This pandemic has brought about unique opportunities both for learning and for teaching. It has created a certain space for it, even though it may not necessarily be things that I want to learn or teach. Many of us find ourselves in a position of additional stress, additional responsibilities, and secluded from everyone but those with whom we share a home. With little time truly to ourselves or the inability to just ‘get away’ for a bit, we may begin to feel the strain on our relationships and mounting pressure on ourselves. If we are feeling it, I am sure they feel it too.
I propose a modern awareness of elemental magic to navigate our positions within this context, to understand signatures, to connect with others (teach), and to connect deeper with ourselves (learn).
As above, So below, As Within, So Without
This is a basic principle, a lens I can use to recognize signatures within myself, others, plants, as it is the archetypal recognition of patterns in all of nature really. The landscape for my understanding and explanation of elements and their energies within myself or outside of myself must start here. If I know that all that is within me is also outside of me, then my awareness of it becomes the basis for connection through recognizing its being in all forms.
Framed against our current circumstances during this pandemic, we can use the magic of the elements together to bring back harmony and balance into our lives and the lives of others simply through a different (but definitely not new) lens of learning and teaching of the elements.
The Beginners Mind, Child Mind
I came into my own understanding of the elements within myself not from a specific book (although there are many) or teacher (though I have great ones!), but from my own wild curiosity seeking to make sense of the world around me right now. It was not a striving to know everything about elements. It was simply wanting to experience them in all their forms in relation to myself. Connecting through the heartspace. Having that curiosity is also what drives our children and what might be driving us crazy right now. Let us get down on their level for a bit and teach them some magic while we learn more about ourselves too.
This idea came to me from a few of my fellow witch moms who are struggling to make sense of the outcries, the breakdowns, the higher sensitivities, and our own need to connect in meaningful ways.
The Magic of the Elements
Our creation stories, across philosophies, do not tend to differ very much from one another. The Divine created light and sound or the Big Bang happened. Everything came from the chaos of nothing, like the seed that contains the perfect plant within it (the tiniest of seeds!). It is the center, that then creates force and form that creates our various elements in all their forms. I might tread into alchemy a little, but essentially the elements are universal patterns, across all philosophies I have encountered thus far, that together create wholeness and balance.
If I take the elemental symbols and place them on top of each other, they create a symbol of wholeness. Once we learn to recognize these patterns of the elements within ourselves, we can then recognize them outwardly too.
The Magic of Air
The patterns of the magic of air are within and without. Within us, we are air. Our breath. We create a cycle of wholeness from the center here. We inhale nourishment from trees and our environment, and we exhale, we provide the nourishment for trees and our environment. This also is relative to our upperworld, the power of our mind, our thoughts are intangible in a sense like air or the wind. The magic of air is in our communication and our thoughts.
How are we communicating and how are others communicating with us? Like air, is it flowing like the breeze or is it windy, indicating either the winds of change or full on cyclone? What about our thoughts? Is our mind a chatterbox? Is it wrapped up in things we cannot control?
Use the power of the air to breathe deeply. Find your center. Air is magical because it can help you learn to lean into that higher self, to breathe into it. To release sometimes unhelpful dialogue with the self and to create the space for others to do the same, by calming themselves with the breath. Chanting, like this breath chant video from my amazing coven works wonders!
Parent Tip: Is everyone frustrated and not communicating, but rather seem to be in their heads? Or communicating ‘forcefully’? Box fans are amazing for this! Ask them to speak into it so they can experience the true dynamic and interplay of air with their own breath. We can teach children to pause to feel the air on their face, ask them how the air feels. See if they can describe the way it feels on their face.
Take it Deeper: If my children are really upset, I have them tell the fan. I allow them to communicate, yell or speak into the fan that is facing them (don’t worry, this won’t last long!) they will cool down, tire out, and probably start laughing– enough time for them to begin to breathe deeply and for us to have a conversation:
When they were upset, did they notice the hotness of their breath coming back to them?
Do they notice the coolness of it now that they are calmer?
Did they notice that the distortion from yelling into the fan versus just speaking normally?
Did they notice that their breathing patterns changed?
Did they notice that they began to breathe deeper and they began to calm down?
This gives our children space to think about the patterns of air and how it relates to communication, the breath, and our thoughts. It gives the space to develop the breath as a coping mechanism when it all gets to be too much.That is elemental magic!
The Magic of Water
The patterns of water are both within and without. Within us, our emotions are fluid and our bodies take in water to use to cleanse. We are the depths of the sea and our Underworld, our true self, with our ability to feel and to change ourselves and those around us. Like the moon and the tides outside of us. The magic of water transforms the landscape: water can cut through rock or dissolve stone given enough time and persistence.
It cleanses away impurities, returning our bodies to balance. It helps plants grow and so it helps us grow and change as well. It can calm us (a warm bath) or scare us (flash flood), and change forms (ice, liquid, or vapor) just like our emotions at the deepest level, inspiring change within based on environmental influences.
Are you noticing any waves? Anything that needs to be cleansed away because of external influences that are not allowing your true self to come to the surface of the water? Our emotions can help us cleanse when we face them (sometimes they come out as tears on our faces) and sometimes it can feel like we are drowning in their depths when we shove them back under with us.
Use the power of water in a moon bath, utilizing charged full moon water, and allowing it to cleanse us while we dive deeper into our true selves to discern what needs to grow within our depths to bring us back into balance with our truths.
Parent Tip: The teary-eyed melt down is something I have been experiencing with my own children as they are facing increasing isolation and disconnect right now. They might be unsure how to even put the emotions they are feeling into words. They are going through something that is difficult and out of their control. We can teach them the magic of water.
This one I cannot take credit for as I saw it on a social media from a few friends, but the lesson works just as well.
Take three pots of water and have your child hand you a piece of spaghetti, an egg, and a box of gelatin. Put all 3 pots of water on to boil. Put the spaghetti in one pot, the egg in another, and once the third is boiling, put the gelatin in and follow the instructions on the box (usually says to add a bit more water). Turn everything off to let it cool.
The purpose is to show how water softens the spaghetti, just like outside influences have that effect on our emotions, it can change us. Indeed, if that spaghetti were to stay in that pot, it would turn to mush. It hardened the egg that was once so fragile, it also changed form within the water, hardened by the circumstances in its environment.
The gelatin though completely transformed the water and itself into something else entirely – it blossomed it into yumminess (that you now get to share together) from the circumstances of the outside environment (heat).
So too, is it with our emotions as water. We have the choice to let our emotions soften or harden us, or we can face them – sit with them and we can transform the environment we are in and grow.
The Magic of Fire
The elemental pattern and signature of fire is within us and without. Our intuition, our passion, the heartspace of knowing and perceiving within the world that we are nested within. Our heartbeat. Our inner pulse fueling the fire of the rest of our body: the circulatory system. We run or exercise and generate heat – we are the fire.
Fire is both creative and destructive. Like the sun, that encourages the growth of all things and sustains life on earth, can also burn our skin. The electricity that powers our homes can also burn it down. Our books and art in multiple expressions, like the architecture of our cities, comes from the fire of creation.
It is also the fever that destroys that which does not belong in our bodies. It is the destructive fire of our feelings, like anger (when we do not face it and sit with it, to perceive what it is telling us) that destroys our self-image, inner dialogue, and leaves us feeling invalidated. How are you using your fire within? How is it manifesting outwardly? Do you have an abundance of fire energy that might be presenting as frustration or anger? Is your fire driving your life and fueling the way you are perceiving the world around you?
An abundance of fire energy craves release! Stretch or find a way to work up a small sweat and perceive the warmth that your body creates and how it also comes back into balance when that fire within causes a physiological reaction to cool itself down.
Parent Tip: Teaching kids about the element of fire with crafts is amazing! Grab some polymer clay and let them create something magical. Show them how their inner fire has come to life in the form of their creation and fire from the oven helps to bake it into a finished manifestation!
The Magic of Earth
The patterns of the Earth element are within and without. It is the magic of our middle world self of action and our physical body. The materialized plane of existence of each moment and our conscious perception of it. We are an organism of the pattern of balance: our bodies with biological feedback loops within us creating bodily homeostasis and our presence on this planet creating environmental influences outwardly and the environment creating bodily influences on us as well. Our circadian rhythm is a great example of the outward patterns of nature affecting us directly to promote sleep (healing) and wakefulness (interaction with the world).
Our conscious perception of our bodies and what it needs to be maintained, our conscious perception of time and what we do with it – it is this awareness of feedback loops within and without. We take what we need, and we release what we do not, our environment does the same and it promotes the vitality of the whole organism. During this time, what are we perceiving from outside influences and what are we perceiving from within? What are our five senses telling us in this moment? How can we come into balance that promotes vitality within and without?
Grow roots! Put your bare feet onto the earth and open your perception to the things surrounding you in the present moment. Feel your body relax and scan your body for what it is also telling you that you need.
Parent Tip: Teach kids about the magic of the element of Earth through plants! Plants get what they need through the atmosphere and they also provide us with things that sustain us. We too get things to maintain homeostasis within through outward interactions. We eat food from the Earth, the Earth provides the atmosphere of growth of our food.
Try a cherry tomato plant if possible, they can be grown on window ledges with plenty of sunlight, warmth, and water – all are natural resources found on earth. Explain the plant parts and the life cycles of a plant to create a wonderful awareness of the pattern of nature through the magic of the Earth element.
Building our practice of acknowledging the sacred within and without through a spiritual practice of knowing the patterns of nature around us is a great way to come into balance and understand archetypal energies. The patterns of nature through the elements is just the beginning. Astrology, plant medicine, and other forms of energy and architecture through correspondences gives rise to personal knowing of our purpose within this life. When we come into alignment with our higher purpose through this knowledge, we begin to see a shift not only within but without. The magic of the 5th element. May we all continue to find our own pattern, our own threads with which to weave our magical life!
A candle and a key,
Feature Image Credit: Mohamed Nohassi via Unsplash
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