Authors: Skye Alexander
Tags: #Body; Mind & Spirit, #Witchcraft, #Religion, #Wicca
In the material sense, earth serves as our foundation. Thus it corresponds to the characteristics of stability, permanence, groundedness, security, and endurance. Earth energy moves slowly and steadily, so it’s good to draw on when a situation or spell requires patience and/or gradual development. Magicians link the earth element with financial matters, material abundance, and fertility. People who have a lot of earth energy in their makeup tend to be practical, reliable, determined, tenacious, sensual, hard-working, cautious, no-nonsense individuals.
Lots and lots of things correspond to the earth element, such as the direction north as you learned in the
. We’ll discuss more as we go along, but here are some that you’ll most likely use in your spellworking:
Air is the most elusive of the elements because it is invisible, intangible, and changeable. The ancients believed that the wind is influenced by the direction from which it originates. This idea translated into magickal methods quite nicely. For example, if a wind blows from the south it can generate passion, warmth, or enthusiasm in spellcraft. If a wind moves from the west it stimulates intuition and imagination.
We see a fair amount of directional wind work in spellcraft. For example, always scatter components in a wind moving away from you to carry a message or to take away a problem. Perform magick for new projects with the “wind at your back,” for good fortune. When trying to quell anger, opening a window to “air out” the negative energy has great symbolic value.
Think, too, of how the wind scatters pollen to fertilize plants. In a similar way, the air element describes how words are spread far and wide, fertilizing our minds and cross-pollinating our societies with new ideas. Air can be gentle or fierce, damp or dry, hot or cold, and each of these “moods” has slightly different magickal connotations. For example, a damp wind combines the power of water and air to raise energy that is dreamy and nourishing.
The air element relates to flexibility, instability, intellect, and detachment. Air energy moves quickly, so it’s good to draw on when a situation or spell involves change, movement, or you want things to happen fast. You can also use air energy to contact spirits or other nonphysical beings. Magicians link the air element with mental activity, communication, the world of ideas, and social interaction—use it for spells that involve these things. People who have a lot of air energy in their makeup tend to be friendly, curious, fickle, adaptable, idealistic, talkative, and interested in all sorts of ideas.
As you continue your magickal studies, you’ll find many things correspond to the air element, such as the direction east as you learned in the
. We’ll discuss more as we go along, but here are some that you’ll most likely use in your spellworking:
For millennia, our ancestors gathered around fires to cook, tell stories, and celebrate life. Because of its warmth, fire represents our passions, enthusiasm, and kinship. Fire also allowed early people to see in the darkness, therefore, magicians connect it with clarity, vision, and enlightenment. When humans discovered fire and learned how to use it, their lives were transformed; thus the fire element is associated with transformation. Think of the mythical phoenix rising from the flames—a symbol of fiery transformation.
The fire element conveys inspiration, enthusiasm, vitality, and daring. Fire energy moves rapidly; it’s volatile and unpredictable—think of how a wildfire can rage out of control or how lightning bursts in the sky. You can draw on the element of fire when you want to kick your spell’s power up a notch or you want to see rapid results. Of course, if you seek to transform something in your life—a relationship, career path, or health condition—you can tap into fire’s dynamic power. Magicians link the fire element with creativity, action, and the will to make things happen. You can also employ fire energy to banish fear, see the future, or in purification spells and rituals. People who have a lot of fire energy in their makeup tend to be self-confident, passionate, impulsive, outgoing, vigorous, and courageous individuals.
Each witch has one element to which she most strongly responds, called a power element. By working with and tapping into that element, a witch can energize herself and her magickal processes. Determine your power element by going to places where you can experience each element intimately. For example, sit beside a stream, lake, or ocean to connect with the water element; stand high on a windswept hill to feel the air element. Pay attention to your reactions. Once you determine which element energizes you, find ways to expose yourself to it regularly, to refill your inner well.
You’ll discover many more things that correspond to the fire element as you progress in your magickal studies. We’ll discuss more as we go along, but here are some that you’ll use often in your spellworking:
Water comprises more than 70 percent of our earth’s surface and about 60 percent of our bodies. Of course, water is essential for life. Consequently, we associate the water element with nourishment. Water moves constantly—the oceans’ shifting tides, the rolling rivers and rippling streams, the rains that fall to earth—and so we sense change and movement in this element. Because we wash in water, we think of this element as cleansing, clearing, and healing. Even today, people go to hot springs and spas to “take the waters.” Since ancient times, people have gathered at sacred wells and reported seeing holy visions in streams and other bodies of water. Thus, water relates to spirituality and mysticism.
According to an old European custom, dew gathered at dawn banishes illness, making it a good base for curative potions. Bathing in the water from a sacred well, dipping your hands into the ocean’s water three times and then pouring it behind you so the sickness is likewise “behind” you, or releasing a token that represents your sickness into the waves are old spells that you can still use today.
The water element embodies the characteristics of nourishment, healing, purification (physically and spiritually), intuition, emotion, and creativity. Tap this element to “water” spells for growth and abundance, or to nurture your creativity. Water energy is changeable and unpredictable—it can manifest as a gentle rain or a typhoon. Thus, it’s a good energy to draw upon when you’re doing spells for change or to stimulate movement—the trick is to control the energy so you get just the right amount. Because the moon affects the tides, it has connections with the water element. Purification spells and rituals also draw upon the water element. Magicians often take ritual baths before doing spells and wash magick tools with water to purify them. People who have a lot of water energy in their makeup tend to be emotional, sensitive, intuitive, imaginative, and compassionate individuals.
We’ve already talked a bit about the use of lunar energy and intuition in spellwork, and you’ll learn more as you go along. We’ll discuss the water element in later chapters, but for now make note of these correspondences that you’ll most likely use in your spellworking:
Spirit (also known as ether) isn’t an element
, but you’ll often see it included in a list of magickal elements as the fifth point of the pentagram. It’s even harder to define than air. Spirit links the four quarters of creation and thus is the source of magick. Spirit resides within and without, around, above, and below all things. Although we can experience earth, air, fire, and water directly with our physical senses, spirit is elusive. You can only engage it with your spiritual senses.
In spells and rituals, spirit usually comes into play if a witch chooses to call upon a divine figure to bless and energize her magick. Or, it may become part of the equation if you invite devic entities (nature fairies) to work in harmony with you.
No matter how much access a witch has to nature, she’s likely to work closely with the earth. You can live on the forty-seventh floor of a high-rise apartment building in the middle of a metropolis and still have a meaningful relationship with the earth.
Among the witch’s allies in the magickal world are the nature spirits. Sometimes called devas, elementals, or fairies, these spirits can be valuable partners and aides in your practice. Although most people don’t see them, you can think of these spirits as the intelligence or awareness attached to a particular place, a plant or tree, a natural object such as a rock or stream, or a specific type of weather. They are not deities.
Do all witches work with nature spirits? No. Most do recognize that nature has an intelligence, or a sense of spirit, that varies according to the location. How each witch relates to these spirits or forces depends on how she perceives them.
How you visualize these spirits is completely up to you. You may see them as tiny people or orbs of light. You may not see them at all but experience emotions or sensations when you are near the tree, flower, standing stone, or phenomenon with which the spirit is associated. Whether your visualization matches the visualizations of other witches is unimportant. What
important is that if you choose to work with them, you must honor the spirits as allies and work with them to heal and harmonize the earth and its inhabitants.
You can encounter nature spirits in many places and through a variety of methods. The simplest method is to reach out and connect with the spirit of a single plant, then ask the plant spirit for information on the plant’s uses and properties. In his book
Plant Spirit Medicine
, Eliot Cowan stresses that the energy possessed by each individual plant is entirely personal. The information and/or gift the spirit of that plant offers to you is exactly what you need at that moment. This gift is not necessarily an energy traditionally associated with the plant. For example, the energy you receive from a rose bush will not necessarily be love, even though we usually connect roses with love and romance. The spirit of the rose bush may perceive that you require something different and offer it to you. The key to working with nature spirits like this is to remain open to what they bring to you, without expectations or preconceived ideas.
Since ancient times, myths and legends have spoken about supernatural beings who fly through the air, burrow beneath the earth, or swim in the ocean’s depths. But these magickal creatures don’t simply reside in these regions; they serve as guardians and ambassadors of their respective realms. Some people might describe them as energetic forces, rather than specific entities, and they go by different names in different mystical traditions. Witches often choose to work with four elementals known as gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and undines. These elementals correspond to the four elements: Gnomes are earth elementals, sylphs are air spirits, salamanders abide in the fire element, and undines are found in water.
In the early 1960s, Eileen and Peter Caddy and their associate Dorothy Maclean founded a spiritual community in a wild and windswept area of northern Scotland known as Findhorn. Even though the soil there was mostly sand and the climate inhospitable, Findhorn became famous for its amazing gardens, which produced tropical flowers and forty-two-pound cabbages. How could this happen? According to Dorothy, the elementals who govern plant growth—she described them as “living forces of creative intelligence that work behind the scene”—guided Findhorn’s founders in planting and maintaining the incredible gardens. In his book
Faces of Findhorn
, Professor R. Lindsay Robb of the Soil Association writes, “The vigor, health and bloom of the plants in this garden in midwinter, on land which is almost barren, powdery sand, cannot be explained …” Well, not by ordinary thinking anyway!
Those little green guys you see in the garden might be gnomes, though not all gnomes are green or little. Some of them look like leprechauns or trolls. Known as sprites or dryads in some cultures, these nature spirits aid the growth of flowers, trees, and other plants—if you look closely, you might spot them sitting in a tree or resting beneath a blackberry bush. When autumn comes, they change the leaves from green to red, orange, and gold. Earth elementals also play an important role in helping the earth heal from the effects of pollution, deforestation, mining, and other forms of destruction.