Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Practicals: The Element of Earth

Since there are plenty of books out there with correspondences for each element, and other such ways to work with it, so I won't be doing any lists, but I will be talking about methods I use to work with the Elements, what I have found works and what I have found doesn't work.  This will be a place of discussion about these ideas and, even, why they do or do not work.

Once we get through the elements, if there are other aspects of the Craft that you want or need working information on, don't hesitate to ask.  If I don't know, I can find someone who does.

And we walked for hours, finally arriving at the mouth of a cave.  Rivulets of sweat race down my brow from both exertion and fear.  The darkened maw beckons us into the unknown.  We arrive.  There is an electricity in the air, something prodding us all forward.  With a collective breath fortifying us, we face our fears of darkness and closed spaces; crossing the threshold. Into the womb of the Mother.  Into the place of our ancestors.  Someone flicks on their flashlight.  The cave gobbles up both the click of the on-switch and the feeble beam of light.  For a moment we stop, gazing at this cavern, its dimensions so massive our LED 's look like penlights in a closet.  Then, I notice the cold.  It seeping in nearly unnoticed, wrapping its heavy tendrils around my legs, waist, arms.  Its caress like a familiar lover, whispering in my ear, lulling me.  That is when we hear the voice beckoning us into the darkness.

Our lights drift toward the sound and we walk, as a group, closer.  It is like hearing the trees speak or the robin's song, the promise of spring.  We don't understand the words, but some part of us knows them.  After several steps, she appears at the edge of our light beams.  She is round and soft-looking, like the Willendorf statue and sits upon a throne of worn stalagmites.  We stand in shock, disbelieving what we are seeing.  "You come to this place seeking me and you are surprised to find me?"  Her eyes glitter with mirth.  "Come.  Sit.  Be.  I shall tell you a story."

The Earth element is a place of both beginnings and endings.  I decided to begin here for several reasons, but mostly because it is where we begin casting the circle within my tradition.  The Earth element is heavy, like the soil, the rocks, the trees.  It grounds us.  It takes from us that energy which we have too much of.  Have you ever been upset, angry, or exceptionally excited and felt the unexplainable need to work in the garden or walk among the trees?  That is the Earth element calling and offering comfort.

Earth is stable and rigid.  Unlike the, often, whimsical nature of air or the fluid nature of water, earth stands, much like the guardian, never choosing to move on its own.  What can earth teach us, if it is rigid and stable?  Earth teaches us about foundations, to begin with.  It teaches us that rigidity is needed in some instances.  It teaches us that, like the mountains, sometimes we simply need to be.  Have you ever spoken to the Stone People or the Tree People?  If you haven't, this would be a good place to begin.  I warn you, it is a very foreign encounter.  Their etiquette is different and their views are different, so be kind and humble and do not rush.

Being a dark place, settled in the North within the circle, Earth also teaches us that sometimes things must lay fallow and in the darkness for them to grow.  It reminds us that birth begins in the dark and death ends there.  Earth reminds us that as we go through the cycle of birth, life, and death within our lives, we must always come back to that place of rest.

Each turn of the Wheel of the Year brings us back to Samhain, translating to "summer's end."  Samhain marks the time when all crops should be out of the fields and in the store houses for winter.  Samhain is, elementally speaking, when the Wheel turns back to North and we stay there for a quarter of the year, until Imbolc, which turns us toward the Air element.

Despite all of the good the Earth Element does when it is in balance, we must also talk about the Earth Element becoming out of balance, because it can and does happen.  When we think of "bad" things with the literal Earth, our planet, what comes to mind?  Earthquakes?  Quicksand? Liquefaction?  Mudslides?  Erosion?

What would be the spiritual equivalent?  Maybe inflexibility or procrastination?  What about retreating or hibernating?  What about simply not thinking about how your actions will effect others? Could that be the spiritual equivalent of an earthquake or quicksand?

If those traits are too much Earth, what constitutes a lack of it?  Well, having too much of any of the other three elements.  Maybe a person is flighty and unreliable?  What if they are a control freak?  What about impracticality? Being emotional? Judgmental?  Quick to act?  What Earth qualities can balance those things?  Slowing down? Taking a moment to just be?  Putting ones self into another's shoes?

We all get too much of an element from time to time, so what can we do to balance that out?  Well, some things we can do to get us less grounded, especially if we feel as though we are sinking into the darkness are: go for a walk, draw, write, build something, or simply get moving!  These particular activities call upon the elements of Fire and Water to balance the heaviness of Earth.  Talking to a friend on the phone or having someone come over are other ways to correct an immediate Earth imbalance.  Find something whimsical to do, like draw on the sidewalk with chalk or find a reason to use glitter (there's ALWAYS something that can be glittered!!)  Even something as simple as redecorating your altar can become an exercise in balancing your elements.

If the problem is needing to be more grounded, then garden, walk barefoot on the grass, hug a tree, go to a park and take a blanket and just lay on it and read.  Just stepping outside and taking a few minutes to listen and watch the world around you can bring you back down and ground you.  Cooking is also a grounding activity for me.  Something else that I find relaxing and fun is to pretend to be a cat.  Have a nibble to eat (maybe treat yourself!) a sip of water, and find a soft, warm place to rest, preferably in a shaft of sunlight.  Then, just do that for 15 minutes without worrying about anything else.  Know that all is right with the world for that moment.

Finding ways to identify the Elements and identify with the Elements can be a fun activity.  Self examination through the Quarters is also a very good way to begin to Know Thyself.  What do you do to ground yourself?  How do you identify with the Earth Element?  How do you keep yourself in balance?  As always, I would love to hear your experience!

Brightest blessings, Friends!

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