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 practice, traditional or modern, and the Elements are indeed present and utilized in all practices and systems. 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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Back to Basics: All Magic is Elemental

“Elemental Magic” is not only a redundant term but, in many resources, it is often written about and distinguished almost as a semi-obscure, very specific branch of magic. Does anyone really work any magic that is not, in some regard or form or another, “elemental”? If the elements comprise all of nature, including our bodies, and if we are constantly surrounded by them, then surely not a single move we make, magical or mundane, is beyond or apart from the elements.

The constant breath that keeps us alive is air magic. The need to continually replenish our bodies’ hydration, which also keeps us alive, is water magic. The light by which we see, the heat with which we cook and warm ourselves and even the combustion which runs our cars is fire magic. The growth and knitting of bones that hold us up and allow us to move is earth magic.

When we learn to see the elemental macro- and microcosm that encompasses, empowers and controls everything, we can understand the true nature and reality of magic. This understanding can only allow us to better harness and manipulate the forces that perhaps we take for granted when we cast a circle and whisper an intention. We even take these things for granted when we run a faucet or flip a light switch.

We are the microcosm. Our bodies magnificently reflect the union and continual dance and interplay of the elements that originate in the macrocosm. We are stardust, after all. Astrology tells us that we are at the mercy of the eternal waltz of the mighty, mysterious spheres Above, which themselves are made of the cosmic elements that descend into our realm Below and translate into the microscopic elements in our watery blood, our earthy bones, our breath, and in the fiery spirit that animates us.


To know the elements is to know magic, and therefore to know ourselves. Yet so many books and resources on magic cover dozens of different topics, methods, beliefs and ideas before they even mention “elemental magic”. This is utterly backward. The elements are the foundation. There is little point in telling people how to find their “patron deity” before even discussing the use of the elements in magic, as in “Inner Magic: A Guide to Witchcraft” by Anne-Marie Gallagher.

In her “Complete Book of Natural Magick”, Cassandra Eason waits three hundred pages before she even addresses “the magic of the elements”, and the word “element”, or any variation thereof, is nowhere to be found in her introductory explanation of “What is Natural Magick?”, despite references to physical nature.  

First of all, frankly, all magic(k) really is natural, whether two-hour ceremonial high magic, or two minutes in the woods with a stick and some saliva. The particles in your blood cells are as natural as the particles in Saturn’s rings, obviously simply existing and functioning on different levels.

And to discuss things like spellcasting and the differences between “white” and “black” magic (found in the first chapter in Eason’s book) long before discussing the elements and their roles in magic is a bit like teaching grade school children quantum theory before basic physics.

Much better resources for understanding the foundations of magic and nature can be found in far older texts by early mages, philosophers and occultists that many modern practitioners have probably never read, such as Paracelsus and Agrippa. In his first of “Three Books of Occult Philosophy”, Agrippa includes an early chapter aptly entitled “On the Virtues of Things Natural, Depending Immediately Upon Elements”.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Celtic-Ornaments-3-GraphicsFairy.jpgAll things natural, magic included, indeed depend immediately on the elements, and therefore the practice begins with them and fully understanding them. He also states that “There are…four Elements, without the perfect knowledge of which we can effect [affect] nothing in Magic.”

To approach the practice of magic in such an odd reversed state, as in so many modern texts, is to guarantee that you are going to misunderstand or altogether miss the very things that you are trying to learn and apply. Of course this leads to misapplication which means, at best, you are affecting nothing.

The Sun has returned and a new cycle has begun. This is an ideal time to refresh ourselves, our knowledge, our practices and our understanding. Even the most seasoned practitioner of magic or the most grounded and in tune pagan can always benefit from going back to the beginning and even questioning what they believe and why, and how much they really understand.

There is no plateau. We are never done learning or evolving. If you are in your forties and you still think and believe everything you learned when you were twenty, then you haven’t grown or learned.

Sometimes we all must, as Master Yoda advised Luke, unlearn what we have learned. There is always something new and enlightening to be discovered in what we think we already know, especially the vast, eternal and sometimes ineffable elements, elemental beings and powers.

Find some time in a frosty night or glistening dawn to sit amidst nature and yourself. Let go of names, institutions, redes, dogmas, man-made systems, materialism and indeed all “isms”.

Reflect upon this meditation or a similar prayer, incantation or evocation of your own, and reconnect yourself, your path, your magic to the natural essences of all existence.

How am I like this tree?
How is this soil just like me?
How does water keep me alive?
How does fire help me to thrive?
How is this air the first that I need?
Teach me, Earth mother, your natural creed
.



© 2018 Meredith Everwhite – All Rights Reserved

 

Featured image: The Sorceress, detail by John William Waterhouse

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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.  

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