Eclectic Elementals: The Magic & Spirituality of the Elements

This is not a specifically named, established path like Asatru, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Kemeticism, Wicca or Santeria. Yet the Elemental Path can be adapted to any traditional, reconstructionist or modern practice, and the Elements are indeed present and utilized in all traditions. It can also be, as it is for me, its own completely original, self-contained and self-defined path. It is the path of peeking behind all the named and well-presented curtains; of getting to the heart of All and of connecting to and honoring the mystical, essential building blocks of everything in existence, from the planet to our souls. No matter where your belief ultimately leads you or how you define it, the Elements are a part of it and, if nothing else, a great place to start.

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Meredith Everwhite

Meredith Everwhite

Meredith is an amateur writer, Tarot/oracle reader, and a semi-agnostic, pan/metatheistic, Pagan mage & mystic. Her elemental affinity has led her to become a devoted water priestess and the creator of the website/blog The Oracle of Water where she shares and writes about all things aqueous in the worlds of metaphysics, spirituality, mythology and occultism. Currently pursuing her certification in Michelle Hanson’s seashell-based “Ocean Oracle”, she is also working to develop an original elemental-themed divination system. She currently lives in North Carolina with her spritely feline familiar, Naia.  
Full Moon Equinox: An Elemental Forge of Creation

Spring is easily my favorite time of year. Fall is a very close second and no one can deny the enchantment of the newly crisp autumn air and the turning and falling of the leaves. But for me it is the bursting color and rebirth of spring that enchants and excites me the most. Being born in April, perhaps I have something of a natural bias.

In my nearly thirty-three years on Earth, this spring is by far the one I have looked forward to the most. The past year of my life, and especially the fall and winter months, have been the heaviest, darkest and most anguished ever so my very soul has been absolutely parched for the spring rains and fresh, bright blossoms. The ice and snow have melted and are cascading in rivers of renewal and revitalization.

Tomorrow, March 20, is an especially powerful and charged Equinox as it coincides with the full Moon in Libra. Fire is very much the element of spring, being the element of Aries and aptly representing the sparking, igniting new life bursting out everywhere. The light and warmth begin to return and the Martian leader and initiator of the zodiac leaps eagerly into action, blazing the trail for the new year.

The winter solstice has its potential as a type of new-year marker, but the days are still cold and dark and the thaw is still a long way off. Yet in terms of both the seasons’ cycle and the zodiac, the spring equinox is arguably THE true, natural new year. This awakening time is far more ideal for setting goals and intentions, for clearing away those last cobwebs of winter and the heaviness of hibernation.

We don’t have the luxury of literally hibernating like bears, or even as our distant ancestors used to, but there are parts of us that we let sleep; goals, hobbies, intentions, and pursuits that are more likely to lay dormant during the colder half of the year. What in your life is stirring from its slumber?

The Sun is exalted in Aries, meaning its energy is best expressed and manifested through this sign. What better way to start the year? Where else would the Sun shine at its best than within that first spark of spring? And what could be even more perfect still, on this quarter day when the light and dark are again equal, than the fiery equinox Sun shining directly onto the airy, balancing Libra Moon?

The image of the bellows in a forge comes to mind. The Air, the breath, blows and arouses the coals within the firepot, where a balance must be maintained for the ideal conditions for various kinds of work. Is a high, hot flame required, or a lower, steadier burn? What is it that you want to create and cultivate this year? What do you want to forge? Look back over the past six months or even a full year. What kind of crucible have you endured to get here, or are you perhaps still enduring?

A crucible is defined literally as a heat-resistant container in which metals and/or other substances are melted down, as in smithing or in chemistry, and figuratively as a very challenging time or severe trial that acts as a refining or hardening process. In both definitions, it is a tool of creation.

So this year, between the opposition of the Aries Sun and Libra Moon – doubly fiery masculinity and harmonious emotional femininity - I see a potent, elemental forge of creation in which balanced emotions and life-supporting nurturing must work together with passion, action and the sparks of initiation. Inspiration and illumination are everywhere now! Both Aries and Libra are cardinal signs, so this is a time of beginnings in every way imaginable.

Aries is all about the Self and personal identity. Aries is “I Am”. It begins with you. Work on yourself, forge yourself, create and define yourself and then, and only then, can you fulfill whatever it is that you’re here to do and to help others with. This is a great time to be selfish! The healthy, necessary kind of selfish in which you make sure that you are taken care of so that you are able to help others.

The Tolkien nerd in me immediately thinks of Legolas urging a battered Aragorn to rest once he arrives Helm’s Deep, saying “You’re no good to us half-dead.” No one is good to anyone half-dead! Or half-broken, half-asleep, half-healed, half-true or half-assed.

So tend to your forge. Let your emotions fuel your creativity and your passion, but don’t let them flare those flames up beyond control. Be smart with your feelings and think about how others feel. The Moon is emotions and intuition but Libra is Air – intellect, thought, reasoning. So there is a double theme of balance. First the heart and the head must be weighed against each other, and then together against motivation and action.

If Aries is “I am” and Libra is “I balance”, then an ideal mantra, affirmation or helpful reminder for this equinox, and therefore moving on through the year, is simply – “I AM BALANCED”.

Read the full article, including the equinox/full moon water oracle reading, here

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Tarot Elements: The True Meaning of "The Star"

The Star of Tarot is a very watery, spiritual and high-vibration card, the only other one as supremely watery being the Ace of Cups. Predictably, both are among my top favorites.

It is also probably one of the most popular images of the Major Arcana, (particularly the Waite-Smith version, which I refer to) yet also one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted.

The Star is frequently interpreted with keywords like “hope”, “renewal” and “inspiration”. While inspiration may at least come closer than any other term to the true meaning, Arthur Edward Waite himself described the most commonly attributed interpretation of hope as “tawdry”.

Frankly, I have never understood how or where anyone ever got “hope” regarding the Star, even in my earliest days as a Tarot novice. It has been the repetitive insistence from countless Tarot teachers and “experts” that the Star means hope, combined with my repetitive intuitive suspicion that this can’t be correct, that led me into an extensive search and analysis of just what this card really means.

It was a great “I knew it!” moment when I finally read Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot and his explanation of the Star, especially his calling out of the old “hope trope”. It was an even more enthralling and enlightening moment when astronomy and chemistry played a part in proving the real meaning of this card. But we’ll get to that.

The Star, according to Waite, is Sephirah Binah of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life; the Great Mother who gives and who is supernal understanding. He says the mottoes of the card are “Waters of Life freely” and “Gifts of the Spirit”.

So, people very ironically misunderstand the card that is about understanding. A lot. Is there maybe a lesson or message here?

He describes the female figure in the card as expressing eternal youth and beauty. The number of the card is 17, which reduces to 8 - the symbol for infinity or, more poetically, eternity. There are also eight stars on the card, the large one in the middle being surrounded by seven others.

The number 8 – as a lemniscate or infinity symbol – appears on only two other cards of the Major Arcana: the Magician and Strength. I think there is a clue here and a relationship between these cards and the Star.

The Magician, who most basically represents manifestation, is pointing a wand towards the heavens and his finger down to Earth, representing “As Above, So Below”, as well as a conduit between the two planes.

The suggestion throughout is therefore the possession and communication of the Power and Gifts of the Spirit,” Waite says of the posture and action of the Magician. So there is that key phrase that directly ties the Magician to the Star.

Supernal means “pertaining to heaven or the sky” or “celestial”…the stars. The Magician bears another symbol of eternity – the ouroboros, or the serpent around his waist eating its own tail.

This is familiar to most as a conventional symbol of eternity, but here it indicates more especially the eternity of attainment in the spirit.” (A.E. Waite)

In Strength we see a young woman taming a lion with ease. The lemniscate floats above her head just as it does the Magician’s. What do these cards have in common that may be indicated by the presence of this symbol? She too has a similar additional symbol of eternity around her waist, like the Magician.

However, in Strength it is a vine of blossoming greenery tying her to the lion, at least in early printings of the deck. In later reproductions it is unfortunately not illustrated as joining her to the lion though this is significant. I believe it symbolizes, among other things, a natural link between humans and animals. Ultimately we are animals ourselves and Strength conveys the necessary control over certain baser animal instincts.

Waite elaborates however,

[These higher meanings] are intimated in a concealed manner by the chain of flowers, which signifies, among other many other things, the sweet yoke and the light burden of Divine Law, when it has been taken into the heart of hearts.”

The flower chain around her waist very curiously resembles the flowering boughs over the Magicians head, perhaps a further representation of the feminine spirit and understanding being poured down on him from Above?

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The Incredible, Elemental Egg

We are now between the time of Imbolc, when the fires in the belly quicken and hint at the coming rebirth, and Ostara, when that new birth of Spring occurs and the hibernating potential bursts forth in colorful blossoms and familiar bunnies and chicks.

Then there is the most familiar Egg: the supreme symbol of Ostara, Spring, new life and fertility. Yet it is so much more than that. Eggs have been painted, decorated, preserved, carved, crafted, offered, venerated and used as symbols and in rituals probably from the earliest days of humankind, certainly millennia before they came to be associated with the “borrowed” Easter of modern Christianity.

Eggs are the perfect symbol of life. They are literally life! All creatures begin as eggs in some form or another and all are composed of all four elements, which are perfectly represented by the parts of the egg: the shell is Earth, the membrane is Air, the white is Water, and the yolk is Fire.

It is easy to understand why so many different cosmologies and creation stories feature one or more “cosmic eggs” from which all beings, the world, indeed the whole universe are created. Several deities, such as Atargatis, are also believed to have been born from sacred eggs. Certain magical creatures are born from eggs under strange circumstances, such as the basilisk, which is hatched by a cockerel from a serpent’s egg.

There is the Greek Orphic Egg which hatched the first primordial being who created all the other gods, the Egyptian cosmic egg which birthed the sun god Ra, and the seven duck eggs hatched on the knee of the Finnish goddess Ilmatar, thus creating the various parts of the world.

Interestingly enough, the theory of the cosmic egg has a place in modern cosmological science. Current models suggest that over 13 billion years ago, the mass of all the universe was compressed into a singularity from which it expanded into its current state after the “Big Bang”. Could the Big Bang have been the moment of fertilization for the singular “egg”? The sparking action all life requires to ignite the potential contained in the seed which then expands and grows and even creates subsequent life?

More and more do quantum physics and other cutting-edge “modern” sciences begin to reflect, accept and even prove ideas that have existed in spirituality and mysticism since time immemorial; concepts that have been believed and perhaps truly known long before the advent of the tools and measuring devices mandated by science to verify the existence of anything.  

So how could the egg not be supremely sacred, and how could it not hold the key to the mysteries of all life and creation? Eggs contain life, potential for life, and they contain all the elements. So too then are the elements, from which everything is created, the keys to truth and understanding.

My kitchen altar is very simple and consists of a single candle, a very cute little plush cow with a tiny porcelain teacup and saucer, and a polished, egg-shaped onyx crystal resting in an egg cup. It serves as a focal point and constant reminder of all I have already said about eggs and then some. I can’t sing their praises enough! Particularly in the kitchen, where they are obviously most common. They are delicious, nutritious and wildly versatile.

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Everyday Elements Part 2: Healing and Learning

Welcome to Part 2 of Everyday Elements, which hopefully can help you find the magic of the elements in the “mundane” of everyday life and the tasks that rule our existence. Last week I shared ideas and information on Cooking and Cleaning, and their inherent energies of Fire and Water, respectively. Now we move on to Healing and Learning, which are influenced and driven by Earth and Air.

If you didn't catch Part 1, get caught up here.

Especially when we live in busy, bright, crowded cities and have packed schedules, it can get hard to maintain a strong connection to our spirituality, our magical practices, and to nature and the elements. But practicing awareness and gratitude and finding simple ways to incorporate the elements and their powers into things we do every day can ground us, raise our vibrations and enhance our spiritual/magical practices.



Healing – Earth

Everything in nature is self-regenerating and that includes our bodies. This ability to heal and regenerate extends beyond the physical, and allows us to heal emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our bodies are the sacred, physical vehicles for our souls and every part of our being, and it is well known now that our body tells us not only the state of our physical health, but manifests the condition of our mental and emotional health. Yet it is circular, as taking proper care of our body and staying connected to Earth can also increase our mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being.

Nature contains everything we need to take care of and heal ourselves on every level; herbs, crystals, vitamins, minerals, flowers, spices, foods, and even sunlight and the beauty of natural environments all have nourishing and healing properties.

When I was a child growing up in south Florida, we had a handful of large aloe vera plants growing in our back yard. I spent a lot of time playing outside and, like any active child, I often cut and scraped myself. I didn’t run inside, crying and expecting one of my parents to put Neosporin and a Band-Aid on me. I simply went to the back porch, broke off the end of a thick, fleshy leaf, squeezed the cool gel onto my scratch or road burn and went back to playing!

Most of us probably don’t spend as much time outside as we did when we were children, and this is a great shame. Nature is a healer, plain and simple. Especially when I am at my most anxious, despondent, depressed and restless, I escape outside for a meditative walk and I breathe deeply, tune into the breeze, the singing birds and the abundance of beautiful trees in my area. Without fail, I always feel much better during and after such walks. Sometimes I don’t want to go back inside, even if it’s raining. That’s why I have a rain shell!

I often get my best writing ideas while walking, as the elements surround me and speak directly to me. They help me ground, relax, and not only sort out thoughts and ideas I already have, but make me more receptive to new and better ideas and inspiration.

You are probably familiar with the practice of “earthing”, which consists of simply walking or standing directly on earth in your bare feet, or laying down on the ground or on a boulder. If you’ve heard of it but haven’t really done it, do it! If you do it, do it more! It is one of the simplest things we can do to ground and connect but it is also one of the most powerful and healing methods as it puts us in direct contact with our Earth Mother. Think of it as a new baby being laid upon her mother’s breast to hear and feel her heartbeat, to rise and fall and synchronize with her calming breath and to relax upon her strong, warm support. This is what we do when we practice earthing.

Sometimes we don’t realize how separate from the Earth we often live in our day-to-day lives. Most of us, on average, probably spend much more time in our houses, then driving in cars, then in the building where we work than we do being truly in and with Nature. After a while of being deprived of a proper connection to Earth, we become more tired, more irritable, less focused and certainly less grounded.

We also often take for granted all those things that nourish and heal us all the time – herbs, flowers, vitamins, crystals, all the supplements we take, and of course even the food we eat. All the best and most natural food is healing and this ties in great with the Cooking/Fire element. When you’re sick with a cold and you brew a cup of ginger tea, you’re being healed not only by Earth but by Fire and of course Water! But all the ingredients come from the Earth herself. Even when you pop an aspirin for a headache you are enjoying the blessings of the Willow tree (Salix), the source of the active metabolite in aspirin – salicylic acid.

Try to rely on as many natural healing methods and ingredients as you can. For millennia our ancestors managed just great, probably better in a lot of instances, without extra-strength Tylenol, Neosporin, Ny-Quil, and all manner of convenient, plastic-packaged “medicines”, most of which simply mask and numb symptoms and pain rather than offer any real healing. My cold medicine is vampire-hunter-level garlic in every meal, lots of ginger tea and rose hip tea (rose hips have lots of vitamin C) and constant self-pampering bed rest. I credit the garlic alone as the reason why I get over colds now at least twice as fast as I used to when all I took was the typical pharmacy stuff.

Consider putting together an “Earth-aid kit” consisting of essential oils (lavender and peppermint are great starters that help heal anxiety and headaches, two very common ailments), Bach’s flower remedies, aloe gel, ginger tea bags or ginger chews, capsules of skullcap and/or willow bark, your favorite grounding and healing crystals, natural bath salts, and even a CD of nature sounds if you aren’t able to get outside for a walk or earthing. I can’t live without my Lifescapes “Garden Rain” CD!



Learning – Air

When I was in elementary and middle school, I loved the zany Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. I think it was in the second book, “Wayside School is Falling Down”, where we learn that the teacher Mrs. Jewls tries to teach her class three new things every day, her reasoning being that if they learn three things each day, they will eventually learn everything there is to know.

This is obviously an absurdly over-optimistic approach, especially to creating a curriculum for grade school students, but the goal of trying to learn something new every day is worth implementing! Especially into adulthood and even after all formal education, there is an infinite amount to still be learned and discovered. Even if we don’t go through our daily life with the intention to learn specific new things, we are almost always guaranteed to learn something, even if it is as simple and temporary as our usual route to work being suddenly altered by construction detours.

Air is the element traditionally associated with the mind; with thought, intellect, knowledge, speech and communication. We are constantly surrounded by air just as we are constantly surrounded by knowledge and potential knowledge. Just as we rely on air to breathe lest we rapidly suffocate and die, we need knowledge and learning or we figuratively suffocate and stagnate, and even potentially still literally die.

We rely on certain knowledge to survive as much as we rely on air. If we don’t have enough oxygen at birth, or indeed if at any point in life we experience a sustained deprivation of oxygen, our brains are damaged as is our capacity to learn, reason, speak and even control and coordinate our entire bodies.

Sometimes we learn something, or think we learn something, that is not accurate or complete, or that may eventually become inaccurate, dated and need to be replaced with new knowledge. This is not unlike the constant cycle of the breath – inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. If we always take every single thing we learn or are taught by others at face value and never question it, confirm it or replace/supplement it with new, expanded and/or updated knowledge, we may as well hold our breath or keep breathing only carbon dioxide, remaining stale and unrefreshed. The learning becomes useless, just as breathing would.

A version of a popular quote that may or may not be entirely correctly attributed to Einstein, though poignant nonetheless, states that “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. So as air and our breath are essential to our existence, so too is our constant pursuit of both knowledge and truth and the constant desire to develop, improve and expand what we know.

Mindful breathing and various consciousness-altering breathing exercises, such as pranayama, are now well known both within and without Pagan and “new age” circles and practices. Among many other benefits and effects, awareness and control of the breath have been proven to have calming effects and to prepare the mind for concentration and meditation. This is probably the best illustration of and support for the traditional association of the Air element with the mind; they are directly connected.

So it not only greatly benefits us to try to consciously learn at least one new, helpful and interesting thing every day, but also to try to develop a regular mindful breathing practice. This isn’t hard to do if you already have a meditation practice that probably already incorporates pranayama or any mindful breathing exercise.

Particularly before you do any reading, studying, attend a class or important work meeting or before you set off on your daily adventure to learn one new thing (or Mrs. Jewls’ recommended three), try spending just a few minutes to focus on, slow and control your breath and to cultivate a heightened feeling of both awareness and gratitude for the ubiquitous invisible element that directly affects and refreshes your mind and keeps you alive.

So remember to look for the Elements in all you do every day because chances are, no matter what, they are there in some form or another and they all make everything possible. Recite to yourself this popular, simple yet profound chant now and then to remind yourself of the magic that composes your entire being and the world around you...

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
and Fire my spirit


© 2019 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved
(except for elemental chant, author unknown according to the Pagan Chant Library at www.earthspirit.com)

Image credit: Hygieia, detail from "Medicine" by Gustav Klimt

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Everyday Elements Part 1: Cooking and Cleaning

Even in the busiest, most crowded, modern, neon-lit metropolitan areas, we come into close contact with the elements countless times a day. Even – or, especially – with all our technology we truly cannot live without them!

I’m often reminded of a line from one of my favorite songs by Lady Isadora, a witch, priestess and talented singer/songwriter who pioneered the Pagan musical genre in the early 1980s. It is from her song “Witch” – “I call myself a witch because I’m not afraid to tell that the magic is in life itself, not just in some ancient book or secret spell”.

Indeed it is! Magic is everywhere at all times and it is manifested through the elements in more ways than we sometimes realize. Even the most devoted Pagan or witch can struggle to maintain their ideal practice in this demanding, fast-paced age. However, much comes down to perspective and a slight shift in our approach to “mundane” tasks can go a long way toward helping us maintain a wonderful connection to nature and to enhance our magic.

There are four things that, for the most part, we all do on a regular basis, and they each correspond nicely to the four elements: cooking, cleaning, healing and learning – fire, water, earth and air, respectively. Simple awareness and gratitude for the elements and all they allow us to accomplish in our daily lives can help create all manner of easy yet effective rituals, grounding states of mind and to raise our vibrations.


Cooking – Fire

Even if you don’t manage anything more complex than microwaving a Stouffer’s entrée or brewing a pot of coffee, not much cooking can be accomplished without fire in some form or another. A pot of boiling water on a ceramic cooktop can easily conjure images and the energy of an old bubbling cauldron suspended over an open flame in a hearth, and be just as magical.

Obviously real cooking – that is, from scratch or close to it, and going through steps to peel, chop, sauté, flambé, marinate and macerate different fresh ingredients – is not only always more likely to be much more healthy, but it is a wonderful way to connect to ancestors and can be very meditative and easily ritualized.

There are so many wonderful books about kitchen witchery that teach about spells that can be incorporated into cooking, include magical and unique recipes specifically designed for sabbats, and give ideas for turning your whole kitchen into a shrine/altar to nourishment, magic and, of course, fire!

One of my favorite such books, at least that I actually own, is “The Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook” by Patricia Telesco. While I am not Wiccan, I find Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca in the Kitchen” to be a wonderful reference for the general energies and associations of most herbs, fruits, vegetables and several other ingredients. I feel it could have easily (and perhaps more accurately) been entitled simply “Witchcraft in the Kitchen”, but that’s just my opinion based on the content of the book which doesn’t seem to reflect the specificity of just Wicca.

Another favorite is “A Sorcerer’s Cookbook”, by Brigitte Bulard-Cordeau. It is not exactly geared toward the kind of magic and ritual that specifically pagan kitchen witchery books are, but it is visually stunning, filled with very unique and interesting recipes and still has lots of fun and enlightening information about folklore, history and magical uses associated with the ingredients and recipes.

Fire is the great transformer of the elements, and its use in cooking and preparing the food that we ingest can also transform us, our health and energy. No matter what we make or how, it all begins with fire.

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Elemental Initiation

It is a safe assumption that every Pagan, particularly any practitioner of magic, is familiar with the Elements and the role of each in life and in magic.

What is less certain is the extent to which they are truly understood, the relationship each Pagan or mage has with them, and the ability to work with them in one’s spirituality or magical practice. Even less certain still is the humility and respect they are given. It seems easy for many to think of the Elements and “elemental magic” as accessories, mere branches of magical theory or of natural spirituality. Yet they are the roots, the trunk, every branch, every bud, leaf and blossom.

It is a continual, endless endeavor to learn of the elements. No one has ever “graduated” from elemental studies or magic as though it is as simple as reading those few, late-coming chapters in certain books and grimoires as I addressed in my earlier post “Back to Basics: All Magic is Elemental”.

If you really want to understand the elements, if you really want to base a deep, effective magical practice and/or spirituality upon them, you need to be initiated into their energies.

Many Pagans and witches undergo formal initiations into certain traditions, covens and paths. Yet how many of us pledge ourselves, not to any specific group or anthropomorphic deity styled and defined by others, but simply to Nature herself, to the Elements, and become devotees of that visible and invisible world that resides behind, under and throughout all existence?

Even if you are of a more solitary “wild witch” bent, and you have indeed initiated yourself as a witch, steward and priest/priestess of Nature, have you undergone any elemental ordeals to strengthen your connection to them and your ability to use them in magic? What are such ordeals, you say? Well…read on, dear one.

In “Doctrine and Ritual of Transcendental Magic”, the famed French occultist and magician Eliphas Levi informs us that,

“To govern elementary spirits and thus become king of the occult elements, we must first have undergone the four ordeals of ancient initiations; and seeing that such initiations exist no longer, we must have substituted analogous experiences, such as exposing ourselves boldly in a fire, crossing an abyss by means of the trunk of a tree or a plank, scaling a perpendicular mountain during a storm, swimming through a dangerous whirlpool or cataract. A man who is timid in the water will never reign over the Undines; one who is afraid of fire will never command Salamanders; so long as we are liable to giddiness we must leave the Sylphs in peace and forbear from irritating Gnomes; for inferior spirits will only obey a power which has overcome them in their own element. When this incontestable faculty has been acquired by exercise and daring, the word of our will must be imposed on the elements by special consecrations of air, fire, water and earth."

It is my opinion that certain beliefs and teachings such as these are perhaps, in ways, more valuable to the scholar and historian of the occult as curios on a shelf in an antique shop of magical and philosophical ideals. Yet many of them can still be of great benefit to the modern practitioner and student who can see the abstract lessons and inspirations between the lines of the grandiose notions and practices of high magicians of earlier centuries.

I hold this belief mostly due to the prior belief that it is not for us to “govern” the elements. We need not attempt to “reign over the Undines”, but to adapt to their fluidity, to learn empathy from them and how to benefit from their powers when we welcome them to a ritual or ask for their aid in a spell. I would simply adjust what Levi claims and say that one who is timid in water will be less able to understand or call upon the assistance of Undines and similar beings.

One who is (irrationally) afraid of fire will also not be able to form a close relationship with Salamanders and other fire elementals, or to effectively use such energy in rituals and spells. However, it is again folly to try to “command Salamanders”, but better to humble ourselves before the majesty of fire and to never forget how quickly it goes from a pleasant, single candle flame to a raging destroyer.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Paracelsus-salamander.jpg

For, as Manly P. Hall very wisely points out in one of my favorite references, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”,

Man, incapable of controlling his own appetites, is not equal to the task of governing the fiery and tempestuous elemental spirits.

I could not have said it better myself. This is an age of excess, of indulgence and shallow, immediate gratifications; of technology, of countless insidious influences, energies, temptations and of more, more, more of absolutely everything. Including misconceptions and downright falsehoods.

Therefore, it behooves us even more than arrogant men of the 19th century to consider that we are lesser to the Elements and elemental beings in many ways, and that they are not “inferior spirits” at all, as Levi says. We must also understand that we have great ability and therefore responsibility with them. They answer to our very thoughts and they are attracted by our every motion and will. Yet they in turn can also influence and control us if we allow them to, with either positive or negative results. Elementals have even been known to pose as other beings and spirits.

That being said, this is still a wonderful concept and potential practice or tool for learning and enhancing magic. What then is the purpose or benefit of these “elemental ordeals?” Rather than overcoming the elements in their own domains to be able to govern or dominate them, we should do so in order to understand them better, be awed and humbled by them, and to form relationships with them that will enrich our magic, our spirituality and our very lives.

It is likely that over the course of your life you have already undergone what can easily be viewed as at least some degree of an elemental ordeal. Have you escaped a burning building or even extinguished one? Firefighters obviously experience ordeals of Fire all the time. Have you scaled a mountain or hiked up an active volcano? Many extreme outdoorsmen/women have endured a variety of ordeals of Earth and Water, possibly of all the Elements. Have you experienced a strong earthquake? Have you ever gone skydiving, hang gliding or on a long-distance swim?

I personally have experienced multiple ordeals of Water, primarily and unsurprisingly, given my personal elemental affinity, and also of a combination of Water, Air and Fire: a category 5 hurricane. I detail that experience and my resulting love for hurricanes and their power and purpose on my blog, The Oracle of Water, in two parts – “Cataracts and Hurricanoes”

While there is much to be said for elemental ordeals that come to us naturally and unexpectedly, there is also great power, if not greater, in consciously choosing to undergo such ordeals and even ritualizing them.

I can’t give a more earnest, cautionary disclaimer here though: please don’t suddenly attempt to walk across hot coals or jump out of a boat in a raging sea or do any such thing you are unprepared for. There is a reasonable way to go about things and a terribly stupid way. Yet these are indeed ordeals for a reason – where Nature and the Elements are involved, there is always going to be an inherent degree of risk and possible danger.

Fortunately there are many different types and levels of the experiences and ordeals that can still thoroughly enhance your understanding of and connection to the Elements. For example, especially if you’ve never done it before, something like going camping and sleeping under the stars near a (well-contained and easily extinguished) fire you built yourself is a great start.

We are privileged to have the Elements and elemental spirits come to our aid in all manner of spiritual practice and magical workings, but we do not necessarily have a right to them. At least not if we are going to try to “command” them and therefore open ourselves up to either abuse them or be controlled by them ourselves. Honor them, and they will be there for you and they will teach you. They are always there, and they usually teach us regardless of whether we like it, want it, or are even aware of it. Yet all the better if we can ever have it on our own terms!



© 2019 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved

Featured image: The North Wind Went Over the Sea from East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Kay Nielsen

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Elemental Poetry: Fire in the Sea

 

 Do you think there is no fire in the sea?
I tell you fire and water are fierce lovers, together in me.
There are boiling cauldrons in the deep, the scalding seeps
that burn eternally in the benthic darkness, the crushing deep.

No mermaid is but a singing lily-child, fluid and meek;
The flowing and trickling of water might seem to you soft and weak,
but she will flood you, drown you, break you upon the rocks.
The fire flares in her heart, her soul, and sings to the man that mocks
and she will take him down to the lockers, the soul cages, the very end.

None can withstand the gaze that burns through the heart,
that sees the truth, the lies, the hidden wiles and denials
for all is connected and rippling together, nothing is truly apart.
We move in the moving element, far faster it carries the sound
and we See what they cannot, even when no light can be found.

The light is within, the fire burns bright and smolders low
and the liquid particles dance and frenzy faster than you can see
as the breath of the sacred dragon bubbles and boils the sea.
Above or Below, fire high or low, ever it burns, ever it glows.
I tell you, dear one, there is fire in the sea,
I tell you the blood and the passion of the primal one
ever flow and burn, ever they know and yearn
They are deep and bright in me.



© 2018 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved


Featured image: Underwater Volcano by Samuel Enslin, from his upcoming short film "Journey of the Water Bear" www.journeyofthewaterbear.com

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