The Elements ~ A Practical Working

Earth my body,

The fertile darkness that grounds us.

Water my blood,

The life-giving essence that cleanses.

Air my breath,

Bringer of visions & dreams, scents and sounds.

Fire my spirit,

The animating spark of life, deepest desires of the heart.

~Emma Kathryn

I recently recorded an episode for a podcast I do with a friend, the topic of which was the elements. We discussed the history, the philosophy, the magic, all the good stuff, and since then, I find my mind turning back to that topic,really just considering the role the elements play in my own practice.

You see, I think it’s easy for us to slip into a rut with the basics. You know what I mean, right? The stuff we do often without even thinking about it because, well, it’s basic. These are the things we learned about first (and why I think it’s important to go back and revisit our knowledge, assess our skill sets). It’s particularly easy to do this with the elements. How many of us have physical representations of them on our altars or use them in ritual? If I were a betting woman, I’d wager a few of us for sure! But what do we actually do with the elements in our magic making? And that’s without even mentioning the pressures we all face to just simply survive. We all have constraints on our time that can mean our witchcraft practices are squished and squashed into whatever time we can make for them. And that’s if we are lucky.

Working with the elements then, can be a good way to not only reacquaint and strengthen our relationships with the elements but can also help find a way to bring the magic back into our everyday lives. Here I’ll share a couple of practical exercises you can do to begin building that relationship.

Chanting

I find chanting a particularly useful tool to help enter meditative and trance states. What I love most about chanting is that it is so very accessible, you do not need anything else other than yourself. It is an apt reminder that quite often, the most useful tools cannot or do not need to be bought.

A good chant can be used to help you connect with the elements during meditation and trance or before a working, and a good way to begin is to chant the elements over and over. Play around with the order. You might find that, like me, the order changes depending on the intended outcome. There are no right or wrong ways of doing this, though a top tip is to keep the chant phrase short and sweet. A simple ‘earth, air, fire, water’ over and over is sufficient.

Meditations & Visualisations

I used to hate guided meditations and visualisations with a passion. The few I’d tried were just so uninspiring and others, if I’m being honest, were a little bit (or a lot) shit. But then I got invited to a group session by a friend and it was great! It was one of those lightbulb moments, you know. 

Anyhow, using the elements in meditation and visualisation is not some airy fairy method that doesn’t require a little effort. It requires you to begin to consider the elements and their associations for you. Part of this can come from exploring the physical elements in relation to you and the land where you live. There is nothing that can compare to first hand experience and meditation and visualisations are a good way to incorporate this first hand experience into your practice.

Try This!

This exercise is a great way to begin to experiment with chanting and meditation. Not only will it get you used to thinking about the elements in a deeper and more meaningful way but it is also a good way of developing a daily practice. The basic items you will require are:

  • Earth – a dish with soil collected from the garden is perfect. 
  • Water – a cup or glass of clean water
  • Air – Incense
  • Fire – A candle

Set up a working space however you normally might. If you want to go for it, proper ritual set up and all, then why not! Equally though, if you just want to grab the items needed and find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed, then that works too.

Decide what order you will think about the elements. When I used to be part of a working group, we used to call them in the order listed, going from the most mundane to the least, the most earthly to the most spiritual, if you prefer. Really though, it doesn’t matter, at least not for this exercise. If, later on in your journey, if you want to experiment, then you should. In fact, I encourage it. In doing so, it allows us to assimilate all of our thoughts, feelings, knowledge and experience into a cohesive practice that is ever evolving and growing.

Next, get comfortable. Take each element, one at a time. Touch it, feel it. Consider the practical impact it has on your day. Think about what it means to you. Say these thoughts aloud.

For example, if I’m considering Earth, I’m thinking about how it supports me in this moment, in this physical act of sitting. Earth is the building block of the very universe. Matter. Substance. It is dark, but that darkness is not frightening but instead fertile, like the womb. Think of a seed, and how, when pushed into the fertile darkness, it begins to grow. Earth is nurturing, but like all the elements, it is also destructive, and this duality is important to note.

Repeat this for each element in turn. I find it useful to also keep a journal and make notes. Sometimes it isn’t until you go back and look at and examine your experiences you realise just how far you have come.

The main thing though, is to have a go and try it. As with all things, take what works for you, adapt that which you can and leave everything else!

*** Check out my latest book Witch Life (Llewellyn), available now!

https://www.llewellyn.com/product.php?ean=9780738768649

Published by Emma Kathryn

Emma Kathryn practises Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah and is also an initiate of Vodoun, a mixture that fully encompasses her heritage. She lives in the middle of England in a rural town where she reads tarot, throws shells and drinks copious amounts of coffee!

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