To be Silent

Some recent conversations have led me to ponder the wisdom of the lesson of the element of Earth: to be silent.  Along with this I have been contemplating this line from the Rede ““Soft of eye and light of touch; Speak little, Listen Much”. Furthermore, I have be focusing on the form and force of Elemental earth as well.  One might begin to see a pattern here.

Being an epic flame headed fire sign, I must admit that I have not always been the most tenacious in dealing with the other elements.  Earth and Air were there to fuel my fire, to aid in its strength, and I kind of avoided dealings with Water.  I see myself and my magic through the lenses of my sacred fire.  It is from this vantage point I consider the mundane and magical worlds, the gods, and even the divine itself.  My fire is always within me, and I am always within it. So how do I listen to the Earth and see it as more than just fuel to be added to the Fire? Honestly, this has taken me a good long while to figure out, especially since I love to talk, to discuss, to express myself with my words.

I’ve been contemplating the symbol itself for a while.  I have been digging (no pun intended) about in its explicit and implicit symbolism for most of my life.  Why do we as Pagan/Wiccans stress the benefits of the lesson of the element of earth? I think we can find some of the answers in what the symbol itself is a representation of. The element of Earth is thought to be dirt, stone, cave, and tree. It is the representation of those dark places hidden away from plain view. It is the womb and the tomb as many people say. It is there in those dark quiet places that we are often faced with the truth of ourselves.  It is the silence of that space that gives our minds the room and time to approach and process the things we need to tackle. In essence, it allows us to speak with ourselves and hopefully find the answers we are seeking.

In modern (American or western) society we are taught that we have the right and obligation to express how we think and feel  in a variety of ways. In fact, we have ways that are far grander and faster to express this than any other generation alive. We can instantly share these thoughts and feelings with any one of the close to the 7 billion people on this planet. But are we actually taking the time to think, feel, process, and communicate what we are trying to say? I do not always think so. I know I can be guilty of this.  I think we express only the surface of our feelings, hiding the truer, deeper meanings even from ourselves.  We are taught (especially as men) to conceal our emotions, to silence ourselves to fit into the great cog of what is considered socially acceptable.  We are taught by society that we need to don emotionless masks to hide ourselves behind them in order to survive and have a chance at thriving. This is why for so many people  having a figurative “skeleton” in the closet is such a bad thing. However, when they are able to emerge from the metaphorical closet or rid themselves of the burden of carrying that silence, they feel relieved, as if a weight has been lifted. I have wondered why that is. I  recently hypothesized that maybe weight (such as atomic weight) or density  is an example of the aspect of force within the element of Earth. So when we willingly keep silent on something (such as a secret) it burdens us with a (sometimes guilty) weight. When we release that secret, we are freed from that burden. This leads me to believe that is a positive thing to sit and reflect in the silence, to focus on the matters before us, and when we are ready, constructively release them into the  world.

On the other side of the coin, I can see the need to stay our tongues, to hold in our words at times. The ability to think before we speak, to reflect before we respond, and not just instinctively react (this is not to say that reaction is a bad thing in some situations such as life threatening ones) is a powerful one. Our words contain power, and what we say out loud creates, shapes and bends not only our own reality but potentially the reality of those who hear and see the words themselves. Saying the right word at the right time can have ginormous and positive results. Conversely, by saying the wrong words or even mishearing a word can lead to devastation. This brings me to the section of the Wiccan Rede I quoted earlier.  The line “Speak little, Listen much” holds a lot of weight to it. It reminds me of many sayings and proverbs about the need to hear and understand what is going on with the world around us so that we can fully engage it and the people who are a part of it. If we do not listen to others, and understand to the best of our abilities, we cannot communicate effectively with them. If we are too busy speaking, we are bound to miss something important.

I wonder how many of the problems humanity has faced could have been averted with better understanding of the element of Earth.  Maybe, we should try and find out.  What do you think?

About Adrian Monogue

(Ash) is a second generation and second degree witch who was raised in a coven who grew up in the Atlanta area of Georgia. He practices a form of syncretic Paganism that draws on practices are based on Alchemy, Astrology, Eastern Philosophy, Jungian Psychology, Kabbalah, Science, Shamanism, and Wicca.

  • sunfell

    The Four Precepts are:
    To Know
    To Will
    To Dare
    To Keep Silent.

    That last one is where the rubber meets the road, and a major fail-point for many an aspiring Magus or Witch. If I’ve learned anything in my own journey, it’s this: the amount of wisdom-oriented verbiage, text, etc. generated by a person is inversely proportional with their actual wisdom. While it is always kind to instruct a student enough to make sure they don’t totally blow themselves up magically, they must also be permitted to royally screw up- even if it means taking the ‘scenic route’ on their respective Path. Assuming the mantle of the Teacher Who [Dis]Appears is the ultimate exercise of the Fourth Precept.

  • Henry

    I would say you hit upon one of the important aspects associated with ‘to be silent’ and that is listening. It also implies stillness and not only quieting of the tongue but also the thoughts as it were, and to be receptive to whats present around one.
    When I first encountered the powers of the sphinx, (to know, to will, to dare, and to be silent) it was In Levi’s Transcendental Magic. In it he attributed the idea of being silent to water, which also works towards being silent and hence being receptive and listening on an intuitive and emotional level.The other aspects of earth are patience, and capacity to support, as you seem to touch upon above in the idea of a burden, as well as ite being the realm of construction and manifestation.
    Levi’s main thrust was about developing the qualities of these powers within, in harmony, as the ‘sanctum regnum’ of magic. Over the years I have worked with engaging these powers, I have found they are all applicable to each of the elements.
    The elemental attribute most use today are from Crowely as far as I can tell. He switched as I said ‘Silence’ to earth, which as I mentioned, Levi gave to water, and also switched dare to water, where Levi gave dare to fire . Crowely also introduced a 5th the power to go.

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