Balancing the Elements

Working with Earth has been an incredible experience this month. It’s not so much that I’m learning all sorts of brand new things, as becoming aware of the importance of things I already knew, but hadn’t paid as much attention to. I’ve also been making more connections among ideas and practices I’ve worked with. In short, it’s been wonderful for creating a firm foundation.

And I’ll be continuing the process with Air, Fire and Water as well, really applying what these elements are to me in my life. While some of the associations with each one are purely subjective, there are certain qualities that are perceived as, if not universal, then at least widespread. And since I’m working within a neopagan paradigm, the correspondences I work with are the most common there, though with some personal interpretation, of course.

I’m really enjoying this journey. The constructive changes I’ve experienced just in the time I’ve been doing this have been quite noticeable, not only to me but also to my mate, who is the person who has the most interaction with me on a daily basis (and who I am sure appreciates the changes!).

There’s been a trend in neopaganism, at least as long as I’ve been involved, for people to say “I’m an X element”. Which is all fine and well–except that in many cases they use this as an excuse to not work with other elements, or to convince themselves that they simply can’t work with whatever is opposite “their” element. Now, I will agree that certain people may have affinities for certain elements, and find them *easier* to work with; for myself, I’m glad I’m starting with Earth, because it’s an element I feel particularly close to. However, I’ve heard people try to justify their supposed inability to work with a certain element, when they’ve not shown any real effort–instead, they assume that if they “are” one element, and they don’t have the same easy connection with another, that the latter just isn’t for them.

Sometimes they’ll derive “their” element from their Sun sign. So, by that logic, since my Sun is in Scorpio, I “am” a water element. However, this ignores the whole rest of the astrological chart; the Sun sign isn’t some super-amazing key to your identity–but then again, neither is astrology. I can see *some* influences from my own chart. I have Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus (retrograde), Mars and Uranus* all in Scorpio, and I do have that sting, among other traditionally Scorpio traits. However, that’s not all that I am, and I deviate from what my chart suggests on a regular basis. It’s a guideline, as is the Sun sign/”your” element, and yet I’ve met a number of people who rather slavishly adhere to the idea that somehow “their” element is the key to their ability to make magic happen.

It actually reminds me a bit of roleplaying games–nice, neat categories with a series of traits associated with each little pigeonhole. I think there’s a certain need in many people to have that sort of quick fix–from the daily horoscope to internet quizzes based on answers all about you, from fantasy stories in which a person’s amazing destiny gives them all the answers about who they are to the demonstrated fear of introspection too many people exhibit. Many people just don’t want to think about it. They want their identities set in stone by the time they’re thirty at the latest, preferably earlier. I’m 29, and I’ve been told more than once that I should “just grow up”, simply for the fact that I am still exploring my identity and my concept of myself in relation to the rest of the Universe. A fluid identity scares people and raises their hackles.

But IMO, this is part of why it’s important to achieve balance and experience with all four elements (or however many you have in your personal system). IME, the elements aren’t limited to their physical components, but instead have more abstract qualities. People have been associating certain esoteric and other nonphysical qualities to the elements for as long as we’ve had the basic concept. In neopaganism, Earth = physical matters, Air = mental matters, Fire = sex, spirit, creativity, and Water = emotions, to give VERY abbreviated examples. When it comes to personal development, you have a basic package deal for working with yourself on all levels. If you only focus on one element magically, you probably also are slanted towards it in other ways–and too much of anything can be bad for you.

If you’re still feeling unconvinced, think of it this way: you have all four traditional Western elements in your body, right now. Part of how I’ve been connecting to the elements is acknowledging them within myself. For Earth, I think of claws digging into dirt (my connection to Wolf) as well as my bones and teeth. For Air, I take a big deep breath and picture all the little oxygen molecules flowing into my blood and from there to my cells. For Fire, I just think about the burning of fuel that is cellular metabolism, and I made made of countless tiny flames. And Water….well…70% of my body is water, and the easiest thing for me to think of is blood flowing through my veins.

I’ll be really curious to see how I’m doing next February when I’m back to concentrating on all four elements again rather than each one singly. If I feel this much better now, imagine how I may feel then!

*Crude joke that nobody past seventh grade should find funny but which we grownups giggle at anyway alert–as someone I know through the Otherkin community said, “Better to have Uranus in Scorpio than Scorpio in Uranus!”

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3 thoughts on “Balancing the Elements

  1. I have been telling people this for a long time and it is nice to see that someone else feels and expresses the same. One should try all they can (within their comforts) and find where their strengths lay, every effort brings a reward and many times new personal discoveries can be made throughout the course of self exploration.

  2. *nods* It’s also why I try to work with a variety of totems rather than just Wolf. My time as a Chaos magician really made my magical practice a lot more flexible overall, and this is one of the remnants thereof. I’ve also developed a particularly all-encompassing, interconnected worldview as well, so I see things in patterns rather than pigeonholes.

  3. Pingback: The Human Body as a Bioregion | Therioshamanism

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