Each individual maintains and acts on the basis of a deep and personal understanding of how the Universe works, how life unfolds, and his/her role in it. This worldview, as used here, is the ordered and integrated total of all that the individual has learned or imagined to the present moment. The worldview carries the standards and the methods by which the individual examines all new perceptions and experiences – all new information – weighs them against all prior understandings, assigns meaning to them, and decides whether or not to allow them to be integrated into the total. It includes memory and also the linkages among memories and reflections on memories. The worldview is the totality of the unique and fluid configuration of thoughts, beliefs, memories, processes, perceptions, and awareness in each moment, roughly analogous to Carl Jung’s psyche: a combination of spirit, soul, and idea, conscious and unconscious.
From “… and prate about an Elephant …”
On the Disambiguation of Religion: Identifying its attributes for empirical investigation
by Rev. Sandra Lee Harris (Khalila RedBird HPs)
8 December 2011
What does the universe look like on small scales? On large scales? Humanity is discovering that the universe is a very different place on every proportion that has been explored. For example, so far as we know, every tiny proton is exactly the same, but every huge galaxy is different. On more familiar scales, a small glass table top to a human is a vast plane of strange smoothness to a dust mite — possibly speckled with cell boulders. Not all scale lengths are well explored — what happens to the smallest mist droplets you sneeze, for example, is a topic of active research — and possibly useful to know to help stop the spread of disease. The above interactive flash animation, a modern version of the classic video Powers of Ten, is a new window to many of the known scales of our universe. By moving the scroll bar across the bottom, you can explore a diversity of sizes, while clicking on different items will bring up descriptive information.
The more general and historical usage of “sacred grove”.
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.