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Everyday Elements Part 2: Healing and Learning

Welcome to Part 2 of Everyday Elements, which hopefully can help you find the magic of the elements in the “mundane” of everyday life and the tasks that rule our existence. Last week I shared ideas and information on Cooking and Cleaning, and their inherent energies of Fire and Water, respectively. Now we move on to Healing and Learning, which are influenced and driven by Earth and Air.

If you didn't catch Part 1, get caught up here.

Especially when we live in busy, bright, crowded cities and have packed schedules, it can get hard to maintain a strong connection to our spirituality, our magical practices, and to nature and the elements. But practicing awareness and gratitude and finding simple ways to incorporate the elements and their powers into things we do every day can ground us, raise our vibrations and enhance our spiritual/magical practices.



Healing – Earth

Everything in nature is self-regenerating and that includes our bodies. This ability to heal and regenerate extends beyond the physical, and allows us to heal emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Our bodies are the sacred, physical vehicles for our souls and every part of our being, and it is well known now that our body tells us not only the state of our physical health, but manifests the condition of our mental and emotional health. Yet it is circular, as taking proper care of our body and staying connected to Earth can also increase our mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being.

Nature contains everything we need to take care of and heal ourselves on every level; herbs, crystals, vitamins, minerals, flowers, spices, foods, and even sunlight and the beauty of natural environments all have nourishing and healing properties.

When I was a child growing up in south Florida, we had a handful of large aloe vera plants growing in our back yard. I spent a lot of time playing outside and, like any active child, I often cut and scraped myself. I didn’t run inside, crying and expecting one of my parents to put Neosporin and a Band-Aid on me. I simply went to the back porch, broke off the end of a thick, fleshy leaf, squeezed the cool gel onto my scratch or road burn and went back to playing!

Most of us probably don’t spend as much time outside as we did when we were children, and this is a great shame. Nature is a healer, plain and simple. Especially when I am at my most anxious, despondent, depressed and restless, I escape outside for a meditative walk and I breathe deeply, tune into the breeze, the singing birds and the abundance of beautiful trees in my area. Without fail, I always feel much better during and after such walks. Sometimes I don’t want to go back inside, even if it’s raining. That’s why I have a rain shell!

I often get my best writing ideas while walking, as the elements surround me and speak directly to me. They help me ground, relax, and not only sort out thoughts and ideas I already have, but make me more receptive to new and better ideas and inspiration.

You are probably familiar with the practice of “earthing”, which consists of simply walking or standing directly on earth in your bare feet, or laying down on the ground or on a boulder. If you’ve heard of it but haven’t really done it, do it! If you do it, do it more! It is one of the simplest things we can do to ground and connect but it is also one of the most powerful and healing methods as it puts us in direct contact with our Earth Mother. Think of it as a new baby being laid upon her mother’s breast to hear and feel her heartbeat, to rise and fall and synchronize with her calming breath and to relax upon her strong, warm support. This is what we do when we practice earthing.

Sometimes we don’t realize how separate from the Earth we often live in our day-to-day lives. Most of us, on average, probably spend much more time in our houses, then driving in cars, then in the building where we work than we do being truly in and with Nature. After a while of being deprived of a proper connection to Earth, we become more tired, more irritable, less focused and certainly less grounded.

We also often take for granted all those things that nourish and heal us all the time – herbs, flowers, vitamins, crystals, all the supplements we take, and of course even the food we eat. All the best and most natural food is healing and this ties in great with the Cooking/Fire element. When you’re sick with a cold and you brew a cup of ginger tea, you’re being healed not only by Earth but by Fire and of course Water! But all the ingredients come from the Earth herself. Even when you pop an aspirin for a headache you are enjoying the blessings of the Willow tree (Salix), the source of the active metabolite in aspirin – salicylic acid.

Try to rely on as many natural healing methods and ingredients as you can. For millennia our ancestors managed just great, probably better in a lot of instances, without extra-strength Tylenol, Neosporin, Ny-Quil, and all manner of convenient, plastic-packaged “medicines”, most of which simply mask and numb symptoms and pain rather than offer any real healing. My cold medicine is vampire-hunter-level garlic in every meal, lots of ginger tea and rose hip tea (rose hips have lots of vitamin C) and constant self-pampering bed rest. I credit the garlic alone as the reason why I get over colds now at least twice as fast as I used to when all I took was the typical pharmacy stuff.

Consider putting together an “Earth-aid kit” consisting of essential oils (lavender and peppermint are great starters that help heal anxiety and headaches, two very common ailments), Bach’s flower remedies, aloe gel, ginger tea bags or ginger chews, capsules of skullcap and/or willow bark, your favorite grounding and healing crystals, natural bath salts, and even a CD of nature sounds if you aren’t able to get outside for a walk or earthing. I can’t live without my Lifescapes “Garden Rain” CD!



Learning – Air

When I was in elementary and middle school, I loved the zany Wayside School books by Louis Sachar. I think it was in the second book, “Wayside School is Falling Down”, where we learn that the teacher Mrs. Jewls tries to teach her class three new things every day, her reasoning being that if they learn three things each day, they will eventually learn everything there is to know.

This is obviously an absurdly over-optimistic approach, especially to creating a curriculum for grade school students, but the goal of trying to learn something new every day is worth implementing! Especially into adulthood and even after all formal education, there is an infinite amount to still be learned and discovered. Even if we don’t go through our daily life with the intention to learn specific new things, we are almost always guaranteed to learn something, even if it is as simple and temporary as our usual route to work being suddenly altered by construction detours.

Air is the element traditionally associated with the mind; with thought, intellect, knowledge, speech and communication. We are constantly surrounded by air just as we are constantly surrounded by knowledge and potential knowledge. Just as we rely on air to breathe lest we rapidly suffocate and die, we need knowledge and learning or we figuratively suffocate and stagnate, and even potentially still literally die.

We rely on certain knowledge to survive as much as we rely on air. If we don’t have enough oxygen at birth, or indeed if at any point in life we experience a sustained deprivation of oxygen, our brains are damaged as is our capacity to learn, reason, speak and even control and coordinate our entire bodies.

Sometimes we learn something, or think we learn something, that is not accurate or complete, or that may eventually become inaccurate, dated and need to be replaced with new knowledge. This is not unlike the constant cycle of the breath – inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide. If we always take every single thing we learn or are taught by others at face value and never question it, confirm it or replace/supplement it with new, expanded and/or updated knowledge, we may as well hold our breath or keep breathing only carbon dioxide, remaining stale and unrefreshed. The learning becomes useless, just as breathing would.

A version of a popular quote that may or may not be entirely correctly attributed to Einstein, though poignant nonetheless, states that “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”. So as air and our breath are essential to our existence, so too is our constant pursuit of both knowledge and truth and the constant desire to develop, improve and expand what we know.

Mindful breathing and various consciousness-altering breathing exercises, such as pranayama, are now well known both within and without Pagan and “new age” circles and practices. Among many other benefits and effects, awareness and control of the breath have been proven to have calming effects and to prepare the mind for concentration and meditation. This is probably the best illustration of and support for the traditional association of the Air element with the mind; they are directly connected.

So it not only greatly benefits us to try to consciously learn at least one new, helpful and interesting thing every day, but also to try to develop a regular mindful breathing practice. This isn’t hard to do if you already have a meditation practice that probably already incorporates pranayama or any mindful breathing exercise.

Particularly before you do any reading, studying, attend a class or important work meeting or before you set off on your daily adventure to learn one new thing (or Mrs. Jewls’ recommended three), try spending just a few minutes to focus on, slow and control your breath and to cultivate a heightened feeling of both awareness and gratitude for the ubiquitous invisible element that directly affects and refreshes your mind and keeps you alive.

So remember to look for the Elements in all you do every day because chances are, no matter what, they are there in some form or another and they all make everything possible. Recite to yourself this popular, simple yet profound chant now and then to remind yourself of the magic that composes your entire being and the world around you...

Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
and Fire my spirit


© 2019 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved
(except for elemental chant, author unknown according to the Pagan Chant Library at www.earthspirit.com)

Image credit: Hygieia, detail from "Medicine" by Gustav Klimt

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Hi Rebecca- I agree with you. I tried to make it clear that there are not enough qualified teachers and that hopefully the growth
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