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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in elemental magic

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: American Witch

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Element of Spirit and Reptiles

Nile Crocodile:

One of the most well-known of crocodiles is the Nile crocodile of Africa, who is a fearsome predator of animals and people.  Ancient Egyptians saw the Nile crocodile as their fearsome God Sobek. An aggressive God, Sobek represented the power of the Pharaoh.  However, He was also their God of fertility and protection. A link to the deep past, the Nile crocodile is respected and feared.  As Sobek, the Nile crocodile is a part of the primal strength of nature. 

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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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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

 

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Nature of the Four Elements

When you say 'medieval drama' people generally think of mystery and morality plays. Mystery plays, after all, are how many people in the later Middle Ages knew their bible stories. In addition to the colourful paintings on church walls, they were probably the most vivid information they had about what Christianity was meant to be all about. The comic approaches may surprise you if you've not encountered them before. Noah's wife has to be dragged onto the arc because she didn't want to leave her friends. Then there's the thief who tried to disguise a hidden lamb as a newborn babe; the suspicious shepherds think it's an ugly baby but they don't catch on at first that it's the lost sheep they're looking for. The morality plays are more generalised but have characters that embody good and bad qualities like Mercy. Mischief and Mankind. 

But between the Middle Ages and Shakespeare's time there are many other kinds of plays, from adventurous episodes in Robin Hood's life (all probably more entertaining than the new film) to seasonal mummings to more philosophical works. One of these is John Rastell's Nature of the Four Elements which may well appeal to folks here. The play is dated to about 1517-18. The one surviving copy is imperfect, but it gives an interesting insight into how people conceived of the four elements and their effects on the natural world.

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Dirt Spell: Black Forest Magic

I learned this blessing from Holocaust survivor, poet, priestess and all-around goddess, ruth weiss, who lives up north in what is truly an enchanted cottage in the forest. She brought this wisdom from Europe where it has been passed down to her from a lineage of wise women.  It is the simplest of spells which might be the secret to its extraordinary effectiveness. Go into your yard or garden and put both your hands into the earth and scoop up a handful of dirt. Hold the soil in both hands in front of you and repeat three times aloud:

 

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An Introduction to Creating an Element-based Spirituality

No faith, no magical practice, and no school of philosophy has the monopoly on elemental belief. From Aboriginal animism to Druidism to Shinto to Plato, “the Elements” have played a huge role in how humans have related to and deified the natural world around them.

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