It is not so much that I think these events are "deserved," but rather I think they are the logical consequences of a war of conquest that we as a species have waged for generations on the Powers of our world. It is the logical result of a world out of balance, of severed bonds, forgotten obligations, and a tremendous lack of mindful respect.
Do I think that every single natural disaster or shift of tectonic plates is the Elemental Powers striking back at us? Of course not. I do think though, that we need to be mindful, because the elements can lash out and in many cases, they might well be considered right in doing so. My colleague Sarenth said it best: "We are all connected in Wyrd, and when one thread moves to the detriment or betterment of many, the tapestry changes in reflection of it." It's crucial that we remember that. Reverencing the Elemental Powers is one more piece in restoring our sundered traditions. Our ancestors reverenced them. They dealt with them far more directly than we do, given the comforts of modernity. It's time we returned to that mindset of respect and maybe even a little awe.
So to answer my initial question on how I honor the Elemental Powers as a Heathen: First, I try to give before I take. I begin most of my rituals with making offerings to the ancestors. I include offerings to the Elemental Powers when I do so. I include them on my ancestral altar too. They are mentioned and honored with offerings every single time I mention my own ancestors. I also give offerings to my house vaettir pretty much whenever I cook anything, and once a week I set offerings outside for my land vaettir.
In very simple, mundane terms, I go to the local park and pick up trash for a couple of hours once a month. I donate to various charities whose mission is protecting and conserving the land. I write things like this column to educate, and I recycle, buy organic (as much as I can), and support my local farmers. I also pay attention to what is going on in my state, like fracking, and write to my state representatives to share my views. I also do quite a bit of work with my local mountain. Moreover I talk to these spirits and I try to find out what they want and what is within my power to do for them. I try to be mindful as I make my way through my world.
My own practice does tend to emphasize consciously and mindfully making offerings. The Havamal, part of the "Poetic Edda," cautions the wise person to visit friends often and strengthen the bonds of friendship with frequent gift giving (stanza 41, Larrington translation). I see no reason why that shouldn't hold true with the Powers too. Now not everyone can do these specific things, but everyone can do something. It's a matter of discovering what that might be. Every little bit helps. It's part of the process of restoring balance in our world.
I would love to hear what each of you is doing to honor your ancestors and the Elemental Powers. The more we share knowledge, the more gets done and that is, to my mind, a very good thing.
In the meantime, here's a shameless plug for a fund raising project I started in honor of my adopted mom. All proceeds go immediately to benefit The Big Sur Land Trust, which is doing some amazing work protecting our Pacific Coastline. Check it out here, folks.