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.

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Meredith Everwhite

Meredith Everwhite

I have been studying and practicing the occult to varying degrees for most of my life now. My personal path has led me from being forcefully raised as a reluctant Mormon, to an agnostic wanderer studying all religions, to a witch and heathen (first in groups/covens then as a solitary) to a shamanic practitioner and now to just myself - an unaffiliated, unlabeled, godless worshipper of Nature and the Elements. My husband is my hero and works with entheogens, and we live with our spritely cat, Naia, and a shy ball python, Waylon Slithers.

 

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see also - Elemental Spirits and Lore: The Thunderbird

 

 The first time the spirit of the Thunderbird visited me was, as described in the above article, in the spring of 2019. Again over the past week or so I’ve been having visitations and visions, in both waking and dreaming life, of hawks and eagles and I feel their powerful return.

Spring is the season of the Thunderbird. In the fall they take their storms away and in the bright, renewing springtime they soar in with their beating wings and bring the rains and thunder back.

The Thunderbird is one of the few ubiquitous characters across Native American lore. While they have some variations from one tradition to another, there are many attributes that remain consistent, one of the most significant being their dual and contrary natures. As they are essentially allegories of natural forces, i.e. rain and storms, this makes perfect sense. Rain brings life and cleansing to the land and all that grows, but storms can be incredibly destructive too.

We humans are a part of nature and a reflection of the dualities in nature. We are comprised of all the elements, just as the Thunderbirds are, and we are often in conflict with ourselves and with other people. Some tribes believe that there are benevolent and malevolent Thunderbirds that are constantly at war with each other. Other tribes believe that the Thunderbird may be, at different times, either “good”, happy and bestowing blessings and protection, or “bad”, angry and snatching up children and livestock to feed upon.

We have emerged from a very dark and challenging year, in which perhaps we may feel like Thunderbird has been angry and vicious, and sending only storms and destruction into our lives. Though it hurts and may be hard to see, sometimes that destruction is for our own good, as it makes room for better things to grow and it forces us to question the necessity or value of what was destroyed or changed to begin with. Sometimes though there is also unnecessary and wicked destruction. There have been and still are people who are in power and who have great influence, unfortunately for darkness, injustice and chaos, and that is not the purifying destruction enacted by nature.

The chaos has not yet passed, and we don’t know if times just as hard or even harder may still be ahead. Some cities and whole states are relaxing their safety measures against the pandemic prematurely and countless individuals all over the country are still not taking the care they need to. While some things undoubtedly seem much better now than they did for much of last year, on both national and personal scales, we simply aren’t out of the woods yet.

This spring is an important time to reevaluate, to take stock and slow down. Too many people have been over-reactive, impulsive and are much to quick to judge and try to control others and usually very hypocritically so. There is far too much that is out of our control and the wild, primeval nature and power of Thunderbird reminds us of this. We all have our place in the world but we cannot impose our personal beliefs or limited viewpoints on the rest of the world.

This is also a great time to ask ourselves just why we believe what we do, and if perhaps it is time to change or altogether release some of those beliefs. We have to dig up and throw away the old, the dated and decaying if we are to make room for new shoots to come in and new buds to bloom. This is a cleansing and renewing time.

Trance and shape-shifting are very powerful and appropriate rituals for this spring. If you are fortunate enough to have a drum, spend some time sitting either in nature or in a comfortable corner of your home and beating the drum (or simply play a shamanic drum track, many can be found on Youtube) as you imagine the beating wings of the Thunderbird. Fall into a trance state to calm, cleanse and renew yourself, and let the resonating vibrations crumble and shake away any beliefs, fears, thoughts or doubts that are holding you back. Imagine yourself shifting into a mighty hawk or eagle, or even an owl if you prefer, and soar high in the sky and look down on all the vast land below. Try to gain a new perspective and balance your own inner gentle rains and roaring storms.

If you try this, or even if you don’t, try to bring simple awareness to the energy of the Thunderbird, to constant change and to the dualities of nature and yourself. See if perhaps hawks and eagles start to appear more and heed their call to become your own medicine woman or man and seek to destroy that which needs to be destroyed, and heal that which needs to be healed.  

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One of my favorite books on the subject of my favorite element, water, is perfect reading for not only the upcoming new moon on the 13th, but for the whole long month of mystical Pisces which has just begun and lasts until April 20th. To clarify, in case any of you astrology enthusiasts are confused or getting geared up to tell me I’m mistaken, I follow sidereal astrology, not tropical. 

Sidereal astrology, unlike tropical, is based on the actual, physical constellations and accounts for the important precession of the equinoxes, which is continually shifting over time. The spring equinox has not actually occurred in the actual sign of Aries for quite a while, and now (as you may be noticing depending on where you live) occurs in Pisces. Each constellation is a different size, not an even 30º each as assigned in the dated tropical system. Pisces is one of the larger signs (more than twice the size of Aries) and therefore the sun is actually, literally in Pisces for much longer than tropical astrology has it. 

That being said, as you maybe seek to tune in to your intuition and deepen your spiritual practice with this watery new moon, I’d love to recommend the book “Sacred Water: The Spiritual Source of Life” by Nathaniel Altman.

This book approaches the element of water from a spiritual perspective and examines all the different traditions that have unanimously held water to be sacred. Altman gathers information from various sciences and sources including anthropology and astronomy, myths and legends and more to demonstrate the different roles and influences water has had in spirituality and lore throughout human history. 

Water becomes sacred when we recognize its powers: as a sustainer of humans, animals and plants; as a means of transportation, as a vehicle for cleansing, initiation or gaining wisdom; and as a source of inspiration and enchantment. Water is perhaps humanity’s oldest symbol of life, sustenance, abundance, fertility, movement, generosity, permanence and strength. Sacred water is all around us: from the tiny drops of morning dew on a spider’s web to the thundering cascade of a tropical waterfall, in the salty tears that we shed, and in the summer rain that we embrace." 
                                                                                       - excerpt from the introduction

 

In the chapter “Enchantment”, Mr. Altman writes about the beauty and connective and restorative powers of ritual baths and meditating with or near water. One can just as easily do a ritual shower though, and I personally find great comfort and communion in ritualizing my shower every day, it’s not something I only do occasionally. In fact my entire morning ritual focuses on a few steps, only one of which is my actual shower. 

Making a shower more of a ritual can be as simple as saying a short prayer or singing the same watery song each time, or as complicated as making moon water with specific intentions and pouring it over your head and/or body. You could also invite in more Pisces energy by placing relevant (and water-safe) crystals in your shower such as amethyst and moonstone, and use essential oils like rose absolute (my all-time favorite, roses being filled with spirituality, healing, health and enchantment), geranium (a good alternative to rose if you aren’t prepared to spend up to $50) and lavender. 

If you love water and work it into your spiritual and/or magical practice as much as I do, I can’t recommend “Sacred Water” enough, and I think you’ll refer back to it frequently and find lots of great inspiration and ideas to enhance your practice and your whole life which, after all, depends entirely on water! 


read more about the Pisces new moon here 


© 2021 Meredith Everwhite - All Rights Reserved

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Elemental Spirits and Lore: The Thunderbird

Only those who have had visions of the thunder beings of the west can act as heyokas. They have sacred power and they share some of this with all the people, but they do it through funny actions. When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the west, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier, for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm.” – Black Elk Speaks, as told through John G. Neihardt, 1932

The thunder beings and the thunderbird(s) are synonymous throughout Native American lore and cultures. This powerful spirit associated with water, storms, holy powers and the West is known and revered among tribes from the Pacific northwest to the plains to the Eastern coasts, including the Sioux, Arapaho, Lenape, Cherokee, Iroquois, Ojibwe, Salish, Menominee and many others.

To me, the Thunderbird represents a veritable symphony of all elemental powers. To Native Americans he was and is at once that embodied force of nature as well as a mighty cryptid creature, even if that creature only exists in our imaginations and hearts, without which we may manifest nothing. Why then must “imaginary” be inherently exclusive of reality? There is often a very fine line between the two.

There are theories that the earliest ideas for the Thunderbird were inspired by discoveries of pterosaur fossils (not pterodactyl, which only applies to a specific genus of pterosaur), if not perhaps by sightings of late-existing actual pterosaurs or some similar megafauna.

Thunder beings of various kinds are known in cultures the world over, most of which are anthropomorphic e.g. Thor-Donar of Norse and Germanic lore, and Zeus-Jupiter of Greek and Roman mythology. However, speaking of Norse cosmology, there is also a great hawk or falcon named Veðrfölnir  (Old Norse for “storm pale”, often Anglicized as Vedfolnir and roughly pronounced as VETH-fol-neer) who sits between the eyes of an unnamed eagle perched atop Yggdrasil, the world tree. 

From its three great roots the tree attained such a marvelous height that its topmost bough, called Lerad (the peace-giver), overshadowed Odin’s hall, while the other wide-spreading branches towered over the other worlds. An eagle was perched on the bough Lerad, and between his eyes sat the falcon Vedfolnir, sending his piercing glances down into heaven, earth, and Nifl-heim, and reporting all that he saw.” – Myths of the Norsemen by Helene A. Guerber

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    I see. Yeah I definitely know what multimedia is, just wasn't sure what exactly you meant in context! Thanks for clarifying, good
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think the thunder beings and possibly the birds of prey are trying to transmit a story through you. Humans are story telling cr
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The Foundation for Shamanic Studies website had some articles on it. In one of them the author described going to meet a thunder
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    I don't think I am either, as I said. Actually I know I'm not. That is a very specific and very powerful role that few have been o

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Find Your Elemental Tribe

Spring is, in my opinion, the best time of year to really connect with nature, the elements, and elementals. Everything is coming back to life and is fresh and new. 

Fire, the first element and initiating spark and spirit of all life makes its vibrant, solar return in spring and continues to gain strength and heat until the peak at midsummer. Fire burns, water flows and rains down, the fragrant air stirs and the earth bears new growth. All the elements have returned in all their glory. 

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Tarot Elements: The True Meaning of "The Star"

The Star of Tarot is a very watery, spiritual and high-vibration card, the only other one as supremely watery being the Ace of Cups. Predictably, both are among my top favorites.

It is also probably one of the most popular images of the Major Arcana, (particularly the Waite-Smith version, which I refer to) yet also one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted.

The Star is frequently interpreted with keywords like “hope”, “renewal” and “inspiration”. While inspiration may at least come closer than any other term to the true meaning, Arthur Edward Waite himself described the most commonly attributed interpretation of hope as “tawdry”.

Frankly, I have never understood how or where anyone ever got “hope” regarding the Star, even in my earliest days as a Tarot novice. It has been the repetitive insistence from countless Tarot teachers and “experts” that the Star means hope, combined with my repetitive intuitive suspicion that this can’t be correct, that led me into an extensive search and analysis of just what this card really means.

It was a great “I knew it!” moment when I finally read Waite’s Pictorial Key to the Tarot and his explanation of the Star, especially his calling out of the old “hope trope”. It was an even more enthralling and enlightening moment when astronomy and chemistry played a part in validating what I understand to be the real meaning of this card. But we’ll get to that.

The Star, according to Waite, is Sephirah Binah of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life; the Great Mother who gives and who is supernal understanding. He says the mottoes of the card are “Waters of Life freely” and “Gifts of the Spirit”.

So, people very ironically misunderstand the card that is about understanding. A lot. Is there maybe a lesson or message here?

He describes the female figure in the card as expressing eternal youth and beauty. The number of the card is 17, which reduces to 8 - the symbol for infinity or, more poetically, eternity. There are also eight stars on the card, the large one in the middle being surrounded by seven others.

The number 8 – as a lemniscate or infinity symbol – appears on only two other cards of the Major Arcana: the Magician and Strength. I think there is a clue here and a relationship between these cards and the Star.

The Magician, who most basically represents manifestation, is pointing a wand towards the heavens and his finger down to Earth, representing “As Above, So Below”, as well as a conduit between the two planes.

The suggestion throughout is therefore the possession and communication of the Power and Gifts of the Spirit,” Waite says of the posture and action of the Magician. So there is that key phrase that directly ties the Magician to the Star.

Supernal means “pertaining to heaven or the sky” or “celestial”…the stars. The Magician bears another symbol of eternity – the ouroboros, or the serpent around his waist eating its own tail.

This is familiar to most as a conventional symbol of eternity, but here it indicates more especially the eternity of attainment in the spirit.” (A.E. Waite)

In Strength we see a young woman taming a lion with ease. The lemniscate floats above her head just as it does the Magician’s. What do these cards have in common that may be indicated by the presence of this symbol? She too has a similar additional symbol of eternity around her waist, like the Magician.

However, in Strength it is a vine of blossoming greenery tying her to the lion, at least in early printings of the deck. In later reproductions it is unfortunately not illustrated as joining her to the lion though this is significant. I believe it symbolizes, among other things, a natural link between humans and animals. Ultimately we are animals ourselves and Strength conveys the necessary control over certain baser animal instincts.

Waite elaborates however,

[These higher meanings] are intimated in a concealed manner by the chain of flowers, which signifies, among other many other things, the sweet yoke and the light burden of Divine Law, when it has been taken into the heart of hearts.”

The flower chain around her waist very curiously resembles the flowering boughs over the Magicians head, perhaps a further representation of the feminine spirit and understanding being poured down on him from Above?

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The Incredible, Elemental Egg

We are now between the time of Imbolc, when the fires in the belly quicken and hint at the coming rebirth, and Ostara, when that new birth of Spring occurs and the hibernating potential bursts forth in colorful blossoms and familiar bunnies and chicks.

Then there is the most familiar Egg: the supreme symbol of Ostara, Spring, new life and fertility. Yet it is so much more than that. Eggs have been painted, decorated, preserved, carved, crafted, offered, venerated and used as symbols and in rituals probably from the earliest days of humankind, certainly millennia before they came to be associated with the “borrowed” Easter of modern Christianity.

Eggs are the perfect symbol of life. They are literally life! All creatures begin as eggs in some form or another and all are composed of all four elements, which are perfectly represented by the parts of the egg: the shell is Earth, the membrane is Air, the white is Water, and the yolk is Fire.

It is easy to understand why so many different cosmologies and creation stories feature one or more “cosmic eggs” from which all beings, the world, indeed the whole universe are created. Several deities, such as Atargatis, are also believed to have been born from sacred eggs. Certain magical creatures are born from eggs under strange circumstances, such as the basilisk, which is hatched by a cockerel from a serpent’s egg.

There is the Greek Orphic Egg which hatched the first primordial being who created all the other gods, the Egyptian cosmic egg which birthed the sun god Ra, and the seven duck eggs hatched on the knee of the Finnish goddess Ilmatar, thus creating the various parts of the world.

Interestingly enough, the theory of the cosmic egg has a place in modern cosmological science. Current models suggest that over 13 billion years ago, the mass of all the universe was compressed into a singularity from which it expanded into its current state after the “Big Bang”. Could the Big Bang have been the moment of fertilization for the singular “egg”? The sparking action all life requires to ignite the potential contained in the seed which then expands and grows and even creates subsequent life?

More and more do quantum physics and other cutting-edge “modern” sciences begin to reflect, accept and even prove ideas that have existed in spirituality and mysticism since time immemorial; concepts that have been believed and perhaps truly known long before the advent of the tools and measuring devices mandated by science to verify the existence of anything.  

So how could the egg not be supremely sacred, and how could it not hold the key to the mysteries of all life and creation? Eggs contain life, potential for life, and they contain all the elements. So too then are the elements, from which everything is created, the keys to truth and understanding.

My kitchen altar is very simple and consists of a single candle, a very cute little plush cow with a tiny porcelain teacup and saucer, and a polished, egg-shaped onyx crystal resting in an egg cup. It serves as a focal point and constant reminder of all I have already said about eggs and then some. I can’t sing their praises enough! Particularly in the kitchen, where they are obviously most common. They are delicious, nutritious and wildly versatile.

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