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. In my last five articles I’ve chronicled my explorations with Air, my connections with Fire, my dive into Water, my complex dance the Earth and finally finding myself standing in the Center.
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. I’ve meditated on what they mean to me. I’ve wrestled with the assumptions I’ve held/hold around each one. I’ve let their wisdom guide my thoughts and my actions and 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 it is for you or your group, 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 like to feel my feet on the Earth. I send my energy downward, as far as I need to in that moment, to anchor myself, recognizing that I am of the Earth. I send 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.
Air – In my hand I hold a small flower pot. I look at its shape and colour. I notice that it appears empty and recognize that it is actually surrounded by and filled with Air. I focus on my breath. In and out. In and out. I note that I am surrounded by and filled with Air. I feel the breeze on my skin. I hear my breath. In and out. In and out. For several minutes I sit and experience the Air in all of its forms – Wind, birdsong, breath, rustling leaves. After some time, I thank the Air and blow into the flower pot and set it aside.
Fire – In my hand I hold seeds. I look at their shape and their colour. I imagine the plants they will become. Although I can’t see any Fire, I know that these seeds contain the spark of life inside of them. Fire takes many forms and some of them are not so obvious. I focus on my breath. In and out. In and out. Right now inside of me is that same spark of life. Right now my body is creating heat in the form of calories. My breath is warm. My skin is warm. I’m aware that there is sexual energy rising in me at this moment. I know that creativity and passion and action are burning in me too. For several moments I sit and experience all of the forms of Fire that are in and around me. After some time, I thank the Fire and set the seeds aside.
Water – In my hand I hold a small glass of water. I look at it. I can see the light dancing on the sides of the glass as the water moves around. I’m reminded that Water rarely has it’s own form and is shaped by the container it is in. At once I remember that Water also shapes the containers it is in, cutting through rocks, bursting banks, flooding plains. I focus on my breath. In and out. In and out. I think about my own precious fluids – The aqueous humor in my eyes, the saliva in my mouth, sexual fluids – and how my life, all life would be impossible without these waters. I think too of the deep wells of feelings and emotions and memory. For several minutes I sit and experience Water all of the forms of Water that are in and around me. After some time, I thank the Water and set the glass aside.
Earth – In my hand I hold a small amount of rich, fragrant soil. I 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. I focus on my breath. In and out. In and out. There is a solidity to my body, just like there is to the Earth. I am corporeal. I do exist right now. I am the host to a million creatures that live in and on my body. I am the entirety of existence for more than five hundred species of bacteria, viruses and microscopic bugs. As I take care of my body, so should I tend to the Earth. For several moments I sit and experience all of the forms of Earth that are in or around me. After some time I thank the Earth and set the soil aside.
Center – In my hand I hold nothing. The Center is all around me. Over there and under that and just around the corner. I focus on my breath. In and out. In and out. I think about my own Center. I think about what keeps me centered, who keeps me centered. I 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. I recall the lessons from my teachers and my teacher’s teachers about sitting in the Center of my own existence and finding my own power there. For several minutes I sit and experience the Center in all of its forms; my center, the center that is all around me. After some time I thank the Center.
Planting – I retrieve the small flower pot and once again breathe air into it. I fill the vessel with life-sustaining soil. I place the seed, full of its own potent energy, into an indentation I make with my thumb. I pour water into the soil and over the seed and place the pot in the center of my kitchen window. Air. Fire. Water. Earth. Center. I sing. I move my body. I raise energy. I give this to the planting.
Dedication – I work closely with a particular deity. She and I have a reciprocal and long-term relationship. In ways that she would recognize I dedicate this magic to her. I ask her to watch over the seed that has been planted just as she watches over me. I kiss the space that she inhabits. I speak her name. I listen to her counsel.
With the working complete, I thank the goddess I am working with. I thank and release the Center, Earth, Water, Fire and Air from this place and this magical working. I open my sacred space and spend time in silence.
I will tend to this seed and to the plant it will become. I will tend to this magic of being in relationship with the Elements and listen to them as they speak to me each day.
May this work be blessed. May your work be blessed.
What rituals have you done for the Elements?
Note: All images are from ShutterStock.
Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), , at sacred-texts.com
Invocation of Lord and Lady (Ritual)
The following is the text of a ritual titled Invocation of the Lord and
Lady which was presented by the Fellowship of the Sacred Grove at a
local gathering in November of 1993. Prayers and invocations are not
included in the text as these are delivered spontaneously by the Priest
PART ONE: THE PREPARATIONS
[Priest, Priestess, Bard and Quarters begin standing in circle just
outside the circle that will be consecrated for the ritual. Other
participants begin outside of circle and will later enter through South
gate. Customarily, East and North are male, South and West female.]
- The Warning
[The Bard moves to center of circle and addresses all.]
“We gather tonight to open the veil between the worlds.
This is not safe — To pass beyond that threshold we must leave behind
the protections of the mundane world. We must remove the veils which
disguise us and lay aside the jewels which dazzle our eyes. We must
take the risk of Seeing, and of being Seen.
For our protection we rely upon the Lord and the Lady, whose Children we
are. Any who are not ready to approach Them in reverence, love and trust
should leave now.
Those of you who have chosen to walk this path, prepare yourselves to
meet God and Goddess.
[Bard remains in center.]
2.Claiming the Circle
[East takes one step forward into the circle and speaks, facing inward.]
“In the name of the Lady of Light, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Men.
Let all who enter be bound to speak, and hear, the Truth.
So mote it be.”
[West takes one step forward into the circle and speaks, facing inward.]
“In the name of the Sacred King, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Women.
Let all who enter be bound to Perfect Love and Trust.
So mote it be.”
[South takes one step forward into the circle and speaks, facing
“In the name of the Lord of the Greenwood, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as a place of Nature
Let all who enter be bound to the sacred web of life.
So mote it be.”
[North takes one step forward into the circle and speaks, facing
“In the name of the Queen of Heaven, and in my own name,
I claim this circle as Sacred Space.
Let all who enter be opened to the presence of God and Goddess.
So mote it be.”
- Marking the Circle
[All sing Listen to the Lord and Lady while Priest and Priest mark
circle. When finished Priest and Priestess stand before alter in North,
- The Challenges
[East and West move to South gate and form Arch with athames. North
crosses to South gate. Participants enter through South gate one at a
time and are challenged at knife point by North and South, then shown to
places by Bard.]
Who seeks to join this fellowship?
Will you support and defend your companions on this quest?
Do you swear to use that which you learn in this circle only in service
of the light?
Are you ready to meet the Mother and Father of All life?
Then enter and be welcome.
[Comment: This took several minutes, but the effect of the delay was
positive rather than negative. The lengthy challenge process acted to
center and focus the entire circle.]
5.Sealing the Circle
[Bard speaks from center.]
We have stepped beyond time, to a place not of earth. In the presence of
the Lord and Lady, we join together and are one.
[Bard crosses to take place in circle, then takes hand of next person
deosil and says We are one. Each participant takes the hand of the next
repeating We are one until the whole circle is joined. When the circle
is complete, the Bard announces again We are one!]
PART TWO: THE MYSTERY
[Priest moves to center and leads all in pathworking. After preliminary
relaxation and centering, the working takes the participant first to
four symbols — a living tree, a sword, a cup, and a standing stone —
each of which holds a message for the visitor. Then the participants
journey to an ancient clearing around a weathered stone alter where, in
times long past, their ancestors honored the Lord and Lady. In that
holy place, the participants call the Guardians of the Quarters, then
prepare to invoke the Lord and Lady.]
[Comment: The actual invocation of the Lord and Lady follows without
transition, inviting the participants to continue to experience it in
the ancient clearing.]
- Calling the Lord and Lady
[Priestess joins Priest in center. Priestess invokes the Lord. Other
invoke Lord and/or Lady as they feel inspired. Priest closes invocations
by invoking the Lady. All invocations end with Come join with us. which
is repeated by all.]
Priestess begins chant alone, all join in after first time through.
Participants should stand, clap and dance as they feel moved.]
Isis, Osiris, Woden and Freya; Lord and Lady, Brigid and Lugh
[Chant builds in power to be cut off at peak by Bard striking staff on
[During chant East and West have stepped outside circle and deliver
readings from opposite sides of circle. Bard is at center. Bard speaks.]
Hear now the words of the Great Mother who is called Isis, and Freya,
and Brigid, and many other names.
Think not that I am far from you, for you can see my visage in the moon,
and hear my voice upon the wind.
I am the silence of the sea, and the secret of the standing stones.
I am the beauty of the green earth, and the mystery of the stars.
I am the Mother of all things, and the soul of nature, who gives life to
I am the source of your beginning, and I am the fulfillment of your
Hear the words of the All Father who is called Osiris, and Woden, and
Lugh, and other names beyond counting.
You know me not, but I am with you. My face is the sun, and my voice the
I am the strength of the forest, and the keenness of the sword.
I am the rune giver; the patient teacher; the revealer of secrets.
I am the warrior, the defender of the weak and the companion of heroes.
I am the Horned One. I am the gateway to the Mysteries, and I am Mystery
Arise and come unto us, for mine in the womb that bore thee and the
breast that nursed thee. Your joy is our joy, and your sorrow, our
sorrow. We would teach you the ways of healing, and the joys of love,
for our law is love unto all beings. We give the knowledge of the
eternal spirit, and beyond death we give peace and reunion with those
who have gone before. We would lead you to love and to freedom. Call on
us, and we will show you the hidden paths.
Follow my white stag into the deep forest. There is mystery in the wild
places, and a path that leads between the worlds.
The path is not easy, for it leads to that which cannot be given by
Those who would share our freedom must create it anew within their own
But no one who walks that path walks alone. Fear not to call on us, for
we have not forgotten our Children.
- Great Rite
[Priest and Priestess take positions in center of circle, Priest
kneeling with chalice, Priestess standing with athame. Priest makes
spontaneous prayer to Lord and Lady. Priestess prays and/or responds on
behalf of Lord and Lady, customarily ending with So mote it be as she
lowers the athame.
[Comment: a common theme here is to invite the Lord and Lady to join
with us as they join with each other, but sensitivity to the inspiration
of the moment is the prime concern.]
[All sing We all come from the Goddess as Priest and Priestess circle
group, touching and offering a blessing to each in turn. When all have
received a blessing, Priest and Priestess return to circle and all join
hands. Priest and Priestess signal end to song by returning to center.]
PART THREE CLOSING
- Thanking the Lord and Lady
[Priest thanks Lady, Priestess thanks Lord.]
- Return to Mundane Consciousness
[Priestess return to circle. Priest resumes pathworking in ancient
clearing, thanks quarters and draws participants back into normal
consciousness. Priest returns to circle.]
- Opening the Circle
[Bard moves to center and addresses all.]
The rite is ended, the circle is open, may the blessing of the Lord and
Lady be with you all. So mote it be. (All respond.)