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Spiny Norman
16 Nov 2015, 01:22
I'd be interesting in hearing about how people work with the elements, practically speaking. Am I correct in thinking that pagans typically work with 5 elements, ie earth, wind, fire, water and spirit?

In a Buddhist context I would usually work with 6 elements, ie earth, wind, fire, water, space and consciousness.

thalassa
16 Nov 2015, 05:12
It depends on the Pagan. Personally, I work with the 4 classic elements--earth, air, fire, and water, but in a modern context. I've thought about expanded versions of the elements...but I like the simplicity. It is, after all, a symbolic division and not a literal one.

I don't consider spirit (and I consider spirit and consciousness to be equivalent if not the same) to be an element, but rather what happens when you have all 4 of them together, in equilibrium. IMO, fire=energy, earth=solid, air=gas (and also absence of gas, ie a vacuum/void--including space), water=liquid. There are of course, some odd hybrids--mercury is a liquid metal, making it both earth and water (not that I work with mercury, because I prefer to live a long and prosperous life), the process of respiration (cellular respiration) is a function of both air and fire while the other kind (breathing) is a function of air and water (blood), etc. Life forms are a balance of these things in terms of form and function.

If you think about fire (ignis) as energy, including the ignis vitae (the numinous "energy" that causes us to be biologically alive and gives us the process of having consciouness) then organization of the elements from a Druidic perspective makes the most sense (this view comes from revival Druidry, but has been adopted and/or modified by a number of modern druid groups and is based in a logical cosmology of what we know of PIE culture and the Celts):


Druid Revival lore contains a system of its own, a set of three elements that first appears in Iolo Morganwg's writings. Whether it's an invention of Iolo's or a surviving scrap of some older teaching is anyone's guess, but the three elements have been part of Druid Revival teaching ever since his time. Their names are nwyfre, gwyar, and calas.

Nwyfre (pronounced "NOOiv-ruh") is an old Welsh term meaning "sky" or "heaven." As an element, nwyfre is the source of life and consciousness, and modern Druids often refer to it simply as the life force. Its image in nature is blue sky.

Gwyar (pronounced "GOO-yar") literally means "blood" in old Welsh, but its more general meaning is "flow" or "fluidity." As an element, gwyar is the source of change, motion, growth, and decay. Its image in nature is running water.

Calas (pronounced "CAH-lass") comes from the same root as caled, Welsh for "hard," and means "solidity." As an element, calas is the source of form, differentiation, manifestation, and stability. Its image in nature is stone.

(sauce) (http://aoda.org/Articles/Three_Druid_Elements.html)


My perspective of the elements is as a 3+1 that otherwise follows the above. In a practical sense, that means the element I work with most strongly is probably fire--it is after all, energy, and the catalyst for change, though not always literally, with actual fire. In a literal sense, the element I work with most often is water--I live by the sea, I meditate at the beach, I do spells and rituals with the tides, etc.

B. de Corbin
16 Nov 2015, 05:35
I'd be interesting in hearing about how people work with the elements, practically speaking. Am I correct in thinking that pagans typically work with 5 elements, ie earth, wind, fire, water and spirit?

When you say "work with," what do you mean?

I use the standard four elements as a sort of mental model, but I'm not sure if that qualifies as 'work with."

monsno_leedra
16 Nov 2015, 05:37
I tend to stick with the four basic of Earth, Air, Fire and Water but place spirit at the center as a balance of all four. Where I possibly differ is I place them direction wise based upon my local and geography not how you would typically find them in a Med Basin configuration. So being on the east coast I have water to the east, earth to the west, air to the north and fire to the south. Where early Greek / Egyptian from my understanding was Earth was to the east, water to the west, air to the north and fire to the south.

Like thalassa in the literal sense I align and work with water the most. It's my birth sign, my ruling planet, the place I go to for solace and could say it was my life since I served for 23 years in the Navy.

Spiny Norman
16 Nov 2015, 05:46
It depends on the Pagan. Personally, I work with the 4 classic elements--earth, air, fire, and water, but in a modern context. I've thought about expanded versions of the elements...but I like the simplicity. It is, after all, a symbolic division and not a literal one.
I don't consider spirit (and I consider spirit and consciousness to be equivalent if not the same) to be an element, but rather what happens when you have all 4 of them together, in equilibrium. IMO, fire=energy, earth=solid, air=gas (and also absence of gas, ie a vacuum/void--including space), water=liquid. There are of course, some odd hybrids--mercury is a liquid metal, making it both earth and water (not that I work with mercury, because I prefer to live a long and prosperous life), the process of respiration (cellular respiration) is a function of both air and fire while the other kind (breathing) is a function of air and water (blood), etc. Life forms are a balance of these things in terms of form and function.
If you think about fire (ignis) as energy, including the ignis vitae (the numinous "energy" that causes us to be biologically alive and gives us the process of having consciouness) then organization of the elements from a Druidic perspective makes the most sense (this view comes from revival Druidry, but has been adopted and/or modified by a number of modern druid groups and is based in a logical cosmology of what we know of PIE culture and the Celts):

My perspective of the elements is as a 3+1 that otherwise follows the above. In a practical sense, that means the element I work with most strongly is probably fire--it is after all, energy, and the catalyst for change, though not always literally, with actual fire. In a literal sense, the element I work with most often is water--I live by the sea, I meditate at the beach, I do spells and rituals with the tides, etc.

Thanks, that's interesting. As an alternative to the traditional four elements I've also worked with the 3 states of matter ( solid, liquid and gas ) which sounds somewhat analogous to the Druid triad you mentioned. Consciousness is an interesting one, I think there are pros and cons to viewing it as an element.
I also live near the sea and spend quite a bit of time looking at waves, in between keeping an eye out for seals and porpoises and suchlike. I find being by the sea is a very good place to experience and reflect on the elements, the continual interplay and movement.

Could you say a little about spells and rituals with the tides, that sounds intriguing.

- - - Updated - - -


I tend to stick with the four basic of Earth, Air, Fire and Water but place spirit at the center as a balance of all four. Where I possibly differ is I place them direction wise based upon my local and geography not how you would typically find them in a Med Basin configuration. So being on the east coast I have water to the east, earth to the west, air to the north and fire to the south. Where early Greek / Egyptian from my understanding was Earth was to the east, water to the west, air to the north and fire to the south.


Could you elaborate on what you mean by placing the elements?

monsno_leedra
16 Nov 2015, 06:59
.. Could you elaborate on what you mean by placing the elements?

Basically in the older magical systems the elements were aligned to physical directions or points of the world. Consider Air was placed in the North and equated to the Northern Wind for instance. Fire was placed to the south which also equated to the hot and dry conditions of Africa and the heat and humidity. Earth was to the east and sort of equated to the vast expanses of land going from Modern Turkey all the way to India if not further. Water was to the west probably due to the great expanse of water which lay to the west.

Then in the magical systems you could add in that the elements where also equated to planetary bodies, metals as well as creature equations. Like fire was the fire salamander, Water was Ondines and the planet Neptune to name a few.

DragonsFriend
16 Nov 2015, 07:21
Season


Wind / direction

element














Spring

East

Air



Summer

South

Fire



Fall

West

Water



Winter

North

Earth



None/All

Up/Out

Spirit




I found this from from Isidore of Seville in "Libre de Responsione mundi (Augsberg, 1472) In my research many years ago. The table (list) includes humour (emotional), body fluid, and location (body organ) associated with each element/season. Although it seems to be alchemy related it also fits with many traditions of Paganism. I do understand the location specific modifications of the attachment to the prime directions. This fits in my location. In my area cold winds typically come from the east and warm winds from the west but that changes with the season. If I logically place Water and Fire in their logical place then East is reconciled to Air and North to Earth.

Prickly Pear
16 Nov 2015, 10:14
I usually think in terms of the five elements that you described. However, the most powerful spell I ever did involved feng shui elements I was using to decorate my home at the time. Those involved earth,water,air,wood,and metal. Metal is literally metal, but also applies to all electronics and shiny reflective surfaces, such as high gloss white paint.I would include plastics in this category. Very modern decor usually has a metallic quality. I have come to interpret it personally as technology. As in human will using natural elements to create something new. To me it is very powerful.

Spiny Norman
16 Nov 2015, 23:21
How do people here understand the spirit element?

Näre
17 Nov 2015, 04:11
Out of curiosity, what kind of element work did you do as a Buddhist? (I dabbled in some Bön elemental practices for a while...)

I'd say the spirit element is equal to consciousness in Buddhism but it also has some transcendental and/or life-giving and -sustaining qualities in it. But this also depends a lot on the Pagan.

Spiny Norman
17 Nov 2015, 04:53
Out of curiosity, what kind of element work did you do as a Buddhist? (I dabbled in some Bön elemental practices for a while...)
I'd say the spirit element is equal to consciousness in Buddhism but it also has some transcendental and/or life-giving and -sustaining qualities in it. But this also depends a lot on the Pagan.

One approach I've worked with in a Buddhist context is this kind of thing: http://www.wildmind.org/six-elements

So is the spirit element something like life-force? And is it related to animism?

DragonsFriend
17 Nov 2015, 09:21
As I understand it the Chinese water, earth, wood, fire and metal are processes and not the elements in the same way as the pagan elements. Water nourishes Earth which nourishes Wood which nourishes Fire which makes Metal which holds Water ... on and on.

Spiny Norman
17 Nov 2015, 09:51
I'm aware that there is quiet a lot of symbolism with the elements, but what I'm interested in hearing about is how you guys actually work with the elements practically speaking.

Anyone?

habbalah
17 Nov 2015, 10:49
I really don't, unless it's in relation to an entity. I might add water/fire/whatever to a prayer or spell I'm doing.

DragonsFriend
17 Nov 2015, 11:04
In Arratu we evoke the elements with every ritual. Earth is called to be the foundation for the temple, the ritual, and our lives. Air is called to carry our magik, to bring inspiration, and intuition into our ritual and lives. Fire is called on to contribute to our passions for learning and courage. It also is used to aid in our transformation from physical to spiritual and to protect the temple and us. Water is called upon to give birth to our magik and bring the deep love that we have for each other and our larger human family into the forefront. Other aspects are called upon for different purposes depending on the ritual. I always balance the quarters prior to ritual so that when they are evoked there is a balance of power and protection for the ritual involved.
I also teach to use the elements and their Guardians to aid in both spiritual and physical individual growth.

thalassa
17 Nov 2015, 12:01
I'm aware that there is quiet a lot of symbolism with the elements, but what I'm interested in hearing about is how you guys actually work with the elements practically speaking.

Anyone?





Could you say a little about spells and rituals with the tides, that sounds intriguing.



I haven't forgotten this! I'll get around to it, but right now I'm gonna take a bubble bath, bake a homemade pizza, and maybe take a nap...not necessairly in that order. As far as birthday' go, today sucked.

Spiny Norman
17 Nov 2015, 12:51
I haven't forgotten this! I'll get around to it, but right now I'm gonna take a bubble bath, bake a homemade pizza, and maybe take a nap...not necessairly in that order. As far as birthday' go, today sucked.

Well happy birthday anyway! I find that ice-cream is always helpful. ;)

- - - Updated - - -


In Arratu we evoke the elements with every ritual. Earth is called to be the foundation for the temple, the ritual, and our lives. Air is called to carry our magik, to bring inspiration, and intuition into our ritual and lives. Fire is called on to contribute to our passions for learning and courage. It also is used to aid in our transformation from physical to spiritual and to protect the temple and us. Water is called upon to give birth to our magik and bring the deep love that we have for each other and our larger human family into the forefront. Other aspects are called upon for different purposes depending on the ritual. I always balance the quarters prior to ritual so that when they are evoked there is a balance of power and protection for the ritual involved.
I also teach to use the elements and their Guardians to aid in both spiritual and physical individual growth.

When you say the elements are "called on", do you mean by using a form of words? And could you say what you mean by "balancing the quarters"?

I'm new to paganism so I'm not familiar with the language and jargon.

Prickly Pear
17 Nov 2015, 13:10
Sorry about the bad day, Thalassa. Hope it gets better.

DragonsFriend, you probably know more than me about the Chinese elements. To be honest, I really didn't go deep into the philosophy of Feng Shui. It was more about liking the design principles.I already had ideas about the elements, and incorporated the Feng Shui ideas into my existing framework. I think that concentrating on the elements so much and making deeply thought out physical changes to my environment is why my intentions manifested so powerfully.

Thinking of the elements as a process or cycle fits in just fine with my personal framework.YMMV:)

To answer the question of how I use the elements, it is sort of thinking about what they mean to me with special focus and attempting to balance them in my life. In this case, I was trying to create a balanced and pleasing physical environment and ended up focusing on a balanced and pleasant life. I did do a spell similar to the kind you see in spellbooks, but I think the whole process was a kind of spell.

Sometimes when I hear people talk about spiritual or element work I think of a traditional work place with cubicles, or out building something. I have such pre-existing ideas about work, that I get a little off track. I think it is a little different for each of us. To me, it is some practical material work such as cleaning the house, or planting a garden, or working hard at a job. It involves paying attention to the world around me. It is also some prayer or meditative work involving focused intentions. I use a lot of imagination an visualization.To me, this feels largely metaphorical. To others, I think it feels more literal. I don't want to try to speak for anyone else.

Metaphorical or not, it does seem to have real outcome.

anunitu
17 Nov 2015, 14:09
Is it your Bday...Well,Bdays can be good or bad...mine is good because I am still kicking,that will be in Feb 2016..69 if you wondered.

DragonsFriend
18 Nov 2015, 10:39
When you say the elements are "called on", do you mean by using a form of words? And could you say what you mean by "balancing the quarters"?

I'm new to paganism so I'm not familiar with the language and jargon.

In Arratu there are two processes that go on in calling the the elements; The person calling the Quarter Guardian does so quietly with the name, sigil and personal identification they have received in meditation with that guardian of that element. At the same time the group calls the guardian of that element by the "common" name and using the common aspects for the element. Unlike some traditions who call the specific aspects that they wish to use, and in doing so balance the elements in circle, in Arratu the elemental aspects that will be used in our work are balanced before the ritual by the high priest communing with each of the elements before the ritual begins to be sure that the properties brought into the temple are in balance with each other and with the focus of the ritual. Each element is represented on either the main altar or at perimeter altars located at the cardinal directions as well and there is a lamp that is lit as the Guardians enter into the temple.

Here is an example of two of the quarter calls:
East, the calleraddresses the Guardian silently as the circle calls out:
"We, of the Temple of Water and Stone, Whose deity is Enlil (ayn-lil), call on Lililatu (lee-lee-law-too) the Guardian of the East, keeper of the inspiration of life; enter this space and join our rite."
The east candle is lit.
Caller responds:“Welcome in love and trust”


South, the calleraddresses the Guardian silently as the circle calls out:
" We, of the Temple of Water and Stone, Whose deity is Enlil (ayn-lil), call on Isatu (ee-saw-too) the Guardian of the South, keeper of the fires of life, enter this space and join our rite."
The south candle is lit.
Caller responds:“Welcome in love and trust”

I hope that helps you understand better.

Spiny Norman
27 Nov 2015, 07:16
Thanks everyone. I've been asking around and researching further, and I think for the time being I'm going to stick to a fairly naturalistic approach, partly because it's what I'm familiar with in a Buddhist context. My appreciation and understanding of the elements has certainly broadened out though.