wondered if I would ever get to see sunshine again.
Just before my birthday this year. My partner and some friends of ours decided to book a whitewater rafting trip.....I had been once before and it was nothing spectacular. We were on a very safe part of a river in North Carolina. I think they would probably call it a level 1 rapid. It was fun....relaxing...just the way I had always seen water.
We arrived at the camp early on Sunday morning. Everyone was decked out in swim trunks, water shoes, and t-shirts. We imagined that this would be a fun trip. Most of us had been before and weren't expecting anything spectacular. As we signed the waiver (wait a minute...no one said anything about a waiver in case anything dangerous happened), we stepped off to the side of the building. The guides were lined up and gathered the groups. All seven of us got a guide named 'Chuck.' Chuck explained the dangers, how to sit in the raft, how to fall out if we did, and how to float. Now my heart was picking up speed a bit.
We climbed into the raft and then it was explained that we would be experiencing rapids levels 1-4. We all stopped right where we were and stared at each other with mouths wide open. The first hour of the trip was uneventful. Levels 1 and 2 rapids came and went...we survived. Now we were coming up on a level 4 rapid...rocks all around. We paddled and paddled and clunk! We hit a rock...a really large rock. Half of the boat capsized. It was the half that my partner and I were in. Our friend Tim flew out of the raft and backward. Another raft picked him up. I felt the whitewater rushing over my head....I couldn't breathe. I couldn't grab anything stable. I panicked. My foot was wedged in the folds of the raft and I couldn't pull free. I kept going under, swallowing more water with each plunge. The guide jumped over the other guys and he and our other friend Tim pulled me up as hard as they could. It was then that pure will and intent had to kick in. I grabbed the raft and raised myself to the other side. My partner had been experiencing the exact same thing I had...wedged foot and all. The camp sent a rescue raft after us and we were to unload from our raft to it. I watched as everyone transferred in front of me. I was the largest person, so my weight was needed. I knew that when we got to a certain point the raft was going to go.
There were two of us left in the raft and I could feel it slipping from the rock. Our guide jumped in and another headed off the other raft toward the bank. We bounced our way past them and toward a bank more downstream. I grabbed a tree and there we sat and waited for them to join us. I closed my eyes and breathed...thrilled to still be alive. The power that was exhibited in that one episode of whitewater showed me something that I had been too quick to overlook. We made our way toward the end of the journey---over more rapids and even got the opportunity to help another rafting group. The final leg of the ride was very calm water. The sun had come out and we were offered the opportunity to climb out and swim. Most of us took that chance to absorb the calm and peacefulness of the water.
When we got home later that evening, my partner and I were battered, beaten and bruised....but oh so invigorated. It was like the water had breathed new life into us again. We laughed and hugged and recounted the events of the day. As sore as I was, I went outside and walked down to the pond. I thanked the goddess for the beauty of the water. As I pulled each element to the front of my mind, I thanked each for its importance in my life. When I got to the element of water, I first apologized for not giving her the credit she deserved. I thanked her for her power and her strength...as well as for her calming and healing power. I learned a lesson that day....never underestimate the power of anything....you never know what may be lying just beneath the surface.
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