If you are having a difficult time seeing the start of November as positive, join the club. Friday’s fireworks, followed by Saturday’s lunar transit into Scorpio along with the heightening potency of the dark of the moon cycle, can leave many souls bewildered. However, several celestial alignments attempt a rescue mission as the Sun makes a physically and emotionally vitalizing, 60-degree tie with the red planet Mars (1:49AM PDT) — the last main aspect happening with daylight time in effect. Once standard time is restored (in most locations across America and world-wide), today’s rescue mission continues as the Moon in Scorpio trines Chiron in Pisces (1:26AM PST and arriving with a boost for healing interests) while practical efforts lead to progress on the business front — courtesy of a Mercury-Saturn parallel (3:16AM and similar to a union in the zodiac). The big event — the New Moon at 12 degrees of Scorpio (4:51AM) — is also a hybrid Total-Annular Solar Eclipse at 4:48AM. The area of the world influenced is primarily the Eastern zones of North and South America, the Atlantic Ocean, Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. One fortunate facet to any New Moon is that it tends to propel humanity forward rather than backward as it represents the seed-point for the coming solar-lunar dance in the zodiac over the next 29.5-days — until the next New Moon (in Sagittarius) takes hold on December 2. Therefore, utilize the hours after the New Moon/Total-Annular Solar Eclipse to take several giant steps forward in your main fields of expertise. Productivity — especially in the arts — can rise as the largest asteroid Ceres enters affable, airy Libra (6:16AM) — a cycle that lasts until February 3. Be a keen logician and careful analyst when it comes to focusing on important business plans as the Moon makes its monthly union with Saturn (9:19AM). A 15+ hour void lunar cycle starts during a mind-expanding Moon-Jupiter trine in water signs (8:24PM). This lunar twilight zone lasts until 12:15PM tomorrow when the Moon enters fiery Sagittarius. The big chill can enter affairs of the heart — on a temporary basis overnight — as Venus forms a frictional, 45-degree tie with Saturn (11:32PM). [Note to readers: All times are calculated for Pacific Standard Time — starting at 2AM on the West Coast of the USA and Canada. Be sure to adjust all times according to your own local time so the alignments noted above will be exact for your location.]
British Airways Flight 602
“This is Captain Sinclair speaking. On behalf of my crew I’d like to welcome you aboard British Airways flight 602 from New York to London. We are currently flying at a height of 35,000 feet midway across the Atlantic.
“If you look out of the windows on the starboard side of the aircraft, you will observe that both the starboard engines are on fire.
“If you look out of the windows on the port side, you will observe that the port wing has fallen off.
“If you look down towards the Atlantic ocean, you will see a little yellow life raft with three people in it waving at you.
“That’s me your captain, the co-pilot, and one of the air stewardesses. This is a recorded message. Have a good flight!”
It’s Elemental, My Dear Watson
Author: BellaDonna Saberhagen
In most modern neo-Pagan paths, there are four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. When I first started out, these were unquestionable facts. All the books I bought broke up the elements this way, ascribed certain tools to certain elements (though whether the athame and wand were air or fire often changed with the writer) , assigned the same directions for the elements and even gave their times of year. It even kind of makes sense from a scientific standpoint: the four states of matter are solid (earth) , liquid (water) , gas (air) and plasma (fire –ok, not quite, but lightning, which is plasma, often gave birth to fire) . It wasn’t until I left neo-Wicca and began researching ancient cultural religions that I even considered the ‘whys’ of the elements.
The elements as we know them now, are an ancient Greek construct. Around 500 BCE, Empedocles wrote Tetrasomia, or Doctrine of the Four Elements. It is doubtful he came up with the idea, but he was the first to write down all four elements as the foundation of the universe. When looking at a map of Greece and Europe, it’s easy to see why the elements were assigned the directions they were given.
In the Northern Hemisphere, as you travel south, it gets warmer; hence the realm of fire must lie to the south (Summer being assigned to fire also makes sense due to the warmth of the weather) . The Olympus Range is to the north of most of Greece (it separates Thessaly from Macedonia) , thus the home of earth being in the north makes sense; as does earth being assigned to winter, as when you travel north it gets colder, as it does when you travel high enough in mountains.
Most of the Mediterranean Sea is to the west of Greece. If you travel far enough west, you reach the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean; so the home of water should be to the west (though why it is assigned to Autumn, I really don’t know other than to make the transition from fiery southern summer to earthy northern winter flow nicely) . Air is more ambiguous; perhaps wind is more easterly than usual in Greece, or perhaps it was the only direction that elemental association wasn’t obvious.
Most books I’ve read say it is because the sun rises in the east, but that makes very little sense to me as the sun is a bringer of warmth and should thus be associated with fire. After all, the sun is in the sky longest in the summer, the month of fire. Aristotle added the fifth element, which he called ‘quintessence’, but is often referred to as Akasha, Ether, or Spirit by the modern Pagan community. And thus we have the five points of the pentacle. (A point which I find very interesting: If you wear a pentacle, you might state that it is a sign of protection, each point is an element and they are connected by the circle. However, according to elemental tool assignment and tarot cards, the pentacle is assigned to earth.)
Taken out of Greece, the directional associations we are so comfortable with start to break down. In the Southern Hemisphere, it gets warmer as you travel north and colder as you travel south (I have heard that some practitioners in those regions flip directions as they also flip the Sabbats) . How about in the northeastern USA? The closest ocean is to the east, not the west; the closest mountain range to me is to the west; the wind can blow from any direction, though the sun still rises east-ish (it only rises in the true east all year at the equator) ; it does still get warmer if I travel south. It would almost make more sense to me to put earth to the west, water to the east and air to the north… almost, if it weren’t for the power behind the belief in the traditional associations.
So that’s where our traditional elemental associations come from. How about other cultures? Let’s first look at two other major European cultures for comparison: the Celts and the Norse.
In Celtic cosmology, there are three realms: Land, Sea, and Sky. We can associate Land with earth, but it is more than that. The Land isn’t just the dirt and rocks, it’s the trees and plants and animals that live there, it’s where humans live and beneath which the dead reside. Sea is water, but it is also the gateway to the Otherworld from which the gods came and the way to travel to unknown lands. Sky can be associated with both air and fire. Wind moves the clouds in the sky; but the sun is also of the sky and fire first touched the land as a gift from the sky (lightning) ; the sky is also how time is reckoned by movements of the sun and moon. There were no directional associations as the Land was the land around them, the Sky was the sky above, and the Sea was the sea wherever it was found.
There were also three elements according to the Norse: Earth, Fire and Ice. If you look at places such as Iceland, this makes a lot of sense. Northern Europe is very cold and there are places in the northern most reaches of Norway and Sweden where the sun does not rise at Yule and does not set on Litha. Snow and ice have a greater grip and impact than they do elsewhere, frost giants were a very real threat to winter survival. You can perhaps associate ice with water and air, but it was more than that, it was something to respect and fear. The powers of ice were not called upon lightly. Earth was closer to the Land of Celtic beliefs than earth of Greek beliefs. It was the earth that sustained them, but it also suffered at the hands of the frost and fire giants. Fire for the Norse was trapped within the Earth. Iceland was (and is) very seismically active. Fire could be friendly to those in the cold north, but it could just as easily overwhelm towns and destroy all they had worked to survive on.
Let’s move further east now, to India and China. They also each have elemental systems that differ from our most common cosmology.
In Hindu belief, there were once only three elements: fire, water and earth. Air and Akasha were added later. The elemental health system of Ayurveda uses all five elements but breaks people down into three health types (or doshas) . The doshas are air-space (vata) , fire (pitta) and earth-water (kapha) . Each has their own strengths and weaknesses and each have their own rules about how to bring the other elements into balance within your body.
Similarly, the Chinese elemental system is used in Feng Shui. Contrary to western belief, Feng Shui is more than just a decorating guide; for example, one of the Feng Shui masters (known as The Living Treasure of China) has a restaurant, which serves food based on the elemental balance of Feng Shui his patrons need to maintain optimum health. There are five elements within the Feng Shui system: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. What we would refer to as earth is divided into three separate elements. Wood is associated with trees and plants. Earth is associated with stone, clay and mud. Metal is associated with all metals, both the ore that is mined and the finished pieces. Fire is associated with the sun and flames. Water is associated with bodies of water. There is no air element and no conglomeration of elements that one can extrapolate air from.
The Chinese and Hindu systems are older than the Greek system; at least based on dates they were recorded. Since the Celts and Norse did not have their own writing (use of ogham and runes aside) , it is impossible to date their ideas. My books do not cover Egyptian and Sumerian sources, so I do not know if they had elemental associations or what they might have been. However, having studied what I have, it does make me consider the whys of what I use in my spiritual and magickal practices. It’s important to understand why you use something or do something a certain way beyond “it’s what the book/my teacher said.”
Understanding the ‘whys’ of your practice will make your path deeper and your magick more effective. If you find that the Grecian elemental assignments do not work for you, you can always adapt them to your own geographical location or you can use another system altogether; just try to be mindful of mixing cultures in ritual. (I’m a bit uneasy about doing it. Others might be fine with it.)
Aveda Rituals by Horst Rechelbacher (he has a great section of Ayurveda)
Feng Shui by Gale Hale and Mark Evans
Mind, Body, and KickA** Moves (a BBC martial arts show that interviewed “The Living Treasure of China”
The Way of Four by Deborah Lipp
When you think of “Water” what comes to mind? A tranquil lake, gentle rain, or raging sea? Whether magical element or just a simple cup of tea, water can be a very special part of your life.
Every body of water is an entity. Each lake, puddle or pool has a unique life-force all its own. It can be as vast as the sea, or as small as a two-sip potion bottle – any body of water has a personality just a little bit different than any other. Can you feel the personality of your bath? Can you feel a certain comfort within a place where you swim regularly? Try to sense what makes each body of water different than another.
Water at Home
A home is a very special place. It holds all the elements, and surely combines them into spirit. Water is an integral part of your home, like any ecosystem. The bathroom, the kitchen, the plumbing surely are temples for your own home’s personal aspect of water. When you visit the home of a new friend, make an effort to drink their tap water to take in a bit of the unique personality of that place. It may help you get a better feel for where you are, and all that resides there. Perhaps it is no accident that one of the first things someone offers a guest is something to drink. This concept is not limited to someone’s home. Going on a sales call or job interview? Grab a quick drink when you get there!
Water is used in a variety of healing rites. Most magical people are quite aware of healing energies in teas, brews and baths. Next time you use one of these devices, try specifically addressing the water aspect within your magic. People often focus on the herbs used in their potions. But don’t forget the water spirits within your hot cup of tea that washes these herbs into your steamy Circle. Magic is often the chemistry of mixing things, thus mixing the energies they possess. Together, water and herbs make something very special, more so than either could do alone. Employ the water you drink to help swallow an aspirin; see the “liquid” in your cough syrup. Most over the counter drugs come in both liquid and tablet form. Perhaps this choice can help fit your magical need? When might a liquid work better than a solid, or vice versa?
Some people scry as a means to foretell the future or answer questions. Scrying is the act of gazing meditatively into a shiny nebulous surface, like a crystal ball. Fill your cauldron with water and see what shimmers on its surface — whether by moonlight, candelight or just bathroom nightlight. Oh, you don’t own a $200 cast iron genuine witchy cauldron to fill? Try any household vessel, perhaps one that fits your specific need. For example, if you seek financial guidance, try using the jar you store your loose change in. A new beginning? How about your morning coffee cup. Love? Perhaps a vase you might use for a dozen red roses.
For divination, you may want to try saving water to re-use over and over again each time you scry. Perhaps this water, just like you, will become more adept at scrying with practice! You might experiment with the specific type of water you want to use. When might water from the ocean work best? The rain or morning dew? Try collecting waters from the special places in your life, the stream where you picnic, the lake where you camp. Use your creativity here. Is there enough room in your freezer for a chunk of the first snowfall?
Another form of water divination might be to merely spill it on a flat surface. Which way did it run? Towards a specific direction? What does this direction mean to you? Try dropping something magical into a pool of water and count the ripples it makes. Four? Five? Do you find meaning in this number? Water is a very flexible thing. What new ways can you create to divine with water?
Your Own Waters
Perhaps the water we are closest to, but notice the least, is the water within our own bodies. Each of us carries around gallons that we borrow from our surroundings via the moisture within food and drink. We store it for hours, days, maybe even weeks, and carry it around like a little magical charm. Remember this the next time you share a drink during a special moment. A bit of that moment stays with you within the water you drank. Magical people instinctively feel the magic within their own waters. Ever notice how some people put a little something extra into licking and sealing a special envelope? It becomes a magical act!
Matter can be charged with your own personal energy, like the way a chair becomes warm when you sit on it. Water is especially receptive to storing energy. What energies does water hold within your body? Note that just about every emotion is expressed with water. Our water enables release, catharsis, getting it out of our system – whether tears of joy, a nervous sweat, or acts of love and pleasure. When we get too sad, too happy, too excited – water is what we often cast forth.
When you drink in water, take in what you need from the world. Ask for new things, new benefits, new wisdom and experiences. Just drink them all in like making a toast! And when you expel water, casting it out of your body, think what you’d like to cast out into life’s magical currents. Taking in, then sending out. What could be more magical than that?
One popular belief assigns each element to a direction, with water corresponding to the west. My guess is that this began in England where the ocean actually is in the west, where the storms blew in from, thus fitting the geography and beliefs of the people who created the system. When members of the modern Craft community came to America, they continued the custom of looking to the west for water, even though the nature and geography around them was actually quite different. Water is one example of the choice whether to follow tradition, or modify our customs to fit the unique situations around us. I live on the east coast of North America, where the Atlantic Ocean is only 60 miles to the east. Yet most people I know turn their back and face west for water. Experiment with what direction feels most like water; try sensing what works best for you. You may find that the direction really doesn’t matter much. Someone I consider quite wise once reminded me that “water is where you feel it.”
The Water Cycle
Can we learn from the cycle of Earth’s water supply? Water vapor rises from the ocean, crystallizes to form a raindrop, falls to the Earth, runs its course through life’s rivers and streams, returning to the ocean, its source, to vaporize once again, perpetuating water’s cycle. Are we any different? Even today, Pagans sing about a drop of rain flowing to the ocean, returning to its source, the source of all life. This song even tells where we come from, and reminds us that we shall return. Think about the words. (Z. Budapest; 1971, Spring Hill Music.)
Look at the branching shape each tiny stream has as it feeds a larger brook, which then feeds a mighty river. Now look at the veins in your own arm. Perhaps it is the nature of small things to flow together, forming something larger. What other parts of life work the same way? What small things flow into you? And what do you join with to form something greater?
Like us, water also has many lives. The same H20 molecule that sits upon your sweaty brow today may have once been a teardrop in a lover’s eye or raindrop in a raging storm. It may even have once been part of an icy comet that hurled to Earth ions ago after whirling round the galaxy.
Perhaps the most common water magic is washing away something unwanted; we wash things to cleanse. Often the physical act of washing can have a magical component as well. When you shower, do you sometimes wash away more than just the grime of the day, making your stress-relieving shower a magical act? Have you ever rinsed out a glass or piece of clothing for a special occasion, and visualized the desired outcome of that occasion? When I wash my car, I pray for safe travel. (From the bathroom, the bedroom, and even the garage — Kitchen Witchery exists in every room of the house!)
I know someone who has slept on the same waterbed for a decade. This person respects (and actually talks to) the water within this bed as something sacred, like a magical familiar. Why not? Just imagine the energies this water holds. It becomes warmed by your body heat, hears a decade worth of dreams and passion. It provides the bliss of restful sleep. No other body of water can ever be that intimate.
Like anything magical, water is multi-dimensional. Make a list of properties you associate with water. Which aspect fits your magical need? Not only does water wash, but it nourishes and helps things grow. (Perhaps it is no accident that our first meal of Mother’s milk comes in liquid form.) Water is the place where life started, creating a new beginning for primordial Earth. What new beginnings do you yearn for? Water is the ink in your pen, the wine in your clinking glass. It freezes solid, yet steams away into vapor. Water makes ripply splashy noises, and swirls round and round into spiral whirlpools. Forget what you heard when you were nine years old – please do play with water!
6538 Collins Avenue # 211
Miami Beach, FL 33141
On this day…
June 20: World Refugee Day; Flag Day in Argentina