The Elements

The Element of Water: Folklore and Legends

The Element of Water: Folklore and Legends

By , About.com

 

Each of the four cardinal elements – earth, air, fire and water – can be incorporated into magical practice and ritual. Depending on your needs and intent, you may find yourself drawn to one of these elements more so that the others.

Water is a feminine energy and highly connected with the aspects of the Goddess. Used for healing, cleansing, and purification, Water is related to the West, and associated with passion and emotion. In many spiritual paths, including Catholicism, consecrated Water can be found – holy water is just regular water with salt added to it, and usually a blessing or invocation is said above it. In Wiccan covens, such water is used to consecrate the circle and all the tools within it. As you may expect, water is associated with the color blue, and the Tarot suit of Cup cards.

Let’s look at some of the many magical myths and legends surrounding water:

Water Spirits:

Many cultures feature water spirits as part of their folklore and mythology. To the Greeks, a water spirit known as a naiad often presided over a spring or stream. The Romans had a similar entity found in the Camenae. Among a number of the ethnic groups of Cameroon, the water spirits called jengu serve as protective deities, which is not uncommon among other African diasporic faiths.

For residents of the British Isles, many local bodies of water such as streams and wells were host to water spirits – and often these took on the role of local deity. Historians say it became a popular custom to toss a bit of silver — coins, pins, etc — into a sacred body of water as an offering to the god or goddess of that area.

Dowsing for Water:

Dowsing is the ability to find a water source in a previously unknown area via divination. In many parts of Europe professional dowsers were hired to locate new places to dig wells. This was typically done with the use of a forked stick, or sometimes a copper rod. The stick was held out in front of the dowser, who walked around until the stick or rod began to vibrate. The vibrations signaled the presence of water beneath the ground, and this was where villagers would dig their new well.

During the Middle Ages this was a popular technique for locating new springs to use as wells, but it later became associated with negative sorcery. By the seventeenth century, most dowsing had been outlawed because of its connection to the devil.

Ocean Beings:

The Orkney Islands are the home of a number of fascinating myths and legends about the magical power of the sea. The ocean is the home of Finmen and mermaids, selkies and sea monsters. In Celtic mythology, a water horse called a kelpie haunts the shores and rivers of Scotland and Ireland.

Water Magic and the Moon:

The moon is tied to the ebb and flow of tides around the world. A phenomenon known as lunar tide occurs during the full and new moon phases – during these phases, the gravitational forces create a very high high tide, and a very low low tide.

Use water for divination by scrying during the full moon.

Country Folklore:

An English rural custom says that a woman who splashes too much water around as she does laundry or washes dishes will be cursed with a husband who drinks to excess.

Spilling water from a bucket on the way back from a well or spring can bring misfortune – unless, of course, you return to the source and make an offering to appease the spirits of the place.

In parts of Appalachia, it is believed that if you dream of crossing water there will be an illness in your family. If your dream includes muddy or stagnant water, then back luck is on the way.

In Hoodoo and other folk magic traditions, vervain is used to make Van-Van oil – this is simply a blend of vervain and a base oil, simmered and strained. This oil is used to provide magical protection, and clear away evil energies. In many forms of folklore, vervain is associated with workings that decrease lust – however, the scent of vervain is a well-known aphrodisiac.

Water Gods and Goddesses

These are some of the many deities associated with water:

  • Gong Gong (Chinese)
  • Llyr (Welsh)
  • Manannan mac Lir (Irish)
  • Namaka (Hawaiian)
  • Neptune (Roman)
  • Njord (Norse)
  • Oceanus (Greek)
  • Poseidon (Greek)
  • Sedna (Inuit)
  • Sobek (Egyptian)
  • Thetis (Greek)
  • Yemaya (Yoruba)
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The Element of Fire: Folklore and Legends

Fire Folklore and Legends

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Each of the four cardinal elements – earth, air, fire and water – can be incorporated into magical practice and ritual. Depending on your needs and intent, you may find yourself drawn to one of these elements more so that the others.

Connected to the South, Fire is a purifying, masculine energy, and connected to strong will and energy. Fire both creates and destroys, and symbolizes the fertility of the God. Fire can heal or harm, and can bring about new life or destroy the old and worn. In Tarot, Fire is connected to the Wand suit (although in some interpretations, it is associated with Swords). For color correspondences, use red and orange for Fire associations.

Let’s look at some of the many magical myths and legends surrounding fire:

Fire Spirits & Elemental Beings:

In many magical traditions, fire is associated with various spirits and elemental beings. For instance, the salamander is an elemental entity connected with the power of fire – and this isn’t your basic garden lizard, but a magical, fantastical creature. Other fire-associated beings include the phoenix – the bird that burns itself to death and then is reborn from its own ashes – and dragons, known in many cultures as fire-breathing destroyers.

The Magic of Fire:

Fire has been important to mankind since the beginning of time. It was not only a method of cooking one’s food, but it could mean the difference between life and death on a frigid winter night. To keep a fire burning in the hearth was to ensure that one’s family might survive another day. Fire is typically seen as a bit of a magical paradox, because in addition to its role as destroyer, it can also create and regenerate. The ability to control fire – to not only harness it, but use it to suit our own needs – is one of the things that separates humans from animals. However, according to ancient myths, this has not always been the case.

Fire appears in legends going back to the classical period. The Greeks told the story of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods in order to give it to man – thus leading to the advancement and development of civilization itself. This theme, of the theft of fire, appears in a number of myths from different culture. A Cherokee legend tells of Grandmother Spider, who stole fire from the sun, hid it in a clay pot, and gave it to the People so they could see in the darkness. A Hindu text known as the Rig Veda related the story of Mātariśvan, the hero who stole fire that had been hidden away from the eyes of man.

Fire is sometimes associated with deities of trickery and chaos – probably because while we may think we have domination over it, ultimately it is the fire itself that is in control. Fire is often connected with Loki, the Norse god of chaos, and the Greek Hephaestus (who appears in Roman legend as Vulcan) the god of metalworking, who demonstrates no small amount of deceit.

Fire and Folktales:

Fire appears in a number of folktales from around the world, many of which have to do with magical superstitions. In parts of England, the shape of cinders which jumped out of the hearth often foretold a major event – a birth, a death, or the arrival of an important visitor.

In parts of the Pacific Islands, hearths were guarded by small statues of old women. The old woman, or hearth mother, protected the fire and prevented it from burning out.

The Devil himself appears in some fire-related folktales. In parts of Europe, it is believed that if a fire won’t draw properly, it’s because the Devil is lurking nearby. In other areas, people are warned not to toss bread crusts into the fireplace, because it will attract the Devil (although there’s no clear explanation of what the Devil might want with burnt bread crusts).

Japanese children are told that if they play with fire, they will become chronic bed-wetters – a perfect way to prevent pyromania!

A German folktale claims that fire should never be given away from the house of a woman within the first six weeks after childbirth. Another tale says that if a maid is starting a fire from tinder, she should use strips from mens’ shirts as tinder – cloth from women’s garments will never catch a flame.

 

Deities Associated with Fire:

  • Bel (Celtic)
  • Brighid (Celtic)
  • Hephaestus (Greek)
  • Hestia (Greek)
  • Loki (Norse)
  • Pele (Hawaiian)
  • Svarog (Slavic)
  • Vesta (Roman)
  • Vulcan (Roman)
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The Element of Air: Folklore and Legends

The Element of Air: Folklore and Legends

By , About.com

 

Each of the four cardinal elements – earth, air, fire and water – can be incorporated into magical practice and ritual. Depending on your needs and intent, you may find yourself drawn to one of these elements more so that the others.

Air is the element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life. If you’re doing a working related to communication, wisdom or the powers of the mind, Air is the element to focus on. Air carries away your troubles, blows away strife, and carries positive thoughts to those who are far away. Air is associated with the colors yellow and white, and connects to the Tarot suit of Swords.

Let’s look at some of the many magical myths and legends surrounding air and the wind:

Air Spirits & Elemental Beings:

In many magical traditions, air is associated with various spirits and elemental beings. Entities known as sylphs are typically connected with the air and the wind – these winged creatures are often related to powers of wisdom and intuition. In some belief systems, angels and devas are associated with air. It should be noted that the term “deva” in New Age and metaphysical studies is not the same as the Buddhist class of beings known as devas.

The Magic of Air:

In Feng Shui, wind chimes are believed to bless your home with prosperity and happiness. Hang a set by your front door so that good energy will be brought in every time the wind blows.

As an interesting contrast, in parts of Appalachia, wind chimes are considered a bad idea, because they call up the spirits of the dead.

Sailors had a number of superstitions about wind and air. In some cultures it was said that if a ship was becalmed at sea, sticking a knife in the mainmast would draw the wind to the sails, as would throwing a ha’penny overboard. Also, shooting stars meant the wind was about to pick up, and whistling aboard ship could call up an ill wind.

In parts of the British Isles, tradition says a howling dog indicates that the wind is coming to take away the spirits of the dead.

Deities Associated with Air and Wind:

In many cultures, wind and air are associated with powerful deities. This list is by no means all-inclusive, but be sure to read about some of the many gods and goddesses connected to the element of air.

  • Amun (Egyptian)
  • Hera (Greek)
  • Jupiter (Roman)
  • Njord (Norse)
  • Nut (Egyptian)
  • Quetzalcoatl (Aztec)
  • Taranis (Celtic)
  • Zeus (Greek
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A Thanks to the Earth Mother

A Thanks to the Earth Mother

By , About.com

 

Great earth mother!
We give you praise today
and ask for your blessing upon us.
As seeds spring forth
and grass grows green
and winds blow gently
and the rivers flow
and the sun shines down
upon our land,
we offer thanks to you for your blessings
and your gifts of life each spring.

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A Prayer to the Earth – Mealtime Blessing

A Prayer to the Earth – Mealtime Blessing

By , About.com

 

A Prayer to the Earth – Mealtime Blessing

Corn and grain, meat and milk,
upon my table before me.
Gifts of life, bringing sustenance and strength,
I am grateful for all I have.

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Perform an Earth Meditation Ritual

Perform an Earth Meditation Ritual

By , About.com

 

Try this simple meditation to help you attune to the element of Earth. To do this meditation, find a place where you can sit quietly, undisturbed, on a day when the sun is shining. Ideally, it should be in a place where you can really connect with everything that Earth represents. Perhaps it’s a hillside outside of town, or a shady grove in your local park. Maybe it’s somewhere deep in the woods, under a tree, or even your own back yard. Find your spot, and make yourself comfortable.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: About an hour

Here’s How:

  1. Sit or lie on the ground, so that as much of your body as possible is in direct contact with the ground. Use all of your senses to attune to Earth. Relax your body and breathe slowly, through your nose, and taking in the scents around you. You may smell freshly cut grass, or damp earth, or flowers and leaves. Close your eyes, and become aware of the earth beneath your body. Feel the cool breeze blowing by, and allow yourself to become in tune to the rhythms of nature.
  2. Once you are completely relaxed, focus on the warmth of the sun on your face. Imagine that warm golden light being absorbed into your body, through your third eye. Feel the light of the sun warming your head and face, a little at a time, just as the earth is being warmed back up. Imagine this light working its way along your body, traveling through your neck, down into your chest, where your heart chakra is located. Allow it to warm your heart, then traveling slowly down through your abdomen and down to your root chakra.
  3. As this light warms your body, feel it connecting you to the ground beneath your body as well. Imagine this warmth spreading, a golden glow journeying along your legs, your knees, and finally to your feet. By the time the sensation reaches your feet, you should feel as though your entire body has been infused with the warmth and light of the returning sun.
  4. Feel your connection to the earth. Imagine that warmth growing and spreading from your body into the ground. Visualize the awakening roots, seeds, and other life that is just below the surface. Share your warmth and light with them, and feel your own roots growing into the soil. Feel the stability and security of the earth beneath you. Keep your breathing even and regular, and enjoy the sensation of being one with the soil, the grass, and even the rocks below.

What You Need

  • A quiet place
  • A sunny day
  • An hour of uninterrupted time
Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Meditation, The Elements | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Earth Element: Folklore and Legends

The Earth Element: Folklore and Legends

By , About.com

 

Each of the four cardinal elements – earth, air, fire and water – can be incorporated into magical practice and ritual. Depending on your needs and intent, you may find yourself drawn to one of these elements more so that the others.

Connected to the North, Earth is considered the ultimate feminine element. The Earth is fertile and stable, associated with the Goddess. The planet itself is a ball of life, and as the Wheel of the Year turns, we can watch all the aspects of life take place in the Earth: birth, life, death, and finally rebirth. The Earth is nurturing and stable, solid and firm, full of endurance and strength. In color correspondences, both green and brown connect to the Earth, for fairly obvious reasons! In Tarot readings, the Earth is related to the suit of Pentacles or Coins.

Let’s look at some of the many magical myths and legends surrounding earth:

Earth Spirits:

In many cultures, earth spirits are beings that are tied to the land and plant kingdom. Typically, these beings are associated with another realm, the forces of nature that inhabit a particular physical space, and landmarks like rocks and tees.

In Celtic mythology, the realm of the Fae is known to exist in a parallel space with the land of man. The Fae are part of the Tuatha de Danaan, and live underground. It’s important to watch out for them, because they’re known for their ability to trick mortals into joining them.

Gnomes feature prominently in European legend and lore. Although it’s believed that their name was coined by a Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus, these elemental beings have long been associated in one form or another with the ability to move underground.

Likewise, elves often appear in stories about the land. Jacob Grimm collected a number of stories about elves while compiling his book Teutonic Mythology, and says that elves appear in the Eddas as supernatural, magic-using beings. They appear in a number of old English and Norse legends.

The Magic of the Land:

Ley lines were first suggested to the general public by an amateur archaeologist named Alfred Watkins in the early 1920s. Ley lines are believed to be magical, mystical alignments in the earth. One school of thought believes that these lines carry positive or negative energy. It is also believed that where two or more lines converge, you have a place of great power and energy. It is believed that many well-known sacred sites, such as Stonehenge, Glastonbury Tor, Sedona and Machu Picchu sit at the convergence of several lines.

In some countries, spirits associated with various landmarks became minor, localized deities.

Today, many modern Pagans honor the spirits of the land by celebrating Earth Day, and use it as a time to reaffirm their roles as stewards of the earth.

Deities Associated with Earth:

  • Brighid (Celtic)
  • Cernunnos (Celtic)
  • Cybele (Roman)
  • Dionysus (Greek)
  • Gaia (Greek)
  • Geb (Egyptian)
  • Pele (Hawaiian)
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The Four Classical Elements

The Four Classical Elements

Earth, Air, Fire and Water

By , About.com

 

In many modern-day Pagan belief systems, there is a good deal of focus on the four elements – Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. A few traditions of Wicca also include a fifth element, which is Spirit or Self, but that is not universal among all Pagan paths.

The concept is hardly a new one. A Greek philosopher named Empedocles is credited with the cosmogenic theory of these four elements being the root of all existing matter. Unfortunately, much of Empedocles’ writing has been lost, but his ideas remain with us today and are widely accepted by most Pagans and Wiccans.

Each of the elements is associated with traits and meanings, as well as with directions on the compass. The following directional associations are for the Northern hemisphere; readers in the Southern hemisphere should use the opposite correspondences.

Earth:

Connected to the North, Earth is considered the ultimate feminine element. The Earth is fertile and stable, associated with the Goddess. The planet itself is a ball of life, and as the Wheel of the Year turns, we can watch all the aspects of life take place in the Earth: birth, life, death, and finally rebirth. The Earth is nurturing and stable, solid and firm, full of endurance and strength. In color correspondences, both green and brown connect to the Earth, for fairly obvious reasons! In Tarot readings, the Earth is related to the suit of Pentacles or Coins.

Air:

Air is the element of the East, connected to the soul and the breath of life. If you’re doing a working related to communication, wisdom or the powers of the mind, Air is the element to focus on. Air carries away your troubles, blows away strife, and carries positive thoughts to those who are far away. Air is associated with the colors yellow and white, and connects to the Tarot suit of Swords.
Fire:

Fire is a purifying, masculine energy, associated with the South, and connected to strong will and energy. Fire both creates and destroys, and symbolizes the fertility of the God. Fire can heal or harm, and can bring about new life or destroy the old and worn. In Tarot, Fire is connected to the Wand suit. For color correspondences, use red and orange for Fire associations.

Water:

Water is a feminine energy and highly connected with the aspects of the Goddess. Used for healing, cleansing, and purification, Water is related to the West, and associated with passion and emotion. In many spiritual paths, including Catholicism, consecrated Water can be found – holy water is just regular water with salt added to it, and usually a blessing or invocation is said above it. In some Wiccan covens, such water is used to consecrate the circle and all the tools within it. As you may expect, water is associated with the color blue, and the Tarot suit of Cup cards.

 

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