Working with the Elements is a core piece of magic I teach in the Reclaiming Tradition. I revisit this work every so often as a teacher and as a student. Recently I’ve chronicled my explorations with Air, my connections with Fire, my dive into Water, my complex dance with the Earth and finally finding myself standing in the Center. Here’s a simple ritual honouring all of the Elements.
A Ritual for the Elements
There are many ways and all sorts of reasons to do a ritual. For the past couple of months I’ve spent time in conversation with the Elements and I’ve meditated on what they mean to me. I’ve wrestled with the assumptions I’ve held/hold around each one and let their wisdom guide my thoughts and my actions. Now I’ve come to the end of this re-examination of my relationship with the Elements. This seems like a fine reason to do ritual.
A word about rituals – To borrow a phrase from the poet Rumi “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” I’m writing this ritual in a way that one person, a coven or a large group of people could recreate it, but I encourage creativity and making this ritual your own. If parts of it don’t make sense to you in your situation, then fill that piece with something that does work for you. The best magic you can ever do is your own magic.
Make your space sacred
This could mean sweeping the ritual room, lighting candles, turning off any devices that are likely to ring, buzz or chime, washing yourself, wearing your ritual clothing or jewelry or lighting some incense. Whatever sacred space looks like for you and anyone joining you, know that you are stepping into that liminal place where magic happens.
Come to stillness
You might know this as grounding or centering yourself. Whatever you call it, bring yourself present. I start with my feet on the Earth. Sending my energy downward, as far as I need to in that moment, to anchor myself, recognizing that I am of the Earth. I shoot my awareness upward to the stars, opening to the infinite, recognizing that I am of the stars. I stand in the knowledge that I am the living embodiment of the Elements, right now, right here.
Create a container for your magic
Just like you need a pot to hold the ingredients of a soup you are making, so you’ll need a container for your magic. You might do this by casting a circle, by drawing a temenos line and stepping across it, and/or asking the Spirits of Place to bless and accept this work. In my case, I offer libations to the spirits of my place, name my ancestors and cast a circle, starting in the center, then North, then East, then South, then West, then North, Then above and then below. I say the words that are sacred to me.
Welcoming the Elements
Air – Hold a small flower pot, looking at it’s shape and colour. Perhaps you notice that it appears empty and recognize that it is actually surrounded by and filled with Air. Focus on your breathing. You are surrounded by and filled with Air. Feel the breeze on your skin. Can you hear your breath? In and out. In and out. For several minutes sit and experience the Air in all of its forms – Wind, birdsong, breath, rustling leaves. After some time, thank the Air and blow into the flower pot and set it aside.
Water – Fill a small glass of water and look at it. Can you see the light dancing on the sides of the glass as the water moves around? Water rarely has it’s own form and is shaped by the container it is in. Remember that Water also shapes the containers it is in, cutting through rocks, bursting banks, flooding plains. Think about your own precious fluids – The aqueous humor in your eyes, the saliva in your mouth, sexual fluids – and how your life, all life would be impossible without these waters. Recall the deep wells of feelings and emotions and memory. For several minutes sit and experience the Water that is in and around you. After some time, thank the Water and set the glass aside.
Earth – Collect a small amount of rich, fragrant soil and look at it. It is black and brown and warmed by the sun. It smells like forest floors and summer vegetables and dogs’ paws after a good dig. There is a solidity to your body, just like there is to the Earth. You are host to a million creatures that live in and on your body. You are the entirety of existence for more than five hundred species of bacteria, viruses and microscopic bugs. Take care of the Earth as you might tend to your own body. For several moments sit and experience all of the forms of Earth that are in or around you. After some time, thank the Earth and set the soil aside.
Center – Look around. The Center is all around you. Over there and under that and just around the corner. I think about my own Center. Think about what keeps you centered, who keeps you centered. Imagine being the hub at the center of a wheel that spins. The outer edges travel a long way, but the hub stays in the center. Recall the lessons you’ve learned teachers, from your own explorations, about sitting in the Center of your own existence and finding power there. For several minutes, sit and experience the Center in all of its forms; your center, the center that is all around you. After some time, thank the Center.
Retrieve the small flower pot and once again breathe air into it. Fill the vessel with life-sustaining soil. Place the seed, full of it’s own potent energy, into an indentation you make with your thumb. Pour water into the soil and over the seed and place the pot in the center of the kitchen window. Air. Fire. Water. Earth. Center. Sing and chant and move your body in some way and raise energy. Give this energy to the planting.
If you work closely with a particular deity you could dedicate this magic to them. Ask them to watch over the seed that has been planted just as she watches over you. If you don’t work with any gods in particular, dedicate the work to the Earth.
With the working complete, I thank the Elements and release the Center, Earth, Water, Fire and Air from this place and this magical working. Open your sacred space and spend time in silence.
Then, tend to the seed and to the plant it will become. Tend to the magic of being in relationship with the Elements and listen to them as they speak to you each day.
May this work be blessed. May your work be blessed.